(navigation image)
Home American Libraries | Canadian Libraries | Universal Library | Community Texts | Project Gutenberg | Children's Library | Biodiversity Heritage Library | Additional Collections
Search: Advanced Search
Anonymous User (login or join us)
Upload
See other formats

Full text of "The scientific spirit of the age, and other pleas and discusions"

THE SCIENTIFIC SPIRIT 
OF THE AGE 

AND OTHER PLEAS AND DISCUSSIONS 



BY 



FRANCES POWER COBBE 

AUTHOR OF "AN ESSAY ON INTUITIVE MORALS," "RELIGIOUS 

'THE HOPES OF THE HUMAN 
ARIEN," "THE DUTI] 
WOMEN," "A FAITHLESS WORLD," ETC. 



BOSTON 

GEO. H. ELLIS, 141 FRANKLIN STREET 
1888 



CONTENTS. 



ESSAY 

PREFACE ............. v 

I. THE SCIENTIFIC SPIRIT OF THE AGE ... 3 

II. THE EDUCATION OF THE EMOTIONS ... 37 

III. PROGRESSIVE JUDAISM ........ 71 

IV. THOUGHTS ABOUT THINKING ...... 113 

V. To KNOW, OR NOT TO KNOW ..... 149 

VI. THE TOWN MOUSE AND THE COUNTRY MOUSE 175 






PREFACE. 



WE are all possessed of friends who, when any 
serious belief or matter of practical conduct is in 
question, take up at the outset a thesis of their 
own which they press on our acceptance with the 
best arguments at their disposal. It is a rarer priv- 
ilege to enjoy the intercourse of one who does not 
invariably start with a ready-made opinion of what 
may be true, right, or expedient in the doubtful case 
on which we wish to consult him, but who will 
patiently turn over the matter with us, suggest 
and register the various "pros and cons," refer to 
admitted principles and facts, and thus aid us to 
form a comprehensive judgment for ourselves rather 
than induce us to accept his own. The discourse of 
the first order of friends is an Argument, a Plea, a 
Contention ; that of the second, a Discussion. 

In the same way, of course, an Essay may be 
either a Plea or a Discussion. The author may take 
the position of Counsel for one side or other of the 
case before the reader, or else he may charge as 
Judge, and sum up the substance of such arguments 
as might have been used by two advocates on the 
opposite sides. Either style of writing is perfectly 
legitimate ; and each has its particular fitness and 



Vi PREFACE 

utility. Misunderstanding and perplexity only occur 
when the hasty reader (newspaper critics being sig- 
nally guilty in this matter) chooses to assume that 
an avowedly one-sided Plea is intended for a Judicial 
Discussion,* or treats a Discussion as a Plea for the 
side which the critic dislikes. 

In the present little collection of Essays, written 
at various times and for various objects, it will be 
found that the first three belong to the class which 
I have described as Pleas, and the last three more 
or less to that of Discussions. 

I plead that the Scientific Spirit of the Age, while 
it has given us many precious things, is, in its pres- 
ent exorbitant development, depriving us of things 
more precious still. 

I plead that the Education of the Emotions (to 
be carried on chiefly through the contagion of good 
and noble sentiments) is an object of paramount 
importance, albeit nearly totally ignored in ordinary 
systems of education. 

I plead that, in the present disintegration of all 
religious opinion, Judaism may yet become a pro- 
gressive, and cease to be merely a tribal, faith ; and 
that, if it absorb the moral and spiritual essence of 
Christianity, it may solve the great problem of com- 

* Several such critics, writing of the essay in this book on the 
" Scientific Spirit of the Age " when it appeared in the Contemporary 
Review for July, condemned me for failing to do adequate justice to 
Science, quite regardless of my reiterated assertions (see pp. 6, 7, 
34) that I was writing exclusively on the adverse side, and left the 
glorification of the modern Diana of the Ephesians to the mixed 
multitude of her followers. 



PREFACE Vll 

bining a theology consonant to modern philosophy 
with a worship hallowed by the sacred associations 
of the remotest past. 

In the last three Essays, I discuss the relation of 
Knowledge to Happiness ; I discuss the real as 
distinguished from the conventional character of 
our common processes of Thought ; and, finally, I 
discuss the respective claims of Town and Country 
Life to be esteemed most healthy and felicitous for 
body and mind. 

I shall much rejoice if I win my readers to adopt 
the opinions which I have advocated in the first half 
of the book. 

I shall remain altogether indifferent as to which 
of the alternative views put forth in the concluding 
Essays may seem to them most impressive, and 
only congratulate myself if I shall have succeeded 
in setting forth in due light and order the multitu- 
dinous points which together constitute the materials 
for forming a sound judgment upon them. 



FRANCES POWER COBBE. 



HENGWRT, DOLGELLY, 
1888. 



ESSAY I. 

THE SCIENTIFIC SPIRIT OF 
THE AGE. 



THE SCIENTIFIC SPIRIT OF THE AGE. 



THAT the present is pre-eminently the Age 
of Science is a fact equally recognized by the 
majority who hail it with triumph and by the 
minority who regard it with feelings wherein 
regret and apprehension have their place. As 
in Literature an age of production is ever 
followed by an age of criticism, so in the 
general history of human interests War, Relig- 
ion, Art, start in early days and run their 
swift course, while Science creeps slowly after 
them, till at last she passes them on the way 
and comes foremost in the race. We still in 
our time have War ; but it is no longer the 
conflict of valiant soldiers, but the game of 
scientific strategists. We still have Religion; 
but she no longer claims earth and heaven as 
her domain, but meekly goes to church by a 
path over which Science has notified, " On 
Sufferance Only." We still have Art ; but it 
is no longer the Art of Fancy, but the Art of 



4 THE SCIENTIFIC SPIRIT OF THE AGE 

the Intellect, wherein the Beautiful is indefi- 
nitely postponed to the technically True, as 
Truth is discerned by men who think quit riy 
a rien de vrai excepte le laid. All our multi- 
form activities, from agriculture down to dress- 
making, are in these days nothing if not 
" scientific," and to thousands of worthy people 
it is enough to say that Science teaches this or 
that, or that the interests of Science require 
such and such a sacrifice, to cause them to bow 
their heads, as pious men of old did at the 
message of a Prophet. " It is SCIENCE ! Let it 
do what seemeth it good." The claims of the 
aesthetic faculty, and even of the moral sense, 
to speak in arrest of judgment on matters en- 
tirely within their own spheres, are ruled out of 
court. 

By a paradoxical fatality, however, it would 
appear as if the obsession of the Scientific 
Spirit is likely to be a little lightened for us by 
an event which might have been expected to 
rivet the yoke on our necks. The recently 
published Life of the most illustrious and most 
amiable man of Science of this scientific age 
has suggested to many readers doubts of the all- 
sufficiency of Science to build up not theo- 
ries, but men. Mr. Darwin's admirably candid 
avowal of the gradual extinction in his mind of 



THE SCIENTIFIC SPIRIT OF THE AGE 5 

the aesthetic * and religious elements has proved 
startling to a generation which, even when it is 
ready to abandon Religion, would be direfully 
distressed to lose the pleasures afforded by Art 
and Nature, Poetry and Music. Instead of 
lifting the scientific vocation to the skies (as 
was probably anticipated), this epoch-making 
Biography seems to have gone far to throw a 
sort of dam across the stream, and to have 
arrested not a few Science-worshippers with 
the query : " What shall it profit a man if he 
discover the origin of species and know exactly 
how earth-worms and sun-dews conduct them- 
selves, if all the while he grow blind to the 
loveliness of nature, deaf to music, insensible 
to poetry, and as unable to lift his soul to the 
Divine and Eternal as was the primeval Ape 
from whom he has descended ? Is this all that 
Science can do for her devotee ? Must he be 
shorn of the glory of humanity when he is 
ordained her Priest ? Does he find his loftiest 
faculties atrophied when he has become a 

* " Up to the age of thirty, or beyond it, poetry of many kinds, 
such as the works of Milton, Byron, Wordsworth, Coleridge, and 
Shelley, gave me great delight, and even as a school-boy I took 
intense delight in Shakespeare. I have also said that formerly 
pictures gave me considerable, and music very great delight. But 
now, for many years, I cannot endure to read a line of poetry. I 
have also almost lost my taste for pictures or music." Darwin's 
Life, vol. i. p. 101. 



6 THE SCIENTIFIC SPIRIT OF THE AGE 

" machine for grinding general laws out of 
large collections of facts"?* 

While these reflections are passing through 
many minds, it may be permitted to me to re- 
view some features of the Scientific Spirit of 
the Age. Frankly, I shall do it from an adverse 
point of view. There were many years of my 
life during which I regarded it with profound, 
though always distant, admiration. Grown old, 
I have come to think that many spirits in the 
hierarchy are loftier and purer ; that the noblest 
study of mankind is Man, rather than rock or 
insect; and that, even at its best, Knowledge is 
immeasurably less precious than Goodness and 
Love. Whether in these estimates I err or am 
justified, it would, in any case, be superfluous for 
me to add my feeble voice to the glorification 
of the Scientific Spirit. Diana of the Ephe- 
sians was never proclaimed so vociferously 
" Great " ; and perhaps, like the worshippers of 
the elder goddess, it may be said of those of 
Science, " The most part know not wherefore 
they have come together." It will suffice if 
I succeed in partially exhibiting how much 
we are in danger of losing by the Scientific 
Spirit, while others show us, more or less truly, 
what we gain thereby. 

* Darwin's Life, vol. \. p. 101. Said of himself by Darwin. 



THE SCIENTIFIC SPIRIT OF THE AGE 7 

In speaking of " Science " in this paper, I must 
be understood to refer only to the Physical 
Sciences, not to the mathematical or metaphysi- 
cal. The former (especially the Biological 
group) have of late years come so much to the 
front that the old application of the word to the 
exact sciences and to metaphysics and ethics 
has almost dropped out of popular use. I also 
desire to explain at starting that I am not so 
blind as to ignore the splendid achievements of 
modern physical science in its own realm, nor 
the benefits which many applications of the 
Scientific Spirit have brought in various other 
directions. It is the intrusiveness and oppres- 
sion of the Scientific Spirit in regions where it 
has no proper work, and (still more often) its 
predominance in others where its place should 
be wholly subordinate, against which a protest 
appears to be needed. A score of causes have 
contributed in our generation to set Science up 
and to pull other things down. The levels need 
to be redressed. Time will not permit me to 
exhibit the results of the excessive share taken 
of late years by the Scientific Spirit in many 
practical matters wherein experience and com- 
mon sense were safer guides, e.g., in Agriculture. 
This side of the question I must leave un- 
touched, and limit myself to the discussion of 



8 THE SCIENTIFIC SPIRIT OF THE AGE 

the general influence of the Scientific Spirit in 
Education, in Art, in Morals, and in Religion. 

Professor Tyndall, in the Preface to his great 
work on " Heat as a mode of Motion," calls 
Science "the noblest growth of modern times," 
and adds that " as a means of intellectual educa- 
tion its claims are still disputed, though, once 
properly organized, greater and more benefi- 
cent revolutions wait its employment here than 
those which have marked its application in 
the material world " (2d ed., p. x). Since the 
publication of this book, and indeed since the 
opening of the Age of Science, the relative 
claims of Science and Literature to form the 
basis of intellectual instruction have been inces- 
santly debated by men qualified by experience 
in tuition (which I cannot claim to be) to form 
a judgment on the subject. There has been, 
however, I think, too little attention given on 
either side to the relative moral influences of 
the two studies. 

In addressing the London Society for the 
Extension of University Teaching on March 3 
last, Sir James Paget expressed his dissent from 
Professor Morley's opinion (given on a similar 
occasion last year) that " Literature was an ex- 
cellent, if not a better study than Science." Sir 



THE SCIENTIFIC SPIRIT OF THE AGE 9 

James maintained, on the contrary, that "noth- 
ing could better advance human prosperity than 
Science" and he elaborately set forth the specific 
benefits of a scientific education as he conceived 
them, as follows : 

There was first the teaching of the power of observing, 
then the teaching of accuracy, then of the difficulty of 
attaining to a real knowledge of the truth, and, lastly, the 
teaching of the methods by which they could pass from 
that which was proved to the thinking of what was prob- 
able.* 

It would, of course, be unjust to hold Science 
to these definitions, as if they exhausted her 
claims as our instructress. It may, however, 
fairly be assumed that, in the view of one of the 
leading men of science of the day, they are 
paramount. If any much higher results than 
they were to be expected from scientific teach- 
ing, Sir James would scarcely have omitted to 
present them first or last. To what, then, do 
these four great lessons of Science amount ? 
They teach and, I think, teach only Obser- 
vation, Accuracy, Intellectual Caution, and the 
acquirement of a Method of advancing to the 

* That organ of the Scientific party, the British Medical Journal, 
eulogizing this address, remarked that " Sir James is a master of 
English, clothing all his thoughts in the most elegant language." 
To the mere literary mind the above definitions may be thought to 
leave something to be desired on the score of "elegance." 



IO THE SCIENTIFIC SPIRIT OF THE AGE 

thinking of what was probable, possibly the 
method commonly known as Induction. 

I must confess that these " great truths " (as 
Sir James oddly calls them) represent to my 
mind only the culmination of the lower range 
of human faculties; or, more strictly speak- 
ing, the perfect application to human concerns 
of those faculties which are common to man 
and the lower animals. A fox may be an " ob- 
server" and an exceedingly accurate one of 
hen-roosts. He may be deeply sensible of "the 
difficulty of attaining to a real knowledge " of 
traps. Further than this, he may even "pass 
from the proved" existence of a pack of 
hounds in his cover to " thinking that it was 
probable" he would shortly be chased. To 
train a MAN, it is surely indispensable to develop 
in him a superior order of powers from these. 
His mind must be enriched with the culture of 
his own age and country, and of other lands 
and ages, and fortified by familiarity with the 
thoughts of great souls on the topics of loftiest 
interest. He must be accustomed to think on 
subjects above those to which his observation, 
or accuracy of description, or caution in accept- 
ing evidence can apply, and on which (it is to 
be hoped) he will reach some anchorage of faith 
more firm than Sir James Paget's climax of 



THE SCIENTIFIC SPIRIT OF THE AGE II 

scientific culture, " the passing from that which 
was proved to the thinking of what was prob- 
able" He ought to handle the method of de- 
ductive reasoning at least as well as that of 
induction, and beyond these (purely intellect- 
ual) attainments a human education making 
claim to completeness should cultivate the im- 
agination and poetic sentiment; should " soften 
manners," as the liter ae humaniores proverbially 
did of old; should widen the sympathies, dig- 
nify the character, inspire enthusiasm for noble 
actions, and chivalrous tenderness towards 
women and all who need defence ; and thus 
send forth the accomplished student a gentle- 
man in the true sense of the word. The benefits 
attributed by Sir James Paget to Scientific 
education, and even those with which, in can- 
dor, we may credit it beyond his four "great 
truths," fall, I venture to think, deplorably 
short of such a standard of culture as this. 

The deficiencies of Scientific education do 
not exhaust the objections against it. There 
seem to be positive evils almost inseparable 
from such training when carried far with the 
young. One of the worst is the danger of the 
adoption by the student of materialistic views 
on all subjects. He need not become a theo- 
retic or speculative Materialist : that is another 



12 THE SCIENTIFIC SPIRIT OF THE AGE 

risk, which may or may not be successfully 
eliminated. But he will almost inevitably fall 
into practical materialism. Of the two sides of 
human life, his scientific training will compel 
him to think always in the first place of the 
lower. The material (or, as our fathers would 
have called it, the carnal) fact will be upper- 
most in his mind, and the spiritual meaning 
thereof more or less out of sight. He will 
view his mother's tears not as expressions of 
her sorrow, but as solutions of muriates and 
carbonates of soda, and of phosphates of lime ; 
and he will reflect that they were caused not 
by his heartlessness, but by cerebral pressure 
on her lachrymal glands. When she dies, he 
will "peep and botanize" on her grave, not 
with the poet's sense of the sacrilegiousness of 
such ill-placed curiosity, but with the serene 
conviction of the meritoriousness of accurate 
observation among the scientifically interesting 
" Flora " of a cemetery. 

To this class of mind, thoroughly imbued 
with the Scientific Spirit, Disease is the most 
important of facts and the greatest of evils 
Sin, on the other hand, is a thing on which 
neither microscope nor telescope nor spectro- 
scope, nor even stethoscope, can afford instruc- 
tion. Possibly the student will think it only a 



THE SCIENTIFIC SPIRIT OF THE AGE 13 

spectral illusion ; or he will foresee that it may 
be explained by and by scientifically, as a form 
of disease. There may be discovered bacilli of 
Hatred, Covetousness, and Lust, respectively 
responsible for Murder, Theft, and Adultery. 
Already hypocrisy is a recognized form of 
Hysteria. The state of opinion in " Erewhon " 
may be hopefully looked for in England, when 
the Scientific Spirit altogether prevails. 

Besides its materializing tendency, a Scien- 
tific Education involves other evils, among 
which may be counted the fostering of a callous 
and irreverent spirit. To this I shall return 
presently. Of course every tendency of a pur- 
suit, good or bad, affects the young who are 
engaged in it much more than the old, whose 
characters may have been moulded under quite 
opposite influences. We must wait for a gen- 
eration to see the Scientific Spirit in its full 
development. 

As to the instruction of young men and 
women in Physiological Science in particular, 
I am exonerated from treating the subject by 
being privileged to cite the opinions of two of 
the most eminent and experienced members 
of the scholastic profession. I do so with 
great thankfulness, believing that it will be 
a revelation to many parents, blindly caught 



14 THE SCIENTIFIC SPIRIT OF THE AGE 

by scientific claptrap, to learn that such are 
the views of men among the best qualified 
in England to pronounce judgment on the 
subject. 

The late lamented Mr. Thring, of Upping- 
ham, wrote to me, Sept. 6, 1886: 

My writings on Education sufficiently show how strongly 
I feel on the subject of a literary education, or rather how 
confident I am in the judgment that there can be no worthy 
education which is not based on the study of the highest 
thoughts of the highest men in the best shape. As for 
Science (most of it falsely so called), if a few leading 
minds are excepted, it simply amounts, to the average dull 
worker, to no more than a kind of upper shop work, 
weighing out and labelling and learning alphabetical for- 
mulae, a superior grocer assistant's work, and has not 
a single element of higher mental training in it. Not 
to mention that it leaves out all knowledge of men and 
life, and therefore is eminently fitted for life and its 
struggle ! Physiology in its worse sense adds to this a 
brutalizing of the average practitioner, or rather a dev- 
ilish combination of intellect worship and cruelty at the 
expense of feeling and character. For my part, if it 
were true that Vivisection had wonderfully relieved bodily 
disease for men, if it was at the cost of lost spirits, then 
let the body perish. And it is at the cost of lost spirits. 
I do not say that under no circumstances should an 
experiment take place, but I do say that under no circum- 
stances should an experiment take place for teaching 
purposes. You will see how decided my judgments are 
on this matter. 



THE SCIENTIFIC SPIRIT OF THE AGE 15 

The Rev. J. E. C. Welldon, Head Master of 
Harrow, has been good enough to write to me 
as follows : 

I am most willing to let you quote my words, whether 
what I said before or what I say now. You command my 
full sympathy in the crusade which you have so nobly 
declared against cruelty. I say this frankly, although I 
know that there is some difference between us in regard 
to the practice of Vivisection. But even if it be neces- 
sary that in some cases, and under strict conditions, 
vivisectional experiments should be made upon animals, I 
cannot doubt that the use of such experiments tends to 
exercise a demoralizing influence upon any person who 
may be called to make them. I hold, therefore, that 
the educational effect of Vivisection is always injurious. 
Knowledge is dearly purchased at the cost of tenderness, 
and I cannot believe that any morally-minded person 
could desire to familiarize the young with the sight of 
animal suffering. For my part, I look upon the hardness 
of heart with which some distinguished physiologists have 
met the protest raised against Vivisection as one of many 
signs that materialism means at the last an inversion of 
the ethical law ; *>., a preference of knowledge to good- 
ness, of mind to spirit, or, in a word, of human things to 
divine. Surely it is a paradox that they who minimize the 
specific distinction between man and the animals should 
be the least tender in their views of animal sufferings, and 
that Christians who accentuate that distinction should be 
willing to spare animals pain at the cost of enhancing 
their own. I conceive it then to be a primary duty of a 
modern educator, at School or at College, to cultivate in 
his pupils, by all the means in his power, the sympathetic 
sentiment towards the animal world. 



1 6 THE SCIENTIFIC SPIRIT OF THE AGE 

To turn to a less painful part of our subject. 

Science and Art are constantly coupled to- 
gether in common parlance and in grants of 
public money ; but, if ever incompatibility of 
temper formed a just ground of divorce, it is 
surely in their case. When Science like Pov- 
erty comes in at the door, Art like Love 
flies out at the window. They move in differ- 
ent planes, and touch different parts of human 
nature. Science appeals to the Intellect, Art 
to the Emotions; and we are so constituted that 
our Intellects and Emotions are like buckets in 
a well. When our Intellects are in the ascend- 
ant, our Emotions sink out of sight ; when our 
Emotions rise to the surface, our busy Intellects 
subside into quiescence. It is only the idolatry 
of Science which could make intelligent men 
overlook the fact that she and Art resemble 
two leashed greyhounds pulling opposite ways, 
and never running together unless there be 
some game (shall we surmise an endowment of 
public money?) in view. The synthetic, rever- 
ential, sympathizing spirit of Art is opposed, 
as the different poles of the magnet, to the 
analytic, self-asserting, critical spirit of Science. 
The artist seeks Beauty ; finds likenesses ; dis- 
cerns the Ideal through the Real. The man 
of Science seeks Facts; draws distinctions; 
strips the Real to the skin and the bones. 



THE SCIENTIFIC SPIRIT OF THE AGE 17 

A great light of the Scientific Age has been 
heard to say that when he first visited the Vat- 
ican he " sat down before Raphael's Transfigu- 
ration and filled three pages of his note-book 
with its faults." It was the most natural thing 
in the world for him to do! How should a 
Physicist approve of three figures suspended 
in the air in. defiance of the laws of gravita- 
tion? Or what could a Zoologist say to an 
angel outrageously combining in his person 
the wings exclusively belonging to the Order 
Aves with the arms and legs of Bimana? 
Worst of all, what must be the feelings of a 
Physiologist confronted with a bas-relief of a 
Centaur with two stomachs, or of a Cherub 
with none ? 

Poetry is the Art of Arts. If we desire to 
see what Science can do for it, let us take a 
typical piece wherein Fancy revels and plays 
like an Ariel with wreaths of lovely tropes, 
say Shelley's " Sensitive Plant," for example. 
We must begin by cutting out all the absurdly 
unscientific statements; e.g., that the lily of the 
valley grows pale with passion, that the hya- 
cinth rings peals of music from its bells, and 
that the narcissus gazes at itself in the stream. 
Then, in lieu of this folly, we must describe 
how the garden has been thoroughly drained 



1 8 THE SCIENTIFIC SPIRIT OF THE AGE 

and scientifically manured with guano and sew- 
age. After this the flowers may be mentioned 
under their proper classes, as monandria and 
polyandria, cryptogams and phenogams. Such 
would be the result of bringing the Scientific 
Spirit to bear on Poetry. Introduced into the 
border realm of Fiction, it begins by marring 
with pedantic illustrations the otherwise artis- 
tic work of George Eliot. Pushed further, it 
furnishes us with medical novels, wherein the 
leading incident is a surgeon dissecting his 
aunt. Still a step onward, we reach the brute 
realism of " A Mummer's Wife " and " La Joie 
de Vivre." The distance between Walter Scott 
and Zola measures that between Art and Sci- 
ence in Fiction. 

To many readers it may appear that the 
antagonism of Science to Art may be con- 
doned in favor of her high claim to be the 
guide, not to Beauty, but to Truth. But is it 
indeed Truth, in the sense which we have hith- 
erto given to that great and sacred word, at 
which Physical Science is now aiming? Can 
we think of Truth merely as a vast heap of 
Facts, piled up into an orderly pyramid of a 
Science, like one of Timur's heaps of skulls? 
To collect a million facts, test them, classify 
them, raise by induction generalizations con- 



THE SCIENTIFIC SPIRIT OF THE AGE 19 

earning them, and hand them down to the next 
generation to add a few thousand more facts 
and (probably) to reconstruct the pyramid on a 
different basis and another plan, if this be 
indeed to arrive at " Truth," modern Science 
may boast she has touched the goal. Yet in 
other days Truth was deemed something no- 
bler than this. It was the interests which lay 
behind and beyond the facts, their possible 
bearing on man's deepest yearnings and sub- 
limest hopes, which gave dignity and meaning 
to the humblest researches into rock and plant, 
and which glorified such discoveries as Kep- 
ler's till he cried in rapture, "O God, I think 
thy thoughts after thee ! " and Newton's, till he 
closed the " Principia " (as Parker said of him) 
by "bursting into the Infinite and kneeling 
there." In our time, however, Science has 
repeatedly renounced all pretension to throw 
light in any direction beyond the sequence of 
physical causes and effects ; and by doing so 
she has, I think, abandoned her claim to be 
man's guide to Truth. The Alpine traveller 
who engages his guides to scale the summit of 
the Jungfrau, and finds them stop to booze in 
the Wirthschaft at the bottom, would have no 
better right to complain than those who fondly 
expected Science to bring them to God, and 



2O THE SCIENTIFIC SPIRIT OF THE AGE 

are informed that she now never proceeds 
above the Ascidian. So long as all the rivu- 
lets of laws traced by Science flowed freshly 
onward towards the sea, our souls drank of 
them with thankfulness. Now that they lose 
themselves in the sands, they have become 
mere stagnant pools of knowledge. 

We now turn to the influence of the Scien- 
tific Spirit on Morals. 

Respecting the theory of ethics, the physico- 
Scientific Spirit has almost necessarily been 
from the first Utilitarian, not Transcendental. 
To Mr. Herbert Spencer the world first owed 
the suggestion that moral intuitions are only 
results of hereditary experiences. " I believe," 
he wrote in 1868 to Mr. Mill, "that the experi- 
ences of utility, organized and consolidated 
through all past generations of the human 
race, have been producing corresponding mod- 
ifications which, by continued transmission and 
accumulation, have become in us certain facul- 
ties of moral intuition, certain emotions re- 
sponding to right and wrong conduct which 
have no apparent basis in the individual expe- 
riences of utility." Mr. Darwin took up the 
doctrine at this stage, and in his " Descent of 
Man" linked on the human conscience to the 



THE SCIENTIFIC SPIRIT OF THE AGE 21 

instincts of the lower animals, from whence he 
held it to be derived. Similar instincts, he 
taught, would have grown up in any other ani- 
mal as well endowed as we are, but those other 
animals would not necessarily attach their 
ideas of right and wrong to the same conduct. 
" If, for instance, men were reared under pre- 
cisely the same conditions as hive-bees, there 
can hardly be a doubt that our unmarried 
females would, like the worker-bees, think it a 
sacred duty to kill their brothers." (Descent of 
Man, vol. i. p. 73.) 

These two doctrines that Conscience is 
only the " capitalized experience of the human 
tribe " (as Dr. Martineau has summarized Mr. 
Spencer) and that there is no such thing as 
absolute or immutable Morality, but only a 
convenient Rule for each particular class of in- 
telligent animals have between them revo- 
lutionized theoretic ethics, and deeply imper- 
illed, so far as they are accepted, the existence 
of human virtue. It is in vain that the plea is 
often entered on the side of faith that, after 
'all, Darwin only showed how Conscience has 
been evolved, perhaps by Divine prearrange- 
ment, and that we may allow its old authority 
all the same. He has done much more than 
this. He has destroyed the possibility of re- 



22 THE SCIENTIFIC SPIRIT OF THE AGE 

taining the same reverence for the dictates of 
conscience. As he himself asks, " Would any 
of us trust in the convictions of a monkey s 
mind? . . . The doubt always arises whether 
the convictions of man's mind, which has been 
developed from the mind of the lower animals, 
are of any value" (Life, vol. i. p. 316.) Who, 
indeed, can attach the same solemn authority 
to the monitions of the 

" Stern daughter of the Voice of God " 

and to the prejudices of ancestors just emerg- 
ing from apehood ? It was hard enough here- 
tofore for tempted men to be chaste, sober, 
honest, unselfish, while passion was clamoring 
for indulgence or want pining for relief. The 
basis on which their moral efforts rested needed 
to be in their minds as firm as the law of the 
universe itself. What fulcrum will they find 
henceforth in the sand-heap of hereditary ex- 
periences of utility? 

Thus the Scientific Spirit has sprung a mine 
under the deepest foundations of Morality. It 
may, indeed, be hereafter countermined. I be- 
lieve that it will be so, and that it will be de- 
monstrated that many of our broadest and 
deepest moral intuitions can have had no 
such origin. The universal human expecta- 



THE SCIENTIFIC SPIRIT OF THE AGE 23 

tion of Justice, to which all literature bears 
testimony, can never have arisen from such 
infinitesimal experience of actual Justice, or 
rather such large experience of prevailing in- 
justice, as our ancestors in any period of 
history can have known. Nor can "the set 
of our (modern) brains " against the destruc- 
tion of sickly and deformed infants have come 
to us from the consolidated experience of past 
generations, since the " utility " is all on the 
side of Spartan infanticide. But for the pres- 
ent, and while Darwinism is in the ascendant 
the influence of the doctrine of Hereditary 
Conscience is simply deadly. It is no more 
possible for a man who holds such a theory 
to cherish a great moral ambition than for a 
stream to rise above its source. The lofty 
ideal of Goodness, the hunger and thirst after 
righteousness, which have been the main- 
spring of heroic and saintly lives, must be ex- 
changed at best for a kindly good nature and 
a mild desire to avoid offence. The man of 
science may be anxious to abolish vice and 
crime. They offend his tastes, and distract 
him from his pursuits ; but he has no long- 
ing to enthrone in their place a positive 
virtue, demanding his heart and life's devotion. 
He is almost as much disturbed by extreme 



24 THE SCIENTIFIC SPIRIT OF THE AGE 

goodness as by wickedness. Nay, it has been 
remarked, by a keen and sensitive observer, 
that the companionship of a really great and 
entirely blameless man of science invariably 
proved a "torpedo touch to aspiration." 

An obvious practical result of the present 
influence of Science on Morals has been the 
elevation of Bodily Health into the summum 
bomim, and the consequent accommodation of 
the standard of right and wrong to that new 
aim. An immense proportion of the argu- 
ments employed in Parliament and elsewhere, 
when any question touching public health is 
under discussion, rest on the unexpressed major 
premise " that any action which in the opinion 
of experts conduces to the bodily health of 
the individual or of the community is ipso 
facto lawful and right." I cannot here indicate 
the conclusions to which this principle leads. 
Much that the Christian conscience now holds 
to be Vice must be transferred to the category 
of Virtue ; while the medical profession will 
acquire a Power of the Keys which it is per- 
haps even less qualified to use than the Suc- 
cessors of St. Peter. 

Another threatening evil from the side of 
Science is the growth of a hard and pitiless 
temper. From whatsoever cause it arise, it 



THE SCIENTIFIC SPIRIT OF THE AGE 25 

seems certain that, with some noteworthy ex- 
ceptions, the Scientific Spirit is callous. In 
the mass of its literature, the expressions of 
sympathy with civilized or savage, healthy or 
diseased mankind, or with the races below us, 
are few and far between. Men and beasts 
are, in scientific language, alike " specimens " 
(wretched word!); and, if the men be ill or 
dying, they become " clinical material." The 
light of Science is a "dry "one. She leaves 
no glamour, no tender mystery anywhere. 
Nor has she more pity than Nature for the 
weak who fall in the struggle for existence. 
There is, indeed, a scientific contempt quite 
sui generis for the "poor in spirit," the simple, 
the devoutly believing, in short, for all the 
humble and the weak, which constitutes of 
the Scientific Spirit of the Age a kind of Neo- 
Paganism, the very antithesis of Christianity. 
I may add that it is no less the antithesis of 
Theism, which, while abandoning the Apoca- 
lyptic side of Christianity, holds (perhaps with 
added consciousness of its supreme value) to 
the spiritual part of the old faith, and would 
build the Religion of the future on Christ's 
lessons of love to God and Man, of self-sacri- 
fice and self-consecration. 

Prior to experience it might have been con- 



26 THE SCIENTIFIC SPIRIT OF THE AGE 

fidently expected that the Darwinian doctrine 
of the descent of Man would have called forth 
a fresh burst of sympathy towards all races of 
men and towards the lower animals. Every 
biologist now knows tenfold better reasons 
than Saint Francis for calling the birds and 
beasts "little brothers and sisters." But, in- 
stead of instilling the tenderness of the Saint 
of Assisi, Science has taught her devotees to 
regard the world as a scene of universal strug- 
gle, wherein the rule must be, " Every one for 
himself, and no God for any one." 

Ten years ago an eminent American phy- 
sician remarked to me : " In my country the 
ardor of scientific research is rapidly overrid- 
ing the proper benevolent objects of my pro- 
fession. The cure of disease is becoming quite 
a secondary consideration to the achievement 
of a correct diagnosis, to be verified by a suc- 
cessful /<w/ mortem? How true this now holds 
of the state of things in English hospitals, that 
remarkable book, "St. Bernard's," and its still 
more important key, "Dying Scientifically," 
have just come in time to testify.* No one 

* Speaking of this latter book, the Manchester Guardian (March 
17) remarked that "the charges in 'St Bernard's' were supported by 
details of cases reported in medical journals and by statements made 
by lecturers of distinction. The quotations are precise and easily 
verified. The hospitals will do well to take some notice of a medical 
man who avers that the healing of patients is subordinated to the 



THE SCIENTIFIC SPIRIT OF THE AGE 27 

who has read these books will deny that the 
purely Scientific Spirit is (at all events some- 
times) a merciless spirit ; and that Dr. Draper's 
famous boast, so often repeated, that "Science 
has never subjected any one to physical tort- 
ure " (Preface to " Conflict," p. xi), is untrue. 

