Infomotions, Inc.Lectures and essays on natural theology and ethics; ed. with a biographical introduction, by Edward Caird. / Wallace, William, 1844-1897

Author: Wallace, William, 1844-1897
Title: Lectures and essays on natural theology and ethics; ed. with a biographical introduction, by Edward Caird.
Publisher: Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1898.
Tag(s): nietzsche, friedrich wilhelm, 1844-1900; lotze, hermann, 1817-1881; religion philosophy; balfour, arthur james balfour, earl of, 1848-1930; duty; ethics; fichte, johann gottlieb, 1762-1814; mctaggart, john mctaggart ellis; socialism; gifford lectures; philosophy; unity; religion; social
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Lectures and Essays 


Natural Theology and Ethics 























LIGION .......... 52 
















iv. DUTY 3H 







i. LOTZE 4^1 




M. E. MCTAGGART .... 542 


I HAVE undertaken to write a short account of 
the life and work of the late Professor Wallace as 
an introduction to this volume of selections from 
his manuscripts. The existence of a College Tutor 
and University Professor is so quiet and uneventful, 
and Wallace confined himself so closely to his 
academic duties, that an elaborate biography of 
him would be out of place. At the same time, his 
influence over his pupils was so great, and his work 
both as a writer and lecturer was so unique in kind, 
that it has seemed desirable to put on record the 
main events of his life, and to attempt, so far as 
is possible, to estimate the main features of his 
character and the general purport of his philo 
sophical teaching. 

William Wallace was born on May 11, 1843, 
at Cupar, the county town of Fifeshire. His 
father, James Wallace, began life as a mason, and 
got on so well as to become a successful master- 
builder. He and his wife, Jean Kellock, were a 
quiet, industrious pair, who mixed little with their 


neighbours, and devoted themselves mainly to the 
bringing up of their family, of whom there were five, 
four sons and one daughter. William was the eldest 
of the family, and the third son was Edwin Wallace, 
afterwards Fellow of Worcester College and author 
of an edition of Aristotle s De Anima, a man of 
fine intelligence and generous character, who died 
of consumption at a comparatively early age. The 
parents were simple and truthful people, the mother 
especially being a woman of considerable energy and 
originality, and their example had no little influence 
in developing in their son that quiet independence 
and uncompromising devotion to ideal aims, which 
were leading notes of his character. His ability and 
steadfastness of purpose showed themselves very 
early. Both at the Madras Academy, Cupar, and 
subsequently at the University of St. Andrews, 
he easily took the first place in all the studies to 
which he gave his mind. His main interest at first 
was in Classics, in which he had the advantage 
of the teaching of Professor Sellar and Professor 
(afterwards Principal) Shairp, but in the last years 
of his course he came under the influence of Professor 
Ferrier, to whose lectures he traced his first intel 
lectual awakening and his initiation in philosophical 
study. He did not take to golf as an amusement 
like most St. Andrews students, nor indeed did he 
ever care much for athletics in any form; but he 
early developed a taste for natural beauty, which 
he indulged in long country walks. At St. Andrews 
he was specially impressed by his first view of the 


sea, and used to spend much time in watching the 
waves breaking on the rocks or rolling up the long 
slope of the sands. 

For such a studious youth in Scotland, the Church 
seemed the natural profession ; and his parents 
sent him to the University with that object. But 
after spending four years in the Arts course at 
St. Andrews, and especially after his philosophical 
studies had awakened him to independent thinking, 
Wallace came to feel himself not specially fitted for 
that profession, and somewhat doubtful whether he 
could comply with its requirements. On this subject 
an interesting anecdote is told by a member of his 
family. It had been arranged, in conformity with 
the wish of his mother, that he should go to the 
Divinity Hall in Edinburgh after having completed 
his curriculum at St. Andrews. But at last, when 
the day came that he should start, he said to her, 
Do you really wish me to go? If you say the word, 
I will go. His mother, seeing that his heart was 
not in it, turned away in silence ; she was much 
disappointed, but was too wise to press him further 
in such a matter. 

Having thus changed his plans, he was recom 
mended by his professors in 1864 to try for an 
Exhibition in Balliol College, which he succeeded 
in getting. At Oxford he showed the same easy 
mastery of the work he had to do, taking a First 
Class in Moderations 1866, and a First in Literae 
Humaniores in the following year, gaining also the 
Gaisford Prize for Greek Prose, and, not long after, 


a Craven Scholarship. I remember making his 
acquaintance when he first came into residence in 
Oxford, and the impression of youthful staidness 
and self-command which he made upon me. 
Balliol, owing to his retiring disposition, his com 
parative maturity of mind, and his disinclination 
to athletics, he was not well known to many of the 
undergraduates, and a certain bluntness of manner, 
partly the result of shyness, gained him the nick 
name of The Dorian. But he was greatly respected 
and admired, and his genuine kindness of heart and 
rectitude of purpose made itself felt by all who 
came into near relation with him. Jowett and 
Green both had a high estimate of his character 
and powers, and he was strongly influenced by both 
in his mental development. From Green he received 
a further stimulus towards the study of philosophy, 
and especially of the philosophy of Germany ; and 
long afterwards he spoke of what he owed to that 
example of high-souled devotion to truth, and of 
earnest and intrepid thinking on the deep things 
of eternity. On the other hand, the intellectual 
influence of Jowett was more in the direction of 
Classical scholarship and of literary style, and of 
general balance of mind. In the preface to the last 
edition of Wallace s Prolegomena to the Hegelian 
Logic, which was written under the influence of 
Jowett s recent death, he says a few words about 
his old Oxford Tutor and friend, touched no doubt 
with the idealization of memory and regret, but 
characterizing the nature of Jowett s influence as 


truly as anything that has been written of him. 
The late Master of Balliol/ he says, was more 
than a mere scholar, a mere philosopher. He 
seemed so idealist, yet so practical ; so realist, and 
yet so full of large ideals ; so delicately kind, 
and yet so severely reasonable. You felt that he 
saw life more steadily, and saw it more whole than 
others ; as one reality in which religion and philo 
sophy, art and business, the sciences and theology, 
were severally but elements and aspects. To the 
amateurs of novelty, to the slaves of specialization, 
to the devotees of any narrow way, such largeness 
might, with the impatience natural to limited minds, 
have seemed indifference. So must appear those 
who on higher planes hear all parts of the harmony 
of humanity, and with the justice of a wise love, 
maintain an intellectual Sophrosyne. On his pupils, 
this secret power of an other-world serenity laid 
an irresistible spell, and bore in upon them the 
conviction that beyond scholarship and logic there 
was the fuller truth of life, and the all-embracing 
duty of doing their best to fulfil the amplest require 
ments of their place. 

In 1867, just after taking his Degree, Wallace 
became a Fellow of Merton College, and was shortly 
after appointed to a Tutorship, the duties of which 
he continued to discharge till his death, in addi 
tion to those of Whyte s Professorship of Moral 
Philosophy, to which he was elected 1882, as the 
successor of T. H. Green. In 1872 he had married 
Miss Janet Barclay, daughter of the Sheriff Clerk of 


Fife, who, with a daughter and two sons, survives 

him. -, 

The main after-events of his life were connected 
with the publication of his books. In 1874 he 
published his translation of the Logic of Hegel (from 
the Encyclopaedie), with Prolegomena, in which he 
dealt with the main preliminary difficulties of the 
study of Hegel. His Epicurean Philosophy appeared 
in 1880 (in the S.P.C.K. Series of Ancient Phi 
losophies). It contains a delicately appreciative 
account of a philosophy to which we should hardly 
have expected Wallace to feel any special attraction. 
It traces the origin of the school, and dwells with 
much sympathy upon the beautiful harmony and ideal 
simplicity of the society of friends which Epicurus 
created. In this work Wallace first showed that 
desire to realize in all their details the circumstances 
of the life of the thinkers in whom he was interested, 
which was a marked characteristic of his writing. It 
was not that he exaggerated the importance of such 
secondary elements in biography ; he even apologizes 
for paying so much regard to them ; but he took 
very great pleasure in collecting even the least 
important facts about the philosophers or poets 
whom he was studying, and in visiting the scenes 
associated with their lives. Generally he directed 
his summer tours to such places, and in different 
years sought to familiarize himself with the environ 
ment of Hegel, Kant, Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, and 
finally, of Wordsworth and Coleridge. Thus, while 
writing his book on Kant, published in 1882, for 


Blackwood s Philosophical Series, he paid a visit to 
Konigsberg. The result is shown in the very inter 
esting and humorous biography in which he pictures 
to us in a very lifelike way the surroundings of the 
great critical philosopher arid his faithful servant 
Lampe. The part of the book relating to the 
philosophy of Kant is an excellent resume, but 
suffers from the fact that he had to cut it down 
so much in order to reduce it to the required size. 
His next book, the Life of Schopenhauer, pub 
lished in 1890, was written in a similar way. It 
is perhaps the best of his smaller books, and con 
tains a very vivid account of that curmudgeon of 
genius if we may be allowed the expression in 
which the defects of his character and philosophy 
are indicated, but at the same time full credit is 
given to him for that deeper idealistic impulse that 
runs through his works, and the wonderful gleams 
of poetic or philosophic insight which he exhibits 
from time to time. In this volume Wallace displays 
a very rare biographical gift. I do not know any 
biography which makes us to see more clearly that 
the character and thought of its subject are different 
aspects of the same thing. We are made to realize 
how Schopenhauer s violent recoil against materialism 
and empiricism, and the impatient and intolerant 
idealism which was his mental characteristic, almost 
inevitably resulted in his negative Pantheistic 
theory of the world ; and how, at the same time, 
he was enabled by a logical tour de force to give 
to that negative view something of the value of 



a positive, and to maintain that the ultimate unity 
has a sporadic manifestation in art and life, which 
it is the open secret of genius to detect. Thus we 
are enabled to understand the strange alternations 
of depth and shallowness, of penetrative insight 
and savage prejudice, of egoistic passion and self- 
abnegation, which showed themselves in his life 
and found expression in his philosophy a philo 
sophy whose influence upon some readers has been 
so great, partly because it was such an immediate 
reflex of the character of the author. Take one 

passage : 

One may say, says Wallace, that there are two 
Schopenhauers in the field. Even the meanest of 
God s creatures, says the poet, 

"Boasts two soul sides, one to face the world with, 
One to show a woman when he loves her." 

Schopenhauer s beloved was no mortal maiden, 
but an angel vision or was it a reality ? of truth. 
There is the Schopenhauer of the outward biography, 
an irritable, petulant, paradoxical creature, plagued 
by a most unconquerable vanity ; whose acts accuse 
him of being selfish, harsh-mannered, and sordid, 
with a history full of trivial incidents and vulgar 
quarrels ; self-engrossed, dead to the sweet ties of 
domesticity, and deaf to the call of public and 
national interests ; sinking as the years passed by 
into a solitary cave, whence, like the giant in 
Bunyan s Allegory, he raged impotently at the 
heterodox wayfarer. Unfortunately in some of his 
books, especially in the later, this unpleasant self 


is rampant. But these same books, at their best, 
give the picture of another soul, which, freed from 
the bond of temporal quarrels and the world s 
litigiousness, draws closer to the great heart of life, 
and tries to see clearly what man s existence and 
hopes and destiny really are ; which recognizes the 
peaceful creations of art as the most adequate 
representations the sense-world can give of the true 
inward being of all things ; and which holds the 
best life to be that of one who has pierced through 
the illusions dividing one conscious individuality 
from another, into that heart of divine rest where 
we are each members one of another, essentially 
united in the great ocean of Being, in which and by 
which we alone live V The chapter that follows 
this gives not so much an analysis of Schopenhauer s 
work, as rather a sympathetic rendering of its inner 
spirit ; and the whole biography is a great illustration 
of the principle that the most powerful criticism of 
an author lies in a thorough appreciation of the 
best that is in him. 

In 1892 Wallace brought out the second edition 
of his translation of Hegel s Logic, carefully revised, 
and enriched with many notes ; and in the following 
year he republished his Prolegomena, so much 
modified and enlarged as really to constitute a new 
work. Finally, in 1894, he published a translation of 
the last part of Hegel s Encyclopaedic, The Philo 
sophy of Mind, with five Essays, in which he reviews 
the subjects of the volume, dealing especially with 

1 Life of Schopenhauer, ch. iv. 



the question of the method of psychology, and its 
relation to ethics and theology. 

In 1892 he was appointed Gifford Lecturer in the 
University of Glasgow, and in the two following 
years delivered two courses of lectures there on the 
history of Natural Theology, and on the relation of 
Morality and Religion. What of these lectures has 
been preserved is printed in this volume. Wallace 
had contemplated a complete rewriting of these 
courses, and also the preparation of a volume on the 
ethical ideas in the poets of the nineteenth century. 
But the execution of these and other projects was 
postponed till he should be released from the lectures 
of the Merton Tutorship. In 1898 he would have 
earned a pension for thirty years service in that 
College, and have had much more leisure for literary 
work. But in February, 1897, in riding down a hill 
about eight miles from Oxford, he appears to have 
lost control over his bicycle, and was dashed against 
the parapet of a bridge at the bottom. He survived 
until the following morning, but never recovered 

Wallace s life was purely the life of a teacher ; he 
never took any prominent part even in University 
politics, though he frequently served on the Board 
of Faculties and other committees for University 
administration, and, both in these and in the meet 
ings of his College, his words had great influence. 
He formed his opinions with much independence, 
and his forceful, and often pointed and luminous 
expression of them, was such as to lend them full 


weight and effect. He had not a little practical 
insight, and much of what one might call mental 
detachment and impartiality, and even those who 
could not agree with him often felt that his words 
cast a fresh light upon the subject. He was a quick 
tempered man, writes a member of his College, who 
had good opportunities of judging, but never bore 
malice, was always inclined to think matters over, 
and, if necessary, to express a change of opinion. 
He had the strong and vigorous sense which enabled 
hirn to strike at the root of practical questions. 
And the Warden of Mertori speaks of the incisive 
brevity, weight, and pertinency of his remarks at 
College meetings, and says that, in discussions on 
discipline or examinations, his desire to be just was 
evident, and he was not afraid to stand alone in his 

While, however, Wallace did not decline such 
University business as fell to his share, his main 
interest lay in his work as a College Tutor, as Lecturer 
on Philosophy, and as a writer on philosophical sub 
jects. As a College Tutor, he gained the respect of 
many generations of Merton men ; and after he 
became a University Professor his influence was 
greatly extended. He was not indeed naturally 
fitted to be a teacher of Passmen, and in later years 
he did not take any share in that work. But as 
a teacher of philosophy to men reading for the 
Honour School of Literae Humaniores, he has had 
few rivals in the history of the University. Of 
this, indeed, as Principal Fairbairn has said, only 



those who passed through his hands are qualified to 
speak, and the most qualified have spoken in terms 
of unstinted praise. It might be hard to some, 
though to none so hard as to himself, to break 
through his habitual and constitutional reserve ; but 
he was so true a man, so good a scholar, so high and 
pure a thinker, and so conscientious a teacher, that 
association with him could not but be to the capable 
an education in itself. To exercise his full educative 
power, he required to be known, and he could hardly 
be well known except to those who had some depth of 
character and real interest in philosophy ; but upon 
those whom he influenced at all, he had an almost 
transforming power. His sincerity and simplicity of 
manner, his absorbing interest in the real purport of 
philosophy, and disregard of what was merely formal 
and technical, his dislike of sham and pretence, and 
his sympathy and power of entering into the diffi 
culties of a student, even his intolerance of idleness 
and the severity of the demands he made upon his 
pupils, awakened in them an admiration and enthu 
siasm seldom felt for any teacher. 

I have before me many letters from former pupils 

who are well qualified to estimate the value of the 

instructions they received, in which he is spoken of 

m language that might seem extravagant, if it were 

> obviously sincere. One old pupil writes : 

should think that no one who was taught by him 

ouW fal into carelessness or insincerity of thought 

without feeling rebuked. It was teaching that could 

t pass away, because it gave one new powers and 


a higher life. Another says : When I was in 
Oxford, I was simply saturated with his sayings, and 
was always quoting him and writing about him to 
my friends. I remember writing that he was a 
Carlyle, but a Carlyle with eyes fixed on thought 
rather than on practice. Another says : All his 
pupils must feel that he was their intellectual father 
a sternish father at times. He provoked us to 
thought, and his words stuck in one s memory like 
burrs. I was warmly attached to him, and felt this 
more strongly every time I saw him. A Fellow of 
Merton, who was quite recently a pupil under 
Wallace s tuition, writes : It is extremely difficult 
for so young a man as myself to attempt adequately 
to appreciate the greatness of our late Professor ; 
but an intercourse of two years, and the intimacy 
into which that intercourse brought me, inspired in 
me and here I am speaking for all his pupils, not 
for myself alone an admiration, I might say a 
reverence, which was never felt toward any other 
teacher. From the first we could not but feel the 
utter earnestness of the man, the intense seriousness 
with which he approached the great subjects of 
which he was trying to give us some faint con 
ception. His method was severely Socratic ; for the 
first year of work with him he struck us sometimes 
as stern and hard, as demanding too much ; but we 
soon came to see that if he asked much from us in 
the way of devotedness, enthusiasm, labour, and 
self-denial, he asked much more from himself. To 
have known him as I did for two years in almost 

b 2 


daily contact, was a high and generous inspiration. 
He had more of the prophet about him than any 
man I have known, and he was regarded by those of 
his pupils who could at all appreciate him, with 
a whole-hearted devotion such as few others ever 
inspired. His memory is the most precious posses 
sion of my University life. 