Irreverence appears to be another " note " of 
the Scientific Spirit. Literature always holds 
a certain attitude of conservatism. Its kings 
will never be dethroned. But Science is essen- 
tially Jacobin. The one thing certain about a 
great man of science is that in a few years his 
theories and books, like French Constitutions, 
will be laid on the shelf. Like coral insects, 
the scientists of yesterday, who built the foun- 
dations of the science of to-day, are all dead 
from the moment that their successors have 
raised over them another inch of the inter- 
minable reef. The student of Literature, deal- 
ing with human life, cannot forget for a mo- 
ment the existence of such things as goodness 
which he must honor, and wickedness which 
he must abhor. But Physical Science, dealing 

professional advantages of the staff and the students, that cures are 
retarded for clinical study, that new drugs are tried upon hospital 
patients, who are needlessly examined and made to undergo unnec- 
essary operations. They cannot afford to pass over the statement 
that the dying are tortured by useless operations, and that the blun- 
ders of students are covered by their teachers for the credit of the 
hospital." Every one of these offences against justice and humanity 
is directly due to the inspiration of the Scientific Spirit. 



28 THE SCIENTIFIC SPIRIT OF THE AGE 

with unmoral Nature, brings no such lessons 
to her votaries. There is nothing to revere 
even in a well-balanced solar system, and noth- 
ing to despise in a microbe. Taking this into 
consideration, it might have been foreseen that 
the Scientific Spirit of the Age would have 
been deficient in reverence ; and, as a matter 
of fact, I think it will be conceded that so 
it is. It is a spirit to which the terms "im- 
perious" and "arrogant" may not unfitly be 
applied, and sometimes we may add " over- 
bearing," when a man of science thinks fit to 
rebuke a theologian for trespassing on his 
ground after he has been trampling all over 
the ground of theology. Perhaps the differ- 
ence between the new " bumptious '' Spirit of 
Science and the old exquisitely modest and 
reverent tone of Newton and Herschel, Fara- 
day and Lyell, is only due to the causes which 
distinguish everywhere a Church Triumphant 
from a Church Militant. But, whatever they 
may be, it seems clear that it will scarcely be 
in an age of Science that the prophecy will 
be fulfilled that "the meek shall inherit the 
earth."* 

* It was long before Science acquired her natural voice. For 
more than a thousand years she submitted servilely to Aristotle and 
his interpreters. But the Science of the Dark Ages was only a 
branch of learning of which a Picus of Mirandola or an Admirable 



THE SCIENTIFIC SPIRIT OF THE AGE 2Q 

Among the delicate and beautiful things 
which Science brushes away from life, I cannot 
omit to number a certain modesty which has 
hitherto prevailed among educated people. 
The decline of decency in England, apparent 
to every one old enough to recall earlier man- 
ners and topics of conversation, is due in great 
measure, I think, to the scientific (medical) 
spirit. Who would have thought thirty years 
ago of seeing young men in public reading- 
rooms snatching at the Lancet and the British 
Medical Journal from layers of what ought to 
be more attractive literature, and poring over 
hideous diagrams and revolting details of dis- 
ease and monstrosity ? It is perfectly right, no 
doubt, for these professional journals to deal 
plainly with these horrors, and with the thrice 
abominable records of "gynaecology." But, 
being so, it follows that it is not proper that 
they should form the furniture of a reading- 
table at which young men and young women 
sit for general not medical instruction. 
Nor is it only in the medical journals that 

Crichton could master the whole, along with the classics and mathe- 
matics of the period. The genuine Scientific Spirit was not yet 
born ; and when it woke at last in Galileo and Kepler, and down to 
our own day, the Religious spirit was still paramount over the Scien- 
tific. It is only in the present generation that w~ witness at once the 
evolution of the true scientific spirit and of scientific arrogance. 



30 THE SCIENTIFIC SPIRIT OF THE AGE 

disease-mongering now obtains. The political 
press has adopted the practice of reporting the 
details of illness of every eminent man who 
falls into the hands of the doctors, and affords 
those gentlemen an opportunity of advertising 
themselves as his advisers. The last recollec- 
tion which the present generation will retain 
of many an illustrious statesman, poet, and sol- 
dier, will not be that he died like a hero or a 
saint, bravely or piously, but that he swallowed 
such and such a medicine, and, perhaps, was 
sick in his stomach. Death-beds are desecrated 
that doctors may be puffed and public inquisi- 
tiveness assuaged. 

So far does the materialist spirit penetrate 
into literature that in criticising books and men 
the most exaggerated importance is attached 
by numberless writers to the physical condi- 
tions and " environments " of the personages 
with whom they are concerned, till we could 
almost suppose that given his ancestry and 
circumstances we could scientifically con- 
struct the Man, with all his gifts and passions. 
As if, forsooth, a dozen brothers were alike in 
character, or even all the kittens in a litter! 
It is refreshing to read the brisk persiflage 
on this kind of thing in the Revue des Deux 
Mondes for March i. The writer, reviewing 



THE SCIENTIFIC SPIRIT OF THE AGE 31 

Mr. Lecky's books, states that but little of 
that splendid historian's private life has been 
published, and adds: 

" Je ne me plains pas de cette secheresse, je la be'nis. 
C'est un plaisir, devenu si rare aujourd'hui, de pouvoir lire 
un livre sans en connaitre Tauteur : de juger une oeuvre 
directement et en elle-meme, sans avoir a etudier ce com- 
pose* d'organes et de tissus, de nerfs et de muscles, d'ou 
elle est sortie : sans la comrnenter a 1'aide de la physiolo- 
gic, de 1'ethnographie, et de la climatologie : sans mettre 
en jeu Tatavisme et les diatheses hereditaires ! " * 

Turn we lastly to the influences of the 
Scientific Spirit on Religion. It is hardly too 
much to affirm that the advance of that Spirit 
has been to individuals and classes the signal 
for a subsidence of religious faith and religious 
emotion.! Judging from Darwin's experience, 
as that of a typical man of science, just as such 
a one becomes an embodiment of the Sci- 

* While I am writing these pages, the Globe informs us that there 
reigns at present in Paris a mania for medical curiosities and surgical 
operations. " It has become the right thing to get up early and hurry 
off to witness some special piece of dexterity with the scalpel. The 
novel yields its attraction to the slightly stronger realism of the medi- 
cal treatise, and the picture galleries have the air of a pathological 
museum. It is suggested that the theatres, if they want to hold their 
own, must represent critical operations in a thoroughly realistic man- 
ner on the stage." 

t In the very noteworthy paper by Mr. Myers in the Nineteenth 
Century for May on the " Disenchantment of France," there occurs 
this remark : " In that country where the pure dicta of Science reign 



32 THE SCIENTIFIC SPIRIT OF THE AGE 

entific Spirit, this religious sentiment flickers 
and expires, like a candle in an airless vault. 
Speaking of his old feelings of "wonder, admi- 
ration, and devotion" experienced while stand- 
ing amid the grandeur of a Brazilian forest, he 
wrote in later years, when Science had made 
him all her own: "Now the grandest scenes 
would not cause any such convictions and feel- 
ings to rise in my mind. It may be truly said 
that I am like a man who has become color- 
blind" (Life, vol. i. p. 31 1). Nor did the dead- 
ening influences stop at his own soul. As one 
able reviewer of his " Life " in the Spectator 
wrote: "No sane man can deny Darwin's influ- 
ence to have been at least contemporaneous 
with a general decay of belief in the unseen. 
Darwin's Theism faded from his mind without 
disturbance, without perplexity, without pain. 
These words describe his influence as well as 
his experience." 

The causes of the anti-religious tendency of 
modern science may be found, I believe: ist, in 
the closing up of that " Gate called Beautiful," 
through which many souls have been wont to 

in the intellectual classes with less interference from custom, senti- 
ment, or tradition, than even in Germany itself, we should find that 
Science, at her present point, is a depressing disintegrating energy " 
(p. 663). Elsewhere he says that France "makes M. Pasteur her 
national hero " / 



THE SCIENTIFIC SPIRIT OF THE AGE 33 

enter the Temple ; 2d, in the diametric oppo- 
sition of its method to the method of spiritual 
inquiry ; and, 3d, to the hardness of character 
frequently produced (as we have already noted) 
by scientific pursuits. These three causes, I 
think, sufficiently account for the antagonism 
between the modern Scientific and the Relig- 
ious Spirits, quite irrespectively of the bearings 
of critical or philosophical researches on the 
doctrines of either natural or traditional relig- 
ion. Had Science inspired her votaries with 
religious sentiment, they would have broken 
their way through the tangle of theological 
difficulties, and have opened for us a highway 
of Faith at once devout and rational. But of 
all improbable things to anticipate now in the 
world is a Scientific Religious Reformation. 
Lamennais said there was one thing worse 
than Atheism ; namely, indifference whether 
Atheism be true. The Scientific Spirit of the 
Age has reached this point. It is contented to 
be Agnostic, not Atheistic. It says aloud, " I 
don't know." It mutters to those who listen, 
" I don't care." 

The Scientific Spirit has undoubtedly per- 
formed prodigies in the realms of physical 
discovery. Its inventions have brought enor- 
mous contributions to the material well-being 



34 THE SCIENTIFIC SPIRIT OF THE AGE 

of man, and it has widened to a magnificent 
horizon the intellectual circle of his ideas. Yet 
notwithstanding all its splendid achievements, 
if it only foster our lower mental faculties 
while it paralyzes and atrophies the higher ; if 
Reverence and Sympathy and Modesty dwindle 
in its shadow; if Art and Poetry shrink at its 
touch; if Morality be undermined and per- 
verted by it ; and if Religion perish at its ap- 
proach as a flower vanishes before the frost, 
then, I think, we must deny the truth of Sir 
James Paget's assertion, that " nothing can ad- 
vance human prosperity so much as science'.' 
She has given us many precious things; but 
she takes away things more precious still. 



ESSAY II. 

THE EDUCATION OF THE 
EMOTIONS. 



THE EDUCATION OF THE EMOTIONS. 



HUMAN Emotions the most largely effec- 
tive springs of human conduct arise either 
at first hand on the pressure of their natural 
stimuli, or at second hand by the contagion of 
sympathy with the emotions of other men. 
This last source of emotion has not, I conceive, 
received sufficient attention in practical systems 
of education, and to the consideration of ,it the 
present paper will be chiefly devoted. 

Every human emotion appears to be trans- 
missible by contagion, and to be also more 
often so developed than it is solitarily evolved. 
For once that Courage or Terror, Admiration 
or Contempt, or even Good-will and Ill-will, 
spring of themselves in the breast of man, 
woman, or child, each is many times caught 
from another mind possessed of the same feel- 
ing. By a subtle sympathy, not unshared by 
the lower animals, a sympathy which sometimes 
works slowly and imperceptibly and is some- 



38 THE EDUCATION OF THE EMOTIONS 

times communicated with electric velocity, one 
man conveys to another, as if it were a flame, 
the emotion which burns in his own soul. 
Thenceforth the recipient becomes a fresh 
propagator of the emotion to those with whom 
he in his turn comes into physical contact. A 
few instances may be named to make clear my 
meaning. 

The most familiar example of the contagious- 
ness of the emotions, as the reader will in- 
stantly recall, is that of Fear, which has often 
spread through whole armies with such inex- 
plicable celerity and fatal results that the an- 
cients were fain to attribute the frenzy to the 
malevolence of a god, and called such terrors 
" Panic." The disasters which have occurred 
during the last few years in so many European 
and American theatres and churches afford sad 
evidence that, though " great Pan is dead," our 
liability to succumb to such waves of fear has 
not been diminished by modern civilization. 
The proof of the special power of the con- 
tagion lies in this : that there is every reason 
to believe that the majority of the persons con- 
stituting the terror-stricken crowd would, if 
alone, have met the danger with reasonable 
composure. There is also happily, we may 
remember, such a thing as the contagion of 



THE EDUCATION OF THE EMOTIONS 39 

Courage as well as that of Terror. And many 
a time and oft in our history the captain of a 
sinking ship, the commander of a retreating 
regiment, has, by his individual intrepidity, re- 
stored the morale of his men. Again, a remark- 
able instance of the contagiousness of emotion 
is afforded by the Popularity of the men who 
become in any country the idols of the hour. 
The fact is very well known to the organizers 
of claques and reclames in theatres, and of ova- 
tions in political life, that it is enough for a 
small band of friends in an assembly to cheer 
and clap hands, to induce hundreds, who had 
previously little interest in the work or person 
praised, to join the hosannas. When a states- 
man has succeeded in arousing enthusiasm for 
himself (possibly by persuading scores of people 
and associations that " all his sympathies are 
with their" totally opposite aims), he may 
then safely disappoint each in turn and veer 
round to the opposite point of the political and 
theological compass from which he sailed with 
flowing canvas. His popularity will not be 
forfeited or even lessened ; for it is a mere con- 
tagion of sentiment, not a rational or critical 
judgment. Herein lies the special peril of 
democracies, that this kind of contagion of 
personal enthusiasm rapidly becomes the larg- 



4O THE EDUCATION OF THE EMOTIONS 

est factor in their politics. From the nature 
of things, the masses cannot form judgments 
on questions of state, referring, perhaps, to 
countries of which the very names are un- 
known to them ; and, therefore, they must of 
necessity choose Men, not Measures. When 
we further examine who are the Men so chosen 
and why, we arrive at the startling discovery 
that it is exclusively by rhetoric that the con- 
tagious admiration and sympathy of the masses 
can be roused. Not sound statesmanship, not 
wise patriotism, not incorruptible fidelity, not 
dignified consistency, not, in short, any one 
quality fitting a man to be a safe or able min- 
ister, attracts the enthusiasm of the multitude, 
or is even estimated at all by them. The only 
gift they can appreciate is that which they 
themselves would designate " the Gift of the 
Gabr The lesson is a grave one for all free 
countries. By such popular idolatry of great 
talkers were all the old republics of Greece 
and Magna Graecia brought to destruction; 
and the men who by such means acquired a 
bastard royalty over them so exercised it as to 
make the name of " Tyrant " for ever abomi- 
nable. 

As concerns emotions connected with Relig- 
ion, the contagion of them has been notorious 



THE EDUCATION OF THE EMOTIONS 4! 

in all ages, for good or evil, according to the 
character of the religion in question. The 
intoxication of the dances of old Maenads and 
the modern Dervishes, the shrieks and self- 
woundings of the priests of Baal and Cybele, 
the frenzied scenes of sacrifice to Moloch and 
the Aztec gods, and a hundred other examples 
will occur to every reader. Probably those on 
the largest scale of all recorded in history were 
the first Crusades, when " Europe precipitated 
itself on Asia " in a delirium of religious en- 
thusiasm caught from Peter the Hermit and 
Bernard of Clairvaux. The outbursts of the 
Anabaptists, the Flagellants and Prophets of 
the Cevennes, in Christendom, and of Moslem 
fanatics under Prophets and Mahdis (of which 
we have probably by no means heard the last), 
and finally the Revivals of various sects in 
England and America, and the triumphs of the 
Salvation Army, are all instances of the part 
played by the contagion of emotion in the 
religion of the community at large. I shall 
speak hereafter of its share in personal religious 
experience. 

In much smaller matters than religion, and 
where no explosion reveals the contagion of 
sentiments, it is yet often possible to trace the 
spread of an emotion, good or bad, from one 



42 THE EDUCATION OF THE EMOTIONS 

individual of a family or village to all the other 
members or inhabitants. It suffices for some 
spiteful boy or idle girl to call a miserable old 
woman a witch, or to express hatred of some 
foreigner or harmless eccentric, to set afloat 
prejudices which end in something approach- 
ing to persecution of the victims, who may be 
thankful they did not live two hundred years 
ago, when, instead of being boycotted, they 
would have been burned. A child in a school 
or large household who has the misfortune to 
be lame or ugly, or to exhibit any peculiarity 
physical or mental, may, without any fault on 
its side, become obnoxious to the blind dislike 
of a stupid servant or jealous step-mother, and 
then the contagion spreading and intensify- 
ing as it extends to the common hatred of 
the little community, a hatred justifying itself 
by the sullenness or deceptions to which the 
poor victim at last is driven. Even domestic 
animals suffer from this kind of contagious 
dislike, and benefit on the other hand by con- 
tagious admiration and fondness.* " Give a 

*I have heard a pitiful example of this kind of prejudice. An 
orphan boy and his ugly mongrel dog were the objects of universal 
dislike and ridicule in the house of his uncle, a Scotch farmer. The 
lad always sat of an evening far back from the circle by the fireside, 
with his crouching dog under his stool lest it should be kicked. One 
day the little son of the house, of whom the farmer and his wife were 



THE EDUCATION OF THE EMOTIONS 43 

dog a bad name and hang him " is true in 
more senses than one. 

We need not pursue this part of the subject 
further. Every day's experience may supply 
fresh illustrations of the immense influence of 
contagion in the development of all human 
emotions. Nor is it by any means to be set 
down as a weakness peculiar to or characteris- 
tic of a feeble mind to be blindly susceptible 
of such contagion. Even the strongest wills 
are bent and warped by the winds of other 
men's passions, persistently blowing in given 
directions. Original minds, gifted with what 
the French call r esprit primesautier, are per- 
haps, indeed, affected rather more than less 
than commonplace people by the emotions of 
those around them, because their larger natures 
are more open to the sympathetic shock. Like 
ships with all sails set, they are caught by every 
breeze. It is a question of degree how much 
each man receives of influence from his neigh- 

dotingly fond, went out with the boy and dog, and, a snow-storm com- 
ing on, they were all lost on the hills. Next morning the dog returned 
to the farm, making wild signs that the farmer should follow him, 
which he and his wife did at once, in great anxiety. At last, the 
dog brought them to a spot where they found the boy stiff and 
cold, but their child still alive. The boy had taken off his own coat 
and wrapped it round the child, whom he laid on his breast, and 
then, lying under him on the snow, had died. Let us hope that at 
least the dog reaped some tardy fruits of the farmer's repentance. 



44 THE EDUCATION OF THE EMOTIONS 

bors; but (to use the new medical barbarism) 
we are never " immune " altogether from the 
contagion. 

We may now approach our proper subject of 
the Education of the Emotions, carrying with 
us the important fact that no means are so 
efficacious in promoting good ones as the wise 
employment of the great agency of Contagion; 
and, further, that this contagion works only by 
exhibiting the genuine emotion to the person 
we desire to influence. Only by being brave 
can we inspire courage. Only by reverencing 
holy things can we communicate veneration. 
Only by being tender and loving can we move 
other hearts to pity and affection. 

Let us glance over the variety of circum- 
stances wherein great good might be effected 
by systematic attention to the natural laws of 
the development of the emotions. We may 
begin by considering those connected with the 
education of the young. 

In the first place, parents duly impressed 
with the importance of the subject would care- 
fully suppress, or at least conceal, such of their 
own emotions as they would regret to see 
caught up by their children. At present, num- 
berless sufficiently conscientious fathers and 



THE EDUCATION OF THE EMOTIONS 45 

mothers, who would be horrified at the sugges- 
tion of placing books teaching bad lessons in 
the hands of their sons and daughters, yet care- 
lessly allow them to witness (and of course to 
receive the contagion of) all manner of angry, 
envious, cowardly, and scornful emotions, just 
as they chance to be called out in themselves. 
It would be to revolutionize many homes to 
induce parents to revise their own sentiments, 
with a view to deciding which they should com- 
municate to their children. In one way in 
particular, the result of such self-questioning 
might be startling. Every good father desires 
his son to respect his mother, and would be 
sorry to teach him only the half of the Fifth 
Commandment in words. Yet how do scores 
of such well-meaning men set about conveying 
the sentiment of reverence which they recog- 
nize will be invaluable to their sons ? They 
treat those same mothers, in the presence of 
those same sons, with such rudeness, dismiss 
their opinions with such levity, and perhaps 
exhibit such actual contempt for their wishes 
that it is not in nature but that the boy will 
receive a lesson of disrespect. His father's 
feelings, backed up as they are by the disa- 
bilities under which the Constitution places 
women, can scarcely fail to impress the young 



46 THE EDUCATION OF THE EMOTIONS 

mind with that contempt for women in general, 
and for his mother in particular, which is pre- 
cisely the reverse of chivalry and filial piety. 
Almost as important as the contagion of 
parental emotion is that of the sentiments of 
Teachers; yet on this subject nobody seems to 
think it needful even to institute inquiries. So 
far as I can learn, the sole question asked now- 
adays when a professor is to be appointed 
to a Chair at the Universities is, "Whether 
he be the man among the candidates who 
knows most [or rather who has the reputation 
of knowing most] of the subject which he pro- 
poses to teach ? " This point being ascertained, 
and nothing serious alleged against his moral 
conduct, the fortunate gentleman receives his 
appointment as a matter of course. Even 
electors who personally detest the notorious 
opinions of the professor on religion or politics 
acquiesce cheerfully in the choice ; apparently 
satisfied that he will carve out to his students 
the particular pound of knowledge he is bound 
to give them, and not a drop of blood besides. 
The same principle, I presume (I have little 
information on the subject), prevails in schools 
generally, as it does in private education. A 
professor or governess is engaged to instruct 
boys or girls, let us say in Latin, History, or 



THE EDUCATION OF THE EMOTIONS 47 

Physiology, and it is assumed that he or she 
will act precisely like a teaching machine for 
that particular subject, and never step beyond 
its borders. A little common sense would dis- 
sipate this idle presumption, supposing it to 
be really entertained, and that the mania for 
cramming sheer knowledge down the throats 
of the young does not make their elders wil- 
fully disregardful of the moral poison which 
may filter along with it. Every human being, 
as I have said, exercises some influence over 
the emotions of his neighbor; but that of a 
Teacher, especially if he be a brilliant one, 
over his students, often amounts to a conta- 
gion of enthusiasm throughout the class. His 
admirations are adored, the objects of his sneers 
despised, and every opinion he enunciates is an 
oracle. And it is these professors and teach- 
ers, forsooth, whose opinions on ethics, theology, 
and politics it is not thought worth while to 
ascertain before installing them in their Chairs 
to become the guides of the young men and 
women who are the hope of the nation ! 

It does not require any direct, or even in- 
direct, inculcation of opinion on the teacher's 
part to do mischief. It is the contagion of his 
emotions which is to be feared, if those emo- 
tions be base or bad. Let him teach History 



48 THE EDUCATION OF THE EMOTIONS 

and betray his enthusiasm for selfish and san- 
guinary conquerors, or justify assassins and 
anarchists, or jest Gibbon fashion at mar- 
tyrs and heroes, will he not communicate those 
base sentiments to his young audience ? Or 
let him teach Science, and convey to every 
student's mind that deification of mere knowl- 
edge, that insolent sense of superiority in the 
possession of it, that remorseless determination 
to pursue it regardless of every moral restraint, 
which is too often the " note " of modern sci- 
entism, will the instruction he affords to his 
students' brains counterbalance the harm he 
will do to their hearts ? 

And, on the other hand, what a splendid 
vantage-ground for the dissemination not merely 
of knowledge, but of elevated feelings, is that 
of a Teacher ! Merely in teaching a dead or 
modern language, a fine-natured man communi- 
cates his own glowing feelings respecting the 
masterpieces of national literature which it is 
his duty to expound. 

The last point we need notice as regards the 
contagion of emotions among the young is the 
subject of Companions. Here again, as in 
the case of respect for mothers, there is great 
unanimity in theory. Every one admits that 
bad companions are ruinous for boys or girls. 



THE EDUCATION OF THE EMOTIONS 49 

But, when it comes to taking precautions 
against the herding of innocent and well- 
nurtured children with others who have been 
familiar with vice, I see little trace of the 
anxious care and discrimination which ought 
to prevail. Nay, in the case of the children 
of the poor, it seems to me the law is often 
wickedly applied to compel good parents to 
send them, against their own will and convic- 
tions, to sit beside companions who have come 
straight to school out of slums of filth, moral 
and physical. I have known Americans argue 
that it is right for children of all classes to 
associate together, so that the well-trained may 
communicate good ideas to the ill-trained. The 
reasoning appears to be on a par with a pro- 
posal to send healthy people to sleep in a 
cholera hospital. But, while we allow our- 
selves to be terrified beyond bounds by alarms 
about the infection of bodily disease, we take 
hardly any precautions against the more dread- 
ful, and quite as real, infection of moral cor- 
ruption.* 

* I will cite an example from my own experience, which may help 
to make parents realize the subtle peril of which I speak. Twenty- 
five years ago I was engaged in an effort to help Mary Carpenter in 
the care of the Red Lodge Reformatory for girl-thieves at Bristol. Our 
poor little charges had all been convicted of larceny, or some kindred 
offence, but they were not technically "fallen " girls : another establish- 



5O THE EDUCATION OF THE EMOTIONS 

The general sentiment of boys and youths 
in the great public schools and colleges of 
England thanks to the high-minded Masters 
who have been at their head is, on the whole, 
good and honorable. It may be taken for 
granted that a boy from Harrow, Eton, Rugby, 
Winchester, Westminster, or Uppingham, and 
a fortiori a man from Oxford or Cambridge, 
will despise lying and cowardice and admire 
fair play and justice. How grand a founda- 
tion for national character has thus been laid ! 
What a debt do we owe alike to the Masters 
and the " Tom Browns " who have communi- 
cated the contagion of such noble emotions! 
In Continental lycees and academies, public 
opinion among the boys is, by all accounts, 
wofully inferior to that which is current in 
our great schools. There has never been an 
Arnold in a French Rugby. 



ment received young women of this " unfortunate " class. Twice, 
however, it happened, during my residence with Miss Carpenter, that 
girls who had been on the streets were by mistake sent to us when 
convicted of theft, and were of course received and placed with the 
others, all being under the most careful surveillance both in the 
school-rooms, playgrounds, and dormitory. Nevertheless, in each 
case, before the " unfortunate " had been three days in the Lodge, 
by some inexplicable contagion the whole school of fifty girls were 
demoralized so completely that the aspect of the children and change 
in their behavior gave warning to their experienced janitress to trace 
the history of the new-comer more exactly, and, as the result 
proved, to detect where the infection had come in. 



THE EDUCATION OF THE EMOTIONS 51 

As regards girls, their doubly emotional nat- 
ures make it a matter of moral life and death 
that their companions (of whose emotions they 
are perfectly certain to experience the conta- 
gion) should be pure and honorable-minded. 
It is most encouraging to every woman who 
reads Mrs. Pfeiffer's masterly new book, " Wo- 
men and Work," to see the rising generation of 
girls displaying such splendid abilities and zeal 
for instruction, and as Mrs. Pfeiffer amply 
proves without paying for it in loss of bodily 
vigor. Fain would I see the " blessed Damo- 
zels," who are still standing behind the golden 
bars of noble homes, all flocking to the new 
colleges for women, as their brothers do to 
Christchurch and Trinity, there to imbibe 
parallel sentiments of truthfulness and pluck, 
more precious than Greek, Latin, or mathe- 
matics ! 

Leaving now the subject of the Education of 
the Emotions of the Young, by parents, teach- 
ers, and companions, I proceed to speak of the 
general education of the emotions of the com- 
munity by public and private instrumentality, 
a wide field, over which we can only glance. 
What machinery is disposable to cultivate the 
better and discourage the lower emotions, 



52 THE EDUCATION OF THE EMOTIONS 

either by the exhibition of the direct natural 
stimulus to the former and withdrawal of it in 
the latter cases, or by the aid of contagion? 

In the grand matter of Legislation I do not 
know that there is much more to be done than 
has already been achieved by the abolition of 
those public punishments of criminals hang- 
ing, drawing and quartering, flogging at the 
cart's tail, and the pillory which must have 
been frightfully prolific of cruel passions in the 
spectators. To have taken part in such execu- 
tions, e.g. in the old stonings to death, in the 
burning of witches and heretics, or in the 
minor but yet barbarous and cowardly pelting 
of the helpless wretches in the pillory, must 
have been an apprenticeship worthy of a Red 
Indian. Even to have been a passive spectator 
of a Newgate execution in later years, amid the 
yelling crowd, must have been excessively de- 
moralizing, and in fact was at last recognized 
by the Legislature to be so, instead of a whole- 
some warning. It is a cause for rejoicing that 
there is an end of this kind of contagious emo- 
tion in England, except in the case of experi- 
ments on animals, of which the Act of 1876 
sanctions the exhibition to classes under spe- 
cial certificates which require the subjects to 
be fully anaesthetized. On this point the warn- 



THE EDUCATION OF THE EMOTIONS 53 

ing of the late lamented Professor Rolleston 
ought, I think, to have sufficed. He told the 
Royal Commission : " The sight of a living, 
bleeding, and quivering organism most un- 
doubtedly does act in a particular way upon 
what Dr. Carpenter calls the emotiono-motor 
nature in us. ... When men are massed 
together, the emotiono-motor nature is more 
responsive, it becomes more sensitive to im- 
pression than it does at other times, and that 
of course bears very greatly on the question of 
interference with vivisections before masses " 
(Minutes, 1287*). The time will come when it 
will be looked upon as a monstrous inconsist- 



*In Dr. Ingleby's just published Essays there is a very pertinent 
story from Saint Augustine concerning this contagion of the emotion 
of cruelty. A certain Alypius detested, on report, the spectacle of 
the Gladiators, but was induced to enter the amphitheatre, protesting 
that he would not look at the show : " So soon as he saw the blood," 
says Saint Augustine, " he therewith drank down savageness ; nor 
turned away, but fixed his eye, drinking in pleasure unawares, and 
was delighted with that guilty fight, and intoxicated with the bloody 
pastime ; nor was he now the man he came, but one of the throng he 
came into." Saint Augustine's Confessions, Bk. vi., c. 8. Similar per- 
versions occur at all brutal exhibitions. A friend sends me the fol- 
lowing instance from his own knowledge. "A party of English 
people went to the Bull Ring of San Sebastian. When the first 
horse was ripped up and his entrails trailed on the ground, a young 
lady of the party burst into tears and insisted on going away. Her 
brothers compelled her to remain ; and a number of horses were 
then mutilated and killed before her eyes. Long before the end of 
the spectacle the girl was as excited and delighted as any Spaniard in 
the assembly." 



54 THE EDUCATION OF THE EMOTIONS 

ency that the spectacle of the execution of 
murderers should be shut off from the adult 
population on account of its recognized ill effects 
in fostering contagious cruelty, and, at the same 
time, as many as nineteen certificates should 
be issued in one year by the Home Office, spe- 
cially authorizing the mutilation of harmless 
animals before classes of young men and women. 
Majestic public functions, coronations, thanks- 
givings, state entries into great cities, and fu- 
nerals of distinguished men afford admirable 
machinery for the communication of noble emo- 
tions through the masses. It was worth the 
cost and trouble of last year's Jubilee ten times 
over to have sent through so many brains and 
hearts the thrill of sympathy which followed 
the Queen to the old throne of her fathers, 
while the kings of the earth stood around her 
as witnesses that she had kept the oath to her 
people, sworn there fifty years before. For one 
day England and all her vast colonies beat with 
one heart, and the contagion of loyal emotion, 
love, reverence, pride, and pity, for woman, 
empress, mother, widow, ran round the globe. 
Sad was it (as many must have remembered) 
that he who would have found the true words to 
give utterance to the sentiment in the heaving 
breast of the nation, he whose proud duty it 



THE EDUCATION OF THE EMOTIONS 55 

would have been to welcome the Queen to his 
own Abbey, was lying on that day silent be- 
neath its pavement. 

Beyond Legislation and Public Functions, 
the largest influence which sways the emotions 
of all educated people is undoubtedly Litera- 
ture. The power of Books to awaken the most 
vivid feelings is a phenomenon at which sav- 
ages may well wonder. The magic which 
enables both the living and the long departed 
to move us to the depths of our being by the 
aid only of a few marks on sheets of paper is a 
never-ending miracle. It were vain to attempt 
to do any justice to the subject, or show how 
the contagion of piety, patriotism, enthusiasm 
for justice and truth, and sympathy with other 
nations and other classes than our own, is 
borne to us in the pages of the poets and his- 
torians and novelists of the world. Pitiful it is 
to think how narrow must ,be the scope of the 
emotions of any man whose breast has never 
dilated nor his eyes flashed over the grandeur 
of the Book of Job, over Dante or Shakspere, 
and whose heart has never been warmed and 
his sympathies extended, backwards through 
time and around him in space, by Walter Scott, 
and Defoe, and Dickens, and George Eliot. 
Alas that we must add that Literature can 



56 THE EDUCATION OF THE EMOTIONS 

not only kindle the noblest emotions, but also 
light up baleful fires, of the basest and most 
sensual, to look for which we have not now 
even to cross the Channel ! M. Zola has been 
translated into English. 

After Literature I presume that the Stage is 
the greatest public agency for the promotion of 
fine emotions, and it is to the honor of human 
nature that it is found (at least in our country) 
to be most popular when it fulfils its office best, 
and calls out sympathy for generous and heroic 
actions. When the Roman audience rose en 
masse to applaud the line of Terence which first 
proclaimed the brotherhood of man, " Homo 
sum: humani nihil a me alienum puto,"- 
the highest mission of the Drama was fulfilled. 
Of course no one desires the string of high 
emotion to be exclusively or perpetually harped 
upon ; and for my own part I think that the 
mere production of the emotion of harmless 
merriment is one of the greatest boons of the 
stage. The contagion of laughter, in a theatre 
or out of it, is an altogether wholesome and 
beneficent thing. How it unseats black Care 
from our backs ! How it carries away, as on a 
fresh spring breeze, a whole swarm of buzzing 
worries and grievances ! How it warms our 
hearts for ever after to the people with whom 



THE EDUCATION OF THE EMOTIONS 57 

we have once shared a good honest fou rire! 
" Behold how good and how pleasant a thing 
it is for brethren to dwell together in unity," 
and (with all respect let us add) in hilarity ! A 
good joke partaken with a man is like the 
Arab's salt. Our common emotion of humor- 
ous pleasure is a bond between us which we 
would not thereafter lightly break. 

The education of the emotions of actors and 
actresses, apart from that which they afford to 
the emotions of the public, is a very curious 
subject of consideration. Great part of the 
training of an actor consists in learning to give 
the uttermost possible external expression to 
those emotions which it is the task of other 
people to reduce to a vanishing point. Un- 
doubtedly (as one of the most gifted of the pro- 
fession has remarked), the " habit of represent- 
ing fictitious feeling tends to produce a super- 
ficial sensibility, and an exaggerated mode of 
expressing the same." But it may be ques- 
tioned whether this extreme be worse than the 
opposite, wherein the expression of the emo- 
tions is so effectually repressed that the feel- 
ings themselves die out for want of air and 
exercise, a consummation not unknown in 
the reposeful " caste of Vere de Vere." 

Besides Literature and the Stage, Music no 



58 THE EDUCATION OF THE EMOTIONS 

doubt is a most marvellous agency for calling 
out Emotion. It is, in fact, the Art of Emotion. 
The musician plays with the strings of the 
human heart while he touches those of his in- 
strument. Since Collins wrote his " Ode to the 
Passions" and Pope his " Ode on Saint Cecilia's 
Day," there is no need to describe how every 
emotion known to man may be brought out by 
music. Something may well be hoped for a 
generation which, rejecting the more trivial 
and sensuous music of Italy, finds delight in 
the exalted play of the emotions which follows 
the wands of Bach and Beethoven and Wag- 
ner. The efforts now made to offer music at 
once cheap and good to as many of the work- 
ing classes as can be found to enjoy it is 
perhaps the most direct way conceivable of fos- 
tering their best emotions. 

The Beauty of Nature and of Art are also 
powerful levers of the higher emotions, which 
it becomes us to use for the benefit of our 
fellows whenever it is practicable to do so. 

But, while these varied engines are at work 
to stir beneficently the emotions of the masses, 
there are on the other hand certain agencies in 
full play amongst us which have, I fear, a totally 
different effect ; which, in fact, can only tend to 



THE EDUCATION OF THE EMOTIONS 59 

deaden, if not destroy, the most precious of emo- 
tions, those of family affection. I do not know 
that the question has ever been faced : What 
are the moral effects of our enormous Hos- 
pitals ? From the side of the bodily interests of 
the patients, they may be wholly advantageous.* 
But as regards the sacred institutions of the 
Family, on which society itself is based, I ask 
what, except evil, can result from the habitual 
separation of relatives the moment that illness 
makes a claim for tenderness and care ? 

It is the law of human nature that the senti- 
ment of sympathy should be drawn forth by 
personal service to the suffering ; and feelings 
of gratitude and affection by the receipt of 
such personal service. In comparison of these 
sources of emotion, those which act in times of 
prosperity are weak and poor. If we subtract 
in imagination from our own affections those 
which have come to us either through nursing 
or being nursed in sickness and danger, the 
residue will represent all which we leave within 
reach of the million. Many of us can remem- 
ber quarrels which have been reconciled, un- 
kindnesses atoned for, and bonds of sacred 

* Readers of that singular book, " St. Bernard's " (Swan, Sonnen- 
schein & Co., 1887, new edition 1888), and its sequel, "Dying 
Scientifically," may possibly entertain doubts on this subject. 



6O THE EDUCATION OF THE EMOTIONS 

union in faith and eternal hope linked beside 
beds of pain when death seemed standing at 
the door. These things form some of the 
highest educational influences which Provi- 
dence brings to bear on the human spirit, and 
out of them arise the sweetest affections, the 
warmest gratitude, the most vivid sense of a 
common nearness to God and the Immortal 
Life. 

And of all this the entire working class of 
the nation is systematically deprived ! Formerly 
it was only in cases of extreme poverty, where 
the crowded lodging was an altogether unfit 
place to nurse the sufferer, that recourse was had 
to the public Hospitals. Now it has become 
the invariable practice the moment that illness, 
even of non-infectious kind, declares itself, to 
send straight away to the hospital artisans, 
small tradesmen, and farmers from their own 
comfortable abodes, servants from the large 
and airy houses where they have labored faith- 
fully, and even children from their mothers' 
arms. It is not a mere matter of conjecture 
that such a custom must do harm and weaken 
the sense of family obligation. It is a fact that 
it has done so already, and is doing so more 
every day. Sons and daughters place their 
blind and palsied parents in asylums; wives 



THE EDUCATION OF THE EMOTIONS 6 1 

send their husbands in a decline to Brompton 
Hospital; and it has become a surprising piece 
of filial devotion if a daughter remain at home 
to take care of a bed-ridden mother, even when 
her means fully permit of such sacrifice of time. 
What deadly injury is all this to the hearts of 
men, women, and children ! 

Of course Hospitals have their important 
uses. No one denies it. Some cases of dis- 
ease and some degrees of poverty require such 
institutions. But this does not justify the 
monstrous over-use of them now in vogue. 
Even for the class whose homes are too 
crowded to admit of nursing being properly 
or safely done in them, I cannot but think 
that small Cottage Hospitals, where the wife 
or mother or daughter would be free to per- 
form her natural duties by the bedside, and 
where she would be shown how best to per- 
form them, would be infinitely preferable for 
every reason, moral and physical, to our pres- 
ent Palaces of Pain. Excellent also in all 
ways will be the plan of Nurses provided for 
the poor in their own homes by the Queen's 
wise gift of the balance of her Women's Jubi- 
lee Fund. The secret of the excessive resort 
to Hospitals is of course the encouragement 
to patients given by the medical schools at- 



62 THE EDUCATION OF THE EMOTIONS 

tached to them, for the sake of obtaining a 
large supply of " clinical material." 

Lastly, we come to speak of the Education 
of the Religious Emotions. We have already 
referred to the outbursts of contagious enthu- 
siasm in the Crusades and Revivals. It re- 
mains to say a few words respecting the 
various sources of religious emotion, at first 
and second hand. 

A fundamental difference between the Cath- 
olic and Puritan mind seems to be that the 
former seizes on every available means for pro- 
ducing religious emotion through the senses; 
the latter turns away from such means with 
intense mistrust, and limits itself to appeals 
through the mind. Dark and solemn churches 
like that at Assisi decorated by Giotto (which 
the friar who showed it told me was the " best 
place in the whole world for prayer "), gorgeous 
altars, splendid functions, pictures, music, in- 
cense, all these are to the Catholic and High 
Churchman veritable "means of grace"; i.e., 
they call out in them emotions which either 
are religious or they think lead to religion. 
Long Prayers, Hymns, Bible-readings, and 
preachings, these, on the other hand, are the 
Evangelicals' means of grace, and they pro- 



THE EDUCATION OF THE EMOTIONS 63 

duce in them emotions distinctly religious. 
We must, I think, treat these differences as 
matters of spiritual taste, concerning which it 
is proverbially idle to dispute. Both have 
their advantages, and both their great perils: 
the Catholic method has the peril of lapping 
the soul in a fool's paradise of fancied piety, 
which is only sensuous excitement; the Puri- 
tan method has that of creating the hysteria 
of a Revival. In each case it is the contagion 
of the emotion of a multitude which creates the 
danger. Solitary religious emotion, either pro- 
duced by the glory and majesty of Nature or 
by lonely prayer and communings with God, 
can lead to no evil ; nay, is the climax of 
purest joy vouchsafed to man. Not misguided 
are those who enter into their chambers and 
shut the door "to pray to Him who sees in 
secret," or who go up into the hills and woods 

" To seek 

That Being in whose honor shrines are weak, 
Upreared by human hands." 

The converse of the emotions of Awe and 
Reverence namely, the tendency to jest and 
ridicule are supposed by some to be danger- 
ous enemies to religion. I do not believe they 
are so. I think a genuine sense of humor and 
a keen eye for the ludicrous is a most precious 



64 THE EDUCATION OF THE EMOTIONS 

protection against absurdities and excesses. 
Like Tenderness and Strength, the sense of 
the Sublime and of the Ridiculous are com- 
plementary to each other, and exist only in 
perfection together in the same character. It 
is the man who cannot laugh who never 
weeps. 

Finally, we reach the point where the relig- 
ious emotions, produced either alone or by 
contagion, effect the greatest of spiritual mira- 
cles : that " conversion " or revulsion of the 
soul which ancient India, no less than Chris- 
tendom, likened to a New or Second Birth. 
It would appear that, when this mysterious 
change does not take place by the solitary work 
of the Divine on the human spirit, it does so 
by the attractive power of another human soul, 
which has itself already undergone the great 
transformation. It is the living Saint who 
conveys spiritual life. He need not be a very 
great or far advanced soul in the spiritual 
realm. Many a simple person with no excep- 
tional gifts has " turned to the wisdom of the 
just " the hearts of strong men, whom the most 
eloquent and thoughtful of preachers have 
failed to move by a hair. But the greater the 
saint, the greater naturally must be his power. 
It was the contagion of Divine Love, caught 



THE EDUCATION OF THE EMOTIONS 65 

from him who felt it most of all the sons of 
men, which moved the little band in the 
upper chamber of Jerusalem who moved the 
world. 

It is worthy of notice that when a man so 
powerfully influences another as to "convert" 
him in the true sense, i.e. to bring him to the 
higher spiritual life, it very often happens that 
at the same time he " converts " him in the 
lower sense, to the doctrines of the special 
Church to which he himself belongs. The 
man has received the impulse of religion from 
that particular direction. It has come to him 
colored by the hues of his friend's piety, and 
he accepts it, doctrines and all, as he finds it. 
The matter has been one of emotional con- 
tagion, not of critical argument on either side. 

It is impossible to form the faintest estimate 
of the good the highest kind of good 
which a single devout soul may accomplish in 
a lifetime by spreading the holy contagion of 
the Love of God in widening circles around it. 
But just as far as the influence of such men is 
a cause for thankfulness, so great would be the 
calamity of a time, if such should ever arrive, 
when there should be a dearth of saints in the 
world, and the fire on the altar should die 
down. A Glacial Period of Religion would 



66 THE EDUCATION OF THE EMOTIONS 

kill many of the sweetest flowers in human 
nature ; and woe to the land where (as it would 
seem is almost the present case in France at 
this moment) the priceless tradition of Prayer 
is being lost, or only maintained in fatal con- 
nection with outworn superstitions. 

To resume the subject of this paper. We 
have seen that the Emotions, which are the 
chief springs of human conduct, may either be 
produced by their natural stimuli or conveyed 
by contagion from other minds, but that they 
can neither be commanded nor taught. If we 
desire to convey good and noble emotions to 
our fellow-creatures, the only means whereby 
we can effect that end is by filling our own 
hearts with them till they overflow into the 
hearts of others. Here lies the great truth 
which the preachers of Altruism persistently 
overlook. It is better to be good than to do 
good. We can benefit our kind in no way so 
much as by being ourselves pure and upright 
and noble-minded. We can never teach Relig- 
ion to such purpose as we can live it. 

It was my privilege to know a woman who 
for more than twenty years was chained by a 
cruel malady to what Heine called a " mattress 
grave." Little or nothing was it possible for 



THE EDUCATION OF THE EMOTIONS 67 

her to do for any one in the way of ordinary 
service. Her many schemes of usefulness and 
beneficence were all stopped. Yet, merely by 
attaining to the lofty heights of spiritual life 
and knowledge, that suffering woman helped 
and lifted up the hearts of all who came around 
her, and did more real good, and of the highest 
kind, than half the preachers and philanthro- 
pists in the land. Even now, when her beauti- 
ful soul has been released at last from its 
earthly cage, it still lifts many who knew her to 
the love of God and Duty to remember what 
she was, and to the faith in immortality to 
think what now she must be, within the golden 
gates. 



ESSAY III. 



PROGRESSIVE JUDAISM. 



PROGRESSIVE JUDAISM. 



WHEN the new " Science of Religions " has 
been further developed, it will probably be rec- 
ognized that the character of each is deter- 
mined, not only by its own proper dogmas, but 
by those of the religion which it has super- 
seded. Men do not, as they often imagine, 
tear up an old faith by the roots and plant a 
new one on the same ground. They only cut 
across the old and graft the new on its stem. 
Thus it comes to pass, for example, that much 
of the sap of Roman Paganism runs through 
the pores of Latin Christianity, and much of 
that of Odin worship through those of Teuton 
and Scandinavian Protestantism. Still more 
certainly does the faith held by an individual 
man in his earlier years dye his mind with its 
peculiar color, so that no subsequent conver- 
sion ever wholly obliterates it, but makes him 
like a frescoed wall on which yellow has been 
painted over blue, leaving as the result green. 



72 PROGRESSIVE JUDAISM 

The tint of Anglican piety may be discerned 
even beneath a pervert Cardinal's scarlet robe. 
A Romish acolyte, transformed into the most 
brilliant of sceptical essayists, still boasts that 
the ecclesiastical set of his brain enables him 
"alone in his century" to understand Christ 
and Saint Francis.* A Jew, baptized and be- 
come Prime Minister of England, wrote novels 
and made history altogether in the vein of the 
author of the Book of Esther. Beneath the 
wolf's clothing of the whole pack of modern 
Secularists, Agnostics, and Atheists, friction 
reveals (for the present generation, at all 
events) a flock of harmless Christian sheep. 
For this reason hasty efforts to fuse relig- 
ious bodies which happen to manifest tenden- 
cies to doctrinal agreement seem predestined 
to failure. Much else besides mere readiness 
to pronounce similar symbols of faith is needed 
to gather men permanently into one temple. 
Amalgamation attempted prematurely can only 
result in accentuating those diversities of senti- 
ment which have stronger power to dissever 
than any intellectual affinities have charms 
to unite. Ecclesiastical schisms are infinitely 
easier to effect than ecclesiastical coalitions. 

*"C'est pourquoi, seul dans mon siecle, j'ai su comprendre Jesus 
Christ et St. Frai^ois d'Assise." M. Renan. 



PROGRESSIVE JUDAISM 73 

Nevertheless, the levelling of the fences 
which have for ages kept men of different 
religions apart is, per se, a matter for such 
earnest rejoicing that we may well exult at any 
instance of it, independently of ulterior hopes 
or projects. Especially must our sympathies 
with those who are thus clearing the ground 
be quickened when the faith to be dis-itnmured 
is an old and venerable one, the nearest of all 
to our own, a faith whereof any important 
modification must be fraught with incalculable 
consequences to the civilized world. The new 
Reform among the Jews is emphatically such 
a movement, an effort to throw down the 
high and jealous walls behind which Judaism 
has kept itself in seclusion. The gates of the 
Ghettos, which for a thousand years shut in 
the Jews at night in every city in Europe, were 
not more rigid obstacles to social sympathy 
and intercourse than have been the nation's 
own iron-bound prejudices and customs. But 
just as these Ghettos themselves, so long " lit- 
tle provinces of Asia dropped into the map 
of Europe," have been thrown open at last by 
the growing enlightenment of Christian States, 
so the Jewish moral walls of prejudice are 
being cast down by the advanced sentiment of 
cultured Jews. 



74 PROGRESSIVE JUDAISM 

It is the specialty of the higher religions to 
unfold continually new germs of truth, while 
the lower ones remain barren and become over- 
grown with the rank fungi of myth and fable. 
I do not speak now of the results of external 
influences bearing on every creed, and tending 
to vivify and fructify it. Such influences have 
done much, undoubtedly, even for Christianity 
itself, which has been stirred by all the agencies 
of the Saracen conquests, the classic Renais- 
sance, modern ethics and metaphysics, modern 
critical science, and at last in our time by the 
extension of the theological horizon over the 
broad plains of Eastern sacred literature. I 
am speaking specially of the prolific power of 
the richer creeds to go on, generation after 
generation, bringing forth fresh, golden har- 
vests, like the valleys of California. If we look 
for an instance of the opposite barrenness, we 
shall find it in the worn-out religions of China, 
ice-bound and arid as the desolate plains and 
craters of the moon; the Tae-ping rebellion 
having been perhaps a solitary development of 
heat caused by the impingement on them of 
the orb of Christianity. If, on the other hand, 
we seek for a supreme instance of fertility, we 
find it in the religion of Nazareth, which seems 
to enjoy perpetual seed-time and perpetual 
harvest. 



PROGRESSIVE JUDAISM 75 

The question is one of more than historical 
interest: Is Judaism likewise a religion capable 
of bearing fresh corn and wine and oil for the 
nations ? We know that both Christianity and 
Islam are developments of the Jewish idea, 
the Semitic development (Islam) carrying out 
its monotheistic doctrine in all its rigidity, but 
losing somewhat on the moral and spiritual 
side; the Aryan development (Christianity) 
abandoning the strictly monotheistic doctrine, 
but carrying far forward the moral and the 
spiritual part. But both these Banyan-like 
branches have struck root for themselves, and 
their growth can no longer be treated as de- 
rived from the trunk of Judaism. Our prob- 
lem is, Can Judaism further develop itself along 
its own lines ? Or is it (as generally believed) 
destined to permanent immobility, with no pos- 
sible future before it save gradual dismember- 
ment and decay? Shall we best liken it to 
Abraham's oak at Mam re, whose leaf has not 
failed after three thousand years of sun and 
storm, and when the very levin-bolt of heaven 
has blasted its crown, or to the hewn and 
painted mast of some laden argosy wherein float 
the fortunes of Israel ? 

There are, it would appear, three parties now 
existing among modern Jews. There is, first, 



76 PROGRESSIVE JUDAISM 

the large Orthodox party, which holds by the 
verbal inspiration of the Old Testament and 
the authority of the Talmud.* 

Secondly, there is the party commonly called 
that of Reformed Jews, which separated about 
forty years ago from the Orthodox by a schism 
analogous to that which cut off the Free Kirk 
from the Kirk of Scotland. The raisons d'etre 
of this reform were certain questions of ritual 
(the older ritual having fallen into neglect) and 
the relinquishment by the reforming party of 
the authority of the Talmud. The progress so 
effected occasioned great heart-burnings, now 
happily extinguished, and proceeded no fur- 
ther than these very moderate reforms.! 

*The heads of this party in England are the venerable Rabbi 
Nathan Adler and his son and colleague, Rev. Herman Adler, who 
hold a kind of Patriarchate over all English Orthodox Jews. The 
principal synagogue of this party (to which the Rothschild family 
hereditarily belongs, also the Cohens, Sir G. Jessel, etc.) is in Great 
Portland Street. The Eglise mtre is in the City, and there are many 
other synagogues belonging to it scattered over London and England. 
The Portuguese branch of the Orthodox party (the most rigidly Or- 
thodox of all), to which Sir Moses Montefiore belonged, has its chief 
synagogue in Bevis Marks. The late distinguished Rabbi Artom, 
brother of Cavour's private secretary, was minister of this synagogue. 

t The Reformed Jews, among whom Sir Julian Goldsmid and Mr. 
F. D. Mocatta hold distinguished places, have only one synagogue in 
London, that in Berkeley Street. The minister of this wealthy and 
important congregation is the Rev. D. Marks. A special liturgy, dif- 
fering chiefly from the Orthodox by omissions of Talmudic passages, 
is in use in this synagogue. 



PROGRESSIVE JUDAISM 77 

Lastly, there is a third Jewish party, existing 
chiefly in Germany and America, and number- 
ing a few members among the younger genera- 
tions in England. For convenience' sake, I 
shall distinguish it from the older Reformed 
party by calling it the party of the New 
Reform, or of Broad Church Jews, the analogy 
between its attitude towards Orthodox Judaism 
and that of the late lamented Dean Stanley 
and his friends to the Church of England being 
singularly close. 

The attitude even of the Orthodox and older 
Reformed Jews (alike for our present purpose) 
is, theoretically, not wholly unprogressive, not 
necessarily purely tribal. They have admitted 
principles inconsistent with stagnant tribalism. 
They believe that, though the ceremonialism of 
Judaism is for Jews alone, yet the mission of 
Judaism is to spread through all the nations 
its great central doctrine of the Unity of God. 
As Philipsohn (who, it is said, has since some- 
what receded from his position) observed in his 
Lectures so far back as 1847 : 

Judaism has never declared itself to be in its specific 
form the religion of all mankind, but has asserted itself 
to be the religion of all mankind in and by the religious 
idea. . . . Talmudism itself admits that he even who no 
longer observes the law, but who utters as his confession 



78 PROGRESSIVE JUDAISM 

of faith the words, " Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God 
the Eternal is One," may be considered still to be a Jew. 
Development of the Religious Idea, p. 256. 

The saying of the Talmud, " The pious 
among all nations shall have a place in the 
world to come," has become a stock quotation, 
and has been of the utmost value to modern 
Jewish orthodoxy. Thus even this most con- 
servative party among the Jews is not without 
a certain expansive principle. It must be ad- 
mitted, however, that it does little or nothing 
to make that principle practically efficacious, 
and is content to wait for the advent of Mes- 
siah to convert the nations by miracle without 
any trouble to Jews to strive to enlighten them 
beforehand. Considering what the Jews for 
ages have had to bear from those who vouch- 
safed to try to convert them, we may pardon 
this lack of zeal for proselytism as far from 
unnatural; yet the consequences have been de- 
plorable. He who holds a precious truth con- 
cerning eternal things, and fails to feel it to be 
(as Mrs. Browning says) " like bread at sacra- 
ment," to be passed on to those beside him, 
loses his right to it, and much of his profit in 
it. It is " treasure hid in a field." The atti- 
tude is anti-social and misanthropic of a people 
who practically say to their neighbors: "We 



PROGRESSIVE JUDAISM 79 

possess the most precious of all truths, of 
which we are the divinely commissioned guar- 
dians and witnesses. But we do not intend to 
make the smallest effort to share that truth 
with you, and generations of you may go to 
the grave without it for all we care. We are 
passive witnesses, not active apostles. By and 
by, the Messiah will appear, and convert all 
who are alive in his time, whether they will or 
not; but, for the present, Christendom is joined 
to idols, and we shall let it alone." The faith 
which speaks thus stands self-condemned. If 
a creed be not aggressive and proselytizing, 
like Buddhism, Islam, and Christianity, it con- 
fesses either mistrust of itself or else misan- 
thropic indifference to the welfare of mankind. 
Thus the Orthodox and the elder Reformed 
Jews have tacitly pronounced their own sen- 
tence. 

Turn we now from these to the new Refor- 
mation. This last is a development of Juda- 
ism, truly on its own lines, but yet extending 
far beyond anything contemplated by the elder 
bodies. To measure it aright, we must cast 
back a glance over the path which Judaism 
traversed in earlier times, and note how com- 
pletely this new and vast stride is a continu- 
ance of that march towards higher and wider 
religious truth. 



80 PROGRESSIVE JUDAISM 

From the earliest conception of Jahveh as 
the Tribal God, a conception which even 
Kuenen admits to be native to the race of 
Israel, and tmtraceable to any other people, 
from this conception, which plainly assumed 
the existence of other and rival gods of neigh- 
boring nations, it was an enormous step in 
advance to pass to the idea of One only Lord 
of all the earth, whose House should be a 
" House of prayer for all nations." 

Still vaster was the progress from anthropo- 
morphic and morally imperfect ideas of the 
character of the tribal God to the adoration of 
Isaiah's " High and Holy One, who inhabiteth 
eternity," who dwells in the high and holy 
place with the pure in heart and the contrite. 

Again, there was made a bound forward by 
Judaism when the earlier simple secularism and 
disbelief of, or indifference to, a future world 
vanished before the belief in Immortality which 
grew up in spite of the teachings of Antigonus 
and Sadok, and (after the Dispersion) never 
faded out again altogether. 

And finally, with the development of the 
Prophetic spirit, Worship assumed more its true 
forms of praise, confession of sin, and thanks- 
giving ; and, at the fall of Jerusalem, the bloody 
sacrifices (long limited to the sacred enclosure) 



PROGRESSIVE JUDAISM 8 1 

came to an end forever amid the smoking 
ruins. 

These were truly great steps of progress 
made by Israel of old; but the last of them 
left the nation to carry into its sorrowful exile 
an intolerable burden of ceremonialism and 
dusty superstitions, whereof the Talmud is 
now the lumber-room, and possessed also by 
an unhappy demon of anti-social pride, which 
forbade it to extend to or accept from other 
nations the right hand of human brotherhood. 
The Jews did not go out from Jerusalem as 
the little band of Christian missionaries had 
gone, eager to scatter their new wealth of truth 
among the nations, and, though stoned and 
crucified by those whom they sought to bless, 
yet ever after by their children's children to be 
revered and canonized. The Jews went out as 
misers of truth, holding their full bags of treas- 
ure hid in their breasts. Nor in the ages fol- 
lowing the Dispersion, while Christianity di- 
verged further and further from pure Theism, 
and through Mariolatry and Hagiolatry sank 
well-nigh to polytheism and idolatry, do we 
ever once hear of an attempt by any Jewish 
teacher, even by such a man as Maimonides, 
to call back the wandering nations by pro- 
claiming in their ears the " schema Israel " 



82 PROGRESSIVE JUDAISM 

" THE LORD YOUR GOD THE ETERNAL is ONE." 
Before the expulsion from Palestine, for a brief 
period, Judaism (as one of its bitterest enemies 
has remarked) showed promise of becoming a 
proselytizing creed, " when, under the influence 
of Greek philosophy and other liberalizing in- 
fluences, it was tending from the condition of 
a tribal to that of a universal creed. But Plato 
succumbed to the Rabbins. Judaism fell back 
for eighteen centuries into rigid tribalism, and, 
as Lord Beaconsfield cynically said of it, has 
ever since ' no more sought to make converts 
than the House of Lords.'"* 

At last the long pause in the progress of 
Judaism, considered as a religion, seems draw- 
ing to an end; and we may hail its present 
advance as the continuance of that noble march 
which the Jewish race began to the music of 
Miriam's timbrel. 

This last step forward of Reformed Judaism 
consists, according to its latest interpreter, in 
" the struggle now consciously and now uncon- 
sciously maintained to emancipate the Jewish 
faith from every vestige of tribalism, and to 
enshrine its wholly catholic doctrines in a 
wholly catholic form." This end is to be 
pursued through the " DENATIONALIZATION of 

* Professor Goldwin Smith, in the Nineteenth Century. 



PROGRESSIVE JUDAISM 83 

the Jewish religion, by setting aside all the 
rules and ceremonies which do not possess an 
essentially religious character or are maintained 
merely for the sake of the national, as distinct 
from the religious, unity." 

The following are the modes in which this 
programme may be followed out : 

i. Reformed Judaism abandons the Messi- 
anic hope. It neither desires nor expects the 
coming of Messiah, and the resettlement of 
the Jews in Palestine as a nation it regards as 
retrogression toward tribalism.* 2. It rejects 
the theory of the verbal inspiration of the Old 
Testament, nor does it recognize the perfection 
and immutability of the law contained within 
the Pentateuch. 3. It rejects the theory of a 
Divine tradition recorded in the Mischna, and 
does not admit the authority of the Talmudic 
laws. 4. It puts aside, as no longer binding, 
all the legal, hygienic, and agrarian ordinances 
of the Pentateuch, together with the laws re- 
lating to marriages and to the Levites. 5. It 

* It will be noticed that nothing can be further apart than these 
ideas of a Reformed Judaism from those put forward by George 
Eliot in " Daniel Deronda." Equally remote are they from the 
crude endeavor to return to a supposed primitive Judaism through 
the "worship of the letter" of the Old Testament, which was hailed 
some years ago with premature satisfaction by a certain school of 
Protestant Christians. See the interesting " History of the Karaite 
Jews," by the Rev. W. H. Rule, D.D., 1870. 



84 PROGRESSIVE JUDAISM 

cuts down the feasts and fasts to the Sabbath, 
the Passover, and four others. 6. It adopts 
the vernacular of each country for a larger or 
smaller part of the service of the synagogue, 
instead of retaining the whole in Hebrew. 

Besides these six great changes, there are 
two others looming in the distance. Reformed 
Judaism still regards the rite of circumcision 
as binding, though several distinguished re- 
formers (notably Geiger) have recommended 
that proselytes should not be required to adopt 
it. Of the change of the Sabbath day from 
Saturday to Sunday, I am informed that the 
transference of the holy day has already been 
made by one synagogue in Berlin, which holds 
its services on the Sunday, and by many 
independent Jewish men of business ; and that 
it is very much desired in some other quarters. 
The difficulty attendant on this change obvi- 
ously is: that it would prove so favorable to 
the interests of Jews in a secular sense that, 
if adopted, the charge of worldly motives 
is certain to be brought against those who 
advocate it. 

These, then, in brief, are the negations of 
Reformed Judaism. On the positive side, it 
reaffirms those dogmas which are the kernel 
of Judaism, "the Unity of God; His just 



PROGRESSIVE JUDAISM 85 

judgment of the world; the free relation of 
every man to God ; the continual progress of 
humanity ; the immortality of the soul ; and 
the Divine election of Israel " (understood to 
signify that the Jews, under the will of God, 
possess a specific religious mission not yet 
entirely fulfilled). As to the observances of 
Reformed Judaism, the framework of life and 
habit under which it proposes to exist, " they 
will remain distinctively Jewish, and must not 
bear the mere stamp of nineteenth century 
religious opinion." The Jewish Reformer 
thus, like many another Radical, is an aristo- 
crat at heart, and shrinks from descending to 
the level of a parvenue faith. In my humble 
judgment, he is entirely right in his decision. 
So long as he places the interests of truth and 
honesty above all, he cannot do better than 
hold fast by everything which reminds himself 
and the world of his pedigree through a hun- 
dred generations of worshippers of Jehovah. 

The extent to which such reformation as 
that now sketched prevails at this hour among 
Jews is difficult to ascertain. The movement 
has been going on for some time, and yet 
counts but a moderate number of adherents, 
chiefly, as I have said, German and American 
Jews. Nay, what is most unhopeful, the 



86 PROGRESSIVE JUDAISM 

disease of religious indifference, that moral 
phylloxera which infests the choicest spiritual 
vineyards, is working its evil way among the 
broader-minded Jews, as it works (we know 
too well) among the broader-minded Christians. 
To unite depth of conviction with width of 
sympathy has ever been a rare achievement. 
" Tout comprendre sera tout pardonner," may 
be rendered, in intellectual matters, " To find 
truth everywhere is to contend for it nowhere." 
There is good room to hope, however, that 
if some fall out of the ranks, the Reformed 
party will yet possess enough energy, vigor, 
and cohesion to make its influence erelong 
extensively felt. 

It is a startling prospect which has been thus 
opened before us. If anything seemed fixed in 
the endless flux of nations and religions, it was 
the half-petrified religion of the Jew. That 
the stern figure which we have beheld walking 
alone through the long procession of history 
should come at last and take a place beside his 
brothers is hard to picture. We live in a time 
when, 

" Faiths and empires gleam, 
Like wrecks of a dissolving dream." 

Every solid body is threatened with disintegra- 
tion ; and the new powers of cohesion, if such 



PROGRESSIVE JUDAISM 87 

there be, have scarcely come into play. But, 
of all changes fraught with momentous conse- 
quences, none could well be more important 
than that of a stripping off of its tribal gaber- 
dine by Judaism, and the adoption of " a law 
fit for law universal." The old fable is real- 
ized. The wind and hail of persecution ulew 
and pelted the Jew for a thousand years, and 
he only drew his cloak closer around him. 
The sunshine of prosperity and sympathy has 
shone upon him, and, lo ! his mantle is already 
dropping from his shoulders. 

For the present we can only treat the matter 
as a grand project, but we may endeavor to esti- 
mate the value of a Reformation of J udaism 
such as Luther accomplished for Christianity. 
In the first place, it is, I conceive, the sole 
chance for the permanent continuance of the 
Jewish religion that it should undergo some 
such regeneration. If the proposed Reform 
perish in the bud, Orthodox Judaism will 
doubtless survive for some generations, but, 
according to the laws which govern human 
institutions, its days must be numbered* In 
former times, when every nation in Europe 
held aloof from its neighbors in fear and jeal- 
ousy, it was possible for alien tribes, like the 
Jews and gypsies, to move among all, holding 



88 PROGRESSIVE JUDAISM 

rigidly to their own tribal alliances and ob- 
servances ; hated and mistrusted, indeed, but 
scarcely more so than their Christian next-door 
neighbors. But now that Christian nations 
are all blending together under the influence 
of perpetual intercourse, and their differences 
of belief, governments, costumes, habits, and 
ideas are effacing themselves year by year, the 
presence of a non-fusing, non-intermarrying, 
separatist race a race brought by commerce 
into perpetual friction with all the rest 
becomes an intolerable anomaly. 

For once Mr. Goldwin Smith was in the 
right in this controversy, when he remarked 
that " the least sacred of all races would be that 
which should persistently refuse to come into 
the allegiance of humanity." 

The Jews have shown themselves the stur- 
diest of mankind, but the influences brought 
to bear on them now are wholly different 
from those which they met with such stub- 
born courage of old. Political ambition, so 
long utterly closed to them, but to which 
Lord Beaconsfield's career must evermore 
prove a spur ; pleasure and self-indulgence, to 
which their wealth is an ever ready key; the 
scepticism and materialism of the time, to which 
their acute and positive minds seem to render 



PROGRESSIVE JUDAISM 89 

them even more liable than their contempo- 
raries, these are not the elements out of 
which martyrs and confessors are made. A re- 
formed, enlightened, world-wide creed, which a 
cultivated gentleman may frankly avow and 
defend in the salons of London, Paris, Berlin, or 
New York, and in the progress of which he may 
feel some enthusiasm, a creed which will make 
him free to adopt from Christianity all that he 
recognizes in it of spiritually lofty and morally 
beautiful, such a creed may have a future 
before it of which no end need be foreseen. 
But for unreformed Judaism there can be 
nothing in store but the gradual dropping 
away of the ablest, the most cultured, the 
wealthiest, the men of the world and the men 
of the study, the Spinozas, the Heines, the 
Disraelis and the persistence only for a few 
generations of the more ignorant, fanatical, 
obscure, and poor. 