Wallace s lectures were in many ways unlike the 
usual University type; they had an individual 
flavour which it is not easy to characterize. They 
were not systematic expositions of the subject, as 
already formed and settled in the speaker s mind, 
but rather like attempts to realize its significance 
afresh, by approaching it now from one point of 
view and now from another. He seldom read from 
a manuscript, and when he did so, the constraint of 
reading seemed to deprive him of the freedom neces 
sary to effective speaking. His custom was rather 
before lecturing to fill his mind with his subject, 
making many notes, and often writing out even 
many pages of extracts from the authors criticized. 
Generally, however, especially in later years, he made 
no attempt to write out even a sketch of what he had 
to say, but trusted for the expression to the impulse 
of the moment and of the audience. Speaking thus 
ex tempore, he never seemed to have any difficulty 
in finding words for his ideas, and his sentences 
flowed on without hesitation ; though he was some 
what dependent for his effectiveness upon the mood 
and temper of the moment, and, we may add, upon 
the state of his health. But by this method he 


seemed to gain unusual power of putting himself en 
rapport with his audience, and of communicating to 
them, by a kind of infection, his own vivid percep 
tion of his subject, as it rose before his mind in the 
moment of delivery. His hearers seemed to be 
receiving thought in the making, and not as the cut- 
and-dried product of the study. The play of his 
mind upon the questions discussed, the strange 
touches of humour with which his discourse was 
lighted up, the subtle beauty and conclusiveness of 
expression which he often attained, and, through it 
all, the gravity and earnestness of his manner, pro 
duced an impression which was unique of its kind. 
He did not aim at giving to those whom he addressed 
the kind of things which might be useful in the 
Schools, but rather at showing them how to think 
and feel. His thought seemed never the working of 
an abstract intellect, but rather an attempt to deepen 
life by making it self-conscious and communicating 
it to others. He is never other than stimulating and 
suggestive, and, in a sense, he was always preaching, 
said an appreciative listener ; and it is not impos 
sible that the fact that he had looked forward to 
the Church as his profession, as well as the strongly 
ethical cast of his own mind, tended to give 
a practical turn to his teaching. He might indeed 
be fairly said to be a preacher of ideal truth, and 
his lectures seemed to be to him an opportunity 
in which he could free himself from the circum 
praecordia frigus, which made it so difficult for 
a man constitutionally reserved, and further trained 


to reticence by academic habits, to utter himself 

freely on the highest subjects. 

> To those who live in London, writes Professor 
Muirhead, his figure has not been unfamiliar for 
some years past, when he has come to lecture at 
Toynbee Hall, or the London Ethical Society the 
tall and somewhat gaunt outline, the earnest and 
thought-worn expression, the perfect mastery of 
material and language, which enabled him to speak 
for generally over an hour, without note or reference, 
yet without a slip ; the graphic and humorous 
illustrations must have stamped themselves on the 
memory of many. His habit was to choose for his 
subject some individual thinker (Rousseau, Epicurus, 
Nietzsche, Wordsworth, were the titles of some of 
his lectures) ; or if he chose some more abstract topic, 
such as " Duty," he was careful to attach what he 
said to some concrete instance ; the lecture last 
referred to taking the unexpected turn of a vivid 
characterization of Frederick the Great as a type of 
devotion to duties of one s station. Ideas were to 
him living forces, and unless he could show them in 
actual operation in concrete instances, he had little 
hope of making their scope and meaning clear V 

In the published works of Wallace, what first 
strikes the reader is their literary quality, which is 
unusual in philosophical writing. His style, with 
more continuity of thought, has much of the subtlety 
and refinement which characterize the writings of 
Jowett. One cannot read many pages without 

1 Fortnightly Revieiv, May, 1897. 


coming upon one of those Olympian sentences, as 
one of his pupils called them, those eVea Tn-e/ooei/ra, 
winged at once with thought and imagination, which 
seem once for all to fix and define for us some aspect 
of things. And on a closer view, one finds that this 
power of speech is not a mere literary gift, but due 
to the fact that he thinks (Platonically) not with 
his intellect only, but with his whole soul, using his 
imagination and his sympathies to aid him in identi 
fying himself with the object, and explaining it from 
within outwards. It is due also to what, for want 
of a better word, we must call the intuitive character 
of his mind, which led him rather to see the whole 
in every part, and therefore to attempt to realize it 
as something with independent life, than to trace 
out its connexions and relations with the other parts. 
For, though his main work was devoted to the ex 
position of Hegel, the great modern systematizer 
of Idealism, and though he had, as we shall see, 
a subtle appreciation of the dialectical method of 
Hegel s thought, it cannot be said that his own 
tendency was to system, or to the close tracing of 
the filiation of thought upon thought. His effort 
was rather to realize by subtle criticism and sympa 
thetic insight the different aspects of the matter 
with which he was dealing ; and then to gather up 
the general result in some luminous imaginative 
expression. His way was to ruminate upon a sub 
ject till the fire burned, and clearness of vision led 
to vivid and characteristic utterance. Or we might 
say that reflexion was to him rather a means to an 


end, a way of securing more perfect vision, and that 
he hardly cared to analyze or methodize it for itself. 
He once spoke to me of the wretchedly episodic 
character of his mind/ which seemed to be a strange 
complaint from one who was always looking at his 
subject, whatever it might be, in the light of the 
unity of the whole. But what he meant is, I think, 
illustrated by many places in his writings, in which 
he seems to suggest point after point, to view the 
subject in aspect after aspect, and then to call upon 
the reader to make the synthesis for himself, with 
the aid of some striking metaphor, or else, as Pro 
fessor Muirhead indicates, of a sketch of the life and 
character of some individual, in whom the idea he is 
discussing was embodied. It is in harmony with this 
that he quite as often seeks to illustrate his thoughts 
from the poets as from the philosophers. He was 
a constant and unwearied reader of all the great 
ancient and modern classics, and he often made 
a special study of any new appearance in literature. 
And both in literature and philosophy what he 
sought was not thought or system for itself, but 
rather as the concentrated expression of life, the 
quintessence of human experience. The Hegelian 
philosophy had its strong hold upon his mind mainly 
because he seemed to find in Hegel one who united 
idealism with a more than positivist insistence upon 
the emptiness of abstract ideas, and whose thinking 
was a continual effort after the comprehension of the 
actual in its concreteness and complexity. 

It is an indication of the same longing to get 


close to reality that so much of Wallace s interest 
was by preference drawn to writers whose ten 
dencies were just the reverse of his own. He 
seemed to feel that philosophy was only to be 
trusted if it could verify itself in the most unfavour 
able of instances. He was fearful lest his idealism 
should become empty, if he did not continually bring 
it into contact with the crudest empiricism ; that 
his optimism might get shallow if he did not con 
tinually drag it up de profundis from the deepest 
divisions and contradictions of thought and life. 
I have already spoken of the great pains he took 
to realize to himself, not only the intellectual atmo 
sphere in which the philosophers and poets about 
whom he wrote were living, but also all the details 
of their outward life. 

Wallace s criticism is almost always appreciative, 
and we might say, at times appreciative to a fault. 
He was, indeed, not without some of the logical 
pugnacity attributed to his countrymen, and which 
made a friend of mine say that when a Scotsman 
agrees with you on ninety-nine points, and differs 
on one, he always chooses that one point to speak 
about. He could occasionally fulminate with much 
vigour against views and tendencies of which he 
disapproved. But on the whole he disliked and 
avoided the atmosphere of controversy, and generally 
when he thought an author worthy of study, he 
took infinite pains to enter into his point of view, 
and even to suggest reasons to justify what seemed 
paradoxical and extravagant. This may be noticed 


in his treatment of not only Kant and Hegel, but 
of Epicurus, Hobbes, Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, and 
others. Certainly the fault, if it is a fault, is more 
than compensated by the subtle insight which is 
the natural reward of this kind of criticism, and 
which enables him to see the affirmation that 
working behind the negations of the authors he is 
examining, and to find out all the grains of gold 
which are hidden in their dross. 

Wallace s most important work, of course, lay 
in his exposition of the Hegelian system. In the 
Prolegomena to Hegel s Logic, even in its first form, 
he did much to remove the preliminary difficulties 
that embarrass the student; and in the enlarged 
edition, he discussed very fully all the main aspects 
of the Hegelian philosophy, giving also a sketch 
of the whole movement of the Logic, and showing 
its relation to the other parts of the system. The 
main defect of the Prolegomena is one which I have 
already indicated, viz. that while the topic of each 
chapter is treated in a very suggestive and pene 
trative way, the links of connexion between the 
different chapters are not always fully indicated ; 
and in consequence the whole has the aspect of 
being a series of essays, rather than of a connected 
treatise. This, however, is more in appearance than 
reality, and to any one who carefully studies the 
volume as a whole, it will become evident that there 
are few real difficulties in the subject, which have 
not been thoroughly dealt with. The points upon 
which Wallace dwells most fully are, first of all, 


Hegel s view of the relation of the point of view 
of philosophy to that of the ordinary consciousness 
on the one hand, and that of the sciences on the 
other. In connexion with this, he takes up and 
discusses very fully the various misunderstandings 
of what is meant by Idealism, such as the supposi 
tion that it is the reduction of the objective world 
to an appearance in the consciousness of the subject, 
or that it involves the reference of the phenomenal 
world to a transcendental world of ideas. Such 
misconceptions he tries to meet by an historical 
survey of the transition through Kant and Fichte 
to Schelling and Hegel ; and again by showing that 
the fundamental truth upon which Idealism exists, 
is the relativity of all distinctions. In particular, 
he seeks to prove that it does not set the object and 
the subject against each other, or deny the reality 
of the former any more than of the other, but that 
it insists primarily on that ultimate unity of all 
things which Plato adumbrated in the Idea of 

The central or cardinal point of view of Idealism J 
is/ he declares, its refusal to be kept standing at 
a fixed disruption between subject and object, 
between spirit and nature. Its idea is the identity 
or unity (not without the difference) of both. In 
its purely logical or epistemological aspect, one can 
easily see that, as Schopenhauer was so fond of 
repeating, there is no object without a subject, and 
no subject without an object. The difficulty arises 

1 Proleg., p. 193. 


in remembering these excellent truisms when one 
of the correlatives is out of sight, and the other 
seems to be independent, and to come before us with 
a title to recognition apparently all its own. . . . The 
basis of all consciousness and mental activity is an 
original division, a " judgement " or dijudicatiori of 
self from self. But once the dijudication made for 
such ends, it is a mistake to forget its initiation, 
and lose sight entirely of the fact that the observing 
mind is also the active, and that the object-self is 
not merely in relation to the subject-self, but in 
a higher unity is identifiable therewith. . . . What 
Hegel, after Schelling, teaches, on the other side, is 
that the process of sense impression and the manipu 
lations to which it is subjected by intellect pre 
suppose, for their existence and their objective 
truth, a Eeason which is the unity of subject and 
object, an original identity uniting knowledge to 

If, therefore, we attempt to separate spirit from 
nature, we end in depriving of all meaning the 
element which we try to treat as an independent 
substance. As Schelling puts it : < Opposing and 
separating the world of intelligence from the world 
of nature, men have learned to see nature outside 
God, and God outside nature, and withdrawing 
nature from the holy necessity, have subordinated 
: to the unholy which they name mechanical, while 
by the same act they have made the ideal world 

> scene of a lawless liberty. At the same time 

1 Proleg., p. 165 ; Schelling, iv. 306. 


as they defined nature as a merely passive entity, 
they supposed they had gained the right of defining 
God, whom they elevated above nature, as pure 
activity, utter " actuosity," as if one of these concepts 
did not stand and fall with the other. On the other 
hand, we must not conceive the unity so asserted as 
a transcendent Being, in which the difference of things 
is simply lost, but simply as the unity of experience 
fully thought out. This transcendental, absolutist, 
a priori philosophy, which stands so strange and 
menacing on the threshold of the nineteenth 
century, is after all only, as Kant sometimes called 
it, an essay to comprehend and see the true nearness 
and dimensions of the much-quoted experience. 
All knowledge exists in (not on) the unity of 
experience. All the several experiences rest in the 
totality of one experience, ultimate, all embracing, 
absolute, unconditioned, universal and yet indivi 
dual, necessary and yet free, eternal, yet filling all 
the works of time ideal, and yet the mother of all 
reality, unextended, and yet spread through the 
space of the universe. Call it, if you like, the 
experience of the race, but remember that that 
apparently more realistic and scientific process 
connotes neither more nor less (if rightly understood) 
than normal, ideal, universal, infinite, absolute 
experience. This is the Unconditioned, which is the 
basis and the builder of all conditions ; the Absolute, 
which is the home and parent of all relations. 
Experience is no doubt yours and mine, but it is 
much more than yours and mine. He who builds 


on his experience, builds on and in the Absolute, in 
the system, a system which is not merely his. In 
his every utterance he claims to speak as the 
mouthpiece of the Absolute, the Unconditioned; his 
words expect and require assent, belief, acceptance ; 
they are candidates (not necessarily or always success 
ful) for the rank of universal and necessary truth ; 
they are dogmatic assertions, and, even in their 
humblest tones, none the less infected with the 
fervour of certainty. For, indeed, otherwise it 
would be a shame and an insult to let them 
cross the lips V 

Again, if this be so, we can understand that the 
task of philosophy is not merely to sum up the results 
of the sciences, or to show the harmony of their first 
principles, but it is to transform our ordinary view 
of the world as a collection of independent things, 
or even of things acting arid reacting on each other, 
by thoroughly working out the idea of their unity. 
In opposition at once to the mystic view that would 
lose all things in God, and the empirical view that 
would rest in their apparent independence as 
phenomena conditioned by time and space, a true 
philosophy must be guided by the idea of system 
a system which does justice to all the divisions of 
reality, yet attempts to show the organic or super- 
organic unity of the whole. Philosophy cannot stop 
short of this; and if it be said that such system 
unattainable, the answer is, that the thins is 
^ us all, and has to be done -. If not as men 

., p. I69 . 


of science, yet as men, as human beings, we have 
to put things together, and form some total estimate 
of the drift of development, of the unity of nature. 
To get a notion, not merely of the general methods 
and principles of the sciences, but of their results 
and teachings, and to get this, not as a mere lot 
of fragments but with a systematic unity, is indis 
pensable in some degree for all rational life. The 
life not founded on science is not the life of man. 
But he will not find what he wants in the text 
books of the specialist, who is obliged to treat his 
subject, as Plato says, "under the pressure of 
necessity," and who dare riot look on it in its 
quality, " to draw the soul towards truth, and to 
form the philosophic intellect so as to uplift what 
we now mainly keep down" (Plato, Rep. 527). If 
the philosopher in this province does his work badly, 
he may plead the novelty of his task, to which he 
comes as a pioneer, or even as an architect. He 
finds little that he can directly utilize. The 
materials have been gathered and prepared for very 
special aims ; and the great aim of science that 
human life may be made a higher, an ampler and 
happier thing has hardly been kept in view at all, 
except in its more materialistic aspects. To the 
philosopher the supreme interest of the physical 
sciences is that man also belongs to the physical 
universe, or that Mind and Matter are (to use 
Mr. Spencer s language) " at once antithetic and 
inseparable." He wants to find the place of Man, 
but of Man as Mind in Nature. 


This view leads to a new conception of logical 
method, in which the old difficulty of Plato, whether 
inference proceeds from the known to the known, 
or from the known to the unknown, receives its 
solution. We cannot base knowledge on principles 
which we know independently of the results based 
on them, or on so-called facts which remain to the 
end what they were for us at the beginning. For 
any such principle or fact, as thus isolated, must 
be imperfectly conceived, and can be rightly con 
ceived only when we discern in it the relations and 
connexions which at first we overlook ; nor can we 
stop short in the process of regress and recon 
struction, of corrective interpretation and reinter- 
pretation, till we find the whole in, or behind, our 
first starting-point. Begin where you like, the 
reason of things, if you allow it to work, carries you 
round till you see identity where you saw only 
difference, or effects where you only looked for 
causes. You begin, as the inductive logician, with 
the belief that the process is from the known to the 
unknown. You start with your basis of fact, as you 
called it. The nemesis of things forces you to admit 
that your facts are partly fictions, which waited for 
the unknown to give them a truer and fuller reality. 
You talk at first of induction, as if it were a single 
and simple process, which out of facts builds up 
generalities and uniformities. You learn as you go 
on that the only induction which operates, except 
in cases which have been artificially simplified by 
supposing half the task done before you apply your 


experimental methods, is an induction of which the 
major part is deductive, and where your conclusion 
will be recurrently made your premiss. Your in 
duction only works on the basis of an hypothesis, 
and must be itself linked in the " concatenation of 
truths," a concatenation which is itself a criticism 
and a correction V 

From this it follows that the mechanical method 
of construing the whole as the aggregate of the 
parts, and also, what may be called the chemical 
method, in which the unity of the parts appears 
as a new partial existence with qualities that have 
no apparent essential connexion with those of the 
elements out of which they come, must be regarded 
as abstract methods, which, though they work well 
within a certain region, yet rest on a limited and 
hypothetical construction of things. And they 
must both ultimately yield to the method of 
development which is the method that is applicable 
to the full concrete reality, not like the others to 
parts abstracted from and insulated in reality V 
a method which has to blend induction with reduc 
tion, and to start from both ends in the series of 
causation at once, and which goes upon the supposi 
tion that the determinations of each part can be 
truly known only when we regard it as resting upon 
arid returning to the unity of the whole. This 
method recognizes in the object it examines a 
certain independence or originality, yet also the 
pressure of an immanent law, which does not wait 

1 Proleg., p. 188. 2 Id., p. 214. 



for the outsider to put it together, but constructs 
itself as it were after a plan of its own 1 . It sees 
in it the same subjective principle, both analytic 
and synthetic, as we own in thought. The object 
is for it, neither a mere thing to be explained and 
construed ab extra, nor a mystery of sudden trans 
formation to be passively accepted ; but a growth 
to be sympathetically watched and understood 
understood, because it follows the same order as the 
movement of our own thought in the process of 
knowledge. Similia similibus cognoscuntur! 

As an actual specimen of this method of treating 
an object, and working towards the comprehension 
of it by following its own dialectic, we may refer to 
the eighteenth chapter of the Prolegomena, where 
Wallace attempts to deal with the idea of Per 
sonality, and to show how the different views of 
it may be regarded as steps in self-explication ; or 
to the remarks in the next chapter on Genesis in 
mental life. The concluding chapters of the Pro 
legomena give an account of Hegel s application 
of this method to Logic itself, showing especially in 
what sense the whole system is developed out of 
the idea of Being with which it began, and in 
which sense the beginning really presupposes the 

In the Essays prefixed to Hegel s Philosophy 
of Mind, Wallace s last published work, there is 
an attempt in the same spirit to discuss the value 
of the different methods in their application to 

1 Proleg., p. 221. 


psychology, arid to maintain the ultimate superiority 
of the method of development. The following 
passage may be sufficient to indicate the general 
point of view. The vulgar apprehension of these 
things seems to assume that we have by nature or 
are born with a general faculty or set of faculties, 
which we subsequently fill up and embody by the 
aid of experience. We possess they seem to 
imply so many "forms" or "categories" latent in 
our minds ready to hold and combine the new 
materials supplied from without. According to 
this view, we have all a will and an intelligence ; 
the difference is only that some put more into them, 
and some put less. But such a separation of the 
general form from its contents is a piece of pure 
mythology. It is perhaps true and safe to say that 
the human being is of such a character that will 
and intelligence are in the ordinary course inevitably 
produced. But the forms which grow up are the 
more and more definite and systematic organization 
of a graded experience, of series of ideas, working 
themselves up again and again in representative 
and re-representative degree, till they constitute 
a mental or inner world of their own. The will is 
thus the title appropriate to the final stage of 
a process, by which sensation and impulse have 
polished and perfected themselves, by union and 
opposition, by differentiation and accompanying 
redintegration, till they assume characters quite 
unsurmised in their earliest aspects, and yet only 
the consolidation or self-realization of implications. 

c 2 


Thus the mental faculties are essentially acquired 
powers, acquired not from without, but by action 
which generates the faculties it seems to imply. 
The process of mind is a process which creates 
individual centres, raises them to completer inde 
pendence ; which produces an inner life more and 
more self-centred, and also more and more equal 
to the universe which it has embodied. And will 
and intelligence are an important stage of that 
process. In what follows, Wallace gives a very 
suggestive commentary on the way in which Hegel 
follows out this idea, not only in psychology, but 
also in ethics and the philosophy of religion. 

As may be partly seen from the account just given, 
Wallace was at once one of the most faithful of the 
followers of Hegel, and at the same time the most 
free from any clinging to mere verbal fidelity. 
He does not deal much in Hegelian formulae, even 
when he is explaining Hegel ; rather he is very 
impatient of such literalness, and never rests in the 
Hegelian thought till he has reproduced it in a new 
form, or in many new forms. His allegiance means 
that he seemed to himself to find in Hegel just what 
he wanted for the development of his own tendencies 
of mind. On the other hand, just for that reason, 
I think his expositions of Hegelianism extremely 
faithful, and little influenced by any preconceptions. 
They seem to me to be explanations from within 
outwards, and less embarrassed by subordinate 
technicalities than almost any other treatment of 
the subject I have met with, If there is a bias 


in them at all, it is, as I have already indicated, 
that he emphasizes more the aspect of Hegel in 
which he agreed with Schelling, and therefore lays 
more stress upon the presence of the whole in each 
part, than upon the negative dialectical movement 
from one stage to another. But this is rather 
a question of comparative emphasis than of any 
essential difference of view. 

In his general attitude to philosophy, Wallace 
combined a strong, almost unswerving confidence 
in the general idealistic point of view, with an 
extreme distrust of his own power of stating it 
adequately. This arose partly from a consciousness 
of the complexity of things which made him con 
tinually ready to look at them in new aspects, and 
to reconsider views of them which he had neglected, 
or to which he felt he had not done sufficient justice. 
It arose also partly from his high literary ideal, 
which made him keenly alive to any defect of 
exactness or refinement of expression. As I have 
said, he took endless pains in gaining an intimate 
knowledge of any subject or author whom he was 
studying, even down to the most external and insigni 
ficant details of biography ; and when preparing any 
work for publication he wrote and rewrote what he 
had to say, till he was even in danger of losing the 
spontaneity of his original draft. I hardly think 
I have known any one who was so much oppressed 
with the vision of perfection, or rather with the 
combined and almost irreconcilable ideals of literary 
and philosophical excellence. This is partly the 


reason why he did not produce more, though it was 
also due to the fact that his circumstances, and 
the various claims upon him, rendered it necessary 
for him to combine the work of a Tutorship with 
that of his Chair, and also to undertake other work 
which left him comparatively little time for writing. 
It is harder to speak of Wallace s personal cha 
racter, and of what he was to those who knew him 
intimately. The somewhat abrupt speech and 
manner, which might repel strangers, and made the 
process of becoming intimate with him slow and 
difficult, did not conceal from those who came nearer 
to him the deep sincerity and reality of the man, 
and the tenderness and strength of his affections. 
And those who knew his private life know what 
sacrifices of any kind he was capable of making for 
those in whom he was interested. He was one who 
hid his good deeds almost as if they were crimes. 
Generally his innate reserve made it difficult for him 
to show what he was, out of his own household, and 
a comparatively narrow circle of friends. During 
the work of the Term, he often seemed rather 
oppressed than satisfied with what he could do. 
But he had correspondingly keen enjoyment in the 
times when the pressure was relaxed, especially in 
the numerous tours which he made with his family 
to places interesting from literary or philosophical 
associations. He was a lover of the meadows, and 
the woods, and mountains, who had the deepest 
enjoyment in natural beauty, and who would go 
miles to see the first spring flowers and bring 


them back to his family. He loved the simple 
and the natural, and he was intensely averse to 
any kind of show or display. But one could not 
be long in his company without feeling the in 
fluence of his strong rectitude of nature, and of 
his latent and never directly expressed enthusiasm 
for that ideal view of life which he regarded as 
the truth. 

In regard to the contents of the following volume, 
only a few words need be said. Wallace was not 
in the habit of writing out his lectures, and hence 
some of his best work in later years exists only in 
the form of notes, which are too disconnected and 
unfinished for publication. But there remains a 
considerable amount of writing, mainly on ethical or 
theological subjects, from which I have selected the 
parts that seemed most likely to interest the public. 
With the exception of two reviews, none of the papers 
included had been prepared for publication by the 
author, and consequently some of them are lacking 
in completeness and consecutiveness of treatment, 
and others want that finish of literary expression 
which his writings generally show. At the same time, 
I think there is some gain on the other side, especially 
for those who desire to search into the actual working 
of a philosopher s mind. There is in them often 
a certain spontaneity and freshness, a directness and 
force, which more than compensate for any defect of 
form. The Gifford Lectures, in spite of their frag 
mentary condition, contain a fairly adequate expres 
sion of his view of the relation of philosophy to 


theology, and of religion to morality. And some of 
the papers, especially the Essays on Moral Philosophy, 
have a tentative and heuristic character, as of a 
mind testing different ways of thought and seeking 
an outlet in one direction after another, which will 
be specially attractive to those who like to see 
thought, not ready made, but in the process of 
development. On the whole, they do not seem to 
me to fall below the usual high standard of the 
author s philosophical writings, and they show more 
completely than any of them his mind upon the 
highest questions of Religion and Morality. 

I have to offer my best thanks to Mr. Bernard 
Bosanquet, to Professor Jones of the University of 
Glasgow, and to Mr. J. A. Smith of Balliol College, 
for assistance in selecting, from Wallace s manu 
scripts the papers that were most suitable for 


Oct. 10, 1898. 




OF GLASGOW IN 1894 AND 1895] 


PROFESSOR WALLACE delivered two courses of Gifford 
Lectures in the University of Glasgow. In the first 
course, delivered in 1894, he discussed the subject of 
Natural Theology historically, giving a sketch of the 
views of Greek philosophers, and showing their influence 
on the development of Christian doctrine. The first three 
of the following lectures belong to this course ; the other 
lectures of this course exist only in the form of news 
paper reports, which are too imperfect and fragmentary to 
be reprinted. The first two, dealing with the scope of 
Natural Theology and the Greek Origins of Theology, do 
not correspond with the newspaper reports, and seem to 
have been written after the course was delivered, when 
Mr. Wallace was thinking of preparing his lectures for 
publication. The third, on the Natural Theology of Christ, 
was actually delivered. 

The second course, delivered in 1895, dealt with the 
subject of the relations of Morality and Religion. Of 
this course, nine lectures have been preserved. The first 
five lectures were occupied with a review of the various 

B 2 


influences, ethical, literary, and scientific, which are affect 
ing the religious thought of the present time, and changing 
the old dogmatic conceptions with which religion was 
formerly associated. Of this part of the course only two 
lectures are preserved (the fourth and fifth of the lectures 
following). The MS. breaks off abruptly at the end of 
the second of these two lectures, at the point where 
Mr. Wallace entered upon an examination of the influence 
of modern scientific conceptions upon the religious idea. 
The rest of the lectures of this course, from the sixth to 
the twelfth lecture, are preserved. They begin with an 
account and criticism of Mr. Balfour s Foundations of 
Belief, and then proceed to discuss the general subject 
of the relations of morality and religion. These lectures, 
though they have not been in any way revised or corrected 
since they were first written, seem to me to contain some 
of the most original and suggestive pages which Professor 
Wallace has produced. 





AT the present time, Natural Theology is apt to seem 
a belated stranger, if not even an impertinent intruder, in 
the circle of the sciences. The very term, the combination of 
noun and adjective, suggests an ill-assorted pair,, or perhaps 
a contradiction in the conception. Theology, firmly estab 
lished on its rock of Scripture, looks down almost con 
temptuously on the feeble efforts of unassisted reason to 
feel after God, if haply it may find Him. An impassable 
gulf is declared to separate the range of nature, which is the 
field of science, from the higher sphere of religion and of 
divine things. In the latter, it is urged, mere human reason 
is incompetent, or, where it is not altogether incompetent, 
it is altogether subordinate. For theology the necessary 
stimulus and starting-point must come from above, and has 
in fact come in the shape of a supernatural revelation. The 
mere natural man by merely natural means can know 
nothing of God, and, if he is to know anything of Him, 
must be directly or indirectly enlightened about God by God 


Questions like these may be said no doubt to go to the 
root of the matter. But it will perhaps also be admitted that, 
before proceeding to these extremities, there are problems 
of some importance connected with the scope of the terms 
employed. To mark the problems which are under examina 
tion, the contrasts of natural and supernatural have to be 
dealt with. The history of theological conceptions has to be 

And, in the first place, we must try to rise out of and 
beyond the conception of Natural Theology which is most 
familiar to the English mind, the conception which was 
adopted by Paley and the Bridgewater treatises of the present 
century. Natural Theology is thus restricted to the study of 
the evidences of design in nature, to an examination of the 
mutual adaptations in the physical universe which seemed 
to indicate as their origin an intelligence ordering all things 
for a purpose, that purpose being on the \vhole understood 
to be the welfare of man. So many and so striking are, 
from this point of view, the appearances of wise arrange 
ment, moulding everything into materials for the use of 
humanity, that it is impossible to suppose them to be the 
result of chance, to be the undesigned consilience of indepen 
dent agents. 

This kind of Natural Theology, though with Paley (1802) 
and Chalmers it lasts on into the nineteenth century, is 
really a survival of a mode of thought more appropriate to 
the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. By Francis Bacon 
(1605) Natural Theology, with an alternative title of Divine 
Philosophy, is described as that knowledge or rudiment of 
knowledge concerning God which may be obtained by con 
templation of His creatures. < It suffices, he adds, to confute 
atheism, but not to inform religion/ Even at that date the 
subject was a popular one : on this topic, remarks the author 
of the Advancement of Learning < I am so far from noting any 
deficiency as I rather note an excess. Bacon, in fact, seems 


thoroughly aware of the limited scope and negative character 
of the remarks and observations included under the title of 
Natural Theology, as indeed might have been expected from 
one who has complained elsewhere of the unhappy results of 
mixing up theology with science. 

The authority of Sir Isaac Newton contributed, in England 
at least, to subordinate science to certain presuppositions from 
theology. In the Scholion Generate which concludes the third 
book of his Principla (1687) Newton almost steps out of his 
way to affirm, as against Cartesianism, his acceptance of the 
creationist theory. Hypotheses like that of Descartes may 
profess to explain the stability and symmetry of the planetary 
world by a purely naturalistic or mechanical evolution of an 
aggregate of material particles according to the laws of 
movement. Newton, on the contrary, distinctly states his 
conviction that All these regular movements do not have 
their source in mechanical causes ; and in the (posthumously 
published) letters to Bentley plainly says, c the diurnal rota 
tions of the planets could not be derived from gravity, but 
required a divine arm to impress them. This argument is 
indeed of little value : for it only means that the man of 
science is unable to construct a scheme of evolution without 
lacunae from the assumed primordial state of matter down to 
the ordered system of the present epoch. Yet if we translate 
the figuratively materialistic language of Newton into more 
abstract terms, we may say that, however far back we retrace 
the origin of the present scheme of things, we cannot really 
escape the hypothesis of a system which even in its molecules 
was instinct with the presence of law and order. 

The whole tenor of Natural Theology betrays its connexion 
with an age of practical and utilitarian science, which, how 
ever, had not cast off its religious faiths, and was solicitous 
to keep the two sides of its life in some sort of correlation. 
Works like that of John Ray, The Wisdom of Got I manifested 
in the 1 forks of Creation (1691) popularized, and we may even 


say vulgarized, the idea o making the book of nature 
a commentary on the book of revelation/ The example 
apparently caught on and satisfied a need of the times. 
The Boyle lectures, instituted for what is sometimes called 
the proof of fundamental Christian doctrine against all out 
siders, of other religion or of none, offered a vehicle for such 
reflections. The new natural knowledge, which had hitherto 
struggled onward on its own resources, winning favour by 
its intrinsic attractions, received a status of respectability in 
the social hierarchy. Even as the older Church had given 
an ex post facto consecration to movements and organizations 
that had first started beyond its pale, so Protestantism allied 
to itself the rising spirit of research, and sought to make the 
sciences pay tribute to the religious and theological interests of 
the age and country. 

Among the early Boyle lectures were those of W. Derham, 
in 1711-12, published under the title of Physico-theology. This 
is the name which in the more careful use of words is specially 
appropriated to the branch of Natural Theology now under 
discussion, the argument from the contrivance and adaptation 
supposed to be detected in nature to the existence of a designer 
and contriver of more than human wisdom and power. In 1 7 1 4 
Derham followed with an Astro-theology, specially illustrating 
the way in which the heavens declare the glory of God. 
These essays found imitators in England, and still more in 
Germany, to which at that epoch England stood more in the 
position of an ensample than she can be at present said to do. 
It may be that by such observations the pious Christian mind 
was enabled to strike up a relation between religion and the 
other aspects of life and reality. Derham s two works were 
translated into German by the notable scholar and compiler 
John Albert Fabricius in 1728 and 1730, who also contributed 
to the literature of the subject by a Hydro-tlieology in 1730. 
and the outlines of a Pyro-theokgy in 1732. The philosopher 
Christian Wolff dealt with the whole subject in his Tkeologia 


Naturalis (1736), of which the first volume treated especially 
of the a posteriori evidences, whilst the second gave the a priori 
or metaphysical argument. One writer (F. C. Lesser) added 
three special departments for pious reflection : viz. on stones, 
insects and shell-fish, endeavouring (in the words of one of his 
own titles) to show how, under the authority of Scripture and 
reason, f by attentive study of otherwise neglected natural 
facts one may rise to a lively perception and admiration of 
the omnipotence, wisdom, goodness, and justice of the great 
God/ Other writers in the half-century preceding Kant s 
first Kritik dealt with the religious lessons which may be 
derived from the phenomena of snow, plants, birds, thunder, 
locusts, fishes, bees, earthquakes. These treatises, long since 
consigned to oblivion, were not without their particular 
occasions and appropriateness : e. g. they preserve the memory 
of the great snowfalls of 1726 and 1729, the plague of 
locusts in central Europe between 1747 and 1749^ and the 
earthquake at Lisbon in 1755. 

Of this mode of bridging over the interval between science 
and religion Paley s Natural Theology in 1802 is a belated 
survival, a character still more attachable to the Bridgewater 
treatises published more than thirty years later. But as it- 
reappeared, it had lost in naturalness what it professed to 
gain in logical plausibility ; for with the larger apparatus of 
scientific method the line of evidence grows artificial, and 
rather reflects the acumen of the demonstrator than the skill 
apparent in the works of nature. Meanwhile the conceptions 
of matter and of nature had been passing beyond the phases 
at which the argument for final causes took them. The 
relationship of a creator to the creatures as that of an 
architect or manager to his works was no longer deemed 
adequate, nor did it seem the highest praise which could fall 
to him that he had made the best of somewhat recalcitrant 
materials. The great mechanician is only a mode, and an 
insufficient mode, of conceiving God s supremacy; and even 


if it be specially suitable to the genius of a utilitarian age, it 
cannot rank as more than an analogy under which we form 
a partial conception of the divine mode of action. The 
problems of the cosmos presuppose for their solution a greater 
power of adapting matter than human agency as yet pos 
sesses : so that, if God works after our methods, He must 
exhibit our powers in a transcendent degree: such is all that 
the argument carries. 