Again, besides giving to Judaism a new lease 
of life, the Reform projected would undoubtedly 
do much to extinguish that passion vijuden- 
hasse which is the disgrace of Eastern Chris- 
tendom, and the source of such manifold woes 
to both races. The root of that passion is the 
newly awakened sense (to which I have just 
referred) of impatience at the existence of a 



9O PROGRESSIVE JUDAISM 

nation within every nation, having separate 
interests of its own and a solidarity between 
its members, ramifying into every trade, 
profession, and concern of civil life. Were 
this solidarity to be relinquished, and the 
mutual secret co-operation of Jews* reduced 
to such natural and fitting friendliness as 
exists between Scotchmen in England, and 
were it to become common for Jews to marry 
Christians and discuss freely with Christians 
their respective views, were this to happen, 
mutual respect and sympathy would very 
quickly supersede mutual prejudice and mis- 
trust. After two generations of such Reformed 
Judaism, the memory of the difference of race 
would, I am persuaded, be reduced to that 
pleasant interest wherewith we trace the 
ancestry of some of our eminent statesmen 
to " fine old Quaker families," or remark that 

*As an example of this, I can mention the following fact. All 
the Jewish journals in Germany (amounting to nine out of ten of all 
the newspapers in the country) support a certain cruel practice. And 
why ? It has nothing to do with religion, nothing to do with finance, 
nothing to do with any matter wherein Jews have a different interest 
from other people. The key to this mystery is simply that seven or 
eight of the most guilty persons are Jews. This " clandestine manip- 
ulation of the press," and tribe-union for purposes disconnected with 
tribal interests, constitutes a cabal, and necessarily creates antagonism 
and disgust. Nothing of this kind can be laid at the door of English 
Jews, and it is much to be wished that they would expostulate with 
their brethren on its imbittering effects abroad. 



PROGRESSIVE JUDAISM 9! 

some of our most brilliant men of letters have 
in their veins the marvellous Huguenot blood.* 
It is superfluous to add that the Jewish 
people, thus thoroughly adopted into the com- 
ity of European nations, and Judaism recog- 
nized as the great and enlightened religion of 
that powerful and ubiquitous race, the true 
mission of Judaism, as taught by Bible and 
Talmud that of holding up the torch of 
monotheistic truth to the world would begin 
its practical accomplishment. The Latin 
nations in particular, to whom religion has 
presented itself hitherto in the guise of eccle- 
siasticism and hagiolatry, and who are fast 

* I cannot but think that too much has been made, particularly 
under the influence of the modern mania for "heredity," of the 
exceptional character of the Jewish race. Of course, the Jews are 
a most remarkable people, so vigorous physically as to be able to 
colonize either India or Greenland, and after a thousand years of 
Ghetto existence to remain (to the confusion of all sanitation- 
mongers) the healthiest race in Europe. On the mental side, their 
multifarious gifts and their indomitable sturdiness are no less admi- 
rable. But their fidelity to their race and religion is not unmatched. 
Not to speak of the miserable Gypsies, the Parsees offer a more 
singular spectacle; for their members have always been a handful 
compared to the Jews (not above 150,000 at the utmost), and during 
the ten ages of their exile they have exhibited a spirit of concession 
towards the customs of their neighbors which has left the actual 
dogmas of their religion the sole bond of their national integrity. 
They worshipped the One good God under the law of Zoroaster 
three, perhaps four, millenniums ago, and they worship Him faithfully 
still, though a mere remnant of a race, dwelling in the midst of 
idolaters, and with no distinctive badgelike circumcision, no haughty 



92 PROGRESSIVE JUDAISM 

verging into blank materialism as the sole 
alternative they know, would behold at last, 
with inevitable respect, a simple and noble 
worship, at once historical and philosophic, 
without priestly claims, and utterly at war 
with every form of monasticism and super- 
stition. The impression on these, and even 
on the Northern nations, of such a spectacle 
could not be otherwise than elevating, and 
possibly, in the Divine order of the world, 
might be the means whereby the tide of faith, 
so long ebbing out in dismal scepticism, should 
flow once more up the rejoicing shores. 

Even if this be too much to hope, I cannot 
doubt that many Christian Churches would 

disdain of " Gentile " nations, no hope of a restoration to their own 
land. Their priests have been illiterate and despised, not erudite and 
honored rabbis. Their sacred books have twice become obsolete in 
language, and incomprehensible both to clergy and laity. Their 
Prophet has faded into an abstraction. But their faith in Ahura- 
Mazda, the " Wise Creator," the " Rich in Love," remains as clear 
to-day among them as when it first rose upon the Bactrian plains in 
the morning of the world. The virtues of truth, chastity, industry, 
and beneficence inculcated by the Zend-Avesta, and attributed by 
the Greek historians to their ancestors of the age of Cyrus, are still 
noticeable among them in marked contrast to their Hindu neigh- 
bors ; as are likewise their muscular strength and hardy frames. 
Even as regards their commercial aptitudes, the Parsees offer a 
singular parallel to the Jews. The Times remarked some years ago 
that out of the 150,000 Parsees there were an incredible number of 
very wealthy men, and six were actual millionaires. One of the last, 
Sir Jamsetjee Jeejebhoy, gave away in his lifetime the sum of 
.700,000 sterling in charities to men of every religion. 



PROGRESSIVE JUDAISM 93 

draw valuable lessons from the presence 
among them of a truly reformed Judaism, 
Especially in these days of irreverence, of 
finikin Ritualism on one side and Salvation 
Army rowdyism on the other, it would be a 
measureless advantage to be summoned to 
revert in thought to the solemn and awe- 
inspired tone of Hebrew devotion which still 
breathes in the services of the synagogue. It 
has been a loss to Christians as well as to 
Jews that these services have hitherto been 
conducted in Hebrew.* Had the synagogue 
services in London been conducted in the 
English language, I believe that many of the 
popular misapprehensions concerning Judaism 
would never have existed, while the impres- 
sion of profound reverence which the prayers 
convey would have reacted advantageously 
on Christian worship, too liable to oscillate 
between formalism and familiarity.! 

I am bound to add, on the other side, that 
it appears to me there are some very great 

*The congregations use Prayer-books with the vernacular in 
parallel columns. 

I 1 refer especially to the magnificent services for the Day of 
Atonement as used in the Reformed Synagogue. There are also 
many noble prayers hi the collection of Sabbath and other services 
for various festivals. The whole liturgy is majestic, though some- 
what deficient as regards the expression of spiritual aspiration. 



94 PROGRESSIVE JUDAISM 

advantages on the side of Christianity of which 
it behooves reforming Jews to take account. 
These are not matters of dogma, but of senti- 
ment ; and not only may they be appropriated 
by Jews without departing by a hair's breadth 
from their own religious platform, but they 
may every one be sanctioned (if any sanction 
be needed for them) by citations from the 
Hebrew Scriptures themselves. The great 
difference between Judaism and Christianity 
on their moral and spiritual sides, in my 
humble judgment, lies in this : that the piety 
and charity, scattered like grains of gold 
through the rock of Judaism, were by Christ's 
burning spirit fused together, and cast into 
golden coin to pass from hand to hand. Jews 
have continually challenged Christians to point 
to a single precept in the Gospel which has 
not its counterpart in the Old Testament. 
They are perhaps in the right, and possibly 
no such isolated precept can be found differ- 
entiating the two creeds ; but, both by that 
which is left aside and by that which it chose 
out and emphasized, Christianity is, practically, 
a new system of ethics and religion. 

To these three things in Christianity I would 
direct the attention of Jewish reformers: 

The Christian idea of love to God. 



PROGRESSIVE JUDAISM 95 

The Christian idea of love to Man. 

The Christian sentiment concerning Immor- 
tality. 

For the first, far be it from me to wrong the 
martyr race by a doubt that thousands of Jews 
have nobly obeyed the First Great Command- 
ment of the Law (given in Deuteronomy vi. 4, 
as well as repeated by Christ) and "loved the 
Lord their God with all their heart and soul 
and strength," even to the willing sacrifice 
of their lives through fidelity to Him. The 
feelings of loyalty entertained by a Jew in 
the old days of persecution to the " God of 
Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob " must have been 
often a master-passion as fervid as it was 
deep-rooted. But alongside of this hereditary 
loyalty to the God and King of Israel there 
might well grow somewhat of that tender per- 
sonal piety which springs from the Evangelical 
idea of God as holding personal relations with 
each devout and forgiven soul. 

Of the two theories of religion, that which 
starts with the idea of a Tribe or Church, and 
that which starts with the unit of the individual 
soul, Judaism has hitherto held the former. 
It has been essentially a corporate religion; 
and to be "cut off from the congregation," 
like Spinoza, has been deemed tantamount to 



96 PROGRESSIVE JUDAISM 

spiritual destruction. It is surely time that 
Reformed Judaism should now adopt the far 
higher theory of religious individualism, and 
teach men to seek those sacred private and 
personal relations with the Lord of Spirits 
which, when once enjoyed, cause the notions 
of any mere corporate privileges to appear 
childish. Had the deep experiences which 
belong to such personal piety been often felt 
by modern Jews (as they certainly were by 
many of the old Psalmists), it could not have 
happened that modern Jewish literature should 
have been so barren as it is of devotional 
works and of spiritual poetry. To a serious 
reverential spirit (a sentiment far above the 
level of that of the majority of Christians), 
Jews too rarely join those more ardent relig- 
ious affections and aspirations which it is the 
glory of Christianity to inspire in the hearts 
of her saints. Had they known these feelings 
vividly and often, we must have had a Jewish 
Thomas a Kempis, a Jewish Saint Theresa, 
a Jewish Tauler, Fenelon, Taylor, Wesley. It 
will not suffice to say in answer that Jews 
did not need such treatises of devotion and 
such hymns of ecstatic piety, having always 
possessed the noblest of the world in their 
own Scriptures. Feelings which really rise to 



PROGRESSIVE JUDAISM 97 

the flood do not keep in the river-bed for a 
thousand years. 

Again, the Christian idea of Love to Man 
possesses an element of tenderness not per- 
ceptible in Jewish philanthropy. Jews are 
splendidly charitable not alone to their own 
poor, but also to Christians. Their manage- 
ment of their public and private charities has 
long been recognized as wiser and more liberal 
than that of Christians at home or abroad. 
They are faithful and affectionate husbands 
and wives ; peculiarly tender parents ; pious 
children ; kindly neighbors. The cruel wrongs 
of eighteen centuries have neither brutalized 
nor imbittered them. Well would it be if 
whole classes of drunken, wife-beating English- 
men would take example in these respects from 
them! But of certain claims beyond these, 
claims always recognized by Christian teachers, 
and not seldom practically fulfilled by Christian 
men and women, the claims of the erring to 
be forgiven, of the fallen to be lifted out of the 
mire, Jews have hitherto taken little account. 
The parable of the Lost Sheep is emphati- 
cally Christian; and among Christians only, till 
quite recently, have there been active agencies 
at work to seek and save ruined women, drunk- 
ards, criminals, the " perishing and dangerous 



98 PROGRESSIVE JUDAISM 

classes." * Mary Magdalene did well to weep 
over the feet of Jesus Christ. It was Christ 
who brought into the world compassion for 
her and for those like her. And for the for- 
giveness of enemies, also, the Christian spirit, 
if not absolutely unique, is yet supreme. The 
very core of the Christian idea fitly found 
its expression on the Cross, " Father, forgive 
them, for they know not what they do." That 
divinest kind of charity, which renounces all 
contests for rights, and asks not what it is 
bound to do, but what it may be permitted to 
do, to bless and serve a child of God, that 
charity may, I think, justly be historically 
named Christian. Of course, every pure The- 
ism is called on to teach it likewise. 

*So rapidly moves the world that, since this Essay was first 
published, a whole systematic work of charity of this specially Chris- 
tian character has been established by benevolent Jewish ladies in 
London. I have before me the " Report of the Jewish Ladies' Asso- 
ciation for Prevention and Rescue Work" for 1886-87, printed for 
private circulation. The president of the association is Lady Roth- 
schild ; the honorable secretaries, Mrs. Cyril Flower and Mrs. J. L. 
Jacobs. Nothing can seem more wisely kind and merciful than the 
whole scheme as here detailed. We are told that the poor Jewish 
girls reclaimed from a life of vice (into which only of late years 
have many been known to fall) " are taught not only to follow the 
observances of their faith, but also to lead pure and useful lives; 
and no pains will be spared to make them better women as well as 
capable earners of their own livelihood. . . . The committee feel con- 
vinced they will not be allowed to fail in their strenuous endeavor 
to bring back those who are, as it were, sunk in moral death, to a 
new life." 



PROGRESSIVE JUDAISM 99 

With regard to women, the attitude of Juda- 
ism is peculiar. It has always recognized some 
" Rights of Women," and has never fallen into 
the absurdity of cherishing mental or physical 
weakness in them as honorable or attractive. 
As Mrs. Cyril Flower (then Miss Constance 
de Rothschild) showed in an interesting arti- 
cle published some years ago, the " Hebrew 
Woman," so magnificently described in the 
last chapter of Proverbs, has always been the 
Jewish ideal : " Strength and honor are her 
clothing. She openeth her mouth with wis- 
dom." No jealousy, but, on the contrary, joyful 
recognition, awaited in each age the vigorous 
actions of Miriam and Deborah, of Judith and 
Esther, and of the mother of the seven martyrs 
in the Book of Maccabees. Jewish marriages 
(till quite recently formed always on the East- 
ern rather than on the Western system) are 
proverbially faithful and affectionate ; and the 
resolution of Jews never to permit their wives 
to undertake labor outside their homes (such 
as factory work and the like) has undoubtedly 
vastly contributed to the health and welfare 
of the nation. Yet, notwithstanding all this, 
something appears to be lacking in Jewish 
feeling concerning women. Too much of 
Oriental materialism still lingers. Too little 



IOO PROGRESSIVE JUDAISM 

of Occidental chivalry and romance has yet 
arisen. In this respect, strange to say, the 
East is prose, the West poetry. The relations 
of men and women, above all of husband and 
wife, cannot be ranked as perfect till some 
halo of tender reverence be added to sturdy 
good will and fidelity.* 

And, beyond their human brethren and 
sisters, Christians have found (it is one of 
those late developments of the fertile Chris- 
tian idea of which I have spoken) that the 
humbler races of living creatures have also 
claims upon us, moral claims founded on the 
broad basis of the right of simple sentiency 
to be spared needless pain; religious claims 
founded on the touching relation which we, 
the often forgiven children of God, bear to 
"the unoffending creatures which he loves." 
This tender development of Christianity, and 
the discovery consequent on it, that " he pray- 
eth well who loveth well both man and bird 
and beast," is assuredly worthy of the regard 
of those Reformers who would make Judaism 
a universal religion. Semitic literature has 
hitherto betrayed a hardness and poverty on 
this side which it is needful should now be 

*See this affectingly brought out in that charming book, 
"The Jews of Barnow." 



PROGRESSIVE JUDAISM IOI 

remedied, if Judaism is to ride on the full 
tide of Aryan sympathies. 

And, lastly, the Christian sentiment concern- 
ing Immortality deserves special attention from 
Reforming Jews. The adoption of the dogma 
of a Future Life has scarcely even yet, after 
some fifty generations, imprinted on the Jewish 
mind the full consciousness of 

" That great world of light which lies 
Behind all human destinies." 

Jews have, it would appear, essentially the 
esprit positif. They are content to let the 
impenetrable veil hang between their eyes and 
the future world, that veil which the Aryan 
soul strives impatiently, age after age, to tear 
away, or on which it throws a thousand 
phantasms from the magic-lanthorn of fancy. 
Millions of Christians have lived with their 
" treasures " truly placed in that world where 
moth and rust do not corrupt, nor thieves 
break through and steal. Especially have the 
bereaved among us dwelt on earth with their 
hearts already in heaven where their beloved 
ones await them. To too great an extent, no 
doubt, has this "other-worldliness" been carried, 
especially among ascetics ; but, on the whole, 
the firm anchorage of Christian souls beyond 



IO2 PROGRESSIVE JUDAISM 

the tomb has been the source of infinite 
comfort and infinite elevation. Of this sort 
of projection of the spirit into the darkness, 
this rocket-throwing of ropes of faith over the 
deeps of destruction, whereby the mourner's 
shipwrecked soul is saved and reinstated, the 
Jewish consciousness seems yet scarcely cog- 
nizant. Perhaps these days of pessimism and 
mental fog are not those wherein any one is 
likely to find his faith in immortality quickened. 
As Dr. Johnson complained that he was " in- 
jured " by every man who did not believe all 
that he believed, so each of us finds his hope 
of another life chilled by the doubts which, 
like icebergs, float in the sea of thought we are 
traversing. But, for those Jews who thoroughly 
accept the dogma of immortality, it would surely 
be both a happiness and a source of moral ele- 
vation to give to such a stupendous fact its 
place in the perspective of existence. There 
is infinite difference between the molelike 
vision which sees nothing beyond the grass- 
roots and the worms of earth, though dimly 
aware of a world of sunlight above, and the 
eagle glance which can measure alike things 
near and afar; between the man who counts 
his beloved dead as lost to him because he 
beholds and hears and touches them no more, 



PROGRESSIVE JUDAISM 1 03 

and the man who can say calmly amid his 
sorrow, 

" Take them, thou great Eternity ! 

Our little life is but a gust, 
Which bends the branches of thy tree, 
And trails its blossoms in the dust." 

Turning now from the results on Judaism 
itself and on Christianity at large of a great 
Jewish Reformation, we may indulge in some 
reflections on the possible bearings of such an 
event on that not inconsiderable number of 
persons who, all over Europe, are hanging 
loosely upon or dropping silently away from 
the Christian Churches. I am not speaking 
of those who become Atheists or Agnostics 
and renounce all interest in religion, but of 
those who, like Robert Elsmere, pass into 
phases of belief which may be broadly classed 
under the head of Theism. These persons 
believe still in God and in the life to come, 
and hold tenaciously by the moral and spiritual 
part of Christianity, perhaps sometimes feeling 
its beauty and truth more vividly than some 
orthodox Christians who deem the startling, 
miraculous, and " apocalyptic " part to consti- 
tute the essence of their faith. But this 
"apocalyptic part," and all which Dr. Mar- 
tineau has called the " Messianic mythology," 



IO4 PROGRESSIVE JUDAISM 

they have abandoned. Of the number of these 
persons, it is hard to form an estimate. Some 
believe that the Churches are all honeycombed 
by them, and that a panic would follow could 
a census of England be taken in a Palace of 
Truth. Not a few in the beginning and 
middle of this century quitted their old folds, 
and under the names of " Unitarians,"' " Free 
Christians," and " Theists " have thenceforth 
stood confessedly apart.* But of late years 
the disposition to make any external schism 
has apparently died away. The instinct, once 
universal, to build a new nest for each brood 
of faith seems perishing among us. The 
Church-forming spirit, so vigorous of old in 
Christianity and in Buddhism, is visibly fail- 
ing, and making way for new phases of 
development, of which the Salvation Army 

*A clever book, exhibiting great acquaintance with current 
phases of opinion, appeared a few years ago, offering by its title 
some promise of dealing with the case of the Christian Theists of 
whom I am speaking. The author proposes to discuss " Natural 
Religion," but he shortly proceeds to describe a great many things 
which, in the common language of mankind, are not religious at all, 
scientific ardor, artistic taste, or mere recognition of the physical 
order of the universe, and to urge that these, or nothing, must con- 
stitute the religion of the future. The Israelites who had gazed up 
in awe and wonder at the rolling clouds on Sinai, from whence came 
the thunders and voices, and the stern and holy Law, and were 
immediately afterwards called on to worship a miserable little image 
of a calf, and told, "These be Thy Gods, O Israel!" might, one 
would think, have felt the same sense of bathos which we experience 



PROGRESSIVE JUDAISM 105 

may possibly afford us a sample. Among 
cultivated people subtle discrimination of dif- 
ferences and fastidiousness as regards ques- 
tions of taste are indefinitely stronger than 
that desire for a common worship which, in 
the breasts of our forefathers, who " rolled the 
psalm to wintry skies," and dared death merely 
to pray together, must have mounted to a pas- 
sion. Englishmen generally still cling to public 
worship, but it is chiefly where an ancient lit- 
urgy supplies by old and holy words a dreamy 
music of devotion, into which each feels at 
liberty to weave his own thoughts. Wherever 
the demand is made for prayers which shall 
definitely express the faith and aspirations 
of the modern-minded worshipper, there the 
subtleties and the fastidiousness come into 
play, and, instead of being drawn together, 
men sorrowfully discover that they are made 

when we are solemnly assured that these sciences and arts are 
henceforth our " Religion. " A drowning man proverbially catches 
at straws, and people who feel themselves sinking in the ocean of 
Atheism seize on every spar which comes under their hands, and cry, 
"We may float yet awhile by this." No one can blame them for 
trying to do so; but it is rather hard to expect all the world to 
recognize as an ironclad the hencoop on which they sit astride. 

Among the "Natural Religions," as he is pleased to call them, 
of which he has brought us intelligence (some of which are not 
natural, and none of which are properly Religions), the author of this 
book has disdained to mention that ancient but ever new form of 
opinion which in former days went by the name of Natural Religion. 
The words were not happily selected, and belong indeed to an 



IO6 PROGRESSIVE JUDAISM 

conscious by common worship of a hundred 
discrepancies of opinion, a thousand disharmo- 
nies of taste and feeling. In all things, we 
men and women of the modern Athens are 
not "too superstitious," but too critical; and 
in religion, which necessarily touches us most 
vitally, our critical spirit threatens to paralyze 
us with shyness. The typical English gentle- 
man and lady of to-day are at the opposite pole 
of sentiment in this respect from the Arab 
who kneels on his carpet on the crowded deck 
for his evening orison, or from the Italian con- 
tadina who tells her beads before the way- 
side Madonna. Doubtless, here is one reason 
among many why such multitudes remain with- 
out any definite place in the religions of the 
land. They hang languidly about the old hive, 
feebly humming now and then, but feeling no 
impulse to swarm, and finding no queen-spirit 

archaic theological terminology. But they were understood by every- 
body to mean, not the recognition of the virtues of physical science, 
nor admiration of fine scenery, nor enthusiasm for art, nor recogni- 
tion of natural laws ; for all these things had names of their own. 
But it was understood to mean the recognition and worship of a 
super-mundane, intelligent, and righteous Person, in other words, 
of GOD. It contemplated God "mainly above Nature," not, as the 
author of this book says must henceforward be done, " mainly in 
Nature" ("Natural Religion," p. 160). For admirable pictures, how- 
ever, of the modern Artist, who would rather have painted a good 
picture than have done his duty, and of the modern Man of Science 
who, " consumed by the passion of research," finds " right and wrong 
become meaningless words," see p. 120. 



PROGRESSIVE JUDAISM 107 

to lead them to another home where they might 
build their proper cells and make their own 
honey. 

But, whether embodied in any religious sect 
or Church, or hanging loosely upon one, the 
persons of whom we have been speaking, as 
believers in God and in the spiritual, but not 
the apocalyptic side of Christianity, Chris- 
tian Theists, as we may best call them, are 
of course nearer in a theological point of view 
than any others to those Reformed Jews whom 
we may call Jewish Theists. The intellectual 
creeds of each, in fact, might, without much 
concession on either side, be reduced to iden- 
tical formulas. Now, Christian Theists have 
hitherto wanted a rallying point, and have 
been taunted with the lack of any historic 
basis for their religion. Why (it will be asked 
by many) should not this Reformed Judaism 
afford such a rallying point, and the old rocky 
foundations laid by Moses support a common 
temple of Christian and Jewish Theism ? 

It may prove that such a consummation may 
be among the happy reunitings and reconstruc- 
tions of the far future. But for the present 
hour, and for the reasons I have given in the 
beginning of this paper, I do not believe it 
can be near at hand. I am also quite sure 



I08 PROGRESSIVE JUDAISM 

that it would be the extreme of unwisdom to 
hamper and disturb the progress of Reformed 
Judaism along its own lines by any hasty 
efforts at amalgamation with outsiders, who 
would bring with them another order of relig- 
ious habits and endless divergencies of opinion. 
Let Reformed Judaism relight the old golden 
candlestick, and set it aloft, and it will give 
light unto all which are in the house, not 
only the House of Israel, but in the House 
of Humanity. A glorious future may in God's 
Providence await such purified, emancipated 
Judaism. It is true, it may not exhibit the 
special form of religion which one party or 
another among us altogether desires to see ex- 
extended in the world. Some radical reformers 
who sympathize in its general scope would 
wish to find it stripping off altogether its Jew- 
ish character, and torn up from the root of 
Mosaism. Many more orthodox Christians 
will undervalue it because it shows no indica- 
tion of a tendency to adopt from Christianity 
such doctrines as the Trinity, the Incarnation, 
or the Atonement, even while, on the spirit- 
ual side, it is imbued with the essential ideas 
of him whom it will doubtless recognize as 
the great Jewish Rabbi and Prophet, Jesus of 
Nazareth. But it is not for us to seek to 



PROGRESSIVE JUDAISM 

modify, scarcely even to criticise, such a move- 
ment as this. A respectful interest and a 
hopeful sympathy seem to me the only sen- 
timents wherewith Christians and Christian 
Theists should stand aside and watch this last 
march forward of that wondrous patriarchal 
faith, whereof Christianity itself is the first- 
born son, and Islam the younger ; and which 
now in the end of the ages prepares to cross 
a new Jordan, and take possession of a new 
Holy Land. 

*** NOTE. It is proper to mention, in republishing this essay at 
the desire of Jewish friends, that it was received on its first appear- 
ance with the utmost possible disfavor by the Jewish press. 



ESSAY IV. 



THOUGHTS ABOUT THINKING. 



THOUGHTS ABOUT THINKING. 



ENDLESS books have been written about the 
Laws of Thought, the Nature of Thought, and 
the Validity of Thought. Physiologists and 
metaphysicians have vied with one another to 
tell us in twenty different ways how we think 
and why we think and what good our thinking 
may be supposed to be as affording us any real 
acquaintance with things in general outside our 
thinking-machine. One school of philosophers 
tells us that Thought is a secretion of the brain 
(i.e., that Thought is a form of Matter), and 
another that it is purely immaterial, and the 
only reality in the universe, i.e., that Matter 
is a form of Thought. The meekest of men 
"presume to think" this, that, and the other; 
and the proudest distinction of the modern 
sage is to be a "Thinker," especially a "free" 
one. But with all this much ado about 
Thought, it has not occurred to any one, so 
far as I am aware, to attempt a fair review of 



114 THOUGHTS ABOUT THINKING 

what any one of us thinks in the course of 
the twenty-four hours; what are the number 
of separable thoughts which, on an average, 
pass through a human brain in a day; and 
what may be their nature and proportions in 
the shape of Recollections, Reflections, Hopes, 
Contrivances, Fancies, and Reasonings. We 
are all aware that when we are awake a 
perpetual stream of thoughts goes on in 
"what we are pleased to call our minds," 
sometimes slow and sluggish, as the water in 
a ditch ; sometimes bright, rapid, and sparkling, 
like a mountain brook; and now and then 
making some sudden, happy dash, cataract-wise, 
over an obstacle. We are also accustomed to 
speak as if the sum and substance of all this 
thinking were very respectable, as might be- 
come "beings endowed with the lofty faculty 
of thought " ; and we always tacitly assume 
that our thoughts have logical beginnings, 
middles, and endings commence with prob- 
lems and terminate in solutions or that we 
evolve out of our consciousness ingenious 
schemes of action or elaborate pictures of 
Hope or Memory. If our books of mental 
philosophy ever obtain a place in the Circu- 
lating Libraries of another planet, the "general 
reader" of that distant world will inevitably 



THOUGHTS ABOUT THINKING 115 

suppose that on our little Tellus dwell a thou- 
sand millions of men, women, and children, who 
spend their existence as the interlocutors in 
Plato's Dialogues passed their hours under the 
grip of the dread Socratic elenchus, arguing, 
sifting, balancing, recollecting, hard at work as 
if under the ferule of a schoolmaster. 

The real truth about the matter seems to 
be that, instead of taking this kind of mental 
exercise all day long, and every day, there are 
very few of us who ever do anything of the 
kind for more than a few minutes at a time ; 
and that the great bulk of our thoughts pro- 
ceed in quite a different way, and are occupied 
by altogether less exalted matters than our 
vanity has induced us to imagine. The 
normal mental locomotion of even well-edu- 
cated men and women, save under the spur 
of exceptional stimulus, is neither the flight 
of an eagle in the sky nor the trot of a horse 
upon the road, but may better be compared 
to the lounge of a truant school-boy in a shady 
lane, now dawdling pensively, now taking a 
hop-skip-and-jump, now stopping to pick black- 
berries, and now turning to right or left to 
catch a butterfly, climb a tree, or make dick- 
duck-and-drake on a pond ; going nowhere in 
particular, and only once in a mile or so pro- 



Il6 THOUGHTS ABOUT THINKING 

ceeding six steps in succession in an orderly 
and philosophical manner. 

It is far beyond my ambition to attempt to 
supply this large lacune in mental science, and 
to set forth the truth of the matter about the 
actual Thoughts which practically, not theo- 
retically, are wont to pass through human 
brains. Some few observations on the subject, 
however, may perhaps be found entertaining, 
and ought certainly to serve to mitigate our 
self-exaltation on account of our grand mental 
endowments, by showing how rarely and under 
what curious variety of pressure we employ 
them. 

The first and familiar remark is that every 
kind of thought is liable to be colored and 
modified in all manner of ways by our physi- 
cal conditions and surroundings. We are not 
steam thinking-machines, working evenly at 
all times at the same rate, and turning out the 
same sort and quantity of work in the same 
given period, but rather more like windmills, 
subject to every breeze, and whirling our sails 
at one time with great impetus and velocity, 
and at another standing still, becalmed and 
ineffective. Sometimes it is our outer condi- 
tions which affect us, sometimes it is our own 
inner wheels which are clogged and refuse to 



THOUGHTS ABOUT THINKING I I 7 

rotate ; but, from whatever cause it arises, the 
modification of our thoughts is often so great 
as to make us arrive at diametrically opposite 
conclusions on the same subject and with the 
same data of thought, within an incredibly 
brief interval of time. Some years ago, the 
President of the British Association frankly 
answered objections to the consistency of his 
inaugural address by referring to the different 
aspects of the ultimate problems of theology 
in different " moods " of mind. When men 
of such eminence confess to "moods," lesser 
mortals may avow their own mental oscilla- 
tions without painful humiliation, and even 
put forward some claim to consistency if the 
vibrating needle of their convictions do not 
swing quite round the whole compass, and 
point at two o'clock to the existence of a 
Deity and a Life to come, and at six to a 
nebula for the origin, and a "streak of morning 
cloud " for the consummation of things. Pos- 
sibly, also, the unscientific mind may claim 
some praise on the score of modesty if it delay 
for the moment to instruct mankind in either 
its two o'clock or its six o'clock creed, and 
wait till it has settled down for some few 
hours, weeks, or months, to any one definite 
opinion. 



Il8 THOUGHTS ABOUT THINKING 

Not to dwell for the present on these serious 
topics, it is only necessary to carry with us 
through our future investigations that every 
man's thoughts are continually fluctuating and 
vibrating, from inward as well as outward 
causes. Let us glance for a moment at some 
of these. First, there are the well-known con- 
ditions of health and high animal spirits, in 
which every thought is rose-colored ; and cor- 
responding conditions, of disease and depres- 
sion, in which everything we think of seems to 
pass, like a great bruise, through yellow, green, 
blue, and purple to black. A liver complaint 
causes the universe to be enshrouded in gray; 
and the gout covers it with an inky pall, and 
makes us think our best friends little better 
than fiends in disguise. Further, a whole 
treatise would be needed to expound how our 
thoughts are further distempered by food, bev- 
erages of various kinds, and narcotics of great 
variety. When our meals have been too long 
postponed, it would appear as if that Evil 
Personage who proverbially finds mischief for 
idle hands to do were similarly engaged with 
an idle digestive apparatus, and the result is 
that, if there be the smallest and most remote 
cloud to be seen in the whole horizon of our 
thoughts, it sweeps up and over us just in pro- 



THOUGHTS ABOUT THINKING I 19 

portion as we grow hungrier and fainter, till 
at last it overwhelms us in depression and 
despair. "Why?" we ask ourselves, "why has 
not A. written to us for so long? What will 

B. think of such and such a transaction ? How 
is our pecuniary concern with C. to be settled? 
What is the meaning of that odd little twitch 
we have felt so often here or there about 
our persons?" The answer to our thoughts, 
prompted by the evil genius of famine, is 
always lugubrious in the extreme. "A. has 
not written because he is dead. B. will quar- 
rel with us forever because of that transaction. 

C. will never pay us our money, or we shall 
never be able to pay C. That twitch which 
we have so thoughtlessly disregarded is the 
premonitory symptom of the most horrible of 
all human maladies, of which we shall die in 
agonies and leave a circle of sorrowing friends 
before the close of the ensuing year." Such 
are the id'ees noires which present themselves 
when we want our dinner ; and the best-inten- 
tioned people in the world, forsooth ! recom- 
mend us to summon them round us by fasting, 
as if they were a company of cherubim instead 
of imps of quite another character ! But the 
scene undergoes a transformation bordering on 
the miraculous when we have eaten a slice of 



I2O THOUGHTS ABOUT THINKING 

mutton and drunk half a glass of sherry. If 
we revert now to our recent meditations, we 
are quite innocently astonished to think what 
could possibly have made us so anxious with- 
out any reasonable ground. Of course, A. 
has not written to us because he always goes 
grouse-shooting at this season. B. will never 
take the trouble to think about our little trans- 
action. C. is certain to pay us, or we can 
readily raise money to pay him ; and our 
twitch means nothing worse than a touch of 
rheumatics or an ill-fitting garment. 