Religion had little to gain by these demonstrations : at 
least any religion which had real vitality and was not a form 
of words parasitically seeking to gain support from alien 
growths. There is, indeed, a natural piety which sees God 
hi everything, and translates every word of nature into 
u whisper of God. When the devoted Jesuits, who in the 
early part of the seventeenth century carried the Gospel to 
c New France/ write back to their French superiors, To live 
in New France is in sooth to live in the bosom of God and 
to breathe only the air of His divine guidance ; when they 
say, How good it feels in the sacred horrors of these forests, 
and how much of heaven s light is found in the dense dark 
ness of this barbarian land/ we recognize the presence of that 
faith which removes mountains, where the vision of dominant 
conviction transfigures wilds and Indians into a rift through 
which shine the glory and love of the Eternal. It is the 
same when we find Jonathan Edwards describing his feelings, 
when sometime between his seventeenth and twentieth years 
his mind had first been visited with some insight into the 
deeper realities of life, and he had retired to what he calls 
a solitary place in his father s pasture. As I was walking 
there and looking upon the sky and clouds, there came into 
my mind so sweet a sense of the glorious majesty and grace 
of God that I know not how to express. . . . The appearance 
of everything was altered : there seemed to be a calm sweet 
cast or appearance of divine glory in almost everything. 
God s excellency, His wisdom, His purity and love seemed to 


appear in everything- : in the sun, moon, and stars : in the 
clouds and blue sky : in the grass, flowers, and trees : in the 
water and all nature : which used greatly to fix my mind. 
Even the more terrible phenomena of nature participated in 
this new spirit. Scarcely anything among all the works of 
nature was so sweet to me as thunder and lightning. . . I felt 
God, so to speak, at the first appearance of a thunderstorm/ 
Even in such immature sentimentalism we can see that it is 
only the sun-possessed eye that can behold the sun itself. It 
is the pure in heart that see God : and Pectusfacit tkeologum. 
The dominant principle, idea, love, passion determines the 
interpretation of facts. So while Charles Kingsley finds it 
a nobler thought to hold that Deity created primal forms 
capable of self -development into all forms needful pro tempo re 
and pro loco than to follow the old view of a creation once 
and for ever established in its species, Mill is more inclined 
to see in the evolutionist hypothesis the supplanting of the 
old creator by what Darwin called f my deity, natural 

To minds susceptible mainly to practical and material 
considerations this form of Natural Theology, the physico- 
theological argument from design, has seemed a sounder basis 
than the ontological method which appeared to juggle with 
ideas. In Mill s judgement it satisfied the requirements of 
inductive inference so far at least as to suggest a considerable 
probability in favour of an intelligent and powerful being as 
the guide of the cosmic movements, but to be less cogent now 
that it had been, if, as the Darwinian hypothesis suggested, 
the same facts could also be explained as the cumulative 
effect of accidental variations, and of the mutual actions 
and reactions of all existences. Yet on a closer inspection 
perhaps it may be said that the real effect of design argu 
ments is only seen when they are pushed back to their ultimate 
presupposition in the radical unity and interdependence of all 
things that are. Things are not external to each other and 


independent: they are not merely brought into affinity and 
correlation by an outside impulse and guidance; but are 
essentially and primordially in organic interconnexion, sym 
pathetic, interconscious, in a many-sided reciprocal attraction. 
Its weakness is the tendency to regard humanity as the 
centre or pivot on which the whole effort of creation con 
verges : whereas the human interest is only a relative and 
partial centre, not to be elevated into absolute authority to 
the exclusion and depreciation of others. 

Besides this use of the term Natural Theology, restricting 
it to the physico-theological argument from design, there is 
a wider use of it to mean what is also called rational or 
philosophical theology. Here we come in touch with what 
has been called Natural or Rational Religion, and with the 
naturalistic and rationalistic movements which mark the 
course of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. It is not 
unfrequently said, and with some surface plausibility, that 
Lord Herbert of Cherbury (De Ferilate, 1624) gave in 
modern times the impulse to this free-thinking movement. 
The thinkers of the Renaissance and Reformation had been 
occasionally touched by the larger spirit of religious faith. 
Thus Erasmus in his Encheiridion could say Christum vero esse 
puta non vocem inanem, sed nihil aliud quam charitatem, sim- 
plicitatem, patientiam, puritatem, breviter quidquid ille docuit/ 
To him it seemed that inspiration was not limited to the 
Jews : the ethical scriptures of Cicero, Seneca, and above all 
Plato, formed a catena of truths not unworthy to be linked 
along with the theism of the Old and New Testament. It 
is this natural religion which is an inspiring principle to 
writers so different as Sir Thomas More, Rabelais, and Mon 
taigne. It finds voice in the syncretism of Mutianus Rufus : 
( Quum Jovem nomino, Christum intelligo et verum Deum/ 
Sebastian Frank (1495-1543) identifies the lumen naturale 
with the word or invisible Christ : he sees in the historical 
fact of Adam and Christ only a symbol of the eternal relation 


of man and God: Omnis homo/ he says, unus homo: vita 
una et eadem omnibus/ The older Realism revives, and sets 
the eternal Spirit against the changing history of the letter. 

But the oldest example of the phase of Natural Theology 
belonging to this pre-Reformation period is the Tkeologia 
Naturalu of Raymond de Sabunde, published in 1438. It is 
probably best known by Montaigne s Apology. Montaigne 
knew little more of the author than that he was said to be 
a Spaniard, and he is described on the title-page as doctor in 
arts and medicine, and professor in theology. Montaigne, 
who tells us he made a translation of the work (published 
apparently in 1.569), speaks mysteriously of the original as 
basty d un espaignol, baragouine en terminaisons latines/ 
which seems an exaggeration of the character of the text as 
we have it. The obnoxious matter is contained in the pro 
logue, which has been omitted in all subsequent editions, as 
condemned before 1500 by the Index 1 . The prologue in 
a few pages states the scope of the book. There are two 
books given by God to man. That originally given was the 
book of nature, or of the Universitas creaturarum. But by 
reason of his blindness man was unable to read it; and 
another had therefore to be given, the book of Holy Scripture. 
Unfortunately the key which Scripture affords is itself 
a dubious and puzzling gift. Its obscurity requires in the 
interpreter a special training, that of the scholar and priest : 
its authenticity needs to be corroborated by research and 
argument. Philology, grammar, logic, and rhetoric are 
indispensable, if we are to make a proper use of the super 
natural key to the meaning of the world and life. 

The case with the book of nature is very different. It is 
a connatural part of the regular order of life, and can be 
studied by the unassisted intelligence sine magistro. There 

1 The full title of the book is Theologia naturalis, sive liber creaturarum, 
specialiter de homine et de natura ejus in quantum homo, et de his quae sunt ei 
necessaria ad cogncscendum seipsum et omne debitum ad quod homo tenetur et obliga- 
tur tarn deo quam proximo. 


is no possibility o misunderstanding- it, and no risk from 
forgeries. It is an infallible science which any one can 
acquire f in a month and without labour, and it requires no 
effort of memory/ This is the light of all the sciences/ 
without which they are but vanities. It contains that rule 
of nature by which a man learns all his duty. And now in 
the end of the world it is necessary to every Christian that 
he may be established in the Catholic faith. It argues,, in 
fallibly, from those things which are most certain to every 
man by experience,, or from the nature of all the creatures 
and of man himself, from those things which man most 
surely knows of himself by experience, and especially by 
inward experience ; and therefore it is a knowledge which 
does not require any witness but man himself. But before 
dealing with man it considers the various orders of created 
things. For the universe of things and beings is set as it 
were a natural ladder having firm and immovable steps by 
which a man may ascend into himself/ To grasp these 
stages in their unity is to learn the meaning of the book of 
the universe, in which the several creatures and their groups 
form the letters and syllables. Man learns to see his own 
purpose, his own dignity and duty, by seeing himself as the 
convergent unity of lower orders of being, the culmination of 
a process from mere existence to life, from life to sentiency, 
and from sentiency to intelligence and will in a free person 
ality. But man himself points upwards to an absolute unity 
and realization of all being, a being who is the principle of 
love, the root of all good, and of an all-inspiring delight. 

The interest of such a book is to be sought in its historical 
surroundings and antecedents. Towards the past it gives an 
echo of that liberal and mystical theology which stretches 
across the Middle Ages, with here and there a half -heretical 
thinker taking up the philosophical standpoint of the 
Alexandrines and of the Gnostics and Neoplatonists. It 
belongs to a movement which, so to speak, goes on behind 


the Lutheran reformation, drawing its impetus from a more 
literary, scientific, and rationalist current of ideas ; its basis 
is not the reference from a corrupt tradition to an incorrupt 
book of authoritative doctrine, but from all written texts 
whatever to the everlasting and unfailing gospel of nature 
and reason. It rises, however it may or may not admit this 
to itself, above the ecclesiastical traditionalism which had 
been the best-preserved part of the Church s inheritance from 
Augustine, above the dependence on literal revelation, and 
while adopting the basis of inner experience, it thinks 
more of the systematized experience of natural life than of 
the bare inwardness of mystical theology. If mediaeval 
theology was determined to understand what it believed, this 
postulate implied in the last resort the conviction of the 
reasonableness of the faith, i.e. of its correspondence with 
the entire system of reality as it had been otherwise ascer 
tained. This conviction is at the bottom of de Sabunde s 
book. It is partly distorted by a certain boastfulness, marking 
the intoxication of a discoverer who has learned that a truth 
hitherto accepted on authority is intrinsically credible, and 
concordant with fact. But, along with this, there goes 
a tendency to see in religion an ally of ethics, and to find its 
essence rather in the scope it assigns to our duty than in the 
knowledge it gives of God as an abstractly independent 

Perhaps the earliest occurrence of the title Natural Theology 
in Western thought belongs, however, to the system of 
Stoicism. St. Augustine (De Civ. Dei, vi. 5-12) states, on the 
authority of Varro, who probably but epitomizes the reflection 
of Stoic teachers, that there are three species of theology, the 
poetic or mythological, the civil or political, and the physical 
or natural. The first is the scheme of divine acts and beings 
which is suitable to the theatre, the world of literature and 
art, and its hierophants are the poets. The second is the 
mode under which a political community acknowledges its 


dependence upon higher powers, and is under the charge of 
sacerdotal officials. But the third is the way in which the 
thinker and the man of science sees the great power of things. 
His eye is not restricted to the narrow scope of the city, nor 
is it content with the reflection of reality in myth and legend 
of demi-gods and gods. He looks at the whole of things, at 
the great system of nature, above the range of art and of 
popular religion ; he finds the truest approach to divinity in 
a philosophy that seeks the deeper reality, the universal truth, 
which underlies the visions of poets and the conventional or 
historical distinctions which national peculiarities have in 
troduced into divinity. To Varro, and to the philosophers for 
whom he speaks, the two other species of theology were at 
bottom erroneous, and were only suitable for such as by nature 
and temperament, or by circumstances and authority, were 
incapable of attaining the true vision of the essence of things. 
Yet at the same time it is apparent that he can speak of 
philosophy as a theology only in so far as he allows the two 
other interpretations, the political and the artistic, to give 
colour and form to the somewhat vague and unsubstantial 
phases of the world-order. It is this confusion between 
philosophy and practical needs which marks the Stoical 
system, and which is the inevitable consequent of its pro 
fessing to give the world a guide through life and its duties. 
The old antagonism between the philosopher and theologian 
is smoothed down into that between an esoteric and an 
exoteric doctrine, or between the inner truth and the accom 
modation of it to vulgar necessities, and popular incapacity 
for the higher teaching. 

We may thus learn that, under all its phases in history, 
natural theology is the attempt at a synthesis of two factors 
in human life, which at their first appearance and always 
present to each other a certain incompatibility, or it may be 
hostility. It is the application of science to religion, the 
interpretation of faith and worship by the intellectual 


principle, and in accordance with the results of ascertained 
knowledge. It may err by being premature and hasty : it 
may err by an inadequate perception of the fact to be 
explained. The science which is dominant at a particular 
age may be one-sided and imperfect as judged by a later and 
more enlarged standpoint ; and the result of its verdict on 
religious facts cannot in such a case be unprejudiced. It may 
turn itself too exclusively to one aspect of reality, too much 
to the world of physical fact and too little to the realm of 
psychical life ; and it may on that account fail to give a 
due place to certain aspects of religious phenomena which 
are alien to its prepossessions. But in some degree the 
rationalization of belief, the naturalization of religion, is 
an inevitable problem. There are differences in the extent 
to which reason carries this determination, but it is only a 
question of degree. Even the primaeval theologian/ whom 
the philosopher seeks to dispossess,, is a philosopher too in his 
infinitesimal degree. He may be dubbed irrational, but that 
only means that his reasoning stops short at an earlier stage 
than we think proper. His development in the line of 
intelligence has suffered arrest. 

Yet nothing is more certain than that a widespread 
jealousy meets the attempt to rationalize the faith. Not 
merely natural theology, but theology altogether has seemed 
to be an intruder 5 on the religious field. The creation of 
dogma is an injury to the spirit of faith : under pretence of 
strengthening the living organism, it turns it into a lifeless 
petrifaction. Nor is this merely a shrinking from intellectual 
effort, which springs partly from an ignoble preference for the 
animal luxury of dull feeling and stolid enjoyment, partly 
from the effects of reaction against the illusions and dis 
appointments that have befallen others. The same tendency 
is fostered by the preference for action, the sense that 
theological speculation is an unnecessary, and perhaps a 
shameful luxury, when so much of the world is lying in sin 



and misery. There is also the delicacy of feeling which 
shrinks from theological dogma as a kind of profanation, or 
as at best but < sound and smoke clouding over the glow of 
heaven. The deeper moments of religious experience, where 
the soul is alone with God, shrink from the cold clear light 
of analysis and reflection. The heart claims for its object 
of devotion a unique and incomparable quality, which would 
be destroyed when such object was classified and reduced to 
the level of its kindred. 

Yet when we come to think of it, we can see that this 
protest of life against being reduced to mere logic is 
exaggerated. What it really implies is a feeling that reason 
is not omnipotent, a feeling that all our knowledge rests on. 
and arises by contrast with, an unknown ; that consciousness 
must be in perpetual antithesis, but also in perpetual correla 
tion with an unconscious. We may, no doubt, amuse ourselves 
with the fancy of absolute beginnings and absolute ends. 
But in sober fact it has to be admitted that all our knowledge 
rests upon ignorance, that it always has a presupposition, 
which it as continually displaces. We may speak of an ap^i] 
awTToOeros, but we shall be misled if we take this for one 
single truth out of which others can be deduced by proper 
analysis, and upon which others can be built. The true 
method of science is neither a mere analysis (as the one 
phrase suggests), nor a mere synthesis (as is implied by the 
second). Analysis and synthesis are continually alternating 
and complementary : in other words, analysis is only valuable 
as a step to synthesis, and synthesis involves a preliminary 
distinction of elements. 

If it be said that it is the object of philosophy to construe 
religion, that does not mean, as sometimes seems to be supposed, 
that it has to construct it. To construe a thing is to set it in 
its relation to other things, to give it its place in a system, 
to deprive it of its mere individuality, and to understand its 
place and value. As has been said, some such appreciation 


or estimate is always made : but it may be made stealthily, 
blindly, and without due sense of proportions. The whole 
claim made by philosophy is that such evaluation of the 
factors of life shall be made consciously and with due care, 
and not at haphazard. It may be maintained, indeed, that, 
as a matter of fact, the most prominent and widespread forms 
of religion have grown up in a soil thoroughly saturated by 
philosophic influences. This is certainly true of Christianity 
and Buddhism. But, apart from this, we must distinguish 
between philosophy as a life, and philosophy as logic. In 
reference to life, philosophy is only instrumental and sub 
ordinate. It is the extension and deepening of intelligence; 
the translation, it may be said, of the is into the is known ; 
the organization of the fragments of life so at first they 
appear into the complete structure which they really pre 
suppose. Philosophy in this case means the development of 
intelligence into a united view of all the factors of reality 
and life in their mutual relationships ; the correlation of all 
departments of human activity with each other, in the light 
of their being but severally parts and members in working 
out the ideal of humanity. Philosophy is thus the surveillance 
of the whole over the members, or rather the spirit of the 
whole, awakening in each of these members, and making 
them aware of their mutual dependence. It is the idea of 
perfection realizing itself in each imperfect medium, seeking 
to reduce the divergent factors of civilization to accord in 
the idea of life, full and perfect. To perform such a task 
a certain aloofness is required. But that is what always 
happens in any department. To philosophize is to stand 
apart from the bustle of life : yet the philosopher is after all 
a man, and his philosophy is only a part of his life, for him 
perhaps the most important, yet in the great system of 
human collective life reduced to a factor and a share. 

When philosophy arises, it comes because of felt contradic 
tions. It is stimulated by the presence of difficulties and 

C 2 



incongruities, not to say inconsistencies, in the religious scheme. 
It is all very well to say with Vincent of Lerinum (Common. 
II. 3) that quod ubique, quod semper, quod ab omnibus, credi- 
tum est, hoc est vere proprieque catholicum/ But to discover 
what possesses the marks of universitas, antiquitas, consensio 
is a task that soon appears to be hopeless, unless we call in the 
aid of reasoning and reflection. A mere statistical enumeration 
and summation is in such a problem impracticable. The marks, 
literally taken, are inapplicable : the universal and eternal is 
not found in the range of sense-phenomena. To find it, we 
must gradually educe from the facts some idea in which 
they find their unity, and which again in its turn serves as 
a standard of criticism. Not that such an idea is found once 
and for all. It is itself but an ideal capable of indefinite 
approximation, the organized product of a vast number of less 
adequate steps towards it. 

It is not therefore in a wilful aggression on a peaceful field 
that we are to seek the origin of rationalizing in religion. 
Such effort at rationalizing in religion is only the reaction 
from the effects of hesitancy and dispute. The variety of 
contemporary belief, the changes in the successive phases 
of faith and doctrine, are sufficient to account for the attempt 
to give a reasonable character to a faith. But this is not the 
whole of the problem. There are other departments of human 
life, and these in course of time develop with unequal speed 
and to disproportionate extents. Contradictions thus emerge 
between church and state, between art and religion, and 
between science and theology, in the restricted senses in which 
these terms are ordinarily used. It is partly in consequence 
of such divergences that Natural Theology has found itself 
in competition with theology in its narrower sphere. 

It is, and should be, the business of philosophy to release 
the human problem from this departmental division so far 
at least as each of these elements of life tends to isolate 
itself in one-sided supremacy. The antitheses between art 


and morality and religion, not to mention many others, have 
their relative justification ; but they do harm when treated 
as independent forces. For a large and philosophic view, 
morality is a part and step in the great process of man s 
self-development, a part which, if on one side it is in un 
broken continuity with the fulfilment of the elements of 
psychical life to a free and full personality or true self, is on 
the other hand building a framework of social relationships, 
without which religion would hardly deserve that august 
name, and would certainly not rank as the great humanizing 
energy it is supposed to be. Such a philosophical view, again, 
will free religion from the taint of an evil other- worldliness/ 
which often befalls it, and give it its right place in the scenes 
of daily life and the sympathies of common intercourse, 
lieleased from its isolation and specious sacro-sanctity, religion 
will appear as the crown and consecration of an actuality 
which often in its details seems trivial and frivolous. Art, 
again, as it releases the tension of desire, and reveals the 
repose and self-completeness of existence, will keep religion 
from falling away from the temporal scene, and protest 
against the absoluteness of scientific analysis. And science, 
in the narrower sense, will recognize its limitations, and above 
all the hypothetical character of its constructions, which are 
after all approximations to the infinitely complex structure 
of the real, made practicable only through the self-restraint 
of an abstraction. 

Such a Natural Theology grows up inevitably as man 
emerges from the cave of tradition and custom, and realizes 
that in him, as an intelligent and rational being, there is 
something superior to the mere individuality which sets him 
as only one among the many things of the world, and that 
he is (in the phrase of Protagoras), in some sense, the measure 
of all things. Nay, more, it may be asserted that man has 
never been wholly without this faculty of raising himself 
so as in some measure to survey and control his environment, 



instead of being wholly immersed in it, and forming a mere 
part to be moulded and altered by agencies outside and above 
him, of which he has no control. The degrees in which 
this power has been exercised may range within an immense 
space ; but the germ of such detachment, of such individuali- 
zation, which lifts the individual above a mere passive par 
ticipation in the whole to which he belongs, seems to be 
indispensable to characterize humanity. 

The note of naturalness in theology, therefore, lies in its 
superiority to restrictions due to special historic conditions. 
The antithesis of natural is not to revealed : but to one type 
of revealed, exalted as the alone revealed, to the exclusion 
of all others. When it uses the term natural, it does not, 
except in the restricted sense of physico-theology, mean to 
exclude from its survey the field of history and of human life. 
It rejects, indeed, the notion of special revelation, if that be 
understood to imply the communication of full-made truths 
by a miraculous importation of them into the human faculties. 
But, on the other hand, it does not, by calling itself natural 
or rational, imply that it turns its back upon history and 
experience. It may be that at certain epochs, in a fit of 
disgust at vulgar credulity and in hatred of superstition, it 
imagined that unassisted reason could of itself construct a 
creed. But in so far as it did so, it was labouring under 
an illusion. There is no absolutely unassisted reason. Reason, 
on the contrary, only lives by a perpetual antithesis to sense : 
it only emerges from the soil of reality and life, from the fact 
of experience: it is experience made more and more har 
monious, complete and self-explanatory. Its only conflict 
with revelation arises because revelation is said to introduce 
into the sphere of human knowledge and experience a fact 
absolutely unique and incommensurable. Unique and incom 
mensurable, in a way, every reality is : but not in the sense 
that it forms no part in the compass of reality, giving to and 
taking from its environment. Natural theology, the theology 


of reason,, claims the prerogative of man to examine all things, 
and is but an attempt in a special range of questions to carry 
out that purpose fully, without bar or check from any specially 
privileged province. 

Christian theology is a different thing. That is no inquiry 
into truth, no free scientific pursuit, no mere theory. It is 
the redaction into a system of the non-historic and essential 
constitution of the Church: the reflex of its life-spirit, its 
needs and relationships, in a shape determined no doubt by 
individual instrumentality, but by instruments pervaded by a 
common faith, a historical experience, a sense of eternal 
community, eternal with an eternity such as no nation can 
boast, because the church, each and every visible church, 
believes itself, through and above its earthly manifestation, 
to be a city divinely founded and maintained. 



NATURAL Theology as already described in last lecture has 
been almost identified with what in the present century would 
be usually called the philosophy of religion. Either term may 
be taken to denote a reflective study of the facts or phenomena 
of religion, when that study is methodically or systematically 
pursued. Such reflection can hardly be turned upon religion, 
until religious facts or phenomena have grown into the rank 
of obviously objective material for observation. There must 
be a tolerably well-defined group of performances,, rites, cere 
monials, sacrifices, prayers, &c., upon which the vision can be 
turned. Till that epoch has offered such material, religious 
life, in feeling and act, may have been intense and vigorous, 
and may have undergone various transformations ; but so long 
as these phenomena have not been set in special relief, and 
brought into a certain anomalous position in life, they will be 
passed over with the indifference which awaits all that is 
familiar and awakes no sense of curiosity. It needs the 
stimulus of a trouble and a want to prompt laggard curiosity. 
Religion must have come to be in some measure detached 
from the observed : it must no longer form an organic part of 
his life and being. With the process of social differentiation 
the several aspects of life come to be more or less strangers to 
many of those who share in the social unity. Religion will 
thus have become the special care of a certain order, and 
present more and more a mystery to those outside the sacred 


circle. Diversity of interests, and even of religious interests, 
is a condition for the study of religious phenomena. Here as 
elsewhere, it is when the first fervour of life and zeal is past 
that reflection begins. Theology, therefore, as an attempt 
to note and correlate the phenomena of the religious life, 
will have a certain antipathy to the first age of devotion. 
Religion at such an epoch has become, instead of a common 
all-embracing influence penetrating life, one interest among 
many; a memory and a hope, rather than a present faith. 
And such interest may come either from those professionally 
interested in it, or from the outsider and the critic. To the 
former the main work of theology is the codification of faith 
in a creed. To the latter it may either be a subject of 
disinterested study, or an interest which he would fain rescue 
from the hands of the mere specialist, and base upon a wider 
foundation than the mere authority of a text. In the latter 
case we have what is called natural theology. The natural 
theologian aims at widening the basis of faith by an appeal 
to a wider range of corroborative fact, but he seldom studies 
religious phenomena in a spirit of philosophic impartiality. 
He has a special view of what constitutes the essentials of 
religion as opposed to its accidents : a view which in the main 
represents the average standpoint of his time and not a result 
of critical inquiry. The natural theologian of this type has 
a practical interest : he is anxious to purify religion from 
what he regards as the extravagances of superstition and to 
rest it upon a surer evidence than that of a supposed super 
natural authority. To such an one the nucleus of true religion 
lies in its ethical context, or rather in its supposed guarantee 
of three ethical needs : a God, to make the world of nature 
co-operative to the success of duty; Freedom, to raise man 
above the necessitation of purely physical influences; and 
Immortality, to make man s capacities a match for duty s 
infinite requirements. What Christ did, said Leibniz in the 
preface to the Theodicee, was to translate natural religion 


into a law, and to give it the authority of a public dogma/ 
Natural religion so understood is the warranty by metaphysical 
fact to the absolute claim of duty. Morality is possible, 
because nature is not omnipotent over man by its impulses, 
nor victorious over him by the dissolution of his body, and 
because God who holds the keys of nature is the warder 
of morality. The emancipation of man from the tyranny of 
nature is the essence of morals, and the purpose of religion is 
to furnish a creed in which that liberation is guaranteed 
by a metaphysical or supernatural theory of life and the 

The philosophy of religion cannot have the directly 
practical aims of this so-called natural theology : its stand 
point is purely that of the critical observer who seeks to 
understand. But the term theology has a further dis 
advantage as applied to denote the science of religion. In 
a strict etymological use, the term may seem either defective 
or redundant. It is defective, because it sets in peculiar 
relief and isolates from its context one important term of the 
religious life. It separates the object or outward projection 
of religious faith from the faith and life to which it stands 
in essential relation. It leaves God, so to speak, bare and 
abstract, withdrawn from the witness of the spirit, and left 
cold and dead on the analytical board. So left, the object 
of theology loses its life and significance, and the theological 
demonstrator is therefore obliged to begin his work of 
exposition by a task not known in the same way to the 
other branches of science : he has to establish the reality 
of his object, which has become only a name, and to prove, 
as it is called, the existence of God. 

Yet, on the other hand, the name theology may seem 
redundant as a title for the phenomena of religion. It is 
possible that the object of religious life, the objective focus 
of faith, may scarcely rise to the definiteness, individuality, 
and stability which would fairly entitle it to the name of 


God. Life may be controlled by the unseen, and what is 
sometimes called the supernatural : faith and hope may turn 
from the world to something hardly unified and permanent 
enough to be called a divinity. And so, without clear idea 
of God, there may be that presence of the other world in this, 
that dependence on something supernal or infernal, which 
seems the central power of religion. It is evident, therefore, 
that if theology is to be regarded as equivalent to the theory 
of religion in general, it must not be confined to one precise 
shape in which objectivity and quasi-sensible form is given 
to the powers and influences on which human life is assumed 
to depend. 

Theology, as we know it, is a product of Greek civilization. 
It is a trite confession to admit the debt we owe to Greece. 
But perhaps it may be thought that it is not in the religious 
sphere that that influence most obviously prevails. And no 
doubt it is true that the germinal principle of the religious 
life established amongst us comes from the Hebrews, and 
especially from a movement arising in the later Judaism. 
Yet, for all that, it was through Greek words and Greek 
literature that the oracles of the new faith, the letters of its 
first evangelists, were proclaimed and written ; it was through 
the systems of ethics, and the schemes of virtues and vices, 
worked out by Greek moralists, that it had to define its 
relations to social life : and it was through the attempts of 
Greek thinkers to determine the conditions of truth, and the 
value of the various factors in reality, that the Christian 
community had to justify its conception of life, and correlate 
its view of the first and last things with the conventions of 
civilization. Even before Christianity emerged upon the 
scene, Greek influences had come to pervade Western Asia. 
Not, of course, that the peasantry of Palestine, or the com 
monalty of Syria were familiar with Hellenic ideas, and 
instructed in Greek philosophy. That, if ever possible, could 
only have been accomplished in many ages. But, at the 



centres of light and leading- through the East, it was Greek 
thought and Greek culture that gave the tone to literature and 
religion. Even in the stronghold of Judaism the influence of 
Hellenism was felt at every corner, and it determined, by 
its opposition, the movements that rose up to repel it. Greek 
was the vehicle of intercommunication between races of alien 
manners and speech. And thus even on the religious field 
captured Greece took captive her barbarian conqueror. 
Even when St. Paul carried Christianity to Corinth and 
the West, he carried it as one who had been born at Tarsus 
and had gained some familiarity with that Greek culture, 
which influenced even the teachers of the Law, as it had 
influenced the later writers of the Apocrypha literature. 

Greece, in fact, furnished the mould for the science of 
religion, just as she supplied the grammatical categories in 
which the study of language has been carried on. Practical 
needs led ingenious instructors of Greek to formulate a scheme 
for describing and defining the facts of language : to create 
a system of rules for guiding the speaker and writer in 
acquiring the phrase held to be alone correct in the multi 
plicity of practice. Thus grew up a grammar, meant 
originally for Greek, which came to serve a like purpose 
for other tongues. So long as the new languages were of 
a kindred structure with Greek, all might go well : but 
when in course of time the forms and rubrics so obtained 
had to be applied to languages of quite other structure, like 
the Semitic, or the languages of Africa and the New World, 
the old scheme was found to fail. Gradually this incongruity 
led to the perception of the need for a new method of the 
study of languages: a method which should not force the 
more primitive stages into forms and moulds suitable only 
for an advanced stage of linguistic development. The 
analysis of language had to be carried further and with 
a wider reference in order to fulfil its purpose. It had to 
find a new alphabet and syntax of more comprehensive scope. 


So in some measure it has been with the philosophy of 
religion. It is futile no doubt to ask how that philosophy 
would have fared if speculation on religious phenomena had 
by some freak of fate begun elsewhere and not in Greece. 
And if it be an ignoble indolence which proclaims that what 
ever is is right, it is a still more mischievous conceit which 
grumbles that whatever is is wrong. Yet it may not be with 
out its uses to reflect that theology would hardly have taken 
the shape it has done had it grown up under other influences. 
There is an unparalleled clearness and visual objectivity about 
the Greek gods ; an individual independence, and a systematic 
unity in their differences, which sets them in a unique position 
in the world s pantheon. They need only be compared with 
the strange impersonality of Chinese religion, whether we 
regard the supreme imperial heaven or the ill-defined but 
pervasive multitude of lesser spirits ; with the mystic haze 
through which the Vedic gods emerge under the magic 
efficacy of ritual and sacrifice; or with the abstract imps 
of momentary act and quality, which were so often all that 
stood for deities at Rome to let us see how different is 
the atmosphere in which the Greek gods live and move. In 
other races the religious process had stopped short at an 
emotional or devotional stage. But with the Greeks the 
divine power stands out in individualized shapes with clear 
ness of outline and definite personality, probably unparalleled 
in religious development. The conditions of cultus or worship, 
the prayer, sacrifice and ritual, fa-H into the background, and 
allow the object of worship and of sacrifice to emerge in 
brilliant and conspicuous form, standing out independent of 
the religious process in which they had their birth. Theology 
thus becomes a mythology, or, a history and a description 
of certain divine persons, a collection of legends and sacred 
tales about gods, who, separated from the religious interest 
and motive in which they had their source, move about and 
act with interests of their own, denizens, almost, of the real 


world. The first 0eoAo yoi are narrators who tell the history 
of beings, no doubt related to man, but somehow raised to an 
independent and collateral existence. 

At least the religion of Greece upon its higher levels dealt 
mostly in this region. It is a strange feature of Greek life 
that a poem so secular as the work of Homer should be said 
to give us the theology of the Greeks. We must always 
remember that the poet and this is true even of Yedic 
hymns gives a picture from a special point of view and 
from a special level of culture. The works of Greek literature 
and art reveal Greek life to us, in the first instance, as it 
appeared on the heights to those emancipated from the baser 
influences of ignorance and superstition. It is true there are 
traces everywhere of the lower strata, the basis of common 
life. They come out in isolated moments, and show the 
abyss which always rolled under the sunlit tablelands of art. 
The criticisms of Epicurus and Lucretius on the religion of 
the masses, though possibly affected by fanaticism, may serve 
to counterbalance the more aesthetically refined but perhaps 
irreligiously trivial ideas of popular art. And thus, though 
the Greek philosophers are not out of touch with the vulgar 
needs of religion, they chiefly deal with it as it appears on the 
literary level. The Aei(ri6at/zoz;ia which comes to the front in 
Nicias and Xenophon, the foul rites which flourish in the 
obscurity of antique custom or of modern licence, the freaks 
of witchcraft and magic, are only seen at faint instants. 
Greek religion, like everything Greek, was, until comparatively 
modern times when closer research and the influence of wider 
anthropological study had taught a different lesson, regarded 
under an idealized and poetical halo, which separated it from 
grosser reality. 

When philosophy came upon the scene, it found the 
phenomena of religion arranged under two heads. On one 
hand, they had been to some extent regulated, licensed, and 
reduced to a fixed type for the community. They had 


adapted themselves to the ruling influence o the social 
organization, stamped with an appointed ritual and an order 
of worship and service. In Greece, as well as in Rome, 
religion was an integral part of the social system, indis 
tinguishable in practice from other performances needful to 
the stability of the political edifice. Religion, in this point 
of view, had hardly separated itself from the general 
political problem : the gods were part of the state, of the 
system of custom and law. But there was also a poetical 
theology, in which the gods had come to form a group of 
realities, with a history of their own, independent and col 
lateral. Towards this mythology philosophy, following even 
the more reflective poetry, began at an early period to take 
up a critical attitude. Xenophanes had boldly accused men 
of having formed the conceptions of these gods too much in 
their own image, and of having attributed to the heavenly 
ones all that was disgraceful among men. Philosophy thus 
ignored the origin of these tales in the conditions of more 
primitive life, and treated them simply as regards their effects 
on the morals of the contemporary community. From that 
point of view Plato laid down two canons or types to control 
the eccentricities of popular mythology : the first, that evil- 
doing must never be attributed to a divine agent ; the second, 
that a divine being should be represented as always true and 
unchangeable in his revelations of himself to man. 

In Plato there is no discussion of the problem of religion as 
a whole, in its psychological premisses and its metaphysical 
presuppositions. There is indeed no one term in Greek which 
can cover the whole field. Piety (ewe/3eia) is at one time 
counted as one of the more important characteristics of the 
good man : but in the scheme of the Republic e. g. it finds 
no distinct recognition. The service of religious observance 
is relegated to the special care of priestly rules, and forms 
no part of general humanity. But of the political value of 
religion Plato is deeply convinced, especially, as it seems, 


in his later years. The gods of the commonwealth are for 
him the sign and bond of its social unity, of its vigour as 
a living and thriving organism. The essence of their being 
and nature, therefore, lies not so much in what they abstractly 
are, as in their significance for the ethical life. So far as 
Plato can be said to define God at all, it is as the form of 
Good, something higher than being and than knowledge, 
something neither to be treated as a mere objective nor as 
a mere subjective, but as transcending that opposition. If, 
therefore, we ask, as polemics has often asked, whether Plato 
inclines to pantheism, or to a personal God, it is impossible 
to give a simple answer. Unquestionably he is not all 
things, either as aggregate or unity; for he is distinctly 
declared to be above the contrasts of good and evil in this 
world. Here, in this world, there must be always evil : 
always, that is, truth can only be reality as presupposing 
error, and goodness cannot free itself from the presence and 
opposition of vice. For man there is left the effort to become 
like unto God, in whom is no evil at all. There thus seems 
to be two extreme or absolute poles, one all goodness, another 
all evil, between which actual existence is a struggle : and 
these poles seem to be real. To the modern relativist this 
supposition of Plato seems a mistake. He recognizes the 
opposition of good and evil, but he does not believe that that 
means the struggle of two self-subsistent forces, which come 
into external collision. He believes no more in an absolute 
good and absolute evil, than in an absolute cold and hot. 
Only that can be good, in the real sense of that word, which 
is not wholly good : i. e. which has in it further possibilities 
of goodness. A thing is evil which has fallen short of its 
goodness, yet is not bereft of its goodness altogether. 

But if we say that God is good, it must be in another 
sense of the word. Thus the < form of good is a directing 
principle which draws mankind ever higher and higher on 
the path toward perfection. It is, we may almost say, the 



form which Godhead presents to us, the shape in which His 
presence and power appear; and yet it would be rash to 
identify it with Him. The essence of religion, it may be 
added, is in what it is for us. The gods or God are made 
no better by worship which men offer them. But man by 
such service wins his reward in an ennobled character. He 
attaches his existence to the eternal tendency upward and 
onward. Beyond all struggle, his attainment. Only if we 
call this perfection of attainment goodness, we do not mean 
that it is good merely, free from all taint of evil. At the 
moment when evil ceases to trouble, then the word good 
loses its old meaning. So much agnosticism at least seems 
necessary to retain. Existence involves antithesis. 