Beyond the alternations of fasting and feast- 
ing, still more amazing are the results of nar- 
cotics, alcoholic beverages, and of tea and 
coffee. Every species of wine exercises a 
perceptibly different influence of its own, 
from the cheery and social "sparkling grape 
of Eastern France " to the solemn black wine 
of Oporto, the fit accompaniment of the blandly 
dogmatic post-prandial prose of elderly gentle- 
men of orthodox sentiments. A cup of strong 
coffee clears the brain and makes the thoughts 
transparent, while one of green tea drives them 
fluttering like dead leaves before the wind. 
Time and learning would fail to describe the 
yet more marvellous effects of opium, hem- 
lock, henbane, haschish, bromide, and chloral. 



THOUGHTS ABOUT THINKING 121 

Every one of these narcotics produces a differ- 
ent hue of the mental window through which 
we look out on the world; sometimes distorting 
all objects in the wildest manner (like opium), 
sometimes (like chloral) acting only perceptibly 
by removing the sense of disquiet and restoring 
our thoughts to the white light of common- 
sense cheerfulness ; and again acting quite dif- 
ferently on the thoughts of different persons, 
and of the same persons at different times. 

Only secondary to the effects of inwardly 
imbibed stimulants or narcotics are those of 
the outward atmosphere, which in bracing 
weather makes our thoughts crisp like the 
frosted grass, and in heavy November causes 
them to drip chill and slow and dull, like the 
moisture from the mossy eaves of the Moated 
Grange. Burning, glaring Southern sunshine 
dazes our minds as much as our eyes, and a 
London fog obfuscates them, so that a man 
might honestly plead that he could no more 
argue clearly in the fog than the Irishman 
could spell correctly with a bad pen and 
muddy ink. 

Nor are mouths, eyes, and lungs by any 
means the only organs through which influ- 
ences arrive at our brain, modifying the 
thoughts which proceed from them. The 



122 THOUGHTS ABOUT THINKING 

sense of Smelling, when gratified by the odors 
of woods and gardens and hay-fields, or even 
of delicately perfumed rooms, lifts all our 
thoughts into a region wherein the Beautiful, 
the Tender, and the Sublime may impress us 
freely; while the same sense, offended by dis- 
gusting and noxious odors, as of coarse cook- 
ery, open sewers, or close chambers inhabited 
by vulgar people, thrusts us down into an 
opposite stratum of feeling, wherein poetry 
entereth not, and our very thoughts smell of 
garlic. Needless to add that in a still more 
transcendent way Music seizes on the thoughts 
of the musically-minded, and bears them off in 
its talons over sea and land, and up to Olym- 
pus like Ganymede. Two easily distinguish- 
able mental influences seem to belong to 
music, according as it is heard by those who 
really appreciate it or by others who are 
unable to do so. To the former it opens a 
book of poetry, which they follow word for 
word after the performer, as if he read it to 
them, thinking the thoughts of the composer 
in succession with scarcely greater uncertainty 
or vagueness than if they were expressed in 
verbal language of a slightly mystical descrip- 
tion. To the latter the book is closed; but 
though the listener's own thoughts unroll 



THOUGHTS ABOUT THINKING 123 

themselves uninterrupted by the composer's 
ideas, they are very considerably colored 
thereby. " I delight in music," said once Sir 
Charles Lyell to me : " I am always able to 
think out my work better while it is going 
on ! " As a matter of fact, he resumed at the 
moment a disquisition concerning the date of 
the Glacial Period at the precise point at 
which it had been interrupted by the per- 
formance of a symphony of Beethoven, having 
evidently mastered in the interval an intricate 
astronomical knot. To ordinary mortals with 
similar deficiency of musical sense, harmonious 
sound seems to spread a halo like that of light, 
causing every subject of contemplation to seem 
glorified, as a landscape appears in a dewy sun- 
rise. Memories rise to the mind and seem in- 
finitely more affecting than at other times, 
affections still living grow doubly tender, new 
beauties appear in the picture or the landscape 
before our eyes, and passages of remembered 
prose or poetry float through our brains in 
majestic cadence. In a word, the sense of the 
Beautiful, the Tender, the Sublime, is vividly 
aroused, and the atmosphere of familiarity and 
commonplace, wherewith the real beauty and 
sweetness of life are too often veiled, is lifted 
for the hour. As in a camera-obscura or 



124 THOUGHTS ABOUT THINKING 

mirror, the very trees and grass which we had 
looked on a thousand times are seen to possess 
unexpected loveliness. But all this can only 
happen to the non-musical soul when the har- 
mony to which it listens is really harmonious, 
and when it comes at an appropriate time, 
when the surrounding conditions permit and 
incline the man to surrender himself to its 
influences; in a word, when there is nothing 
else demanding his attention. The most bar- 
barous of the practices of royalty and civic 
magnificence is that of employing music as an 
accompaniment to feasts. It involves a con- 
fusion of the realm of the real and ideal, and 
of one sense with another, as childish as that 
of the little girl who took out a peach to eat 
while bathing in the sea. Next to music 
during the dinner-time comes music in the 
midst of a cheerful evening party, where, when 
every intellect present is strung up to the note 
of animated conversation and brilliant repartee, 
there is a sudden douche of solemn chords from 
the region of the pianoforte, and presently some 
well-meaning gentleman endeavors to lift up all 
the lazy people, who are lounging in easy-chairs 
after a good dinner, into the empyrean of emo- 
tion " sublime upon the seraph wings of ecstasy " 
of Beethoven or Mozart ; or some meek damsel, 



THOUGHTS ABOUT THINKING 125 

with plaintive note, calls on them, in Schubert's 
Addio, to break their hearts at the memory or 
anticipation of those mortal sorrows which are 
either behind or before every one of us, and 
which it is either agony or profanation to 
think of at such a moment. All this is as- 
suredly intensely barbarous. The same people 
who like to mix up the ideal pleasure of music 
with incongruous enjoyments of another kind 
would be guilty of giving a kiss with their 
mouths full of bread and cheese. As to what 
we may term extra-mural music, the hideous 
noises made by the aid 'of vile machinery in 
the street, it is hard to find words of con- 
demnation strong enough for it. Probably 
the organ-grinders of London have done more 
in the last twenty years to detract from the 
quality and quantity of the highest kind of 
mental work done by the nation than any two 
or three colleges of Oxford or Cambridge have 
effected to increase it. One mathematician 
alone, as he informed the writer, estimated the 
cost of the increased mental labor they have 
imposed upon him and his clerks at several 
thousand pounds' worth of first-class work, for 
which the State practically paid in the added 
length of time needed for his calculations. 
Not much better are those church bells which 



126 THOUGHTS ABOUT THINKING 

now sound a trumpet before the good people 
who attend " matins " and other daily services 
at hours when their profane neighbors are 
wearily sleeping or anxiously laboring at their 
appointed tasks. 

Next to our bodily Sensations come in order 
of influence on our thoughts the Places in 
which we happen to do our thinking. Medi- 
tating like the pious Harvey " Among the 
Tombs" is one thing; doing the same on a 
breezy mountain side among the gorse and the 
heather, quite another. Jostling our way in a 
crowded street or roaming in a solitary wood, 
rattling in an English express train or floating 
by moonlight in a Venetian gondola or an Egyp- 
tian dahabieh, though each and all favorable 
conditions for thinking, create altogether dis- 
tinct classes of lucubrations. If we endeavor 
to define what are the surroundings among 
which Thought is best sustained and most 
vigorous, we shall probably find good reason 
to reverse not a few of our accepted and famil- 
iar judgments. The common idea, for example, 
that we ponder very profoundly by the sea- 
shore, is, I am persuaded, a baseless delusion. 
We think indeed that we are thinking, but for 
the most part our minds merely lie open, like 
so many oysters, to the incoming waves, and 



THOUGHTS ABOUT THINKING 127 

with scarcely greater intellectual activity. The 
very charm of the great Deep seems to lie in 
the fact that it reduces us to a state of mental 
emptiness and vacuity, while our vanity is 
soothed by the notion that we are thinking 
with unwonted emphasis and perseverance. 
Amphitrite, the enchantress, mesmerizes us 
with the monotonous passes of her billowy 
hands, and lulls us into a slumberous hypno- 
tism wherein we meekly do her bidding, and fix 
our eyes and thoughts, like biologized men, on 
the rising and falling of every wave. If it be 
tempestuous weather, we watch open-mouthed 
till the beautiful white crests topple over and 
dash in storm and thunder up the beach ; 
and, if it be a summer evening's calm, we note 
with placid, never-ending contentment how the 
wavelets, like little children, run up softly and 
swiftly on the golden strand to deposit their 
gifts of shells and seaweed, and then retreat, 
shy and ashamed of their boldness, to hide 
themselves once again under the flowing skirts 
of Mother Ocean. 

Again, divines and poets have united to 
bolster up our convictions that we do a great 
deal of important thinking at night when we 
lie awake in bed. Every preacher points to 
the hours of the " silent midnight," when his 



128 THOUGHTS ABOUT THINKING 

warnings will surely come home, and sit like 
incubi on the breast of sinners who, too often 
perhaps, have dozed in the day-time as they 
flew, bat-wise, over their heads from the pulpit. 
Shelley, in " Queen Mab," affords us a terrible 
night scene of a king who, after his dinner of 
"silence, grandeur, and excess," finds sleep 
abdicate his pillow (probably in favor of indi- 
gestion); and Tennyson, in " Locksley Hall," 
threatens torments of memory still keener to 
the "shallow-hearted cousin Amy" whenever 
she may happen to lie meditating 

" In the dead, unhappy night, and when the rain is on the roof." 

Certainly, if there be any time in the twenty- 
four hours when we might carry on consecu- 
tive chains of thought, it would be when we 
lie still for hours undisturbed by sight or sound, 
having nothing to do, and with our bodies so 
far comfortable and quiescent as to give the 
minimum of interruption to our mental proceed- 
ings. Far be it from me to deny that under 
such favorable auspices some people may think 
to good purpose. But, if I do not greatly err, 
they form the exception rather than the rule 
among bad sleepers. As the Psalmist of old 
remarked, it is generally " mischief " which a 
man wicked or otherwise "devises upon 



THOUGHTS ABOUT THINKING 129 

his bed " ; and the truth of the observation in 
our day is proved from the harsh Ukases for 
domestic government which are commonly pro- 
mulgated by Paterfamilias at the breakfast 
table, and by the sullenness de parti pris which 
testifies that the sleepless brother, sister, or 
maiden aunt has made up his or her mind dur- 
ing the night to " have it out " with So-and-so 
next morning. People are a little faint and 
feverish when they lie awake, and nothing 
occurs to divert their minds and restore them 
to equanimity, and so they go on chewing the 
bitter cud of any little grudge. Thus it comes 
to pass that, while Anger causes Sleeplessness, 
Sleeplessness is a frequent nurse of Anger.* 

Finally, among popular delusions concerning 
propitious conditions of Thoughts, must be 
reckoned the belief (which has driven hermits 
and philosophers crazy) that thinking is better 
done in abnormal isolation than in the natural 
social state of man. Of course there is benefit 
quite incalculable in the reservation of some 
portion of our days for solitude. How much 
excuse is to be made for the shortcomings, the 
ill-tempers, the irreligion of those poor people 

*A Chief of the Police Force has informed me that arrests of 
desperadoes are always made, if practicable, at about four A.M.; 
that hour being found by experience to be the one when animal 
courage is at its lowest ebb and resistance to be least apprehended. 



130 THOUGHTS ABOUT THINKING 

who are scarcely alone for half an hour be- 
tween the cradle and the grave, God alone can 
tell. But, with such reasonable reservation of 
our hours and the occasional precious enjoy- 
ment of lonely country walks or rides, the 
benefits of solitude, even on Zimmermann's 
showing, come nearly to an end; and there is 
little doubt that, instead of thinking more, the 
more hours of loneliness we devote to doing it, 
the less we shall really think at all, or even 
retain capacity for thinking and not degenerate 
into cabbages. Our minds need the stimulus 
of other minds, as our lungs need oxygen to 
perform their functions. After all, if we analyze 
the exquisite pleasure afforded us by brilliant 
and suggestive conversation, one of its largest 
elements will be found to be that it has quick- 
ened our thoughts from a heavy amble into a 
gallop. A really fine talk between half a dozen 
well-matched and thoroughly cultivated people, 
who discuss an interesting subject with their 
manifold wealth of allusions, arguments, and 
illustrations, is a sort of mental Oaks or Derby- 
day, wherein our brains are excited to their 
utmost speed, and we get over more ground 
than in weeks of solitary mooning meditation. 
It is superfluous to add that if our constitu- 
tional mental tendency be that of the gentle- 



THOUGHTS ABOUT THINKING 

man who naively expressed his feelings by 
saying impressively to a friend, " I take great 
interest in my own concerns, I assure you I 
do," it seems doubly desirable that we should 
overstep our petty ring-fence of personal hopes, 
fears, and emotions of all kinds, and roam with 
our neighbors over their dominions, and into 
further outlying regions of public and universal 
interest. Of all ingenious prescriptions for 
making a miserable moral hypochondriac, it is 
difficult to imagine a better than the orthodox 
plan of the " Selig-gemachende Kirche " for 
making a Saint. Take your man or woman, 
with a morbidly tender conscience and a perni- 
cious habit of self-introspection. If he or she 
have an agonizing memory of wrong, sin, or 
sorrow overshadowing the whole of life, so 
much the better. Then shut the individual up 
in a cell like a toad in a stone, to feed on his 
or her own thoughts, till death or madness puts 
an end to the experiment. 

But if the seaside and solitude and the mid- 
night couch have been much overrated as pro- 
pitious conditions of thought, there are, per 
contra, certain other conditions of it the value 
of which has been too much ignored. The 
law of the matter seems to be that real hard 
Thought, like Happiness, rarely comes when 



132 THOUGHTS ABOUT THINKING 

we have made elaborate preparation for it; 
and that the higher part of the mind which is 
to be exercised works much more freely when 
a certain lower part (concerned with " uncon- 
scious cerebration ") is busy about some little 
affairs of its own department and its restless 
activity is thus disposed of. Not one man in 
fifty does his best thinking quite motionless, 
but instinctively employs his limbs in some 
way when his brain is in full swing of argu- 
ment and reflection. Even a trifling fidget of 
the hands with a paper-knife, a flower, a piece 
of twine, or the bread we crumble beside our 
plate at dinner, supplies in a degree this desid- 
eratum, and the majority of people never carry 
on an animated conversation involving rapid 
thought without indulging in some such habit. 
But the more complete employment of our un- 
conscious cerebration in walking up or down 
a level terrace or quarter-deck, where there are 
no passing objects to distract our attention and 
no need to mark where we plant our feet, 
seems to provide even better for smooth-flow- 
ing thought. The perfection of such condi- 
tions is attained when the walk in question is 
taken of a still, soft November evening, when 
the light has faded so far as to blur the sur- 
rounding withered 'trees and flowers, but the 



THOUGHTS ABOUT THINKING 



133 



gentle gray sky yet affords enough vision to 
prevent embarrassment. There are a few such 
hours in every year which appear absolutely 
invaluable for calm reflection, and which are 
grievously wasted by those who hurry indoors 
at dusk to light candles and sit round a yet 
unneeded fire. 

There is also another specially favorable 
opportunity for abstruse meditation, which I 
trust I may be pardoned for venturing to name. 
It is the grand occasion afforded by the laud- 
able custom of patiently listening to dull speak- 
ers or readers in the lecture-room or the pulpit. 
A moment's reflection will surely enable the 
reader to corroborate the remark that we sel- 
dom think out the subject of a new book or 
article, or elaborate a political or philanthropic 
scheme, a family compact, or the menu of a 
large dinner, with so much precision and lucid- 
ity as when gazing with vacant respectfulness 
at a gentleman expatiating with elaborate stu- 
pidity on theology or science. The voice of 
the charmer as it rises and falls is almost as 
soothing as the sound of the waves on the 
shore, but not quite equally absorbing to the 
attention ; while the repose of all around gently 
inclines the languid mind to alight like a but- 
terfly on any little flower it may find in the 



134 THOUGHTS ABOUT THINKING 

arid waste, and suck it to the bottom. This 
beneficent result of sermon and lecture-hearing 
is, however, sometimes deplorably marred by 
the stuffiness of the room, the hardness and 
shallowness of the seats (as in that place of 
severe mortification of the flesh, the Royal 
Institution in Albemarle Street), and lastly by 
the unpardonable habit of many orators of lift- 
ing their voices in an animated way, as if they 
really had something to say, and then solemnly 
announcing a platitude, a process which acts 
on the nerves of a listener as it must act on 
those of a flounder to be carried up into the 
air half a dozen times in the bill of a heron 
and then dropped flat on the mud. Under 
trials like these, the tormented thoughts of the 
sufferer, seeking rest and finding none, are apt 
to assume quite unaccountable and morbid 
shapes, and indulge in freaks of an irrational 
kind, as in a dream. The present writer and 
some sober-minded acquaintances have, for 
example, all felt themselves impelled at such 
hours to perform aerial flights of fancy about 
the church or lecture-room in the character 
of stray robins or bats. " Here," they think 
gravely (quite unconscious for the moment of 
the absurdity of their reflection), " here, on this 
edge of a monument, I might stand and take 



THOUGHTS ABOUT THINKING 



135 



flight to that cornice an inch wide, whence I 
might run along to the top of that pillar ; and 
from thence, by merely touching the bald tip of 
the preacher's head, I might alight on the back 
of that plump little angel on the tomb opposite, 
while a final spring would take me through 
the open pane of window and perch me on the 
yew-tree outside." The whole may perhaps be 
reckoned a spontaneous mythical self-represen- 
tation of the Psalmist's cry : " Oh that I had 
wings like a dove, for then would I flee away 
and be at rest." 

Another kind of meditation under the same 
aggravated affliction is afforded by making 
fantastic pictures out of the stains of damp 
and tracks of snails on the wall, which often (in 
village churches especially) supply the young 
with a permanent subject of contemplation in 
"the doctor with his boots," the "old lady and 
her cap," and the huge face which would be 
quite perfect if the spectator might only draw 
an eye where one is missing, as in the fresco of 
Dante in the Bargello. Occasionally, the sun- 
shine kindly comes in and makes a little lively 
entertainment on his own account by throwing 
the shadow of the preacher's head ten feet long 
on the wall behind him, causing the action of 
his jaws to resemble the vast gape of a croco- 



136 THOUGHTS ABOUT THINKING 

dile. All these, however, ought perhaps to be 
counted as things of the past ; or, at least, as 
very " Rural Recreations of a Country Parish- 
ioner,'' as A. K. H. B. might describe them. 
It is not objects to distract and divert the 
attention which anybody can complain of want- 
ing in the larger number of modern churches 
in London. 

But, if our thoughts are wont to wander off 
into fantastic dreams when we are bored, they 
have likewise a most unfortunate propensity to 
swerve into byways of triviality no less mis- 
placed when, on the contrary, we are interested 
to excess, and our attention has been fixed 
beyond the point wherein the tension can be 
sustained. 

Every one has recognized the truth of Dick- 
ens's description of Fagin, on his trial, thinking 
of the pattern of the carpet ; and few of us can 
recall hours of anguish and anxiety without 
carrying along with their tragic memories 
certain objects on which the eye fastened with 
inexplicable tenacity. In lesser cases, and when 
we have been listening to an intensely interest- 
ing political speech, or to a profoundly thought- 
ful sermon (for even Habitans in Sicco may 
sometimes meet such cases), the mind seems 
to "shy" suddenly, like a restive horse, from 



THOUGHTS ABOUT THINKING 137 

the whole topic under consideration, and we 
find ourselves, intellectually speaking, landed 
in a ditch. 

Another singular phenomenon under such 
circumstances is that, on returning, perhaps 
after the interval of years, to a spot wherein 
such excessive mental tension has been ex- 
perienced, some of us are suddenly vividly 
impressed with the idea that we have been 
sitting there during all the intervening time, 
gazing fixedly on the same pillars and cornices, 
the same trees projected against the evening 
sky, or whatever other objects happen to be 
before our eyes. It would appear that the 
impression of such objects made on the retina, 
while the mind was wholly and vehemently 
absorbed in other things, must be somehow 
photographed on the brain in a different way 
from the ordinary pictures to which we have 
given their fair share of notice as they passed 
before us, and that we are dimly aware they 
have been taken so long. The sight of them 
once again bringing out this abnormal con- 
sciousness is intensely painful, as if the real 
self had been chained for years to the spot, 
and only a phantom " I '' had ever gone away 
and lived a natural human existence elsewhere. 

Passing, now, from the external conditions 



138 THOUGHTS ABOUT THINKING 

of our Thinking, if we attempt to classify the 
Thoughts themselves, we shall arrive, I fear, at 
the painful discovery that the majority of us 
think most about the least things, and least 
about the greatest ; and that, in short, the mass 
of our lucubrations is in the inverse ratio of 
their value. For example, a share of our 
thoughts, quite astonishing in quantity, is oc- 
cupied by petty and trivial Arrangements. 
Rich or poor, it is an immense amount of 
thought which all (save the most care-engrossed 
statesmen or absorbed philosophers) give to 
these wretched little concerns. The wealthy 
gentleman thinks of how and where and when 
he will send his servants and horses here 
and there, of what company he shall entertain, 
of the clearing of his woods, the preservation 
of his game, and twenty matters of similar 
import; while his wife is pondering equally 
profoundly on the furniture and ornaments of 
her rooms, the patterns of her flower-beds or 
her worsted-work, the menu of her dinner, 
and the frocks of her little girls. Poor people 
need to think much more anxiously of the 
perpetual problem, " How to make both ends 
meet," by pinching in this direction and earn- 
ing something in that, and by all the thousand 
shifts and devices by which life can be carried 



THOUGHTS ABOUT THINKING 139 

on at the smallest possible expenditure. One 
of the very worst evils of limited means con- 
sists in the amount of thinking about sordid 
little economies which becomes imperative 
when every meal, every toilet, and every at- 
tempt at locomotion is a battle-field of ingenu- 
ity and self-denial against ever-impending debt 
and difficulty. Among men, the evil is most 
commonly combated by energetic efforts to 
earn rather than to save ; but among women, to 
whom so few fields of honest industry are open, 
the necessity for a perpetual guard against the 
smallest freedom of expense falls , with all its 
cruel and soul-crushing weight, and on the 
faces of thousands of them may be read the 
sad story of youthful enthusiasm all nipped by 
pitiful cares, anxieties, and meannesses, per- 
haps the most foreign of all sentiments to 
their naturally liberal and generous hearts. 

Next to actual arrangements which have 
some practical use, however small, an inordi- 
nate quantity of thought is wasted by most of 
us on wholly unreal plans and hypotheses 
which the thinker never even supposes to bear 
any relation with the living world. Such are 
the endless moony speculations, " if such a 
thing had not happened " which did happen, or 
"if So-and-so had gone hither" instead of 



I4O THOUGHTS ABOUT THINKING 

thither, or " if I had only said or done " what 
I did not say or do, " there would have fol- 
lowed" heaven knows what. Sometimes we 
pursue such endless and aimless guessings 
with a companion, and then we generally stop 
short pretty soon with the vivid sense of the 
absurdity of our behavior; unless in such a 
case as that of the celebrated old childless 
couple, who, looking back over their fireside on 
forty years of unbroken union, proceeded to 
speculate on what they should have done if 
they had had children, and finally quarrelled 
and separated for ever on a divergence of 
opinion respecting the best profession for their 
(imaginary) second son. But, when alone, we 
go on weaving interminable cobwebs out of 
such gossamer threads of thought, like poor 
Perrette with her pot of milk, a tale the 
ubiquity of which among all branches of the 
Aryan race sufficiently proves the universality 
of the practice of building chateaux en Es- 
pagne. 

Of course, with every one who has a profes- 
sion or business of any kind, a vast quantity 
of thought is expended necessarily upon its 
details, insomuch that to prevent themselves, 
when in company from " talking shop " is 
somewhat difficult. The tradesman, medical 



THOUGHTS ABOUT THINKING 141 

man, lawyer, soldier, landholder, have each 
plenty to think of in his own way; and in 
the case of any originality of work such as 
belongs to the higher class of literature and 
art the necessity for arduous and sustained 
thought in composition is so great that (on the 
testimony of a great many wives) I have come 
to the conclusion that a fine statue, picture, or 
book is rarely planned without at least a week 
of domestic irritation and discomfort, and the 
summary infliction of little deserved chastise- 
ment on the junior branches of the distin- 
guished author or artist's family. 

Mechanical contrivances obviously give im- 
mense occupation to those singular persons 
who can love Machines, and do not regard 
them (as I must confess is my case) with min- 
gled mistrust, suspicion, and abhorrence, as 
small models of the Universe on the Atheistic 
Projection. Again, for the discovery of any 
chemical desideratum, ceaseless industry and 
years of thought are expended ; and a Palissy 
deems a quarter of a lifetime properly given 
to pondering upon the best glaze for crockery. 
Only by such sacrifices, indeed, have both the 
fine and the industrial arts attained success; 
and happy must the man be counted whose 
millions of thoughts expended on such topics 



142 THOUGHTS ABOUT THINKING 

have at the end attained any practical conclu- 
sion to be added to the store of human knowl- 
edge. Not so (albeit the thoughts are much 
after the same working character) are the end- 
less meditations of the idle on things wholly 
personal and ephemeral, such as the inordi- 
nate care about the details of furniture and 
equipage now prevalent among the rich in 
England, and the lavish waste of feminine 
minds on double acrostics, art, embroidery, 
and, above all, Dress ! A young lady once 
informed me that, after having for some hours 
retired to repose, her sister, who slept in the 
same room, had disturbed her in the middle 
of the night : " Eugenie, waken up ! I have 
thought of a trimming for our new gowns ! " 
Till larger and nobler interests are opened to 
women, I fear there must be a good many 
whose " dream by night and thought by day " 
is of trimmings. 

When we have deducted all these silly and 
trivial and useless thoughts from the sum of 
human thinking, and evil and malicious 
thoughts, still worse by far, what small re- 
siduum of room is there, alas, for anything 
like real serious reflection! How seldom do 
the larger topics presented by history, science, 
or philosophy engage us! How yet more 



THOUGHTS ABOUT THINKING 143 

rarely do we face the great questions of the 
whence, the why, and the whither of all this 
hurrying life of ours, pouring out its tiny 
sands so rapidly ! To some, indeed, a noble 
philanthropic purpose or profound religious 
faith gives not only consistency and mean- 
ing to life, but supplies a background to all 
thoughts, an object high above them, to 
which the mental eye turns at every moment. 
But this is, alas ! the exception far more than 
the rule; and, where there is no absorbing 
human affection, it is on trifles light as air 
and interests transitory as a passing cloud 
that are usually fixed those minds whose boast 
it is that their thoughts "travel through 
eternity." 

Alone among Thoughts of joy or sorrow, 
hope or fear, stands the grim, soul-chilling 
thought of Death. It is a strange fact that, 
face it and attempt to familiarize ourselves 
with it as we may, this one thought ever pre- 
sents itself as something fresh, something we 
had never really thought before, " / shall 
die ! " There is a shock in the simple words 
ever repeated each time we speak them in 
the depths of our souls. 

There are few instances of the great change 
which has passed over the spirit of the mod- 



144 THOUGHTS ABOUT THINKING 

ern world more striking than the revolution 
which has taken place in our judgment re- 
specting the moral expediency of perpetually 
thinking about Death. Was it that the whole 
Classic world was so intensely entrancing and 
delightful that, to wean themselves from its 
fascinations and reduce their minds to com- 
posure, the Saints found it beneficial to live 
continually with a skull at their side ? For 
something like sixteen centuries Christian 
teachers seem all to have taken it for granted 
that merely to write up " Memento mori " was 
to give to mankind the most salutary and 
edifying counsel. Has anybody faith in the 
same nostrum now, and is there a single Saint 
Francis or Saint Theresa who keeps his or her 
pet skull alongside of his Bible and Prayer- 
book ? 

A parallel might also be drawn between the 
medical and spiritual treatment in vogue in 
former times and in our own. Up to our 
generation, when a man was ill, the first idea 
of the physician was to bleed him and reduce 
him in every way by " dephlogistic " treatment, 
after which it was supposed the disease was 
" drawn off " ; and, if the patient expired, the 
survivors were consoled by the reflection that 
Dr. Sangrado had done all which science and 



THOUGHTS ABOUT THINKING 145 

skill could effect to preserve so valuable a life. 
In the memory of some now living, the pres- 
ence of a medical man with a lancet in his 
pocket (instantly used on the emergency of a 
fall from horseback or a fit of apoplexy, epi- 
lepsy, or intoxication), was felt by alarmed re- 
lations to be quite providential. Only some- 
where about the period of the first visitation of 
cholera in 1832 this phlebotomizing dropped 
out of fashion ; and, when the doctors had 
pretty nearly abandoned it, a theory was 
broached that it was the human constitution, 
not medical science, which had undergone a 
change, and that men and women were so 
much weaker than heretofore that, even in 
fever, they now needed to be supported by 
stimulants. Very much in the same way it 
would appear that in former days our spiritual 
advisers imagined they could cure moral dis- 
ease by reducing the vital action of all the 
faculties and passions, and bringing a man 
to feel himself a " dying creature " by way of 
training him to live. Nowadays our divines 
endeavor to fill us with warmer feelings and 
more vigorous will, and tell us that 

" 'Tis life of which our veins are scant ; 
O Life, not Death, for which we pant ; 
More life, and fuller, that we want." 



146 THOUGHTS ABOUT THINKING 

Is it possible that human nature is really a 
little less vigorous and passionate than it was 
when Antony and Cleopatra lived on the 
earth, or when the genius of Shakspere made 
them live on the stage ? 



ESSAY V. 



TO KNOW, OR NOT TO KNOW. 



TO KNOW, OR NOT TO KNOW. 



THE father of Grecian philosophy held that 
" Man was created to know and to contem- 
plate." The father of Hebrew philosophy 
whose " Song," if not his " Wisdom," is canon- 
ical, and whose judgment, if not his life, is sup- 
posed to have been divinely guided taught 
the somewhat different lesson : " He that in- 
creased! knowledge increaseth sorrow." 

We have been more or less steadily trying 
the validity of Solomon's dictum for about 
three thousand years. Would it be premature 
to take stock of the results, and weigh 
whether it be really for human well-being or 
the reverse that Knowledge is "increasing," 
not only at the inevitable rate of the accumu- 
lating experience of generations, but also at 
the highly accelerated pace attained by our 
educational machinery ? It is at least slightly 
paradoxical that the same State should call on 
its clergy to teach as an infallible truth that 



I5O TO KNOW, OR NOT TO KNOW 

" he that increaseth knowledge increaseth sor- 
row," and at the same time decree for all its 
subjects, as if it were a highly benevolent 
measure, universal compulsory education. 

I fear that the prejudice in favor of Knowl- 
edge is so potent that no reader will give me 
credit for entering on this inquiry in any other 
spirit than one of banter. Nevertheless, I pro- 
pose in the present paper to examine, to the 
best of my ability, the general bearings of 
book-knowledge upon human happiness and 
virtue, and so attain to some conclusion on the 
matter, and decide whether Solomon did or 
did not give proof of profound sagacity in 
originating the axiom that " Ignorance is 
bliss " in the usual negative form of Hebrew 
verities ; and also in foretelling (nearly thirty 
centuries before the present London publish- 
ing season) that "of the making of books 
there is no end." Knowledge, like other evils, 
it seems, is infinitely reproductive. 

The larger and simpler objections to book- 
lore lie on the surface of the case. First. 
Health, bodily activity, and muscular strength 
are almost inevitably exchanged in a certain 
measure for learning. Ardent students are 
rarely vigorous or agile ; and, in the humbler 
ranks, the loss of ruddy cheeks and stalwart 



TO KNOW, OR NOT TO KNOW 151 

limbs among the children of the peasantry, 
after schools have been established in a vil- 
lage, has been constantly observed. The 
close and heated class-rooms in which the 
poor urchins sit (often in winter with clothes 
and shoes drenched through with rain or 
snow) form a bad exchange, in a physical 
point of view, for the scamper across the com- 
mon, and the herding of sheep on the moun- 
tain. Let us put the case at its lowest. Sup- 
pose that, out of three persons who receive an 
ordinary book-education, one always loses a 
certain share of health; that he is never so 
vigorous as he would have been, and is more 
liable to consumption, dyspepsia, and other 
woes incident to sedentary humanity, of which 
again he bequeaths a tendency to his off- 
spring. Here is surely some deduction from 
the supposed sum of happiness derivable from 
knowledge. Can all the flowers of rhetoric 
of all the poets make atonement for the loss 
of the bounding pulse, the light, free step, the 
cool brain of perfect health ? 

Secondly. It is not only the health of life's 
noon and evening which is more or less com- 
promised by study, but the morning hours of 
life's glorious prime, hours such as never can 
come again on this side heaven, which are 



152 TO KNOW, OR NOT TO KNOW 

given to dull, dog's-eared books and dreary 
"copies," and sordid slates, instead of to cow- 
slips and buttercups, the romp in the hay-field, 
and the flying of the white kite, which soars up 
into the deep dark blue and carries the young 
eyes after it where the unseen lark is singing 
and the child-angels are playing among the 
rolling clouds of summer. There was once 
a child called from such dreams to her lesson, 
the dreary lesson of learning to spell possi- 
bly those very words which her pen is now 
tracing on this page. The little girl looked 
at her peacock, sitting in his glory on the bal- 
ustrade of the old granite steps, with nothing 
earthly ever to do but to sun himself and eat 
nice brown bread and call " Pea-ho ! " every 
morning, and the poor child burst into a 
storm of weeping, and sobbed, " I wish I were 
a peacock ! I wish I were a peacock ! " Truly 
Learning ought to have something to show 
to compensate for the thousand tears shed in 
similar anguish ! School-rooms are usually the 
ugliest, dullest, most airless and sunless rooms 
in the houses where they exist; and yet in 
these dens we ruthlessly imprison children day 
after day, year after year, till childhood itself 
is over, never, never to return. And then the 
young man or woman may go forth freely 



TO KNOW, OR NOT TO KNOW 153 

among the fields and woods, and find them 
fair and sweet, but never so fair or so sweet 
as they were in the wasted years of infancy. 
Who can lay his hand on his heart, and say 
that a cowslip or a daffodil smells now as it 
used to smell when it was so very much easier 
to pluck it, quite on our own level ? Do straw- 
berries taste as they did, and is there the same 
drop of honey in each of the flowerets of the 
red clover? Are modern kittens and puppies 
half so soft and so funny as they were in 
former days when we were young? No one 
will dare affirm any of these things who has 
reached years of discretion. Is it not then a 
most short-sighted policy giving away of a 
bird in hand for a bird in the bush to sacri- 
fice the joyous hours of young existence for 
the value of advantages ( if advantages indeed 
they be) to be reaped in later and duller years? 
Watch a child at play, O reader, if you have 
forgotten your own feelings. Let it be Col- 
eridge's 

" Little singing, dancing elf, 
Singing, dancing by itself." 

Catch, if your dim orbs are sharp enough, 
those cloudless blue eyes looking straight into 
yours, and hear the laugh which only means 
the best of all possible jokes, " I am so happy!" 



154 TO KNOW, OR NOT TO KNOW 

Then go to your stupid desk, and calculate 
algebraically what amount of classics and 
mathematics are equivalent to that ecstasy of 
young existence, wherein 

" Simply to feel that we breathe, that we live, 
Is worth the best joy which life elsewhere can give." 

The pagan Irish believed in a paradise for 
the virtuous dead, and called it " Innis-na- 
n'Oge," the " Island of the Young." We all 
live there the first dozen years of mortality; 
and, unless we prove unusually excellent, I fear 
it may be long before we arrive at a better 
place. 

But hitherto we have taken for granted that 
the little prisoners of the school-room are all 
sure to live and come into their fortunes of 
erudition, earned with so many tear-blisters on 
their lesson-books. Of course, however, this is 
far from being the true state of the case. 
The poor little child, whose happiness inno- 
cent, certain, and immediate happiness is 
bartered so ruthlessly for the remote and con- 
tingent benefit of his later years, may very 
probably never see those years at all ; nay, in 
a fixed average number of cases, it is abso- 
lutely certain that he will not grow into a 
man. Can anything be much more sad than 



TO KNOW, OR NOT TO KNOW 155 

such an abortive sacrifice ? Who does not 
remember Walter Scott's " Pet Marjory," with 
her infantine delight in her visits to the coun- 
try, and the calves and the geese, and the 
" bubbly-jocks " ; and how she wrote down in 
her private journal that she was learning the 
multiplication table, and that seven times seven 
was a " divlish thing," and quite impossible 
to acquire ; and how, when somehow at last 
even the still more dreadful "eight times eight" 
had been lodged in her poor little brains, there 
came a day when she cried suddenly to her 
mother, " Oh, my head ! my head ! " and then 
in a few brief hours there was an end of les- 
sons and their advantages for Marjory for- 
ever ? 

And yet again, when some ardent lad has 
passed through school and college, foregoing 
all the sports of his age, and receiving prizes 
and honors, till he stands a first-class man of 
Oxford or Cambridge, and his father's sacri- 
fices and his mother's yearnings and all his 
own gallant and self-denying labors seem on 
the point of reaping their reward, how often 
does it come to pass that with the close of 
the struggle come the reaction, the decline, 
the hasty journey abroad, the hoping against 
hope, and then death ! 



156 TO KNOW, OR NOT TO KNOW 

Thirdly. There is the waste of Eyesight in 
education. It is understood, when we see a 
young man with the "light of the body" 
dimmed behind glass spectacles, that he has 
hurt his eyes by poring over books. A farmer, 
a sportsman, or a soldier, purblind at twenty- 
five or thirty, is a rare thing to see. It is the 
scholar, lawyer, or divine who has paid the 
penalty of seeing God's beautiful world ever- 
more through those abominable bits of glass. 
And for what mighty advantage? Again I 
say, it ought to be something excessively val- 
uable for which a man will exchange the apple 
of his eye. Suppose Bell Taylor were to ask a 
blind gentleman a fee of a thousand pounds to 
give him his sight as he has given it to more 
than one born blind. The blind man, if he 
possessed the money, would doubtless pour it 
out like water to obtain the priceless boon of 
vision. And this is the gift which our boys 
exchange for a moderate acquaintance with 
the Greek language, to be forgotten in a few 
years after they leave school ! 

Half the vast Teutonic nation beholds the 
universe from behind spectacles; owing, no 
doubt, to their vaunted compulsory education, 
aided by their truculent black types. And we 
open-eyed Britons are exhorted, forsooth, to 



TO KNOW, OR NOT TO KNOW 157 

admire and follow in the steps of those bar- 
nacled Prussians ! 

Such are three of the most obvious losses 
to be placed in the scale against the gains 
of Knowledge, the loss to many of bodily 
health; to all of the unshackled freedom of 
childhood ; and to not a few of perfect eye- 
sight. 

But we cannot suppose it was' to any of 
these things Solomon alluded when he linked 
Knowledge and Sorrow in one category. It is 
not likely that those studies of his, about the 
hyssop and the cedar, injured his health; nor 
that the royal sage sat on his famous ivory 
throne to receive the Queen of Sheba in a 
pair of spectacles. As to the loss of the pleas- 
ures of childhood, his well-known opinion of 
the value of the Rod (to the wisdom of which 
the subsequent conduct of his son Rehoboam 
afforded an illustration) makes it probable 
that he would have approved of the torture of 
infants through the instrumentality of lessons. 
Knowledge and Sorrow had, no doubt, some 
other connection in his mind ; and that con- 
nection we have still to mark. 

It is a paradox only too readily verified that 
the mind as well as the body suffers in more 
ways than one from the acquirement of book 



158 TO KNOW, OR NOT TO KNOW 

knowledge. In the first place, the Memory, 
laden with an enormous mass of facts, and 
accustomed to shift the burden of carrying 
them to written notes and similar devices, 
loses much of its natural tenacity. The igno- 
rant clodhopper always remembers the parish 
chronicles better than the scholarly parson. 
The old family servant, who is strongly sus- 
pected of not knowing how to write and whose 
spectacles are never forthcoming when there 
is any necessity to read, is the living annalist 
of the house, and was never yet known to for- 
get an order, except now and then on purpose. 
Not only are the interests, and consequently 
the attention and retentive powers, of illiterate 
persons monopolized by the practical concerns 
of life and the tales of the past which may 
have reached their ears, but they have actually 
clearer heads, less encumbered by a multi- 
tude of irrelevant ideas, and can recall what- 
ever they need, at a moment's notice, without 
tumbling over a whole lumber-room full of 
rubbish to get at it. The old Rabbinical sys- 
tem of schooling, which mainly consisted in 
the committal to memory of innumerable 
aphorisms and dicta of sages and prophets, 
possessed this enormous advantage over mod- 
ern instruction, that whatever a man had so 



TO KNOW, OR NOT TO KNOW 159 

learned he possessed at his fingers' ends, ready 
for instant use in every argument. But, as 
half the value of knowledge in practical life 
depends on the rapidity with which it can be 
brought to bear at a given moment on the 
point of issue, and as a ready-witted man will 
not merely outshine in discussion his slow- 
brained antagonist, but forestall and outrun 
him in every way, save in the labors of the 
library, it follows that to sacrifice the ready 
money of the mind for paper hard to negotiate 
is extremely bad economy. iMere book-learn- 
ing, instead of rendering the memory more 
strong and agile, accustoms it to hobble on 
crutches. 

Other mental powers suffer even more than 
the memory by the introduction of books. 
That method which we familiarly call the 
"Rule of Thumb" that is, the method of 
the Artist is soon lost when there come to 
be treatises and tables of calculation to form, 
instead, the Method of the Mechanic. The 
boats of Greece are to this day sculptured 
rather than wrought by the shipwrights, even 
as the old architects cut their marble archi- 
traves by the eye of genius trained to beauty 
and symmetry, not by the foot-rule of prece- 
dent and book-lore. The wondrous richness 



160 TO KNOW, OR NOT TO KNOW 

and harmony of coloring of Chinese and In- 
dian and Turkish stuffs and carpets and por- 
celain are similarly the result, not of any rules 
to be reduced to formulae, but of taste unfet- 
tered by pattern-books, unwarped by Schools 
of Art Manufacture, bequeathed through long 
generations, each acquainted intimately with 
the aforesaid "rule of thumb." 

For the Reasoning powers, the noblest in 
the scale of human faculties, it may be fairly 
doubted whether the modern increase of 
Knowledge has done much to strengthen them, 
when we find ourselves still unprotected by 
common sense against such absurdities as those 
which find currency amongst us. Men are 
treated amongst us like fowls, crammed to the 
crop with facts, facts, facts, till their digestion 
of them is impaired. 

As to the Imagination, books are like the 
stepping-stones whereon fancy trips across an 
otherwise impassable river to gather flowers on 
the further bank. But it may be questioned 
whether the reading eye ever really does the 
same work as the hearing ear. The voice of 
tradition bears, as no book can do, the burden 
of the feelings of generations. A ballad 
learned orally from our mother's lips seems to 
have far other meaning when we recall it, per- 



TO KNOW, OR NOT TO KNOW l6l 

chance long years after that sweet voice has 
been silent, than the stanzas we perused yes- 
terday through our spectacles in a volume 
freshly reviewed in the Times. 

Such are the somewhat dubious results of 
book-lore on the faculties exercised in its ac- 
quisition. It is almost needless to remark 
that there are also certain positive vices fre- 
quently engendered by the same pursuit. 
Bacon's noble apophthegm, that "a little 
knowledge leads to atheism, but a great deal 
brings us back to God," needs for commentary 
that "a little "must be taken to signify what 
many people think " much." Read in such a 
sense, it applies not only to religious faith, but 
to faith in everything, and most particularly to 
faith in Knowledge itself. Nobody despises 
books so much as those who have read many 
of them, except those still more hopeless infi- 
dels who have written them. Watch the very 
treatment given to his library by a bookworm. 
Note how the volumes are knocked about, and 
left on chairs, and scribbled over with ill-penned 
notes, and ruthlessly dog's-eared and turned 
down on their faces on inky tables, and sat 
upon in damp grass under a tree! Contrast 
this behavior towards them with the respect- 
ful demeanor of unlettered mortals, who range 



1 62 TO KNOW, OR NOT TO KNOW 

the precious and well-dusted tomes like sol- 
diers on drill on their spruce shelves; nobody 
pushed back out of the line, nobody tumbling 
sideways against his neighbor, nobody stand- 
ing on his head! History is not jumbled 
ignominiously with romance ; moral treatises 
are not made sandwiches of (as we have be- 
held) between the yellow covers of Zola ; and 
" Sunday books " have a prominent pew all to 
themselves, where they are not rubbed against 
by either profane wit or worldly wisdom. 
Such is the different appreciation of literature 
by those to whom it is very familiar and by 
those to whom it preserves still a little of the 
proverbial magnificence of all unknown things. 
We used to hear, some years ago, so much 
about the Pride of Learning that it would be 
a commonplace to allude to that fault among 
the contingent disadvantages of study. One 
of the Fathers describes how he was flogged 
by an angel for his predilection for Cicero, 
an anecdote which must have made many a 
school-boy, innocent of any such error, feel that 
life was only a dilemma between the rods of 
terrestrial and celestial pedagogues. But it is 
obvious that the saint had in his mind a sense 
that the reading of "Tusculan Disputations" 
had set him up saint though he was above 



TO KNOW, OR NOT TO KNOW 163 

the proper spirit of implicit docility and unqual- 
ified admiration for more sacred instructions. 
The critical spirit, which is the inevitable 
accompaniment of high erudition, is obviously 
a good way off from that ovine frame of mind 
which divines, in all ages, have extolled as the 
proper attitude for their flocks. Nay, in a 
truer and better sense than that of the open- 
mouthed credulity so idly inculcated, it must 
be owned that, short of that really great knowl- 
edge of which Bacon spoke and which allies 
itself with the infinite wisdom of love and 
faith, there are few things more hurtful to a 
man than to be aware that he knows a great 
deal more than those about him. The main 
difference between what are called self-made 
men and those who have been educated in 
the upper grades is that the former, from their 
isolation, have a constant sense of their own 
knowledge, as if it were a Sunday coat, while 
the others wear it easily as their natural attire. 
The best thing which could happen to a 
village Crichton would be to be mercilessly 
snubbed by an Oxford don. The days when 
women were " Precieuses " and " Blue Stock- 
ings " were those in which it was a species of 
miraculous Assumption of Virgins when they 
were lifted into the heaven of Latin Grammar. 



164 TO KNOW, OR NOT TO KNOW 

But, passing over the injury to healthy eye- 
sight and mental vigor contingent on learning, 
and the moral faults sometimes engendered 
thereby, I proceed to ask another question. 
What is the ethical value of the Knowledge 
bought at such a price, and heaped together 
by mankind during the thirty centuries since 
Solomon uttered his warning? How has it 
contributed to their moral welfare ? 

Surely it is true that even as Art too often 
gilds sensuality, and renders it attractive to 
souls otherwise above its influence, so Knowl- 
edge must open new roads to temptation, and 
take off from sin that strangeness and horror 
which is one of the best safeguards of the 
soul. The old jest of the confessor, who 
asked the penitent whether he did such and 
such dishonest tricks, and received the reply, 
" No, Father ; but I will do them next time," 
was only a fable of one form of the mischief 
of knowledge; and that not the most fatal 
form either. To know how to do wrong is 
one small step towards doing it. To know 
that scores and hundreds and thousands of 
people, in all lands and ages, have done the 
same wrong, is a far larger encouragement 
to the timidity of guilt. Not only is it dan- 
gerous to know that there is a descent to 



TO KNOW, OR NOT TO KNOW 165 

Avernus, but specially dangerous to know 
that it is easy and well trodden. Dr. Watts 
was injudicious, to say the least of it, to betray 
to children that the way to perdition is a 

" Broad road, where thousands go," 

which, moreover, 

" Lies near, and opens fair." 

Better let people suppose that it has become 
quite grass-grown and impassable. 

Many offences, such as drunkenness, de- 
bauchery, swindling, adulteration, and false 
weights, are diseases propagated, chiefly, if 
not solely, like small-pox by direct infection 
conveyed in the knowledge that A, B, C, and 
D do the same things. David was not so 
far wrong to be angry; and divines need not 
be so anxious to excuse him for being so, 
when he saw the " wicked " flourishing " like 
green bay-trees." Such sights are, to the last 
degree, trying and demoralizing. 

In a yet larger and sadder sense, the knowl- 
edge of the evil of the world, of the baseness, 
pollution, cruelty, which have stained the 
earth from the earliest age till this hour, is 
truly a knowledge fraught with dread and woe. 
He who can walk over the carnage field of 
history and behold the agonies of the wounded 



1 66 TO KNOW, OR NOT TO KNOW 

and the fallen, the mutilations and hideous 
ruin of what was meant to be such beautiful 
humanity, he who can see all this, ay, or but 
a corner of that awful Aceldama, and yet 
retain his unwavering faith in the final issue 
of the strife, and his satisfaction that it has 
been permitted to human free will, must be 
a man of far other strength than he who 
judges of the universe from the peaceful pros- 
perity of his parish, and believes that the 
worst of ills is symbolized by the stones under 
which " the rude forefathers of the hamlet 
sleep." Almost every form of knowledge is 
some such trial of faith. Look at zoology 
and palaeontology. What revelations of pain 
and death in each hideous artifice of jagged 
tooth, and ravening beak, and cruel claw! 
What mysterious laws of insect and fungus 
life developed within higher organisms, to 
whom their presence is torture ! What savage 
scenes of pitiless strife in the whole vast strug- 
gle for existence of every beast and bird, every 
fish and reptile ! Turn to ethnology, and 
gather up the facts of life of all the barbarian 
tribes of Africa and Polynesia; of the count- 
less myriads of their progenitors; and of those 
who dwelt in Europe and Asia in bygone aeons 
of prehistoric time. Is not the story of these 



TO KNOW, OR NOT TO KNOW 167 

squalid, half-human, miserable creatures full 
of woe? Our fathers dreamed of a Paradise 
and of a primeval couple dwelling there in 
perfect peace and innocence. We have at 
last so eaten of the Tree of Knowledge that 
we have been driven out of even the ideal 
Eden ; and instead thereof we behold the 
earliest parents of our race, dwarf and hirsute, 
shivering and famished, contending with mam- 
moths in a desert world, and stung and goaded 
by want and pain along every step in the first 
advance from the bestiality of the baboon into 
the civilization of a man. 

Turn to astronomy, and we peer, dazed and 
sick, into the abysses of time and space opened 
beneath us; bottomless abysses where no plum- 
met can sound, and all our toylike measures 
of thousands of ages and millions of miles drop 
useless from our hands. Can any thought be 
more tremendous than the question, What 
are we in this immensity? We had fondly 
fancied we were Creation's last and greatest 
work, the crown and glory of the universe, and 
that our world was the central stage for the 
drama of God. Where are we now? When 
the "stars fall from heaven," will they "fall 
on the earth even as a fig-tree casteth her 
untimely figs " ? Nay, rather will one of the 



1 68 TO KNOW, OR NOT TO KNOW 

heavenly host so much as notice when our 
little world, charged with all the hopes of 
man, bursts like a bubble, and falls in the 
foam of a meteor shower, illumining for a 
single night some planet calmly rolling on its 
way? 

Let us pass from the outer into the inner 
realm, and glance at the developments of 
human thought. The knowledge of Philoso- 
phy, properly so called, from Pythagoras and 
Plato to Kant and Spencer, is it a Knowl- 
edge the increase of which is wholly without 
"sorrow"? Not the most pathetic poem in 
literature seems to me half so sad as Lewes's 
History of Philosophy. Those endless wan- 
derings amid the labyrinths of Being and 
Knowing, Substance and Phenomenon, Nomi- 
nalism and Realism, which, to most men, seem 
like a troubled "dream within a dream," to 
him who has taken the pains to understand 
them rather appear like the wanderings of the 
wretch lost in the catacombs. He roams 
hither and thither, and feels feebly along the 
walls, and stumbles in the dark, finding him- 
self in a passage which has no outlet, and 
turns back to seek another way of escape, and 
grasps at something he deems may contain a 
clew to the far distant daylight, and, lo ! it is 



TO KNOW, OR NOT TO KNOW 169 

but an urn filled with dust and dead men's 
bones. 

Faust is the true type of the student of 
metaphysics when he marks the skull's " spec- 
tral smile " : 

" Saith it not that thy brain, like mine, 
Still loved and sought the beautiful, 
Loved truth for its own sake, and sought, 
Regardless of aught else the while, 
Like mine the light of cloudless day, 
And in unsatisfying thought 
By twilight glimmers led astray, 
Like mine, at length, sank overwrought ? " 

There may be truth within our reach. Some 
of us deem we have found it in youth, and, 
passing out of the metaphysic stage of thought, 
use our philosophy as a scaffolding wherewith 
to build the solid edifice of life, gradually heed- 
ing less and less how that scaffolding may 
prove rotten or ill-jointed. But, even in such 
a case, the knowledge of all that has been, and 
is not, in the world of man's highest thought 
is a sorrowful one. As we wander on from 
one system to another, we feel as if we were 
but numbering the gallant ships with keels 
intended to cut such deep waters, and top- 
masts made to bear flags so brave, which lie 
wrecked and broken into drift-wood along the 
shore of the enchanted Loadstone Isle. 



I7O TO KNOW, OR NOT TO KNOW 

What is, then, the conclusion of our long 
pleading ? Knowledge is acquired at the cost 
of a certain measure of health, and eyesight, 
and youthful joy. Knowledge involves the 
deterioration of some faculties as well as the 
strengthening of others. Knowledge engen- 
ders sundry moral faults. In the realms of 
history, of physical and of mental science, the 
survey of things obtained through knowledge 
is full of sadness and solemnity. The tele- 
scope which has revealed to us a thousand 
galaxies of suns has failed to show us the 
Heaven which we once believed was close 
overhead. 

Is then the pursuit of Knowledge, after all, 
truly a delusion, the worst and weariest of 
human mistakes, a thing to which we are 
driven by our necessities on one hand and 
lured by our thirst for it on the other, but 
which, nevertheless, like the martyrs' cup of 
salt water, only burns our lips with its bitter 
brine ? 

Not so! a thousand times, no! Knowledge, 
like Virtue, is not good because it is useful, but 
useful because it is good. It is useful contin- 
gently, and good essentially. The joy of it is 
simple, and not only needs not to be supple- 
mented by accessory advantages, but is well 



TO KNOW, OR NOT TO KNOW 

worth the forfeit of many advantages to 
obtain. The most miserable wretch we can 
imagine is the ignorant convict locked up in 
a solitary cell, with nothing to employ his 
thoughts but unattainable vice and frustrated 
crime, whereon his stupid judges leave him to 
ruminate as if such poison were moral medi- 
cine to heal the diseases of his soul. And, 
on the other hand, one of the happiest beings 
we can imagine is the man at the opposite end 
of the intellectual scale, who lives in the free 
acquirement of noble knowledge. What is 
any "increase of sorrow" incurred thereby, 
compared to the joy of it ? To build Memory 
like a gallery hung round with all the loveliest 
scenes of nature and all the masterpieces of 
art ; to make the divine chorus of the poets 
sing for us their choicest strains whenever we 
beckon them from their cells; to talk famil- 
iarly, as if they were our living friends, with 
the best and wisest men who have ever lived 
on earth, and link our arms in theirs in the 
never-withering groves of an eternal Academe, 
this is to burst the bounds of space and 
bring the ages together, and lift ourselves out 
of the sordid dust to sit at the banquet of 
heroes and of gods. 



ESSAY VI. 

THE TOWN MOUSE AND THE 
COUNTRY MOUSE. 



THE TOWN MOUSE AND THE 
COUNTRY MOUSE. 



WHETHER it is best to live rapidly or slowly; 
whether the " twenty years of Europe " be pref- 
erable to the " cycle of Cathay " ; and what 
is to be said on behalf of each of the two 
modes of existence, supposing that we have 
the choice between them, seem to be ques- 
tions not unworthy of a little consideration. 
It is quite possible that the common impulse 
to be " in among the throngs of men," and to 
cram a month's ideas and sensations into a 
day, may be the truest guide to happiness; 
indeed, it is rather sorrowful to doubt that it 
should be so, considering how every successive 
census shows the growth of the urban over the 
rural populations, and how strongly the mag- 
nets of the great cities seem destined in future 
years to draw into them all the loose attract- 
able human matter in each country. Never, 
theless, it must be admitted to be also possible 



1 76 TOWN MOUSE AND COUNTRY MOUSE 

that, like the taste for tobacco or alcohol or 
opium, the taste for town life may be an 
appetite the indulgence of which is deleteri- 
ous, and that our gains of enjoyment thereby 
obtained may be practically outbalanced by 
the loss of pleasures which slip away mean- 
while unperceived. It would be satisfactory, 
once for all, to feel assured that in choosing 
either town or country life (when we have the 
choice), we not only follow immediate inclina- 
tion, but make deliberate selection of that 
which must necessarily be the higher and 
happier kind of life, on which, when the time 
comes for saying good-night, we shall look 
back without the miserable regret that we 
have permitted the nobler duties and the 
sweeter joys to escape us, while we have spent 
our years in grasping at shadows and vanities. 
The dog with the bone in his mouth, who 
drops it to catch the bone in the water, is a 
terrible warning to all mankind. But which 
is the real bone, and which is only the 
reflection ? The question is not easily an- 
swered. 

Let us premise that it is of English country 
life and town life alone I mean to speak. 
Foreigners Frenchmen, for example who 
live in the country seem always to do so 



TOWN MOUSE AND COUNTRY MOUSE 177 

under protest, and to wish to convey to the 
traveller that, like the patriarch, they are only 
strangers and sojourners in the rural districts, 
seeking a better country, even a Parisian. 
Moliere's Comtesse d'Escarbagnas, who has 
been six weeks in the capital once in her life, 
and who indignantly asks her visitor, " Me 
prenez-vous pour une provinciate, Madame ? " 
is the type of them all. Of course, country 
life taken thus as a temporary and rather dis- 
graceful banishment can never display its true 
features or produce its proper quantum of 
enjoyment. 

And again, among English forms of coun- 
try life, it is life in bona fide rural districts 
which we must take for our type. All round 
London there now exists a sort of intellectual 
cordon, extending from twenty to thirty miles 
into Kent and Surrey, and about ten miles 
into Herts and Essex. Professor Nichols 
might have mapped it as he did our starry 
cluster, by jotting down every house on the 
boundary inhabited by politicians, literary men, 
and artists, and then running a line all round 
from one to another. Within this circumfer- 
ence (of course, extending year by year), the 
ideas, habits, and conversation of the inhabi- 
tants are purely Londonesque. The habitue 



178 TOWN MOUSE AND COUNTRY MOUSE 

of London dinner-parties finds himself per- 
fectly at home at every table where he sits 
down, and may take it for granted that his 
hosts and their guests will all know the same 
familiar characters, the same anecdotes of the 
season, the books, the operas, the exhibitions ; 
and, much more than all this, will possess the 
indescribable easy London manner of lightly 
tripping over commonplace subjects, and seri- 
ously discussing only really interesting ones, 
which is the art of conversational perspective. 
Beyond the invisible mental London Wall 
which we have described, the wanderer seems 
suddenly to behold another intellectual realm. 
As the author of the " Night Thoughts " de- 
scribes a rather more startling experience, he 
stands on the last battlement, which 

" Looks o'er the vale of non-existence," 

at the end of all things wherewith he is famil- 
iar. He has, in short, penetrated into the 
Rural Districts of the Mind, where men's 
ideas have hedges and ditches no less than 
their fields. 

And once again we must take English coun- 
try life in its most elevated and perfect form, 
that of the hereditary landed gentry, to 
contrast it most advantageously with the life 



TOWN MOUSE AND COUNTRY MOUSE 179 

of towns. To understand and enjoy country 
life as it may be enjoyed, a man should not 
only live in one of those " Stately Homes of 
England," of which Mrs. Hemans was so 
enamoured, but be born and have spent his 
youth in such a house, built by his fathers in 
long past generations. A wealthy merchant or 
a great lawyer who buys in his declining years 
the country seat of some fallen family, to 
enjoy therein the honorable fruits of his labors 
may probably be a much more intelligent per- 
son than the neighboring squire, whose acres 
have descended to him depuis que le monde est 
monde. But he can no more make himself 
into a country gentleman, and acquire the 
tastes and ideas of one, or learn to understand 
from the inside the loves and hates, pleasures 
and prejudices of squiredom, than he can ac- 
quire the dolce favella Toscana by buying him- 
self a Florentine barony. 

And, lastly, our typical country life must 
neither be that of people so great and wealthy 
as to be called frequently by political interests 
up to Parliament, and who possess two or 
more great estates (a man can no more have 
two homes than he can have two heads), nor 
yet that of people in embarrassed and narrow 
circumstances. The genuine squire is never 



l8o TOWN MOUSE AND COUNTRY MOUSE 

rich in the sense in which great merchants 
and manufacturers are rich ; for, however many 
acres he may possess, it is tolerably certain 
that the claims on them will be quite in pro- 
portion to their extent. There is, in fact, a 
kind of money which never comes out of land ; 
a certain freedom in the disposal of large sums 
quite unknown among the landed gentry, at 
least in these days. But, if not possessed of 
a heavy balance at their bankers, the country 
family must have the wherewithal for the 
young men to shoot and hunt and fish, and 
for the girls to ride or amuse themselves 
with garden and pleasure-grounds according to 
taste. All these things, being elements of the 
typical English country life, must be assumed 
as at least attainable at will by our " Coun- 
try Mouse" if he is not to be put altogether 
out of countenance by his brother of the 
town. 

As for the Town Mouse, he need not be rich, 
nor is it more than a trifling advantage to him 
(felt chiefly at the outset of his career) that his 
father or grandfather should have occupied the 
same social position as himself. All that is 
needed is that, in the case of a man, he should 
belong to a good club, and go out often to din- 
ner ; and, in the case of a lady, that she should 



TOWN MOUSE AND COUNTRY MOUSE l8l 

have from one hundred to five hundred people 
on her visiting list. Either of these fortunate 
persons may, without let or hindrance, experi- 
ence pretty nearly all the intellectual and 
moral advantages and disadvantages of living 
in a town, provided their place of abode be 
London. Over every other city in the empire 
there steals some breath of country air, if it 
be small ; or, if it be large, its social character 
is so far modified by special commercial, indus- 
trial, or ecclesiastical conditions that its influ- 
ence cannot be held to be merely that of a 
town pur et simple ; nor are the people who 
come out of it properly typically towny, but 
rather commercial-towny, manufacturing-towny, 
or cathedral-towny, as the case may be. 

Turn we now from these preliminaries to 
the characteristics of the Town life and the 
Country life, each in its own most perfect 
English form. Let us see first what is to be 
said for each, and then strike our balance. 
Very briefly we may dismiss the commonly 
recognized external features of both, and pass 
as rapidly as possible to the more subtle ones, 
which have scarcely perhaps been noted as 
carefully as their importance as items in the 
sum of happiness will warrant. 



1 82 TOWN MOUSE AND COUNTRY MOUSE 



TOWN MOUSE loquitur. 

"I confess I love London. It is a confes- 
sion, of course, for everybody who lives in the 
country seems to think there is a particular 
virtue in doing so, resembling the cognate 
merit of early rising. Even that charming 
town poet, Mr. Locker, practically admits the 
same when he says, 

* I hope I'm fond of much that's good, 
As well as much that's gay ; 
I'd like the country if I could, 
I like the Park in May.' 

" The truth is that one wants to live, not to 
vegetate ; to do as much good, either to our- 
selves or other people, as time permits ; to 
receive and give impressions ; to feel, to act, 
to be as much as possible in the few brief years 
of mortal existence ; and this concentrated 
Life can be lived in London as nowhere else. 
If a man have any ambition, here it may best 
be pursued. If he desire to contend for any 
truth or any justice, here is his proper battle- 
field. If he love pleasure, here are fifty enjoy- 
ments at his disposal for one which he can 
obtain in the country. The mere sense of 
forming part of this grand and complicated 



TOWN MOUSE AND COUNTRY MOUSE 183 

machine, whereof four millions of men and 
women work the wheels, makes my pulse beat 
faster, and gives me a sense as if I were 
marching to the sound of trumpets. Then the 
finish and completeness of London life is 
delightful to the thoroughly civilized mind. 
It is only the half-reclaimed savage who is 
content with unpaved and unlighted roads, ill- 
trained servants, slovenly equipages, and badly 
cooked, badly attended dinners. Like my lit- 
tle nibbling prototype who served his feast 
* sur un tapis de Turquiel I like everything, 
down to the little card on which my menu is 
written, to be perfect about me. The less I 
am reminded by disagreeable sensations of my 
animal part, the more room is left for the 
exercise of my higher intellectual functions. 
The ascetic who lives on locusts and wild 
honey, and catches the locusts, has far less 
leisure to think about better things than the 
alderman who sits down every day to ten 
courses, served by a well-trained staff of Lon- 
don servants. The sense of order, of ease, of 
dignity and courtesy, is continually fostered 
and flattered in the great Imperial City, which, 
notwithstanding its petty faults of local govern- 
ment, is still the freest and noblest town the 
globe has ever borne. People talk of the 



184 TOWN MOUSE AND COUNTRY MOUSE 

' freedom ' of the country, and my quondam 
host, the Country Mouse, is perpetually boast- 
ing of his 'crust of bread and liberty.' But, 
except the not very valuable license to wear 
shabby old clothes, I am at a loss to discover 
wherein the special freedom of rural life con- 
sists. You are certainly watched, and your 
actions, looks, and behavior commented on 
fifty times more by your idle neighbors in the 
country, gasping for gossip, than by your busy 
neighbors in town, who never trouble them- 
selves to turn their heads when you pass them 
in the street, or even to find out your name 
if you live next door. In the country, you 
have generally the option of going on either 
of three or four roads. In London, you have 
the choice of as many thousand streets. In 
the country, you may ' kill something ' when- 
ever you take your walks abroad, if that special 
privilege of the British gentleman be dear to 
your soul, and you care to shoot, hunt, or 
fish. Or, if you belong to the softer sex or 
sort, you may amuse yourself in your garden 
or shrubbery, play tennis, teach in the village 
school, or pay a visit to some country neighbor 
who will bore you to extinction. In London, 
you have ten times as large a choice of occu- 
pations, and five hundred times as pleasant 



TOWN MOUSE AND COUNTRY MOUSE 185 

people to visit; seeing that in the country 
even clever men and women grow dull, and 
in town the most stupid get frotte with other 
people's ideas and humor. 