On another point Plato touches upon religion, and that is 
the relation of God as maker and creator of the world. Here 
too he tends to remove the creation from the direct contact 
with the creator. The thesis in which he is interested is the 
rationality of existence, i. e. its unity of meaning and 
purpose. Here again the essential point is not the act 
of God as creator, but the wisdom of order in nature which 
permits man to work towards ends. There is intelligence in 
things, an intelligence which however can only show itself 
operative on a black gulf of unintelligence. Only, here too, 
we must not follow Plato or his modern analogues, if he puts 
a blind matter here, and a wise arranger there supervening. 
We must not break up the two parts of the antithesis from 
their inseparable solidarity. Matter is only for an intelligence 
which manipulates : and an intelligence is a mere word 
unless in relation to a matter which it penetrates. Or, as 
intellect presupposes sense, and sense implies intellect, so 
mind implies matter, and matter is only so by antithesis 
to mind. 

In Aristotle we can distinguish two levels of theology. 
There is, first of all, the general assumption of teleology in 
a united universe. There is nothing in vain, nothing random. 



There are no inexplicable episodes in the world due to violent 
and chance interposition. God does not interfere from with 
out. But, on the other hand, there is nothing* chaotic. The 
world is all an ordered and co-operant unity. God is in a way 
to be identified with nature : a self-centred, self-moving 
system of things. There is an art in things : but it is 
unlike human art, because it is immanent in the things 
themselves, and not directing from without. God is not 
banished from His universe. In all nature there is a source 
of growth and movement, which in the last resort can only 
be explained by an attraction a strong love by which 
Aristotle in metaphorical language represents all things as 
drawn towards the prime aim of desire and principle of 
thought. In the very heart of all existence there is a craving 
for perfect existence, for the fulness of being. Man, like 
other things, has his place in this order, and a high place : 
but the higher the seat, the harder the duty, the closer the 
obligation. The son in the family is less left to the licence 
of his own devices than the bondman. 

Thus in the Aristotelian realm of nature there lives and 
moves a principle which is quasi-intelligent and quasi- 
volitional. It acts, if not with a purpose, yet never in vain. 
All things natural have in them something divine. Nature 
is alive, in eager and incessant motion, struggling onwards 
towards greater perfection, wrestling with an obstacle which 
is always present to it. Even without explicit consciousness 
it is straining uniformly and regularly after the best. The 
world of nature has thus an indwelling divinity, but 
a divinity concordant and unanimous with being, and not 
anarchic, unexpected, or irregular. This view is in sharply- 
conceived opposition to the atoms of Democritus. Meno agitat 
molem. Movement is not mere locomotion, but is the path 
of self-realization, of the increase of being. 

But at other times when Aristotle is engaged with the 
transition from metaphysics to physics there is a tendency 


to a kind of materialism. On the outskirts of the material 
or visible universe is the home of the divine. Far away at 
the limit of the world of time and place and movement, there 
is a world of unmoved unvarying being-, source of eternal 
energy, where there is no void, but fulness of reality : 
another world which, not by the force of mechanical impact 
but by the strength of love-yearning, draws to its fruition 
of perfect life all that in the sensible world is but in the 
promise and potency of being. Materialistically understood, 
at some far-distant verge of things the supreme reality, God, 
comes into quasi-sensible contact with the great circle of the 
cosmos, and causes to be initiated in it a movement which 
thence descends through sphere after sphere, till it reaches 
even this sublunary world and vivifies the things of earth. 
In the heavens divinity is near : in the stellar and planetary 
spheres it is powerfully present, but on earth it is marred by 
disturbing influences. How much in this conception, which 
has been familiarized by Dante, should be assigned to the 
twilight of imagination, and how much is to be translated 
into rational terms, is a point on which there might be long 
discussion. Discount the metaphor : and to define God as 
extramundane may mean that He is the key to the multi 
plicity of existence, the enveloping unity which gives cohe 
rence and meaning to all its parts. Regard the figurative 
language as the essence of the matter : and it means that, far 
away beyond the range of experience, there is another range 
of existence of finer texture : an order of superior beings, 
yet somehow things of like kind after all. 

The source of these difficulties and contradictions in the 
theology of Aristotle is, partly at least, to be sought in 
his failure to get at the root of religion, and in his accepting 
up to a certain point, and admitting to a certain authority, 
the results of the process of religion, the theogonic process. 
He is anxious apparently to show that popular theology and 
the worship of celestial bodies has a philosophic value. To do 

D 2, 


that, he takes them as objects given, and for which an 
appropriate interpretation has to be sought. Hut lie is 
premature in the identification of deity with the unity and 
rationality of existence. The epistemologist, who examines 
the history of our ordinary physical knowledge, shows how 
the things we seem to see as many independent objects, each 
out in a world of their own, unaffected by our being so or 
otherwise, are really dependent for their separate existences 
on a system of relations without which they would not be 
what they are. It is not otherwise with the gods. The 
aspects of deity are the result of a historical development : 
they are /br men, not indeed nothing in themselves, but only 
symbolic of something more : they live in a covenant between 
God and man. And the conception of God is more akin to 
ethical problems than to the inquiries of physics. To under 
stand the gods or God, we must get to sec the place and 
scope of religion as a whole. 

Now it may be said that such an inquiry hardly falls 
within the scope of ancient philosophy. The idea of 0mrty 
which holds so governing a position in the Greek systems 
the conception of true reality as opposed to appearance and 
accident, and the conception of philosophy as knowledge of 
supreme quality- do not fit into the view of things which 
commends itself to the religious mind. Hut above all, 
ancient philosophy was unaccustomed to the psychological 
and epistemologieal standpoint. It had not learned to* ask 
for the origin in mental development of the realities which in 
various grades composed the fabric of the world. It did not, 
to use the Kantian phrase, think of < deducing the deity, or 
in a commoner phrase, of < proving God s existence. To 
deduce God is to exhibit the grounds on which a certain 
conception claims to hold a place in reality, by showing that 
without it reality will no longer be what it professes to be. 
To prove God is similarly to show that there are tendencies 
and purposes in things, which point beyond themselves, and 


require a synthesis in absolute unity and power. It seems 
strange at first sight to talk of proving the reality of your 
object. But the reason may partially at least be made 
evident. When Socrates, according to Aristotle, insisted on 
the duty of definition as the guarantee of real knowledge, 
it is obvious that he did not apply his method to all things 
indiscriminately. What he defines are ethical and political 
terms. He takes these vague words, and by an application 
of real concrete instances, he reinstates them into their full 
being and truth : shows them to be constituent elements of 
the world of human life and fact. So we deduce or 
prove the existence of what has become doubtful, what 
has lost its place in the universe of things, and rolls about, 
disinherited and expropriated, a nullity and a question. To 
deduce it, is to show the inadequacy of the otherwise accepted 
reality, if it be deprived of the element or principle in 
question : to show that, in what we accept, there are other 
things involved, other considerations potent, which we neglect, 
but which inusl be there, otherwise what we suppose we have 
would fade away into nothingness and collapse for want 
of due coherency. And this deduction is necessary, because 
in practical life first or ultimate principles tend to be 
forgotten, while the mind is engrossed with the particulars 
which imply them. 

The whole tendency of Greek philosophy was to conceive of 
God as the great principle of the natural order, as the supreme 
reality, as the object of all objects. He is the order, or He is 
the source and author of the order, of the physical universe. 
He is the supreme condition, on which for the philosopher 
depends the intelligibility of nature, the final source of all its 
movement, the goal of all its becoming. But for the individual 
who has to live and not merely to speculate, God must be 
something more and different. Science, great as it is, is not 
supreme: it is only an instrument of life, a part of the 
machinery of intelligent existence. 



It was Kant who gave these questions their prominence in 
dern philosophy. He dealt with science, with morality ; in a 
less degree, with art and religion. Gradually as he proceeded 
his problem was extended : it began with What can I know? 
or What are the conditions which make knowledge possible, 
and which therefore draw certain limits to its range? Scientific 
reality and truth, the truth and reality which are implied in 
our ordinary way of knowing things, may not be co-extensive 
with the whole field of reality : it may indeed involve some 
thing over and beyond itself, on the existence of which it 
tacitly counts. Now the conditions which Kant signalized 
as necessary to knowledge were that a sensation should be 
given, and that such sensation should be placed in an order of 
time and place, and referred to objectivity by means of certain 
concepts which he called categories. That the reality should 
be given, not made, a sensation, not a thought, is not a new 
principle: but when it comes to saying what is meant by 
( given, and what precisely is the feature of ( sensation/ the 
answer of Kant does not carry us far. Phrases like affect 
the sensibility are after all only phrases. Kant distinguishes 
between the receptivity and the spontaneity : and while 
he identifies the former with the senses, gives the latter 
characteristic to the intelligence. But, in the first place, 
it is clear that to separate the receptive from the spontaneous 
in this matter-of-fact way is impossible. There is no recep 
tivity without spontaneity, and a pure spontaneity does not 
exist: both imply action, and that in reality is always 
re-action. And, secondly, to identify sense with receptivity 
is only possible on the assumption that we have already 
defined and perhaps enlarged the scope of sensibility itself. 
Defined it : in such measure as we have accentuated the 
aspect of affection by something given/ Enlarged it : 
in so far as there is no longer any restriction to the special 
senses, or organs of sensibility. 

But what Kant laid even more stress upon is that all 


science, and therefore all we know as reality in the stricter 
sense, lies within certain totalities. These are time, space, 
and experience. None of these are given us as totals : yet on 
the relations of elements within them as such totalities all 
reality rests. That is real which has temporal and spatial 
relations ; that is real which is an integral part of experience : 
but experience, time, and space, are only ideal totals. There 
is only one time, one space, one experience ; but such a unity 
is not a fact : it is an ideal always approximated to, and 
governing every increase in knowledge, but never realized. 
Reality thus is always fragmentary, a part in relation to 
other parts, an item in a system : it always presupposes 
something beyond itself, and is only determinable by rela 
tions in a totality ; which, however, recedes perpetually, and 
never comes within the range of knowledge strictly so 

Science is thus hemmed in by certain limits, or rests upon 
our respecting certain conditions. It can only succeed by not 
attempting too much: by attaching itself to a given point, 
and by connecting this with something else, defining it in 
one direction. If it attempts to grasp a totality, it must 
inevitably fail. And yet its whole success is gained by the 
conviction that each thing is in and of a totality, and has 
infinite relations, which can be explored so as to determine it. 
Thus it can only reach the totality by a succession of partial 
efforts, each correcting and completing the other. Kant 
hardly would say with Spinoza that God, the absolute unity 
of being, is the presupposition of all knowledge : for his 
favourite way of stating his view is that the original unity of 
self -consciousness is the source from which all determination 
flows. But when he comes to consider more clearly what this 
consciousness is, he seems to admit that it is not an individual 
mind (if such a thing there be), but consciousness in general. 
And what is consciousness in general ? A consciousness not 
limited to a localized person, not equivalent to a single soul, 


but something in which all single psychical function lives: 
a synthesis embracing the several minds. 

What Kant seeks to bring out is really that God cannot be 
Carded as an olject of knowledge, or at least not merely as 
that He cannot be reduced to one object in the multitude 
of things Yet to treat Him as such an object seems inevitable 
to human nature. Everywhere, after a step gained in advance 
it tends to throw itself upon some centralized conception, as i 
that contained the key of the future, and formed a stand 
point on which one could rest. Again and again it is obliged 
to cast away its idols, or at least to allow fresh objects of 
worship to set themselves up at its side. But still the old 
fallacy afflicts it : it translates the part into an image of 
the totality, and reduces the godhead to the limits of one 

of its parts. 

What Kant is driving at is that there are different grades 
in the hierarchy of reality, that the order of physical 
things or of nature is, as it is ordinarily described, i. e. as 
a mechanical system of cause and effect rests upon presup 
positions which it is itself incompetent to explain. Science in 
that sense, as a knowledge of causes and effects, cannot include 
God : for He can only come under it as a first cause or 
a final end two conceptions which equally contradict the 
very implication of the term cause. You may style God a 
causa mi ; but such a term really means that He is more than 
a mere cause : or it means that in the full concept of cause 
there is an originality involved which can never belong to 
a single thing, but always implies a synthesis, or, as it is 
called, a sum of conditions/ co-operating with the single 
prominent antecedent. 

Kant thus, on the one hand, declares that God cannot be 
described by the categories, because these all presuppose 
a variety of things in correlation; and yet that a quasi- 
application of the categories to Him is inevitable, because 
He is active under these restrictions. But over and above 


his negative results, he has insisted that God, with the 
cognate positions of freedom and immortality, is required by 
what he calls the moral law. Perhaps, for the present, we 
may generalize Kant s teaching to the effect that, if God is 
not an object of science in the narrow sense of that conception, 
it is because He is above it and gives the very presupposition 
of it. Even so Plato has described his idea of Good, as 
standing to all reality in the same relation as the sun does to 
visible objects. As the sunlight is, in different aspects, the 
cause of growth, and again, of the visibility of sensible things, 
so the idea of good is the force which makes reality active 
and operant, and enables the knower to understand it. Nor 
is this agnosticism. Agnosticism holds that, behind all 
single objects we know, there may be a total object which 
we do not know. But, according to the present account, God 
is not something behind or beyond other objects. Each of 
them is, indeed, less than Him ; but all in their various degree 
express them and involve Him. In none of them can we say 
finally, Here He is : yet we may not say either, Beyond 
all of them He is to be sought and possibly found/ He is 
personal : yet, but at the same time, supra-personal : moral, 
but at the same time more than moral. 

The Greek philosophers, more perhaps even than Hebrew 
prophets, emphasize the unity of God. The prophets, by the 
intensification of their conception of Jahve, gradually made 
him the God of all the earth : but in so doing they unawares 
altered the conception, and repelled deity, as it were, into 
greater depths of distance. The Greek philosophers saw in 
him the unity of nature, the source of life and motion, but 
Himself something above nature, and removed from the 
sphere of change. They were not interested in the religious 
acts and feelings in which He was efficient : they sought in 
the conception of Him rather a counterpart to their doctrine 
of the unity of all being. 



THE value of Christianity in the historical development 
of natural theology does not in the first place lie in any 
addition it makes to the conception of God, but rather in the 
experiential demonstration it may give of the factual reality 
or truth of that idea. In that sense it claims to be the 
revelation of God, whereby, instead of being an objective 
aim of worship, or an idea underlying all intelligence, He is 
realized and present as the light and life and love in all that 
lives and is. It thus verifies or evidences the conclusions 
of reflection and criticism ; but in so doing sets them in a new 
light. The transcendent God and heaven are seen as present 
and within us, as in the world and in the soul, though they 
knew it not, and had sought the missing principle even on 
the further side of being. Christianity may thus be styled 
emphatically natural religion, in so far as it professes to 
realize the implications latent in all historical forms of faith, 
but freed from the restrictions to which they were therein 
subject. It claims to satisfy the realism of spontaneous 
devotion and the idealism of the philosophical consciousness : 
to be all that religion ever meant to be, and to bring forth 
certainty unto truth. 

It is difficult, however, if not impossible, to select any 
special article of religious faith which is, in its general aspect, 
a doctrine peculiar to Christianity. Its uniqueness lies rather 
in what some would call the personality of the founder. So 


far as one may venture to specialize the expression of that 
uniqueness, we may say it consisted in his absolute and 
plenipotentiary freedom, and in his utter realization of the 
immanence of God in this present life. In this conviction 
of the power of endless life and the presence of reconciling 
love, theology lost its former aloofness and abstraction. It 
might be paradoxically put that Christianity is atheism : 
meaning thereby that God, for it, ceases to be a mere object, 
controlling life and reality and becomes identical with the 
reality of reality, the life of life. Prayer, for it, becomes 
not a request for blessings from a separate being, but a com 
munion in which the soul essentially realizes its unity in 
all things with God. Sacrifice there can henceforth be none ; 
for man in turning upward from nature is not rejecting the 
source of his being, but fundamentally working with God. 
Yet, on the other hand, there is an initial and absolute 
sacrifice : it is the baptism into death/ the ( taking up the 
cross, the imitatio C/iristi becoming, as St. Paul puts it, 
a slave of Jesus. But this, again, is only another aspect of, 
and is dependent on, the sonship of God : the consciousness 
of the grace of the Father, of universal mercy and love, or, 
briefly, the eternal life. Thus of this death, it is true, mors 
ianua vitae, and it had been so described by Plato. What 
Christ affirms more distinctly than Plato, is that man has 
not in this to struggle alone, but has on his side the power 
and the goodness which is the life of all things, or, in the 
familiar words, a Father in heaven. 

Christianity thus sets in the forefront the omnipotence 
of God and the liberty of man. But that omnipotence is 
directed against all other authorities and constraints, against 
everything in nature that might be supposed to control 
human destinies. The Greeks and Romans made much of the 
worship of Fortune, and, indeed, the whole conception of 
popular religion is saturated with it, with ideas of chance, 
luck and destiny. Ethics has always tended to teach that 


man is the architect of his own fortune, and that happiness 
rests with our own activity. Religion, as expressed in 
Christianity,, not merely connects all fortune and event with 
God, but insists that man has God upon his side, and by 
faith can rise superior to his enemies in fate and circum 
stance. On the other side, the liberty of man essentially 
consists in his sonship to God, in the realization by feeling 
and thought and act, that his real life is not in the temporal 
and transitory; it consists in a predominant sense that in 
and over all partial act and feeling, and deeper than all 
separate objects of desire, there is an absolute unity and rest. 
Thus the theology, strictly so called, of Christianity is com 
bined with what was in early days called an < economy : in 
other words the doctrine of God is essentially a doctrine 
of the relation of man to God, and of God to man, and 
indeed of the actual (even if not the abstractly essential) 
interdependence of the two. 