"Again, and this is a most important con- 
sideration in favor of London, when a man 
has no particular bodily pain or mental afflic- 
tion, and is not in want of money, the worst 
evil which he has to dread is ennui. To be 
bored is the ' one great grief of life ' to people 
who have no other grief. But can there be 
any question whether ennui is better avoided 
in London or in the country? Even in the 
month of August, as somebody has remarked, 
4 when London is " empty," there are always 
more people in it than anywhere else'; and 
where there are people there must be the end- 
less play of human interests and sympathies. 
Nay, for my part, I find a special gratification 
in the cordiality wherewith my acquaintances, 
left stranded like myself by chance in the dead 
season, hail me when we meet in Pall Mall 
like shipwrecked mariners on a rock ; and in 
the respectful enthusiasm wherewith I am 
greeted in the half-deserted shops, where in 
July I made my modest purchases, unnoticed 
and unknown. In the country, on the con- 
trary, Ennui stalks abroad all the year round ; 



1 86 TOWN MOUSE AND COUNTRY MOUSE 

and the puerile ceremonies wherewith the 
ignorant natives strive to conjure away the 
demon the dismal tea and tennis parties, 
the deplorable archery meetings, and, above all, 
the really frightful antediluvian institution, 
called * Spending a Day ' only place us 
more helplessly at his mercy, We conjugate 
the reflective verb * to be Bored,' in all moods 
and tenses; not in the light and airy way of 
townsfolk, when they trivially observe they 
were * bored at such a party last night/ or 
decline to be ' bored by going to hear such 
a preacher on Sunday morning,' but sadly and 
in sober earnest, as men who recognize that 
boredom is a chronic disease from which they 
have no hope of permanent relief. There is, 
in short, the same difference between ennui in 
the country and ennui in town as between 
thirst in the midst of Sahara and thirst in 
one's home, where one may ring the bell at 
any moment and call for soda water." 

So speaks the modern Town Mouse, describ- 
ing the more superficial and obvious advan- 
tages of his abode over those of his friend in 
the country. And (equally on the surface of 
things) straightway replies 



TOWN MOUSE AND COUNTRY MOUSE 187 

COUNTRY MOUSE. 

" There is some sense in these boasts of my 
illustrious friend and guest, but against them 
I think I can produce equivalent reasons for 
preferring the country. In the first place, if 
he lives faster, I live longer ; and I have better 
health than he all the time. My lungs are not 
clogged with smoke, my brain not addled by 
eternal hurry and interruption, my eyes not 
dimmed by fog and gaslight into premature 
blindness. While his limbs are stiffening year 
by year till he can only pace along his monoto- 
nous pavement, I retain till the verge of old 
age much of the agility and vigor wherewith 
I walked the moors and climbed the mountains 
in my youth. He is pleased at having twenty 
times as many sensations in a day as I ; but, 
if nineteen out of the twenty be jarring noises, 
noxious smells, plague, worry, and annoyance, 
I am quite content with my humbler share of 
experience. Even if his thick-coming sensa- 
tions and ideas be all pleasant, I doubt if he 
ever have the leisure necessary to enjoy them. 
Very little would be gained by the most ex- 
quisite dinner ever cooked, and the finest 
wines ever bottled, if a man should be obliged 
to gobble them standing up, while his train, 



1 88 TOWN MOUSE AND COUNTRY MOUSE 

just ready to start, is whistling behind him. 
Londoners gulp their pleasures, we country 
folk sip such as come in our way ; think of 
them a long time in advance with pleasant 
anticipation, and ruminate on them and talk 
them over for months afterwards. I submit 
that even a few choice gratifications thus care- 
fully prized add to a man's sense of happiness 
as much as double the number which are 
received when he is too weary to enjoy or too 
hurried to recall them. 

"Again, the permanent and indefeasible 
delights of the country seem somehow to be 
more indispensable to human beings than the 
high-strung gratifications of the town. The 
proof of this fact is that, while we can live at 
home all the year round, Town Mice, after 
eight or nine months' residence at longest, 
begin to hate their beloved city, and pine for 
the country. Even when they are in the full 
fling of the London season, it is instructive to 
notice the enthusiasm and sparkle wherewith 
they discuss their projected tours a few 
weeks later among Swiss mountains or up 
Norwegian fiords. Also it may be observed 
how of all the entertainments of the year the 
most popular are the Flower-shows, and the 
afternoon Garden-parties in certain private 



TOWN MOUSE AND COUNTRY MOUSE 189 

grounds. Even the wretched, unmanly sport 
of Hurlingham has become fashionable, chiefly 
because it has brought men and women out of 
London for a day into the semblance of a 
country place. Had the gentlemen shot the 
poor pigeons in Lincoln's Inn Fields or 
Bloomsbury, the admiring spectators of their 
prowess would have been exceedingly few. 
Nay, it is enough to watch in any London 
drawing-room wherein may stand on one table 
a bouquet of the costliest hot-house flowers, 
and on the other a bowl of primroses in March, 
of hawthorn in May, and of purple heather in 
July, and see how every guest will sooner or 
later pay some little affectionate attention to 
the vase which brings the reminiscence of the 
fields, woods, and mountains, taking no notice 
at all of the gorgeous azaleas and pelargoni- 
ums, gardenias, and camellias, in the rival nose- 
gay. It is very well to boast of the 'perfec- 
tion ' and * finish ' of London life, but the 
* perfection ' fails to supply the first want of 
nature, fresh air; and the 'finish' yet waits 
for a commencement in cheerful sunlight un- 
obscured by smoke and fog, and a silence 
which shall not be marred all day and night 
by hideous, jarring, and distracting sounds. 
What man is there who would prefer to live 



I9O TOWN MOUSE AND COUNTRY MOUSE 

in one of the Venetian palace chambers, gor- 
geously decorated and adorned with frescos 
and marbles, and gilding and mirrors, but with 
a huge high wall, black, damp, and slimy, 
within two feet of the windows, shutting out 
the light of day and the air of heaven, rather 
than in a homely English drawing-room, fur- 
nished with nothing better than a few passable 
water-color sketches and some chintz-covered 
chairs and sofas, but opening down wide on 
a sunny garden, with an acacia waving its 
blossoms over the emerald sward, and the chil- 
dren weaving daisy chains round the neck of 
the old collie who lies beside them, panting 
with the warmth of the weather and his own 
benevolence ? 

" Then as to the dulness of our country con- 
versation, wherewith my distinguished friend 
the Town Mouse has rather impolitely taunted 
us. Is it because we take no particular inter- 
est in his gossip of the clubs that he thinks 
himself justified in pronouncing us stupid? 
Perhaps we also think him a trifle local (if we 
may not say provincial) in his choice of topics, 
and are of opinion that the harvest prospects 
of our country, and the relations of agricultural 
labor to capital, are subjects quite as worthy of 
attention as his petty and transitory cancans 



TOWN MOUSE AND COUNTRY MOUSE 1 91 

about articles in reviews, quarrels, scandals, and 
jests. East Indians returning to Europe after 
long absence are often amazed that nobody at 
home cares much to hear why Colonel Chutnee 
was sent from Curriepoor to Liverabad, or how 
it happened that Mrs. Cayenne broke off her 
engagement with old General Temperatesty. 
And in like manner perhaps a Londoner may 
be surprised without much reason that his in- 
tensely interesting 'latest intelligence' is rather 
thrown away upon us down in the shires." 

These, as we premised, are the obvious and 
salient advantages and disadvantages of Town 
and Country life respectively observed and 
recognized by everybody who thinks on the 
subject. It is the purport of the present paper 
to pass beyond them to some of the more 
subtle and less noticed features of either mode 
of existence, and to attempt to strike some 
kind of balance of the results as regards indi- 
viduals of different character and the same 
individual in youth and old age. 

When we ask seriously the question which, 
of any two ways of spending our years, is the 
most conducive to Happiness, we are apt to 
overlook the fact that it is not the one which 
supplies us with the most numerous isolated 



I Q2 TOWN MOUSE AND COUNTRY MOUSE 

items of pleasure, but the one of which the 
whole current tends to maintain in us the 
capacity for enjoyment at the highest pitch and 
for as long a time as possible. There is some- 
thing exceedingly stupid in our common prac- 
tice of paying superabundant attention to all 
the external factors of happiness down to the 
minutest rose-leaf which can be smoothed out for 
our ease, and all the time forgetting that there 
must always be an internal factor of delight- 
ability to produce the desired result, just as 
there must be an eye wherewith to see as well 
as candles to give light. The faculty of taking 
enjoyment, of finding sweetness in the rose, 
grandeur in the mountain, refreshment in food 
and rest, interest in books, and happiness in 
loving and being loved, is as we must per- 
ceive the moment we consider it indefinitely 
more precious than any gratification which can 
be offered to the senses, the intellect, or the 
affections, just as eyesight is more valuable 
than the finest landscape, and the power of 
loving better than the homage of a world. 
Yet, as Shelley lamented, 

" Rarely, rarely comest thou, 
Spirit of Delight " ; 

and we allow it to remain absent from our souls, 
and grow accustomed to living without it, while 



TOWN MOUSE AND COUNTRY MOUSE 193 

all the time we are plodding on, multiplying 
gratifications and stimulants, while the delicate 
and evanescent sense they are meant to please 
is becoming numb and dead. We often, indeed, 
make religio-philosophical remarks on the beau- 
tiful patience and cheerfulness of sufferers 
from agonizing disease, and we smile at the un- 
failing hilarity wherewith certain Mark Tapleys 
of our acquaintance sustain the slings and 
arrows of outrageous fortune. We quote, 
with high approval, the poet who sings that 

" Stone walls do not a prison make, 
Nor iron bars a cage." 

Nevertheless, the singular phenomenon of evi- 
dent, unmistakable Happiness enjoyed, in de- 
spite of circa nstances, never seems to teach 
us how entirely secondary all objective circum- 
stances needs must be to the subjective side of 
the question, and how much more rational it 
would be on our part to look first to securing 
for ourselves the longest and completest tenure 
of the internal elements of enjoyment before we 
turn our attention to the attainment of those 
which are external. 

The bearing of this remark on the present 
subject is, of course, obvious. Is it Life in 
Town or Life in the Country wherein the 



194 TOWN MOUSE AND COUNTRY MOUSE 

springs of happiness flow with perennial fresh- 
ness, and wherein the Spirit of Delight will 
burn brightest and longest? To solve this 
problem, we must turn over in our minds the 
various conditions of such a state of mind and 
spirits, the most generally recognized of which 
is bodily Health. 

There is not the smallest danger in these 
days that any inquirer, however careless, should 
overlook the vast importance of physical sound- 
ness to every desirable mental result. Indeed, 
on the contrary, we may rather expect shortly 
to find our teachers treating Disease as the 
only real delinquency in the world, and all 
crimes and vices as mere symptoms of dis- 
ordered nerves or overloaded stomach, klepto- 
mania, dipsomania, homicidal mania, or some- 
thing equally pardonable on the part of autom- 
ata like ourselves. Seriously speaking, a high 
state of health, such as the " Original " described 
himself as having attained, or even something 
a few degrees less perfect, is, undoubtedly, a 
potent factor in the sum of happiness, causing 
every separate sensation sleeping, waking, 
eating, drinking, exercise, and rest to be de- 
lightful ; and the folly of people who seek for 
Happiness, and yet barter away Health for 
Wealth or Fame, or any other element thereof, 



TOWN MOUSE AND COUNTRY MOUSE 195 

is like that of a man who should sell gold for 
dross. Admitting this, it would seem to fol- 
low that Life in the Country, generally under- 
stood to be the most wholesome, must be the 
most conducive to the state of enjoyment. 
But there are two points not quite cleared up 
on the way to this conclusion. First, bodily 
health seems to be, to some people, anything 
but the blessing it ought to be, rendering them 
merely coarse and callous, untouched by those 
finer impulses and sentiments which pain has 
taught their feebler companions, and so shut- 
ting them out from many of the purest and most 
spiritual joys of humanity. Paley questioned 
whether the sum of happiness would not be in- 
creased to most of us by one hour of moderate 
pain in every twenty-four; and, though few 
would directly ask for the increment of enjoy- 
ment so attained, there are perhaps still fewer 
who would desire to unlearn all the lessons 
taught in the school of suffering, or find them- 
selves with the gross, oxlike nature of many a 
farmer or publican, whose rubicund visage bears 
testimony to his vigorous appetite and to the 
small amount of pain, sorrow, or anxiety which 
his own or anybody else's troubles have ever 
caused him. Taking it all in all, it seems 
doubtful, then, whether the most invariably 



196 TOWN MOUSE AND COUNTRY MOUSE 

robust people are really much higher than 
those with more fluctuating health who have 
taken from the bitter cup the sweet drop which 
is always to be found at the bottom by those 
who seek it. For those, unhappiest of all, 
whom disease has only rendered more selfish 
and self-centred and rebellious, there is, of 
course, no comparison possible. 

And, secondly, Is it thoroughly proved that 
country life is invariably healthier than the life 
of towns ? The maladies arising from bad air, 
late hours, and that overwork and overstrain 
which is the modern Black Death, are of course 
unknown in the calm-flowing existence of a 
rural squire and his family. But there are other 
diseases which come of monotonous repose, un- 
varying meals, and general tedium vitae, quite as 
bad as the scourges of the town. Of all sources 
of ill health, I am inclined to think lack of 
interest in life, and the constant society of dull 
and disheartening people, the very worst and 
most prolific. Undoubtedly, it is so among 
the upper class of women ; and the warnings of 
certain American physicians against the adop- 
tion by girls of any serious or earnest pursuit 
seems painfully suggestive of a well-founded 
alarm lest their own lists of hysterical and 
dyspeptic patients should show a falling off 



TOWN MOUSE AND COUNTRY MOUSE 1 97 

under the new impetus given to women's work 
and study. In London, people have very much 
less leisure to think about their ailments, or 
allow the doctor's visit to become a permanent 
institution, as is so often the case in country 
houses. The result is that (whether or not 
statistics prove the existence of more sickness 
in town than in the country) at least we do not 
hear of eternally ailing people in London 
nearly so often as we do in country neighbor- 
hoods, where there are always to be found as 
stock subjects of local interest and sympathy 
old Mr. A.'s gout, and Lady B.'s liver com- 
plaint; and those sad headaches which yet 
fortunately enable poor Mrs. C. to spend at 
least one day in the week in her darkened bed- 
room out of the reach of her lord's intolerable 
temper.* Be it also that the maladies which 
townsfolk mostly escape namely, dyspepsia, 
hysteria, and neuralgia are precisely those 
which exercise the most direct and fatal influ- 
ence on human powers of enjoyment, whereas 
the ills to which flesh is heir in great cities, 
among the upper and well-fed classes, are gen- 
erally more remotely connected therewith. 
But pace the doctors and all their material- 

* I have heard this peculiar but common form of feminine afflic- 
tion classified as the " Bad Husband Headache." 



198 TOWN MOUSE AND COUNTRY MOUSE 

istic followers I question very much whether 
bodily health, the mere absence of physical 
disease, be nearly as indispensable a condition 
of happiness as certain peculiarities of the 
mental and moral constitution. The disposi- 
tion to Anxiety, for instance, which reduces 
many lives to a purgatory of incessant care, 
about money, about the opinion of society, or 
about the health and well-being of children, 
is certainly a worse drawback to peace and 
happiness than half the diseases in the Regis- 
trar-General's list. This anxious temperament 
is commonly supposed to be fostered and 
excited in towns, and laid to sleep in the 
peaceful life of the country; and, if it were 
certainly and invariably so, I think the balance 
of happiness between the two would well-nigh 
be settled by that fact alone. But again there 
is something to be said on the side of the 
town. An African traveller has described to 
me how, after months exposed to the intermi- 
nable perils from man and brute and climate, he 
felt, after his first night on board a homeward- 
bound English ship, a reaction from the terr 
sion of anxiety which revealed to himself the 
anguish he had been half-unconsciously endur- 
ing for many months. In like manner the 
city man or the statesman feels, when at last 



TOWN MOUSE AND COUNTRY MOUSE 199 

he takes his summer holiday, under what tre- 
mendous pressure of care he has been living 
during the past year, or session, in London ; 
and he compares it, naturally enough, with the 
comparatively careless life of his friend, the 
country squire. But every one in London 
does not run a race for political victory or 
social success, and there are yet some sober 
old ways of business both legal and mercan- 
tile which do not involve the alternative of 
wealth or ruin every hour. For such people 
I apprehend London life is actually rather a 
cure for an anxious temperament than a provo- 
cative of care. There is no time for dwelling 
on topics of a painful sort, or raising spectres 
of possible evils ahead. Labors and pleasures, 
amusements and monetary worries, succeed 
each other so rapidly that the more serious 
anxieties receive less and less attention as the 
plot of London life thickens year by year. 
One nail drives out another, and we are now 
and then startled to remember that there has 
been really for days and months a reasonable 
fear of disaster hanging over us to which we 
have somehow scarcely given a thought, while 
in the country it would have filled our whole 
horizon, and we should scarcely have forgotten 
it day or night. 



2OO TOWN MOUSE AND COUNTRY MOUSE 

And, again, quite as important as bodily 
health and freedom from anxiety is the posses- 
sion of a certain childlike freshness of char- 
acter; a simplicity which enables men and 
women, even in old age, to enjoy such inno- 
cent pleasures as come in their way without 
rinding them pall, or despising them as not 
worth their acceptance. Great minds and 
men of genius seem generally specially gifted 
with this invaluable attribute of perennial 
youth; while little souls, full of their own 
petty importance and vanities, lose it before 
they are well out of the school-room. The 
late sculptor, John Gibson (whose works will 
be, perhaps, appreciated when all the mon- 
strosities of modern English statuary are con- 
signed to the lime-kiln), used to say in his old 
age that he wished he could live over again 
every day and hour of his past life precisely as 
he had spent it. Let the reader measure what 
this means in the mouth of a man of trans- 
parent veracity, and it will appear that the 
speaker must needs have carried on through 
his seventy years the freshness of heart of a 
boy, never wearied by his ardent pursuit of 
the Beautiful, and supported by the conscious- 
ness that this pursuit was not wholly in vain. 
People who are always " looking for the next 



TOWN MOUSE AND COUNTRY MOUSE 2OI 

thing," taking each phasure not as pleasure 
per se, but merely as a useful stepping-stone to 
something else which may possibly be pleasure, 
or as a subject to be talked of; people who 
are always climbing, like boys at a fair, up the 
slippery pole of ambition, cannot possibly 
know the meaning of such genuine and ever 
fresh enjoyment. 

Is a man likely to grow more or less simple- 
hearted and single-minded in Town or in the 
Country? Alas! there can be little or no 
doubt that London life is a sad trial to all such 
simplicity; and that nothing is more difficult 
than to preserve, in its hot, stifling atmosphere, 
the freshness and coolness of any flower of 
sentiment, or the glory of any noble, unselfish 
enthusiasm. Social wear and tear, and the 
tone of easy-letting-down commonly adopted 
by men of the world towards any lofty aspira- 
tion, compel those who would fain cherish 
generous and conscientious motives to cloak 
them under the guise of a hobby or a whim, 
and, before many years are over, the glow and 
bloom of almost every enthusiasm is rubbed off 
and spoiled. 

But it is time to pass from the general sub- 
jective conditions of happiness common to us 
all to those individual tastes and idiosyncrasies 



202 TOWN MOUSE AND COUNTRY MOUSE 

which are probably more often concerned in the 
preference of town or country life. We are all 
of us mingled of pretty nearly the same ingre- 
dients of character ; but they are mixed in very 
different proportions in each man's brewing, 
and in determining the flavor of the compound 
everything depends on the element which hap- 
pens to prevail. By some odd chance, few of 
us, notwithstanding all our egotism and self- 
study, really know ourselves well enough to 
recognize whether we are by nature gregarious 
or solitary, acted upon most readily by meteoro- 
logical or by psychological influences, capable 
of living only on our affections or requiring the 
exercise of our brains. We are always, for ex- 
ample, talking about the gloom or brightness 
of the weather, as if we were so many pimper- 
nels, to whom the sun is everything and a 
cloudy day or a sharp east wind the most piti- 
able calamity. The real truth is that, to ninety- 
nine healthy English men and women out of a 
hundred, atmospheric conditions are insignifi- 
cant compared to social ones; and the spectacle 
of a single member of the family in the dumps, 
or even the suspicion that the servants are 
quarrelling in the kitchen, detracts more from 
our faculty of enjoyment than a fall of the 
barometer from Very Dry to Stormy. In the 



TOWN MOUSE AND COUNTRY MOUSE 203 

same way we talk about people "loving the 
country" or "loving the town," just as if the 
character which fitted in and found its natural 
gratification in the one were qualified to enjoy 
quite equally the other. Obviously, in some of 
us the passion for Nature and natural beauty is 
so prominent that, if it be starved (as it must 
needs be in a great city) or only tantalized by 
the sight of pictures reminding us of woods 
and hills and fresh breezes when we are stifled 
and jostled in the crowded rooms of Burlington 
House or the Grosvenor Gallery, we miss so 
much out of life that nothing can make up for 
it, and no pleasures of the intellect in the com- 
pany of clever people, or gratification of taste 
in the most luxurious home, are sufficient to 
banish the regret. A young branch swaying in 
the breeze of spring, and the song of the lark 
rising out of the thyme and the clover, are 
better than all the pictures, the concerts, the 
conversation which the town can offer. And 
just in the opposite way there are others 
amongst us in whom the aesthetic element is 
subordinate to the social, and who long to 
take a part in the world's work rather than to 
stand by and watch the grand panorama of 
summer and winter move before them while 
they remain passive. Is it not patently absurd 



2O4 TOWN MOUSE AND COUNTRY MOUSE 

to talk as if persons so differently constituted as 
these could find happiness, the one where his 
ingrained passion for Nature is permanently 
denied its innocent and easy gratification, the 
other where his no less deeply rooted interest 
in the concerns of his kind is narrowed within 
the petty sphere of rural social life ? 

But let us now pass on, hoping that we have 
found the round man for the round hole, and 
the square man for the square one. What are 
the more hidden and recondite charms of the 
two modes of life, of which the Town Mouse 
and the Country Mouse have rehearsed the 
superficial characters? What is the meaning 
in the first place of that taste for " Life at 
High Pressure," against which W. R. Greg 
cautioned us, and Matthew Arnold inveighed? 
How was it that the sage Dr. Johnson felt 
undoubtedly a twinge of the same unholy pas- 
sion when he remarked to the faithful Boswell 
how delightful it was to drive fast in a post- 
chaise, in such a post-chaise, and over such 
roads as existed in his time? I apprehend 
that the love for rapid movement comes from 
the fact that it always conveys to us a sense 
of vivid volition, and effectually stirs both our 
pulses and our brains, causing us not only to 
seem to ourselves, but actually to become, 



TOWN MOUSE AND COUNTRY MOUSE 205 

more intelligent. At first the bustle and 
hurry of London life bewilder the visitor; and, 
finding it impossible to think, move, and 
speak as fast as is needful, he feels as a feeble 
old lady might do arm-in-arm with Jack in his 
Seven-league boots. But after a little while 
he learns to step out mentally as rapidly as 
his neighbors, and thereby acquires the double 
satisfaction of the intrinsic pleasure of think- 
ing quickly and not dwelling on ideas till they 
become tedious, and the further sense of grati- 
fied vanity in being as clever as other people. 
This last is again a curious source of metro- 
politan satisfaction. It is all very well to boast 
of having "also dwelt in Arcadia." Such 
pastoral pride is humility beside the conceit 
of being a thorough-bred Londoner. There 
may live many men with souls so dead as 
never to themselves to have said anything 
signifying peculiar appropriation of the soil of 
Scotland, or of any other " native land." But 
who has ever yet met a Cockney who was not 
from the bottom to the top of his soul proud 
of being a Londoner, and deeply convinced 
that he and his fellows can alone be counted 
as standing " in the foremost files of time " ? 
Of course, whilst he is actually in London, he 
has no provocation to betray his self-satisfac- 



2O6 TOWN MOUSE AND COUNTRY MOUSE 

tion among people who can all make the same 
boast. But watch him the moment he passes 
into the country. Observe the pains he takes 
that the natives shall fully understand what 
manner of man, even a Londoner, they have 
the privilege of entertaining, and no doubt will 
remain as to how immensely superior he feels 
himself to those who habitually dwell "far from 
the madding crowd." If he wander into the 
remoter provinces, say of Scotland, Wales, or 
Ireland, there is always in his recognition of 
the hospitality shown to him a tone like that 
of the shipwrecked apostle in Malta : " The Bar- 
barous people there showed us no small kind- 
ness." He manages to convey by looks, words, 
and manners his astonishment at any vestiges 
of civilization which he may meet on those 
distant shores, and exhibits graceful forbear- 
ance in putting up with the delicious fresh 
fruit, cream, vegetables, and home-fed beef 
and mutton of his entertainers in lieu of 
the stale produce of the London shops. One 
such stranded Cockney I have known to 
remark that he " observed " that the eggs at 

N , and at another country house where 

he occasionally visited, had in them a "pecul- 
iar milky substance," about whose merits he 
seemed doubtful ; and another I have heard, 



TOWN MOUSE AND COUNTRY MOUSE 2O7 

after landing at Holyhead on his return from 
Ireland, complacently comparing his watch 
(which had, like himself, faithfully kept Lon- 
don time during all his tour) with the clock 
in the station, and observing to his fellow-pas- 
sengers "that there was not a single clock 
right in Dublin, they were all twenty minutes 
too slow, and, when he went to Galway, he 
found them still worse." 

Even if a man sincerely prefer country life, 
and transfer his abode from London to the 
rural districts, he still retains a latent satis- 
faction at having lived once in the very centre 
of human interests, close to the throbbing heart 
of the world. The old squire, who has been 
too gouty and too indolent to run up to town 
for twenty years, will still brighten up at the 
names of the familiar streets and play-houses, 
and will tell anecdotes, the chief interest of 
which seems to lie in the fact that he formerly 
lodged in Jermyn Street, or bought his seals at 
the corner of Waterloo Place, or had his hair 
cut in Bond Street, preparatory to going to the 
play in Drury Lane. 

As volunteers enjoy a field day with the 
manoeuvres and marches, so a Londoner expe- 
riences a dim sense of pleasure in forming part 
of the huge army of four millions of human be- 



2O8 TOWN MOUSE AND COUNTRY MOUSE 

ings who are for ever moving hither and thither, 
and yet strangely bringing about, not confusion, 
but order. The Greek philosophers and states- 
men, who thought such a little tiny " Polis " as 
Athens or Sparta (not an eighth part of one 
postal district of London) almost a miracle of 
divine order, would have fallen down and wor- 
shipped at the shrine of Gog and Magog for 
having provided that a whole nation should be 
fed, housed, clothed, washed, lighted, warmed, 
taught, and amused for years and generations 
in a single city eight miles long. It is impos- 
sible not to feel an ever fresh interest and even 
surprise in the solution of so marvellous a 
problem as this human ant-hill presents, and 
Londoners themselves, perhaps even more than 
their visitors, are wont to watch with pleasant 
wonder each occurrence which brings its mag- 
nitude to mind: the long quadruple train of 
splendid equipages filing through Hyde Park of 
a summer afternoon ; the scene presented by 
the river at the Oxford and Cambridge boat- 
race ; or the overwhelming spectacle of such 
crowds as greeted the Queen on her Jubilee. 

The facility wherewith a busy-minded person, 
possessed of moderate pecuniary resources, can 
carry out almost any project in London, is 
another great source of the pleasure of town 



TOWN MOUSE AND COUNTRY MOUSE 209 

life. At every corner a cab, a hansom, an 
omnibus, an underground station, or a penny 
steamboat, is ready to convey him rapidly and 
securely to any part of the vast area; and a 
post-pillar or post-office or telegraph office, to 
forward his letter or card or telegram. He 
has acquired the privilege of Briareus for do- 
ing the work of a hundred hands, while the 
scores of penny and half-penny newspapers 
give him the benefit of the hundred eyes of 
Argus to see how to do it. 

Not many people seem to notice wherein the 
last and greatest of London pleasures, that of 
London society, has its special attraction. It 
is contrasted with the very best society which 
the Country can ever afford, by offering the 
charm of the imprevu. There are always in- 
definite possibilities of the most delightful and 
interesting new acquaintances or of the re- 
newal of old friendships in London: whereas 
even in the most brilliant circles in the country 
we are aware, before we enter a house, that our 
host's choice of our fellow-guests must have lain 
within a very narrow and restricted circle, and 
that, if a stranger should happily have fallen 
from the skies into the neighborhood, his ad- 
vent would have been proclaimed in our note 
of invitation. Now it is much more piquant to 



2IO TOWN MOUSE AND COUNTRY MOUSE 

meet an agreeable person unexpectedly than by 
formal rendezvous ; and, for that large propor- 
tion of mankind who are not particularly agree- 
able, it is still more essential that they should 
be presented freshly to our acquaintance. 
Other things being equal, a Stranger Bore is 
never half so great a bore as a Familiar Bore, 
of whose boredom we have already had inti- 
mate and painful experience. There yet hangs 
about the Stranger Bore somewhat of the mists 
of early day, and we are a little while in pierc- 
ing them and thoroughly deciding that he is 
a bore and nothing better. Often, indeed, for 
the first hour or two of acquaintanceship, he 
fails to reveal himself in his true colors, and 
makes remarks and tells anecdotes the dulness 
of which we shall only thoroughly recognize 
when we have heard them repeated on twenty 
other occasions. With our own Familiar Bore 
no illusion is possible. The moment we see 
him enter the room, we know everything that 
is going to be said for the rest of the evening, 
and Hope itself escapes out of Pandora's box. 
Thus, even if there were proportionately as 
many bores in London as in the provinces, we 
should still, in town, enjoy a constant change 
of them, which would considerably lighten the 
burden. This, however, is very far from being 



TOWN MOUSE AND COUNTRY MOUSE 211 

the case ; and the stupid wives of clever men 
and the dull husbands of clever wives, who 
alone smuggle into the inner coteries (few 
people having the effrontery to omit them in 
their invitations), are so far rubbed up and in- 
structed in the best means of concealing their 
ignorance, silliness, or stupidity, that they are 
often quite harmless and inoffensive, and even 
qualified to shine with a mild reflected lustre 
in rural society in the autumn. Certain im- 
mutable laws made and provided by society 
against bores are brought sooner or later to 
their knowledge. They do not tell stories more 
than five minutes long in the narration, nor 
rehearse jokes till they fancy they can recall 
the point, nor entertain their friends by an 
abridgment of their own pedigree, or by a cata- 
logue of the ages, names, heights, and attain- 
ments in the Latin grammar of their hopeful 
offspring. To all this sort of thing the miser- 
able visitor in the country is liable to be sub- 
jected in every house the threshold of which he 
may venture to cross ; for, even if his host and 
hostess be the most delightful people, they 
generally have some old uncle or aunt, or priv- 
ileged and pompous neighbor, with whom no- 
body has ever dared to interfere in his ruthless 
exercise of the power to bore, and who will 



212 TOWN MOUSE AND COUNTRY MOUSE 

fasten on a new comer just as mosquitoes do on 
fresh arrivals at a seaport after having tor- 
mented all the old inhabitants. 

And if London Bores are as lions with drawn 
teeth and clipped claws, London pleasant 
people on the other hand are beyond any 
doubt the pleasantest in the world ; more true 
and kind and less eaten up by vanity and 
egotism than Parisians, and twice as agile- 
minded as the very cleverest German. 

Again, a great charm of London is that 
wealth is of so much less social weight there 
than anywhere else. It is singular what mis- 
apprehensions are current on this subject, and 
how apt are country people to say that money 
is everything in town, whereas the exact con- 
verse of the proposition is nearer the truth. In 
a country neighborhood, the man who lives in 
the largest house, drives the handsomest horses, 
and gives the most luxurious entertainments is 
allowed with little question to assume a prom- 
inent position, be he never so dull and never so 
vulgar ; and, though respect will still be paid to 
well-born and well-bred people of diminished 
or narrow fortune, their position as regards 
their nouveau riche neighbors is every year less 
dignified or agreeable. Quite on the contrary 
in town: with no income beyond what is need- 



TOWN MOUSE AND COUNTRY MOUSE 213 

f ul to subscribe to a club and wear a good coat, 
a man may take his place (hundreds do so take 
a place) in the most delightful circles, welcomed 
by all for his own worth or agreeability, for the 
very simple and sufficient reason that people 
like his society and want nothing more from 
him. In a city where there are ten thousand 
people ready to give expensive dinners, it is 
not the possession of money enough to enter- 
tain guests which can by itself make the owner 
an important personage, or cause the world to 
overlook the fact that he is a snob; nor will the 
lack of wealth prevent those thousands who 
are on the look-out only for a pleasant and 
brilliant companion from cultivating one, be he 
never so poor. The distinction between the 
rural and the urban way of viewing a new 
acquaintance as regards both birth and fortune 
is very curiously betrayed by the habit of towns- 
folk to ask simply "what a man may be" 
(meaning, " Is he a lawyer, a litterateur, a poli- 
tician, a clergyman, above all, is he a pleasant 
fellow ? ") and that of country gentry invari- 
ably to inquire, " Who is he ? " (meaning, Has 
he an estate, and is he related to the So-and-so's 
of such a place ? ) It is not a little amusing 
sometimes to witness the discomfiture of both 
parties when a bland old gentleman is intro- 



214 TOWN MOUSE AND COUNTRY MOUSE 

duced in London to some man of world-wide 
celebrity, whose antecedents none of the com- 
pany ever dreamed of investigating, and the 
squire courteously intimates, as the pleasantest 
thing he can think of to say, that he " used to 
meet often in the hunting field a gentleman of 
that name who had a fine place in Cheshire," 
or that " he remembers a man who must surely 
have been his father a gentleman-commoner 
of Christchurch." 

For those men and women numerous 
enough in these days who hold rather pro- 
nounced opinions of the sort not relished in 
country circles, who are heretics regarding the 
religious or political creed of their relatives 
and neighbors, London offers the real Broad 
Sanctuary, where they may rest in peace, and 
be no more looked upon as black sheep, sus- 
picious and uncomfortable characters, the "gen- 
tleman who voted for Topsy Turvey at the 
last election," or " the lady who doesn't go to 
church on Sundays." In town, not only will 
their errors be overlooked, but they will find 
scores of pleasant and reputable persons who 
share the worst of them and go a great deal 
further, and in whose society they will soon 
begin to feel themselves by comparison quite 
orthodox, and perhaps rather conservative 
characters. 



TOWN MOUSE AND COUNTRY MOUSE 215 

And lastly, besides all the other advantages 
of London which I have recapitulated, there 
is one of which very little note is ever taken. 
If many sweet and beautiful pleasures are lost 
by living there, many sharp and weary pains 
also therein find a strange anodyne. There 
is no time to be very unhappy in London. 
Past griefs are buried away under the surface, 
since we may not show them to the unsym- 
pathizing eyes around ; and present cares and 
sorrows are driven into dark corners of the 
mind by the crowd of busy every-day thoughts 
which inevitably take their place. A man 
may feel the heart-ache in the country, and 
wander mourning by the solitary shore or 
amid the silent winter woods. But let him go, 
after receiving a piece of sad intelligence, into 
the busy London streets, and be obliged to 
pick his way amid the crowd ; to pass by a 
score of brilliant shops, avoid being run over 
by an omnibus, give a penny to a street- 
sweeper, push through the children looking at 
Punch, close his ears to a German band, hail 
a hansom and drive to his office or his cham- 
bers, and at the end of the hour how many 
thoughts will he have given to his sorrow? 

Before it has had time to sink into his mind, 
many days of similar fuss and business will 



2l6 TOWN MOUSE AND COUNTRY MOUSE 

have intervened; and by that time the edge 
of the grief will be dulled, and he will never 
experience it in its sharpness. Of the influ- 
ence of this process, continually repeated, on 
the character, a good deal might be said ; and 
there may be certainly room to doubt whether 
thus perpetually shirking all the more serious 
and solemn passages of life is conducive to the 
higher welfare. After we have suffered a good 
deal, and the readiness of youth to encounter 
every new experience and drink every cup to 
the dregs has been exchanged for the dread 
of strong emotions and the weariness of grief 
which belong to later years, there is an im- 
mense temptation to spare our own hearts as 
much as we can ; and London offers the very 
easiest way, without any failure of kindness, 
duty, or decorum, to effect such an end. 
Nevertheless, the sacred faculties of sympathy 
and unselfish sorrow are not things to be 
lightly tampered with; and it is to be feared 
that the consequences of any conscious evasion 
of their claims must always be followed by 
that terrible Nemesis, the hardening of our 
hearts and the disbelief in the sympathy of 
our neighbors. We have made love and 
friendship unreal to ourselves, and it becomes 
impossible to continue to believe they are real 



TOWN MOUSE AND COUNTRY MOUSE 21 / 

to other people. Yet, I think, if the shelter 
be not wilfully or intentionally sought, if it 
merely come in the natural course of things 
that the business and variety of town life pre- 
vent us from dwelling on sorrows which can- 
not be lightened by our care, it seems a better 
alternative than the almost infinite durability 
and emphasis given to grief in the monotonous 
life of the country. 

If these be the advantages of Town life, 
however, there are to be set against them many 
and grievous drawbacks. First, as the Country 
Mouse justly urges, half those quickly following 
sensations and ideas which constitute the highly- 
prized rapidity of London life are essentially 
disagreeable in themselves, and might be dis- 
pensed with to our much greater comfort. In 
the country, for example, out of fifty sights, 
forty-nine at least are of pretty or beautiful 
objects, even where there is no particularly fine 
scenery. Woods, gardens, rivers, country roads, 
cottages, wagons, ploughs, cattle, sheep, and 
over all, always, a broad expanse of the blessed 
sky, with the pomps of sunrises and sunsets, and 
moonlight nights and snow-clad winter days, 
these are things on which everywhere (save in 
the Black Country, which is not the country at all) 
the eye rests in peace and delight. In the town, 



2l8 TOWN MOUSE AND COUNTRY MOUSE 

out of the same number of glances of our tired 
eyeballs, we shall probably behold a score of 
huge advertisements, a line of hideous houses 
with a butcher's shop as the most prominent 
object, an omnibus and a brewer's dray, a score 
of bricklayers returning (slightly drunk) from 
dinner, and a handsome carriage with the unfort- 
unate horses champing their gag-bits in agony 
from their tight bearing-reins while the coach- 
man flicks them with his whip. In the country, 
again, out of fifty odors the great majority will 
be of fresh herbage, or hay, or potato or bean 
fields, or of newly ploughed ground, or burning 
weeds or turf. In the town, we shall endure the 
sickly smell of drains, of stale fish, of raw meat, 
of carts laden with bones and offal, the insuffer- 
able effluvium of the city cook-shops ; and last 
not least pervading every street and shop 
and park, puffed eternally in our faces, the vilest 
tobacco. And finally, in the country, our ears 
are no less soothed and flattered than our senses 
of smelling and sight. The golden silence when 
broken at all is disturbed only by the noise of 
running waters, of cattle lowing, sheep bleating, 
thrushes and larks and cuckoos singing, rooks 
cawing on the return home at evening, or the 
exquisite " sough " of the night wind as it passes 
over the sleeping woods as in a dream. In the 



TOWN MOUSE AND COUNTRY MOUSE 2 19 

town, we have the relentless roar and rattle of a 
thousand carts, cabs, drags, and omnibuses, the 
perpetual grinding of organs and hurdy-gurdies, 
the unintelligible and ear-piercing cries of the 
costermongers in the streets, and generally, to 
complete our misery, the jangle of a pianoforte 
heard through the thin walls of our house, as if 
there were no partitions between us and the 
detestable children who thump through their 
scales and polkas for six hours out of the twenty- 
four. Such are the sufferings of the senses 
in London, surely worth setting against the 
luxuries it is supposed to comand, but which 
it only commands for the rich, whereas neither 
rich nor poor have any immunity from the ugly 
sights, ugly smells, and ugly noises wherewith 
it abounds. But, beyond these mortifications 
of the flesh, London entails on its thorough- 
going votaries a heavier punishment. Sooner 
or later on every one who really works in 
London there comes a certain pain, half 
physical, half mental, which seems to have its 
bodily seat somewhere about the diaphragm, 
and its mental place between our feelings and 
our intellect, a sense, not of being tired and 
wanting rest, for that is the natural and whole- 
some alternative of all strong and sustained 
exercise of our faculties, but of being "like 



22O TOWN MOUSE AND COUNTRY MOUSE 

dumb driven cattle," and of having neither 
power to go on nor to stop. We seem to be 
under some slave-master who whips us here 
and there, and forbids us to sit down and take 
breath. We want fresh air, but our walks 
through the crowded streets or parks only 
add fatigue to our eyes and weariness and 
excitement to our brains. We need food, but 
it does us little good ; and sleep, but we 
waken up before half the night is past with our 
brains busy already with the anxieties of the 
morrow. We are conscious we are using up 
brains, eyesight, health, everything which makes 
life worth possessing, and yet we are entangled 
in such a mesh of engagements and duties that 
we cannot break loose. We can only break 
down; and that is what we pretty surely do 
when this state of things has lasted a little too 
long. 

Perhaps the reader is inclined to say, Why 
not try the golden mean, the compromise be- 
tween town and country, to be found in some 
rus in urbe in Fulham or Hampstead, or a villa 
a little way further, at Richmond or Norwood 
or Wimbledon ? I beg leave humbly to con- 
tend that the venerable Aristotelian " Meson " 
is as great a mistake in geography as in ethics, 
and that it will be generally found that people 



TOWN MOUSE AND COUNTRY MOUSE 221 

adopting the Half-way House system of lodge- 
ment will be disposed to repeat the celebrated 
Scotch ode with slight variations. " Their 
heart is " - in London ; " their heart is not," 
by any means, in Hampstead or Twickenham. 
Their days are spent either in waiting at rail- 
way stations to go in or out of town, or in the 
yet more tantalizing anticipation of friends who 
have promised to " give them a day," and for 
whom they have provided the modern substi- 
tute for the fatted calf, but who, on the par- 
ticular morning of their engagement, are sure 
to be swept off their consciences by an unex- 
pected ticket for the opera, which they " could 
not enjoy if they had gone so far in the morn- 
ing as dear Mr. A.'s delightful villa." Of 
course, it is possible to live in the outer circle 
of real London, and have fresh air and compar- 
ative quiet, infinitely valuable. But he who 
goes further afield, the ambitious soul who 
dreams of cocks and hens, or even soars to a 
paddock and a cow, is destined to disillusion 
and despair. He tries to " make the best of 
both worlds," and he gets the worst of both. 
The genuine Londoner considers his proffers 
of hospitality as an imposition ; and the gen- 
uine country cousin is indignant, on accepting 
them, to find how far is his residence from the 



222 TOWN MOUSE AND COUNTRY MOUSE 

exhibitions and the shops. His trees are black, 
his roses cankered, and his soul imbittered by 
the defalcations of friends, the blunders and 
extortions of cabmen, and his own infructuous 
effort to be always in two places at once. 

Nor is the second and, apparently, more 
facile resource of the tired Londoner that of 
quartering himself on his kind country friends 
for his holidays very much more successful. 
The country would indeed be delightful for our 
Christmas fortnight or our Easter or Whitsun- 
tide week, if we were permitted to enjoy in it 
that repose we so urgently need and so fondly 
seek. We are quite enamoured, when we first 
turn our steps from the smoky city, with the 
trees and fields ; and we enjoy indescribably 
our rides and drives and walks, the varied as- 
pects of nature, and the beasts and birds where- 
with we are surrounded. But one thing we 
have not bargained for, and that is country 
Society. Of course we love our friends and 
relations in whose homes we are received with 
kindness and affection, whom we know to be 
the salt of the earth for goodness, and who love 
us enough to feel an interest even in our towni- 
est gossip. But their country friends, the neigh- 
boring gentlefolk, the clergyman's wife, the 
family doctor, the people who are invariably 



TOWN MOUSE AND COUNTRY MOUSE 223 

invited to meet us at the long formal country 
dinner ! This is the trial beneath which our 
new-found love of rural life is apt to succumb. 
Sir Cornewall Lewis's too famous dictum re- 
turns, slightly modified, to our memories 
As "life would be tolerable but for its pleas- 
ures," so the country would be enchanting, 
were it not for its society. Could we be 
allowed to live in the country, and see only 
our hosts, we should be as happy as kings and 
queens. But to fly, for the sake of rest and 
quiet, from the tables where we might have met 
some of the most brilliant men and women of 
the day, and then to find that we shall incur 
the disgrace of being unsociable curmudgeons 
if we object to spend the afternoon in playing 
tennis with the rector's stupid daughters, and 
to dine afterwards at the house of a particularly 
dull and vulgar neighbor with whom we would 
fain avoid such acquaintance as may justify 
him in visiting us in town, this is surely an evil 
destiny ! When, alas ! will all the good and 
kind people who invite town friends to come 
and rest with them in the country forbear to 
make their acceptance the occasion for a round 
of rural dissipation, and believe that their weary 
brother would be only too glad, did civility per- 
mit, to inscribe on the door of his bedroom 



224 TOWN MOUSE AND COUNTRY MOUSE 

during his sojourn the affecting Italian epitaph, 
Imp lor a pace ! 

The Country Mouse has naturally said as 
little as possible of the drawbacks of his favorite 
mode of existence, metaphorically speaking, 
the dampness of his " Hollow Tree," and its 
liability to be infested by Owls. It may be 
well to jot off a few of the less recognized 
offsets to the pleasures of rural life before lis- 
tening to any eulogies thereof. 

The real evil of country life I apprehend is 
this: the whole happiness or misery of it is so 
terribly dependent on the character of those 
with whom we live that, if we are not so fort- 
unate as to have for our companions the best 
and dearest, wisest and pleasantest, of men and 
women (in which case we may be far happier 
than in any other life in the world), we are 
infinitely worse off than we can ever be in 
town. One, two, or perhaps three relatives and 
friends, who form our permanent housemates, 
make or mar all our days by their good or evil 
tempers, their agreeability or stupidity, their 
affection and confidence, or their dislike and 
jealousy. Eire avec les gens quon aime, cela 
suffit, says Rousseau ; and he speaks truth. But 
etre avec les gens quon riaime pas, and buried 
in a dull country house with them, without any 



TOWN MOUSE AND COUNTRY MOUSE 2 25 

prospect of change, is as bad as having a mill- 
stone tied round our necks and being drowned 
in the depth of the sea. In a town house, if 
the fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, 
scold and wrangle, if the husband be a bear or 
the wife a shrew, there is always the refuge of 
the outer circle of acquaintances wherein cheer 
and comfort, or, at least, variety and relief, may 
be found. Reversing the pious Dr. Watts's 
maxim, we cry, 

" Whatever brawls disturb the home, 
Let peace be in the street." 

The Club is the shelter of henpecked man; 
a friend's house, or Marshall and Snellgrove's, 
the refuge of a cockpecked woman. On the 
stormiest domestic debate, the advent of a 
visitor intervenes, throwing temporary oil on 
the waters, and compelling the belligerents to 
put off their quarrels and put on their smiles; 
and, when the unconscious peacemaker has de- 
parted, it is often found difficult, if not impos- 
sible, to take up the squabble just where it was 
left off. But there is no such luck for cross- 
grained people in country houses. Humboldt's 
"Cosmos " contains several references to cer- 
tain observations made by two gentlemen who 
passed a winter together on the inhospitable 



226 TOWN MOUSE AND COUNTRY MOUSE 

northern shores of Asia, and one of whom bore 
the alarming name of Wrangle. It is difficult 
to imagine any trial more severe than that of 
spending the six dark months of the year with 
Wrangle on the Siberian coast of the Polar Sea. 
But this is a mere fancy sketch, whereas hun- 
dreds of unlucky English men and women 
spend their winters every year in country 
houses, limited, practically, to the society of a 
Mr. or a Mrs. Wrangle who makes life a burden 
by everlasting fault-finding, squabbling, worry, 
suspicion, jar, and jolt. As regards children 
or dependent people or the wives of despotic 
husbands, the case is often worse than this. 
By a terrible law of our nature, an unkindness, 
harshness, or injustice done once to any one has 
a frightful tendency to produce hatred of the 
victim (I have elsewhere called the passion 
heteropathy) and a restlessness to heap wrong 
on wrong, and accusation upon accusation, to 
justify the first fault. Woe to the hapless step- 
child or orphan nephew or penniless cousin, or 
helpless and aged mother-in-law, who falls under 
this terrible destiny in a country house where 
there are few eyes to witness the cruelty and 
no tongue bold enough to denounce it ! The 
misery endured by such beings, the poor young 
souls which wither under the blight of the per- 



TOWN MOUSE AND COUNTRY MOUSE 22 7 

petual unmerited blame, and the older sufferers 
mortified and humiliated in their age, must be 
quite indescribable. Perhaps by no human act 
can truer charity be done than by resolutely 
affording moral support, if we can do no more, 
to such butts and victims; and, if it be possible, 
to take them altogether away out of their ill- 
omened conditions, and "deliver him that is 
oppressed from the hand of the adversary." It 
is astonishing how much may be done by very 
humble spectators to put a check to evils like 
these, even by merely showing their own sur- 
prise and distress in witnessing them ; and, on 
the contrary, how deplorably ready are nine 
people out of ten to fall in with the established 
prejudices and unkindnesses of every house 
they enter. 

Very little of this kind of thing goes on in 
towns. People are too busy about their own 
affairs and pleasures, and their feelings of all 
kinds are too much diffused among the in- 
numerable men and women with whom they 
come in contact, to permit of concentrated 
dislike settling down on any inmate of their 
homes in the thick cloud it is apt to do in the 
country. 

Here we touch, indeed, on one great secret 
of the difference of Town and Country life. 



228 TOWN MOUSE AND COUNTRY MOUSE 

All sentiments, amiable and unamiable, are 
more are less dissipated in town, and concen- 
trated and deepened in the country. Even a 
very trifling annoyance, an arrangement of 
hours of meals too late or too early for our 
health, a smoky chimney, a bad coachman, a 
door below stairs perpetually banged, assumes 
a degree of importance when multiplied by the 
infinite number of times we expect to endure 
it in the limitless monotony of country life. 
Our nerves become in advance irritated by all 
we expect to go through in the future, and the 
consequence is that a degree of heat enters 
into family disputes about such matters which 
greatly amazes the parties concerned to remem- 
ber when the wear and tear of travel or of 
town life have made the whole mode of exist- 
ence in a country home seem a placid stream, 
with scarcely a pebble to stir a ripple. 

And now, at last, let us begin to seek out 
wherein lie the more hidden delights of the 
country life ; the violets under the hedge which 
sweeten all the air, but remain half-unobserved 
even by those who would fain gather up the 
flowers. We return in thought to one of those 
old homes, bosomed in its ancestral trees and 
with the work-day world far enough away be- 
hind the park palings so that the sound of 



TOWN MOUSE AND COUNTRY MOUSE 2 29 

wheels is never heard save when some friend 
approaches by the smooth-rolled avenue. What 
is the key-note of the life led by the men and 
women who have grown from childhood to 
manhood and womanhood in such a place, and 
then drop slowly down the long years which 
will lead them surely at last to that bed in the 
green churchyard close by, where they shall 
" sleep with their fathers " ? That " note " seems 
to me to be a peculiar sense exceeding that 
of mere calmness of stability, of a repose of 
which neither beginning nor end is in sight. 
Instead of a " changeful world," this is to them 
a world where no change comes, or comes so 
slowly as to be imperceptible. Almost every- 
thing which the eye rests upon in such a home 
is already old, and will endure for years to come, 
probably long after its present occupants are 
under the sod. The house itself was built 
generations since, and its thick walls look as 
if they would defy the inroads of time. The 
rooms were furnished, one, perhaps, at the 
father's marriage ; another, tradition tells us, by 
a famous great-grandmother; the halls no 
one remembers by whom or how long ago. 
The old trees bear on their boles the initials of 
many a name which has been inscribed long 
years also on the churchyard stones. The gar- 



230 TOWN MOUSE AND COUNTRY MOUSE 

den, with its luxuriant old-fashioned flowers and 
clipped box borders and quaint sun-dial, has 
been a garden so long that the rich soil bears 
blossoms with twice the perfume of other 
flowers ; and, as we pace along the broad ter- 
raced walks in the twilight, the odors of the 
well-remembered bushes of lavender and jessa- 
mine and cistus (each growing where it has 
stood since we were born) fall on our senses 
like the familiar note of some dear old tune. 
The very sounds of the landrail in the grass, 
the herons shrieking among their nests, the 
rooks darkening the evening sky, the cattle 
driven in to milking and lowing as they go, all 
in some way suggest the sense, not of restless- 
ness and turmoil like the noises of the town, 
but of calm and repose and the unchanging 
order of an " abode of ancient Peace." 

Then the habits of the owners of such old 
seats are sure to fall into a sort of rhyme. 
There are the lesser beats at intervals through 
the long day, when the early laborer's bell, and 
the gong at nine o'clock, and one o'clock, and 
seven o'clock, sound the call to prayers and to 
meals. And there are the weekly beats, when 
Sunday makes the beautiful refrain of the 
psalm of life. And yet again there are the 
half-yearly summer strophe and winter anti- 



TOWN MOUSE AND COUNTRY MOUSE 23! 

strophe of habits of each season, taken up and 
laid down with unfailing punctuality, while the 
family life oscillates like a pendulum between 
the first of May, which sees the domestic 
exodus into the fresh, vast old drawing-room, 
and the first of November, which brings the 
return into the warm, oak-panelled library. 
To violate or alter these long-established rules 
and precedents scarcely enters into the head of 
any one, and the child hears the old servants 
(themselves the most dear and permanent insti- 
tutions of all) speak of them almost as if they 
were so many laws of nature. Thus he finds 
life from the very beginning set for him to a 
kind of music, simple and beautiful in its way; 
and he learns to think that " Order is Heaven's 
first law," and that change will never come over 
the placid tenor of existence. The difficulty 
to him is to realize in after years that any 
vicissitudes have really taken place in the old 
home, that it has changed owners, or that the 
old order has given place to new. He almost 
feels thinking perhaps of his mother in her 
wonted seat that Shelley's dreamy philoso- 
phy must be true 

" That garden sweet, that lady fair, 
And all bright shapes and odors there, 
In truth have never passed away : 
'Tis we, 'tis ours, have changed, not they." 



232 TOWN MOUSE AND COUNTRY MOUSE 

The anticipation of perpetual variety and 
change which is the lesson commonly taught 
to children by town-life, the Micawber-like 
expectation of " something turning up," to 
amuse or distract them, and for which they are 
constantly in a waiting frame of mind, is pre- 
cisely reversed for the little scion of the old 
country family. For him nothing is ever 
likely to turn up beyond the ordinary vicis- 
situdes of fair weather and foul, the sickness of 
his pony, the death of his old dog or the arrival 
of his new gun. All that is to be made out of 
life he invents for himself in his sports and 
in his rambles, till the hour arrives when he is 
sent to school. And when the epochs of school 
and college are over, when he returns as heir 
or master, life lays all spread out before him in 
a long, straight, honorable road, all his duties 
and his pleasures lying by the wayside, ready 
for his acceptance. For the girl there is often 
even longer and more unbroken monotony, 
lasting (unless she marry) into early woman- 
hood and beyond it. Nothing can exceed the 
eventlessness of many a young lady's life in such 
a home. Her walks to her village school, or to 
visit her cottage friends in their sicknesses and 
disasters ; her rides and drives along the famil- 
iar roads which she has ridden and driven over 



TOWN MOUSE AND COUNTRY MOUSE 233 

five hundred times already ; the arrival of a 
new book, or of some old friend (more often her 
parent's contemporary than her own), make 
up the sum of her excitements, or even expec- 
tations of excitement, perhaps, through all the 
years when youth is most eager for novelty, 
and the outer world seems an enchanted place. 
The effects on the character of this extreme 
regularity and monotony, this life at Low Press- 
ure, vary, of course, in different individuals. 
Upon a dull mind without motu proprio or 
spring of original ideas, it is, naturally, depress- 
ing enough ; but it is far from equally injurious 
to those possessed of some force of character, 
provided they meet the affection and reason- 
able indulgence of liberty without which the 
heart and intellect can no more develop health- 
fully than a baby can thrive without milk, or a 
child's limbs grow agile in swaddling clothes. 
The young mind slowly working out its prob- 
lems for itself, unwarped by the influence (so 
enormous in youth) of thoughtless companions, 
and devouring the great books of the world, fer- 
reted out of a miscellaneous library by its own 
eager appetite and self-guided taste, is perhaps 
ripening in a healthier way than the best 
taught town child, with endless " classes " and 
masters for every accomplishment under the 



234 TOWN MOUSE AND COUNTRY MOUSE 

sun. Even the imagination is better cultivated 
in loneliness, when the child, through its sol- 
itary rambles by wood and shore, spins its 
gossamer webs of fancy, and invents tales of 
heroism and wonder such as no melodrama or 
pantomime ever yet brought to the town child's 
exhausted brain. Then the affections of the 
country child are concentrated on their few 
objects with a passionate warmth of which the 
feelings of the town child, dissipated amidst 
scores of friends and admirers, affords no 
measure whatever. The admiration amounting 
to worship paid by many a little lonely girl to 
some older woman who represents to her all 
of grace and goodness she has yet dreamed, 
and who descends every now and then from 
some far-off Elysium to be a guest in her home, 
is one of the least read and yet surely one of 
the prettiest chapters of innocent human senti- 
ment. As to the graver and more durable 
affections nourished in the old home, the fond 
attachment of brothers and sisters, the rever- 
ence for the father, the love, purest and 
deepest of all earthly loves, of mother for child 
and child for mother, there can be little doubt 
that their growth in the calm, sweet country life 
must be healthier and deeper rooted than it can 
well be elsewhere. 



TOWN MOUSE AND COUNTRY MOUSE 235 

And finally, almost certainly, such a peaceful 
and solitary youth soon enters the deeper 
waters of the moral and spiritual life, and 
breathes religious aspirations which have in 
them, in those early years, the freshness and 
the holiness of the morning. Happy and good 
must, indeed, be that later life from the heights 
of which any man or woman can dare to look 
back on one of these lonely childhoods without 
a covering of the face. Talk of hermitages 
or monasteries ! The real nursery of religion 
is one of these old English homes, where every 
duty is natural, easy, beautiful ; where the pleas- 
ures are so calm, so innocent, so interwoven 
with the duties that the one need scarcely 
be defined from the other; and where the 
spectacle of Nature's loveliness is forever sug- 
gesting the thought of Him who built the blue 
dome of heaven, and scattered over all the 
ground his love-tokens of flowers. The happy 
child dwelling in such a home, with a father and 
mother who speak to it sometimes of God and 
the life to come, but do not attempt to intrude 
into that Holy of Holies, a young soul's love 
and penitence and resolution, is the place on 
earth, perhaps, best fitted to nourish the flame 
of religion. Of the cruelty and wickedness 
and meanness of the world the child hears only 



236 TOWN MOUSE AND COUNTRY MOUSE 

as of the wild beasts or poisonous reptiles who 
may roam or crawl in African deserts. They are 
too far off to force themselves on the attention 
as dreadful problems of the Sphinx to be solved 
on pain of moral death. Even sickness, poverty, 
and death appear oftenest as occasions for the 
kindly and helpful sympathy of parents and 
guides. 

To turn to lighter matters. Of course 
among the first recognized pleasures of the 
country is the constant intercourse with, or 
rather bathing in, Nature. We are up to the 
lips in the ocean of fresh air, grass, and trees. 
It is not one beautiful object or another which 
attracts us (as sometimes happens in town), but, 
without being interrupted by thinking of them 
individually, they influence us en masse. Dame 
Nature has taken us on her lap, and soothes us 
with her own lullaby. Probably, on the whole, 
country folks admire each separate view and 
scrap of landscape less than their visitors from 
the town, and criticise it as little as school-boys 
do their mother's dress. But they love Nature 
as a whole, and her real influence appears in 
their genial characters, their healthy nervous 
systems, and their optimistic opinions. Nor is 
it by any means only inanimate nature where- 
with they are concerned. Not to speak of 



TOWN MOUSE AND COUNTRY MOUSE 237 

their poorer neighbors (of whom they know 
much more, and with whom they usually live 
in far more kindly relations than townsfolk with 
theirs), they have incessant concern with brutes 
and birds. How much, to some of us, the 
leisurely watching of stately cattle, gentle 
sheep, and playful lambs, the riding and driv- 
ing of generous, kindly-natured horses and the 
companionship of loving dogs, add to the sum 
of the day's pleasures and tune the mind to 
its happiest keynote, it would be difficult to 
define. For my own part, I have never ceased 
to wonder how Christian divines have been able 
to picture Heaven and leave it wholly un- 
peopled by animals. Even for their own sakes 
(not to speak of justice to the oft ill-treated 
brutes), would they not have desired to give 
their humble companions some little corner in 
their boundless sky ? A place with perpetual 
music going on and not a single animal to 
caress, even those which Mahomet promised 
his followers, his own camel, Balaam's ass, 
\nd Tobit's dog, would, I think, be a very 
incomplete and unpleasant paradise indeed ! 

It has often been said that the passion of 
Englishmen for field sports is really due to this 
love of Nature and of animals; that, like sheep- 
dogs (who, when they are not trained to guard 



238 TOWN MOUSE AND COUNTRY MOUSE 

sheep, will, by an irresistible impulse, follow 
and harry them), they feel compelled to have 
something to do with hares and foxes and par- 
tridges and grouse, and salmon ; and they find 
that the only thing to be done is to course and 
hunt and shoot and angle for them. Into this 
mystery I cannot dive. The propensity which 
can make kind-hearted men (as many sports- 
men unquestionably are) not merely endure to 
kill, but actually take pleasure in killing, inno- 
cent living things, and changing what is so 
beautiful in life and joy into what is so ineffably 
sad and piteous, wounded and dying, remains 
always to me utterly incomprehensible. But it 
is simply a fact that lads trained from boyhood 
to take pleasure in such " sports," and having, 
I doubt not, an " hereditary set of the brain " 
towards them, like so many greyhounds or 
pointers, never feel the ribrezzo, or the remorse, 
of the bird or beast murderer, but, escaping all 
reflection, triumph in their own skill, and at 
the same time enjoy the woods and fields and 
river-sides where their quarry leads them. To 
do them justice, as against many efforts lately 
made to confound them with torturers of a very 
different class, they know little of the pain 
they inflict, and they endeavor eagerly to make 
that pain as brief as possible. Nevertheless, 



TOWN MOUSE AND COUNTRY MOUSE 239 

Sport is an inexplicable passion to the non- 
sporting mind; and, moreover, one not very 
easy to contemplate with philosophical for- 
bearance, much less with admiration. 

A larger source of wonder is it to reflect 
that this same unaccountable passion for kill- 
ing pheasants and pursuing foxes has so deep 
a root in English life that its arrest and dis- 
appointment by such a change of the Game 
laws as would lead to the abolition of game 
would practically revolutionize all our man- 
ners. The attraction of the towns already 
preponderates over that of the country; but 
till lately the grouse have had the honor of 
proroguing annually the British Senate, and 
the partridges, the pheasants, the woodcocks, 
and the foxes induce pretty nearly every man 
who can afford to shoot or hunt them to 
bring his family to the country during the 
season wherein they are to be pursued. Of 
course women, left to themselves, would 
mostly choose to spend their winters in town, 
and their summers from May till November 
in the country. But Sport determines the 
Session of Parliament, and the Session de- 
termines the season; and, as women love the 
London Season quite as much as men like fox- 
hunting, both parties are equally bound to the 



240 TOWN MOUSE AND COUNTRY MOUSE 

same unfortunate division of time, and year 
after year passes, and the lilacs and labur- 
nums and hawthorns and limes in the old 
country homes waste their loveliness and their 
sweetness unseen, while the little children pine 
in Belgravian and South Kensington mansions 
when they ought to be romping among their 
father's hay-fields and galloping their ponies 
about his park. All these arrangements, and, 
further, the vast establishments of horses and 
hounds, the enormous expenditure on guns 
and game-keepers and beaters and game-pre- 
serving, the sole business of thousands of 
workingmen, and the principal occupation and 
interest of half the gentlemen in the country, 
would be swept away by a stroke. 

By some such change as this, or, more prob- 
ably, by the pressure of a hundred sources of 
change, it is probable, nay, it is certain, that 
the old form of country life (which I have been 
describing, perhaps, rather as it was a few years 
ago than it is now) will pass away and become 
a thing of memory. When that time arrives, I 
cannot but think that England and the world 
will lose a phase of human existence which, 
with all its lights and shadows, has been, per- 
haps, the most beautiful and perfect yet realized 
on earth. Certainly, it has offered to many a 



TOWN MOUSE AND COUNTRY MOUSE 24! 

happiness, pure, stable, dignified, and blame- 
less, such as it will be hard to parallel in any 
of the novel types of high pressure modern 
life. 

And, on the other hand, there is nothing so 
mournful as the life of an old ancestral home 
in the country ! Everything reminds us of the 
lost, the dead who once called these stately 
chambers their habitations, whose voices once 
echoed through the halls, and for whose famil- 
iar tread we seem yet to wait ; whose entrance, 
as of yore, through one of the lofty doors would 
scarcely surprise us ; whom we almost expect, 
when we return after long absence, to see 
rising from their accustomed seats with open 
arms to embrace us, as in the days gone by. 
The trees they planted, the walks and flower- 
beds they designed ; the sword which the father 
brought back from his early service; the tapes- 
try the mother wrought through her long years 
of declining health ; the dog grown blind and 
old, the companion of walks which shall never 
be taken again ; the instrument which once 
answered to a sweet touch forever still, these 
things make us feel Death and change as we 
never feel them amid the instability and eager 
interests of town existence. All things remain 
as of old " since the fathers fell asleep." The 



242 TOWN MOUSE AND COUNTRY MOUSE 

leaves of the woods come afresh and then fade ; 
the rooks come cawing home ; the church bells 
ring, and the old clock strikes the hour. Only 
there is one chair pushed a little aside from its 
wonted place, an old horse turned out to graze 
in peace for his latter days ; a bedroom up- 
stairs into which no one goes, save in silent 
hours, unwatched and furtively. 

As time goes by, and one after another of 
those who made youth blessed have dropped 
away, and we begin to count the years of those 
who remain, and watch gray hairs thickening 
on heads we remember golden, and talk of the 
hopes and ambitions of early days as things of 
the past, things which might have been, but 
now, we know, will never be on earth, when 
all this comes to pass, then the sense of the 
tragedy of life becomes too strong for us. The 
dear home, loved so tenderly, is for us little 
better than the cenotaph of the lost and dead ; 
the warning to ourselves that over all our busy 
schemes and hopes the pall will soon come 
down, " the night cometh when no man can 
work." 

I believe it is this deep, sorrowful sense of all 
that is most sad and most awful in our mortal 
lot, a sense which we escape amid the rush- 
ing to and fro of London, but which settles 



TOWN MOUSE AND COUNTRY MOUSE 243 

down on our souls in such a home as I have 
pictured, which makes the country unendurable 
to many,as the shadows of the evening lengthen. 
To accept it, and look straight at the grave 
towards which they are walking down the 
shortened vista of their years, taxes men's 
courage and faith beyond their strength, and 
they fly back to the business and the pleasures 
wherein such solemn thoughts are forgotten 
and drowned. And yet beneath our cowardice 
there is the longing that our little race should 
round itself once again to the old starting point; 
that where we spent our blessed childhood, and 
rested on our mother's breast, and lisped our 
earliest prayers, there also we should lay down 
the burden of life, and repent its sins, and 
thank the Giver for its joys, and fall asleep, 
to awaken, we hope, in the eternal Home. 




&> 

I - 



days priorto_due_date_ 

^TsSTAMPED BELOW 




GENERAL LIBRARY - U.C. BERKELEY