The < economy of Christianity, however, takes a step 
further, and that of vast historical importance. The realiza 
tion of this sonship, thus visibly and tangibly, is, in the first 
instance at least, the work of one man, who brought life 
and immortality to light, and who might thus be described 
as the mediator between God and man. It is through his 
vision that those first drawn around him see. He, therefore 
^cupies an unique position: he is the bearer of tidings from 
only dimly apprehended land, and it is faith in him that 
pves the message its reality. On the other hand, there 
struggling through this belief at second hand a faith in 
the unseen ^eality itself through the witness of the spirit, 
t witness is only an elder brother who has been the 
to pass beyond the veil, the leader and vanguard of 
-y bro hers. But on this point there gradually emerges 
a profound difference in the religious world. For the majority, 
comes to mean belief in a message authenticated, not 
s own merits, but by the special authority of the 



senger, that authority in the end being- due to his essential 
participation in another world and of a more than human 
nature, i. e. more, in the sense of non-human and divine. This 
view, in some degree and with many variations present from 
the first, becomes the orthodox creed of the Church in the 
fourth century. The other view, which again was always 
represented and in not fewer variations, even while assigning 
an unparalleled position to the founder, does not regard him 
as a supernatural being, in any sense in which that term 
implies a break of a new force into the realm of natural 
powers. The supernatural, as a further province occasionally 
trenching on the ordinary world of experience, it cannot 
accept, believing the supernatural to be but the natural, seen 
by faith as the garment of divine goodness. 

The conceptions involved in the new idea of the relations 
of God and man necessarily took time to clear themselves of 
accidental accretions and stand out in all their significance. 
And that the more, in proportion to their novelty, and the 
distance at which they stood from the dominant habits of 
contemporary thought. The seed, however good, gathered, as 
it grew up and flowered and fruited, the consequences of its 
soil and circumstances. No doubt the impression which was 
forced upon those who saw and companied with the living 
ensample and realization of the life of man in God, and 
which spread with enthusiasm from disciple to disciple, and 
from place to place, caused a profound change in the aims 
and hopes which regulate conduct. But the so-called new 
man/ though a new structure, built upon a new plan and 
with new hopes aggrandizing the rags and tatters/ is after 
all not divided by any abrupt breach of continuity from his 
old past. Centred in the one thing new and needful, he 
may no doubt for the moment exclusively note the gulf that 
parts him off from his former self. But the novelty lies only 
in the controlling or animating faith and idea : and when 
that fails to hold its sovereignty over his will, when it sinks 


into the calm and cool of reflection,, and becomes one among 
many impulses of the man, the old propensities and acquired 
habits resume their independence, and reassert themselves in 
such force that they convert the new life they but now owned 
as supreme into a vehicle and a minister of their glory. 

New ideas which always and necessarily underlie and 
vivify a new scheme of life and conduct cannot be received 
with pure passivity. Often, it is true, something very like 
passivity marks those who accept them. A wave of enthu 
siasm, an epidemic of imitation, sweeps like a natural and irre 
sistible force over all who come in its way. Hearts burn, new 
powers awake, gifts almost miraculous display the presence 
of sympathetic and generous excitement, in the gathering 
where soul knits itself with soul, and each has the strength 
of ten, or even of ten thousand, because the boundaries of 
individuality are broken down, and the spirit works mightily 
in each and all to comfort and convince with irresistible 
inspiration of the universal in man. So it was in the early 
days of Christianity, as in other like times : an unloosing of 
curbed in energies, of hopes and fears, of ideals and passions, 
of antipathies and regrets, all stimulated by the new idea, 
on which in their turn they again reacted. A period of 
fermentation, irregularities, impossibilities, signs of a new 
and vigorous life, but signs also of old and vigorous passions 
working together; a harvest of wheat and tares mingled, 
needing time and patience to disentangle them, and defying 
the best efforts of those who, like the apostle Paul, tried 
occasionally to regulate the course of growth and check the 
not which ever and anon tended to cause social, political, and 
domestic anarchy. Even from the first, though not with the 
stmct classification a later and more reflective age was able 
to import into it, there were great differences dividing into 
sections and strata the Christian religiosity, and the relation 
ian s spirit to things divine. The truth of the unity and 
% of man as man, of the incalculable individuality 


which makes each as it were equally valuable in the sight 
o God, is no doubt a never to be forgotten principle. But 
equally memorable is the diversity and inequality of human 
gift. And it shows itself everywhere, not least in the act of 
faith. To some faith is an act of personal trust, a dependence 
on another s word and an abandonment of the personal claim 
or right to see and appreciate for one s self. In itself this 
confidence in humanity, in the common feeling and bond of 
life, is an indispensable principle of conduct. Without the 
sense of solidarity, of community, of fellowship, the fortune 
of man in this world would be but low and brute-like. 
Members, one of another, and of the Church invisible, the 
individuals of this community share in each other s advance 
or backsliding. But that each should lean on the other, it 
is necessary that each should also stand by and for himself. 
Or, if there be one to lean on, that rock must be not temporal 
but eternal, not man but God : or, in another way of putting 
it, the stay is to be found finally not in the Church visible, 
but in the Church eternal which is in the heavens. 

Such faith as rests upon the immediate incident of personal 
influence and sympathy is an implicit faith. Dae in the 
main to custom and circumstance, content to go with the 
majority, organized or unorganized, it simplifies the burden 
of life by allowing others to bear it. It finds its typical 
expression in the words of Augustine, that, were it not for 
the authority of the ecclesiastical organization, the Christian 
faith would be for him incredible and absurd. Yet these 
words, exaggerated as they seem, probably contain a glimpse 
of truth which it is easier to let slip than to formulate in 
proper proportion. They mean that the religious idea is 
essentially not an individualist perception, not a single fact 
which stands separate and palpable, but an organic and 
organizing principle, which binds man to man, and of which 
the Church is the embodiment and evidence. How can 
a man love God/ it is said, if he love not his brother also ? 


How, it may be added, can one see and realize God, unless he 
see and realize the community and solidarity of man ? On 
the coherence and coincidence of these two aspects all religion 
depends : it is this which, when it is alive, makes it always 
propagandist ; for you feel that it cannot be really true for 
you unless it is true for others also. The Church, says the 
allegorist, is the bride appointed and preparing for Christ. 
She is, in other words, the visible and material organization 
in which a great truth is maturing : and the wedlock of the 
fact with the idea is again the full realization of the Unity, 
when God shall be all in all. 

In the kingdom of God are many mansions: and while 
some are content, as it were, to live on tradition and authority, 
to believe on trust, to repose on the common strength, it is 
necessary that there should also be from time to time a few, 
a select number, who resolve, or rather are compelled by 
a necessity naturally laid upon them, to see for themselves. 
Theirs also is faith: but it is the faith of insight and of 
knowledge, the faith which is Gnosis. Hard things have 
been said of Gnosis, and harder things of Gnosticism" but it 
cannot be too clearly seen that Gnosis is the very life of the 
Church, the blood of religion. It is the faith which is not 
merely hearsay and dependence, but which really envisages 
the unseen for itself. It does not believe on a person : it 
believes in and into Him : it becomes, by an act at once 
voluntary and impelled from without (as all human action 
s really entitled to that name), participant with Him 
and through Him of a force of life and conduct 

Gnosis undoubtedly has its dangers, but so also has Praxis- 
and after all the dangers of the one lie very much in the 
same ine as those of the other. And that is the line of 
dividualism and separatism. The truth lies in the subordi 
nation of all action and all knowledge to the common good, 
to the ideal ends of the community which has realized its 
ty m God, love, life. But as God and man are allowed to 


fall apart, God there and man here : as speculation devotes 
its energies to the former, and moral conduct is mainly con 
cerned with the latter, the speculation tends to become 
frivolous and abstruse, the moralism to become cold and 
superficial. If the latter tend to isolate good deeds, by which 
name it complacently denotes almsgiving, &c., the former 
becomes a love of transcendent inquiry into powers and 
beings which live and move in us, as we live and move in 
them, but of which, taken abstractly, we can say nothing 

From age to age the genuine Gnosis has been the life-blood 
of religion in the world : we may almost say it is the arduous 
guest by which from time to time a new Prometheus brings 
fire from heaven to relight the smouldering and all but extinct 
altars of faith : or rather it is the channel whereby the winds 
and waters of the spiritual life refresh the decaying garden of 
God. Such Gnosis, which is firstborn and genuine faith, 
was that of Paul, of Augustine, of Luther, and of many 
thousands, named and unnameable, who have, in that daring 
of soul which is the good providence of the world, sought not 
an implicit but an explicit faith. That they, any or all of 
them, should have seen the full reality is impossible : yet 
amid the errors which must arise in the attempt to express 
incomprehensible eternal things, they have, even when, as 
always happened, their own vision faltered and their message 
was but half followed or mainly ignored by contemporaries 
and successors, still served to keep alive a light of that higher 
world which otherwise fades from human sight. They 
retrace by what is called experience, i.e. by the energetic 
but necessitated reliving of our former life with full con 
sciousness, that perennial way of religion which has become 
a tradition and a name. 

The great deed that seems to emerge as the life of Christ 
is the bringing into one of God and man : the discovery that 
the supernatural is in the natural, the spiritual in the 



physical : the eternal life as the truth and basis of this : God 
manifest in the flesh : removal of the partition wall between 
God and man : the immanence of the divine, not as a new 
and imported element in human life, a special bit of man 
peculiarly holy, but as the truth and life in life. And the 
practical corollary is twofold: first, it is absolute peace in 
believing, the assurance of reunion, the good conscience 
which is free from the bondage of the < weak and beggarly 
elements 1 / the pure heart which rejoices in the Lord : the 
removal of fear and doubt: the strength which is as the 
strength of ten/ The veil is rent away which in the days 
of ignorance hid God and made him an unknown God : clad 
him in thick darkness and terrors of the mount, saw him 
invisible in excess of light, heard him whispering indistinctly 
in the separate events of natural and human history- 
a factor incalculable, mysterious, awful. Thus the heart is 
made strong and cheerful : it has no hanging remorse, no 
repentance in the sense of doubts and remorse ; for the true 
repentance is a conversion of the whole soul to newness of 
life, the appropriation of a new will. But there is another 
side : the absolute freedom of the Christian man is absolute 
allegiance to God : his independence rests in utter dependence. 
His freedom is from the tyranny of partial claims, individual 
desires and objects, from the half nesses and weaknesses of our 
nature : and it is won by identification with the universal. 
It is, in short, here that there comes in what is called 
humility. To define it exactly is difficult, if not impossible : 
for, like all goodness, it has the defect of its quality, and to be 
precious it must never part company with its correlative, 
independence. Humility is the sense of solidarity and com 
munity: the controlling and regulating power of the con 
sciousness that we are not our own, that we are God s and 
our neighbour s 2 . Humility is the attitude of an individual 
who recognizes his individuality, his partiality, his dependence, 
1 Gal. iv. 9. 2 And for our neighbour see the parable. 


his immanence in the whole, and his conformity with all the 
parts, and yet of an individual who knows himself his own, 
and not another s, a free man of God, a son and heir. To be 
genuine, it must go hand in hand with the good conscience 
and the faith unfeigned. 

Finally, the most practical corollary is Love, Ayehnj. 
There are, said the Jew, two great commandments on which 
hinge all the law and prophets. The first bids love God with 
all strength and soul and intellect; the second, love the 
neighbour as self. If we separate them and minutely try 
to balance the several claims, it will lead to unpleasant and 
profitless casuistry. But they are not separate, and they 
cannot be balanced against each other. God, self, and 
neighbour, they form an indissoluble trinity. Yet if the 
central dogma of Christianity be the community of God and 
man, the kingdom of the heavens, it is easily mistaken and 
misconceived. It is not to be confused with mysticism. 
Mysticism is the potent sense of the unseen, the vision of the 
higher truth which sweeps the lower away. In it the soul 
swoons away into the unseen : it passes by a bold act of 
anticipation beyond the divisions of earth, and rests in utter 
identification with the great source of life. The end of religion 
is thus a certain deification : the finite and temporal sinks 
absorbed in the great sea of being. God here tends to become 
all in all: the individual and personal is utterly swamped, 
and the great peace of the universe reigns unchecked. 

Such mysticism can only be a mood a mood that needs 
its corrective and antithesis. It is the reaction from battle 
and struggle the lapse into the great bosom of nature, into 
the identity of existence. To it the other world comes to be 
a world to which we can only come by leaving this behind. 
The mind that lingers on it may be more logically or more 
aesthetically inspired : but in either case he will be apt 
to lose religion in Theology, whether it be a mystical or 
a scholastic theology. 



IN this second course of lectures it is my intention to deal 
with the question of the inner relations of morality and 
religion. There is what may be called a departmental view 
of human life which sets religion here and science there, 
which separates art from morality and morality from religion. 
It is a view which is useful in its place, but we should not 
allow it to influence us too far. I shall not deny that there 
is an ethics which, to all appearance, is independent of 
religion; but I think it may be safely said that at the 
present day a mere ethics and a mere religion are equally 
impracticable and undesirable. Neither without the other 
can fulfil what it promises. I do not mean that religion is 
always necessary as a schoolmaster to enforce morality, but 
I mean that, if we look to the origin and foundation of 
morality, in other words, if we ask what is the function and 
the place of morality in life and the universe, whether it is an 
accident or the essence of things, whether it is something 
that may or may not be, or something that must be, if any 
thing be : if we ask such questions, we are driven to recognize 
that religion is the complement and the implication of the 
moral life. At any rate it will be my object in the following 
lectures to try to show that it is so : or at least to point 
out some directions in which ethics seems to imply or 
postulate ideas, which lie at the very root of those religions 


which have played the most important part in the history of 
the world. 

The phrase Religion of Morality has to the ears of the 
purist a sound ominous of a confusion of kinds, a mixture 
of heterogeneous natures. Religion, it is thought, is one 
thing, and morality another and altogether different. From 
the one side the scorn falls on what is caljed mere morality, 
from the other there is equal suspicion of mere religion. The 
fanatic will keep sedulously apart the human and the divine, 
the service of this world s humanity and the devotion to 
the other world of eternal life. The confusion, it may be 
urged, is like that of one who speaks of architecture as 
frozen music/ who breaks down the barrier lines between 
epic and drama, who mixes poetry and prose, or blends 
sculpture with painting. 

Yet, it may be replied, is it not precisely the characteristic 
glory of the highest art that, even in its definite department, 
it speaks a language which awakes life and emotion in fields 
seemingly far disparate? Like the outpouring of the 
prophetic spirit on the first Christian Whitsuntide, it is 
understood in many alien tongues. The great poet, the great 
composer, the great painter, are endowed with an inspiration 
wider than the so-called legitimate scope of their art. They 
do not indeed mingle or confuse kinds, do not bring in poetry 
to help where painting fails, or try to turn prose into poetry by 
any accidental efflorescence. But in the real artistic life, the 
life in the soul and spirit, which is all form and harmony and 
grace, each art, divided in mediocre artists from its sisterhood, 
again draws in the strength of its undivided source, the com 
prehensive spirit of art itself. In its spirit and truth every 
separate art ceases to be so separate ; it speaks with an -utter 
ance which knows no limitation of departments, which spurns, 
because it overcomes, the barriers fixed by grammar and 
abstraction. The consummate artist concentrates in his 
special gift the whole range of art-power ; the highest art 


special to an age is in a way the epitome and quintessence of 
all other arts as well. 

Adam, says the old legend, gave names to all cattle and to 
the fowl of the air and to every beast of the field : < whatso 
ever the man called every living creature that was the name 
thereof/ But ere Adam called them they were there, called 
into being by forces greater than a man-imposed name, knit 
together by the development of a history, a genesis, which 
his glance could not in an instant surmise. Their true 
name, may we say, only their maker could know ; and that 
name, if it were true to their reality, would be perhaps 
a myriad-syllabled vocable. The stranger, confronted with 
the problem, gave them names : he is seldom at a loss for 
that, this nomenclator man : but in the long lapse of years 
since Eden he has gradually gained a glimpse of the vast 
discrepance between what he, simply, naively, fancifully or 
practically named them, and the true names which they bore, 
or will one day bear, in the muster-roll of God. All science, 
says one, is but a language well made/ a language which 
shall not miss true affinities and underlying connexions ; 
which shall trace, say, in evolutional fashion, the inner 
genealogy of Nature. 

It is the stranger and the outsider who gives the name, the 
outward observer. The bosom friend, the member of an 
organic unity, hardly needs a name. Our name, for each of 
us, is for others to use, for others convenience. A tribe does 
not give itself a name; at least in the primitive course of 
things its name is given perhaps mostly by its enemies, by 
aliens. And it is oftenest a sort of nickname, the freak of 
what we call chance, which settles on some conspicuous 
feature that appeals to the imagination. 

Not otherwise is it with names like religion, or morals. 
When we have recourse in such cases to etymology, we should 
be on our guard against a misconception of its evidence. The 
history of the elements of the word will not tell us what 


religion was to those who had it and lived in it : but it may 
throw some light on what observers saw as they looked upon 
it. It will tell us something of its outward phases and effects, 
of the conduct and ceremony to which it gave rise. We 
cannot tell what the Roman religion really and inwardly was ; 
but whether we follow one etymology or another (re-ligere, 
after Cicero, or re-ligare after Lactantius), the prominent 
feature brought before the mind is (as in Lact. iv. 28, vinculo 
pietatis obstricti Dei et religati ) a strictness and conscien 
tiousness, a scrupulosity and care in behaviour, a diligent 
observance of ceremony and form of worship ( religiosi = qui 
omnia quae ad cultum deorum pertinent diligenter retractant/ 
De Nat. Deor. ii. 28), a watchful anxiety in presence of some 
superior influence ( superioris cujusdam naturae . . . curam 
ceremoniamque affert/ De Inv. ii. 53). 

It is this idea of strict obligatory control over human 
action which is prominent in the word as it meets us in its 
older French and English uses, prior to the seventeenth cen 
tury. If Luther e. g. speaks of the old religion/ it is of its 
objective ceremonial or ritual side that he is thinking. And 
so Calvin (Instit. 66) says: j estime que ce mot est oppose a la 
trop grande licence et excessive que la plupart de monde s est 
permise. . . . Religion done comporte autant comme une 
retraite et discretion mure et bien fondee/ It is the same 
disciplinary consciousness of being ever in the great task 
master s eye that made Frenchmen speak of the Huguenots as 
messieurs de la religion. And if we open the pages of Chaucer 
or his contemporaries, we find perhaps a more restricted con 
ception of religion. Religion to him is special consecration of 
place and conduct to direct special divine service. A place of 
religion is e. g. a monastery : a man of religion is one in holy 

Religion thus holds a separate and definite sphere in life, 
confined as it seems to selected spots, and peculiar modes of 
action. It surrenders as it were its claim to rule whatever we 


do, and to be wherever we are, if only we give it and secure 
it a special realm. 

But whatever be the range of its sway, the obligatory 
nature, the awe-inspiring and legal character attaches to it. 
Religion is, in fact, divine law. Under that name it appears 
in mediaeval language as Lex nostra, Lex Judaica. The 
conception, of course, is, in part, that of the older Judaic, but 
in a deeper sense it is a common, almost universal, attitude to 
God. Religion is the sense of a covenant obligation, a bind 
ing tie. It need not surprise us, therefore, that in Parsifal 
and the Nibelungen Lied the word for religion and its sanctity 
is fi (the modern EJie, now used only of marriage) : e. g. in 
Knstenlicker fi, or den touf, und Kristen fi. And so in 
Shakespeare the commonest sense involves this emphasis on 
conscientious obligation, strict fidelity, loyal obedience ; e. g. 
f Keep your promise with no less religion (As Yon Like It, 
iv. T. 201); When the devout religion of mine eye (Rom. 
i. 2. 97) ; How many a holy and obsequious tear Hath dear 
religious love stolen from mine eye (Son. 31). 

The decisive novelty of the Lutheran reform was in the 
direction of a subversion of this apparent predominance of 
objective religion. For the outward ordinance, the minute 
and accurate performance of measured duties, it substituted 
the inward feeling, the subjective attitude of faith. The word 
for true religion in the Lutheran language is Glaube : and 
the essence of Glaube isfu/ilen. Du musst bei dir selbst im 
Gewissen f iihlen Christum selbst, und unbeweglich empfmden 
dass es Gottes Wort sei/ 

Yet it would be a mistake to speak of the movement as 
a change of the emphasis merely from the objective to the 
subjective side. To some extent the Catholic mysticism of 
the later mediaeval times had done that before. The other 
and perhaps more important step was that the Lutheran 
reform sought to put an end to the restriction of religion to 
a specially religious sphere, a higher and peculiar range of 


sanctity. Not that Catholicism had failed to recognize the 
presence of the divine law in all secular life. Marriage it had 
declared a sacrament ; in other words, it had set the human 
ethical relationship as part of the direct ordinance of God, as 
a service of the kingdom of heaven ; not as a convenient 
arrangement for social well-being, but as a method of salvation, 
and only to be engaged in as a way and means to the attain 
ment of eternal life. If the older Catholicism failed, it was 
because its social or political organization created and enforced 
grades of goodness,, which were not in accordance with its 
own essential doctrines. 

Lutheranism could not long remain true to its own funda 
mental intuition. In the stress of conflict between reformation 
and counter-reformation, reality and belief had to give way to 
formulae or creeds. The term faith or belief as a volitional 
act, an effort of the whole man, a lively personal apprehension, 
was, by the force of objectivity and of words, turned into 
a set of beliefs, a creed. The only apparent result was, it 
might seem, that a new narrowness was substituted for the 
old. Once it had been a special region of act, ceremony, 
observance : now it was a special form and phrase of defini 
tion of doctrine. Religion, in Protestantism, thus gains a 
dominantly intellectual, a sort of literary, character. According 
to Calovius (p. 282) it comprehends all things which are 
comprehended in theology, whether they are things to be 
done, or things to be believed/ But to speak of a thing 
to be believed is already to use language in which the great 
vision of Luther runs a risk of being lost. Theology and 
religion are in danger of coinciding to the injury of both. 
Nor need we lay much stress on the fact that the two sides of 
religion (theoretical and practical) are set side by side, uncon 
nected. It is only a further gliding on the same slope when 
it is declared that faith proper (fiducia) is preceded by bare 
knowledge (notitia) of the facts. 

Religion had been transferred to the field of science : it had 


been, that is, appropriated by the rising tide of the modern 
world and of scientific civilization, of literature and popular 
opinion. It comes forward, or rather is brought forward, into 
discussion, by those who looked at it from the outside, and 
tried to correlate it with the other aspects of life. It sought 
to legitimate itself in the court of science, and became the 
so-called science of theology, or, on the other hand, it was 
decried and scorned by those who judged it by the canons of 
physical science. With the Reformation rationalism, the 
unchecked lust of reasoning and explaining, had been let 
loose, and alike in orthodoxy and heterodoxy it ruled. 

Yet, that the real sphere of religion was elsewhere, was 
never utterly forgotten. It hardly needed Schleiermacher to 
repeat that the essence of religious life is the sense of utter 
and all-round dependency. When Kant had described the 
essence of religion as the recognition of all our duties as 
commands of God, he had said the same thing in balder 
language, in language less mystically attractive than the 
vaguer and suggestive words of Schleiermacher, and open 
to obvious misinterpretation by those who would press the 
meaning of terms like command/ or like recognition/ 
where the old error of intellectualism might seem to lurk. 

And, if we take a contemporary of Schleiermacher, let us 
hear Schelling, who reiterates the essentiality of duty, but of 
a duty inspired by something higher than subjection, a some 
thing which he calls at once heroism, faith, fidelity to yourself 
and to God 1 . 

By religiosity, the inner power and spirit of religion, 
I understand/ says Schelling 1 , not an instinct groping 
towards the divine, and not mere emotional devoutness : for 
God, if He be God, must be the very heart of life of all 
thinking and all action, and not a mere object of devout 
passion or of belief. That is no real knowledge of God, 
where He is merely object : either God is not known at all, 

1 Schelling, Werke, Erste Abtheilung, Band vi, p. 558-9. 


or He is at once subject and object of knowledge. He must 
be at once our very self, our heart of hearts, and yet compre 
hending all hearts far beyond us. Religion is higher than 
dim outstretching hope and feeling for God. The first 
meaning of the much misused word is conscientiousness; it 
expresses the law that knowledge and action are at one so 
supremely, that action must inevitably follow knowledge. 
He is not conscientious who in a given case must first set 
before himself the command of duty, in order to decide 
himself to act rightly through respect for its mandate. 
Religion means that action is bound, obliged, that there is 
no choice between opposites, but supreme decidedness for the 
right, without option/ 

Conscientiousness, it is true, does not always appear as 
enthusiasm, or heroism ; it may consist in strict fulfilment 
of duty, and, as in the case of Cato, show a certain hardness 
and harshness in its features. But such strictness and scrupu 
losity is, like the strictness of life in the physical world, the 
germ from which will yet issue true grace and real divinity. 
When the divine principle at its root has sprung into life 
through its strictness of sentiment, then virtue presents itself 
as enthusiasm, as ( heroism, i. e. action which does not spring 
from the finite nature of man, but is the free and beautiful 
courage of a man to act as God instructs him, and not to fall 
short in action from what he has seen to be true ; or if we call 
such religion faith, the word is not to be taken to mean assent 
to a proposition which is partly doubtful, and where assent 
therefore is regarded as meritorious, but in its original sense 
of a trust and confidence in the divine which excludes or 
abolishes all choice. . . . This faith and this fidelity to your 
selves and the divine/ adds Schelling in his lecture, ( I wish 
you to take with you into life as the sole true fruit of 


ONE of the most important facts or problems in the life of 
the present day is that which is best described as the ethical 
movement in religion. That movement, as it obviously presents 
itself, has two very distinct phases. It is a movement inside 
the Churches (both the Christian Churches and also Churches 
that are not exactly Christian) ; and it is a movement outside 
the Churches,, though not always or necessarily hostile to them. 
It shows itself e.g. in the rise of what are called Ethical 
Societies in America, in France, and in this country societies 
which are, indeed, not very important, if judged by outward 
bulk. A few human beings linked in action for fhe purpose 
of bettering the general standard of ethical feeling, may seem 
rather a subject for jest. But they are one indication of 
a widely prevailing want of satisfaction with the results both 
of religious and of scientific teaching : and the initiation of an 
effort after something better, which the historian of the future 
will not count unworthy of regard. 

The present state of opinion upon ethics and religion may 
remind the student of history of what happened at Athens 
more than 2,000 years ago. Then also the old landmarks of 
local religion and patriotism seemed to disappear. A little 
town, by a series of achievements and struggles about which 
the world has not yet grown tired of hearing, found itself 
suddenly planted on a new scale of existence, with new duties 
and outlooks, calling for new preparations. It entered upon 


a larger life, the life of a cosmopolitan centre cosmopolitan, 
at least, so long- as the world was a Mediterranean world. 
There was a call for more virtue. But what, it may be asked, 
was virtue ? It is a question which in the modern world has 
had to be asked : for words, like other things, grow stale and 
unprofitable, mere shadows of themselves. Again and again 
in the course of history virtue has been taken in a purely 
neutral sense ; or rather we should say, it has been taken in 
a quite negative sense. It has come to mean, neither doing 
something, nor the ability to do something, but the not doing 
something, the power of abstinence. Instead of the idea of 
force or manly energy, it has been used to express the nega 
tion of force, or at best the power of self-control ; nay, it has 
sunk lower still. So too with propriety : in its first power the 
word meant being all that one should be, realizing one s own, 
self-realization, being true to one s own self and working out 
one s own law. Even in Adam Smith the word still meant 
the sense of proportion in things. But it too sank till it 
expressed no more than negative merit, till it stood in a line 
with mediocrity and meant or suggested something strait- 
laced, cold, and formal. 

Now virtue of the real stamp is positive ability, the power 
to act, to act well and vigorously. And when we say ability 
to act, let us add, that ability, if it be real, is itself action. 
It is the initiative of act, inchoate action, tendency passing 
forward into energy. It is not mere not doing something 
which is to be condemned; it is doing, or readiness to do, 
something which is required by law, by ideal, by social 
demand, by the needs of life. 

As new circumstances involve new work, the call of virtue 
assumes a new phase. In a stagnant or decaying civilization, 
such, for instance, as we meet in the later days of Greco- 
Roman fame, when life and progress had died out, to all 
appearance virtue came to be endurance, self-denial, restraint : 
it acquired a passive tincture. At such times the world gets 



to move in a quasi-mechanical routine, and the great require 
ment is to step accurately in the line, and show no sign of 
originality or independence. But at other seasons virtue must 
be positive. It can no longer be a cold morality, a formal 
compliance ; it must be warm, active, and onward-going. It 
is fully all that it is, only when it is so active. Yet, perhaps 
we do well to remember that resistance also is action ; that 
much effort may sometimes be demanded merely to produce 
equilibrium : that energy is not always best exhibited by 
{ agitation/ and that there may be a strenuous inertia, 
a service of those who only stand and wait/ 

To meet the demand in Athens arose a class of teachers who 
professed to communicate the requisite ability, who taught 
the virtue which fitted for the discharge of social and public 
functions. It was urged against them by some observers that 
in these departments teaching, specific training, culture was 
unnecessary. Everybody, it was said, can speak Greek, and 
he learns it naturally by the practice of life. Yet it was 
found that speaking Greek required in certain cases more than 
mother-wit and family example could supply. So, too, what 
ever differences may be between men, they may be all said to 
be pretty equally endowed as regards a moral sense, shame of 
wrong-doing, and sense of justice. Yet here too the new 
complexities of social existence created cases where the old 
average hardly met the needs of the situation. It is no doubt 
true in a way that he who can rule his own soul can rule 
a kingdom, yet perhaps a few considerations as to the aims, 
methods, and machinery of political life may not be amiss. 

The same questions arise for the modern world, and we 
may say, if we like, that in both cases they are due to the 
advent of what is called Democracy. What is Democracy ? 
To the observation of Plato, as of many observers since, 
Democracy has seemed another name for Anarchy. Its very 
name sounds amiss : it is mass-force, the violent power of the 
great multitude, of the whole people. It is Kratos-torce 


(remember Kpdros KOU Bta in the Prometheus). Monarchy and 
oligarchy are rule and direction of one or few, but democracy, 
it is said, suggests only absence of all direction, all principle, 
all originative rule anarchy. 

But Plato, if he is occasionally unjust, and gives scope 
to sarcasm, is equally aware that democracy may be some 
thing better than anarchy. There is a democracy which is 
according to law, a democracy in which there is no absence 
of apxy, but where every citizen from the highest to the 
lowest, from the least to the most capable, is in his measure 
and degree an arche, archon, though, as we may add from 
Aristotle, none is ap^av who is not also ap^ofjitvos, i. e. who 
is not in his own person at once sovereign and subject, at 
once lawgiver and law-bound, king and commoner. This 
then is the true or ideal democracy, the organization of the 
total power of a group of human beings, in which none is 
merely a mean or instrument of service, but each also enjoys 
the end of his own and others action ; in which there is 
fraternity, but not necessarily equality or even vulgar liberty ; 
or where the equality lies in common duty of service, and the 
liberty in the removal of all mere passivity. 

On its negative side, then, democracy is the power and 
force of the whole body, as against the decided dominance 
of one or of several classes in the body politic. As so 
negative, it has an appearance of no direction, of anarchy. 
But the positive side must not be ignored. And that, in one 
word, is autonomy, self-direction, self-organization. It is not 
the negation of direction or government, but its completion 
and universalization. To realize that positive side is the 
work of education : and, it is in the recognition of that 
problem that the promoters of an ethical movement have 
their place and function in the present as in the past. They 
are the witness of a feeling that something is amiss; that 
the order of the world is passing through a change, and that 
a new effort is needed to set it right, to prevent stagnation 


and corruption. It is not quite so clear that they have dis 
covered the root of the evil, or that they are on the likely way 
to a solution of the question. 

More than this. If we are guided by the analogy of the 
old world, we may well doubt whether the issue is at all 
simple and near. Even where only material interests are 
concerned, it is often long ere the great masses can be got 
to discern the nature of the needs they labour under. It 
requires the guidance of genius to show the place of the evil. 
It is not for everyone to say where the shoe pinches. The 
sense of the masses is a vague feeling of malaise, a vague 
disgust, spite, indignation, against something wrong : but to 
discern what the wrong precisely is or in what it exactly 
consists, that is just what the masses are unable to compass, 
and what their leaders, good or false, try or pretend to make 
possible for them. So it is alike in material and spiritual 
evil. The remedy comes only by diagnosis, by the ascer 
tainment of the definite nature, the characteristic feature, of 
the ailment. 

So in the ancient Greek world, it was not a simple matter 
to say what was the evil eating at the root of life. It was 
easy of course to note symptoms : for a little natural inter 
pretation in a predisposed mind can turn any fact into a 
symptom, and a spontaneous imagination may easily add to 
their number. But the diagnosis of the disease of Greece 
which Plato offered, and the ideal of the good and happy life 
which he faintly indicated, were too alien to the ordinary 
mind of his countrymen to find immediate response. Yet 
the Greek philosophers by direct and indirect energies laboured 
a soil of which other people reaped the fruits. It is by no 
means fanciful to say that the organization of the mediaeval 
Church was the realization of Plato s ideal, though a realiza 
tion of it which was deeply pervaded by a spirit of alien 
tone. The early Christian writers themselves in their saner 
moods spoke of Greek philosophy as the preparation of 


Gospel, though sometimes in their blind zeal they styled it 

To us looking at the facts in the light of history, it is 
hardly possible to say otherwise than that though it was well 
done, it was far from being thoroughly well done, or so done 
that it can be considered satisfactorily done for ever. But 
we need cherish no illusions as to what we can learn from 
the past. The cry is again and again raised. Back to 
it may only be to Kant : it may be to Greece, it may be 
to mediaeval Christendom, it may be to primitive Christianity, 
or, as with Rousseau, it may be back to Nature. But in what 
sense back ? What has been done, even the gods themselves 
(says the adage) cannot make undone. All that historical 
reversions can do is to suggest that in the onward move 
ment something precious had been left behind, which it 
were well to recover before going further. But the Nature, 
the Greece, the Christianity we go back to is not in the past ; 
it is, seen through the arch of experience, the gleam of that 
untrodden world to which we move. To seek them in the past 
is to seek the living among the dead. The gates of one 
Paradise are closed, the Paradise of infancy, of simple hours, 
of naive faith. The gates of Paradise are eternally open. 

The ethical movement, as it has been called, is the result 
of various influences, and is an attempt to satisfy various 
needs. It grows out of felt wants, and gropes about to find 
a remedy. It is no solution, but a step towards a solution. 
Its most obvious source perhaps is found in what some people 
would rashly call the decline and fall of religious belief. But 
what is thus called by the comprehensive title of religious 
belief is only one part of the existing religious spirit and 
institution, and perhaps not its most central or religious part. 
What has fallen or is falling is not that central spirit of 
religion which we found described as conscientiousness, de 
votion, reverence, loyalty, fidelity, enthusiasm, and heroism. 


What has fallen is not that trust in the world order, that 
faithfulness unto death, that joy in well-doing, that cheer 
fulness of good conscience, which made obedience no burden, 
and service a delight. These things, it may be said, are now 
seldom seen : but so, it may be answered, was it always, 
may be added perhaps that they are oftener to be seen for 
those who have the eye to detect them than our cheap cynicism 


What has changed lies in another part of the religious 
system. What has fallen, or rather what has become un 
certain and suspect, is the historical and metaphysical dogmas, 
the cosmic theory, which have been knit up with religion. 
In the history of the Christian Church in a way which 
I endeavoured in my last year s course of lectures to trace- 
there grew up slowly and naturally a creed, a body or group 
of articles, partly historical, partly philosophical, in which 
an effort was made to express the fundamental Christian 
conception of what man was, is, and would be; what God 
is, how the world is related to God and to man; in other 
words, to furnish a scheme of beliefs about life and death, 
duty and reward, which should answer all demands that 
legitimate curiosity on man s part could make. By those 
who formulated this body of doctrine, these articles of faith, 
it was believed that their labours and decisions only codified 
and defined what originally, in some exceptionally favoured 
epoch of history and in some peculiarly holy land, had been 
given forth with an authority more than human, and from 
a source veritably divine. In some way though precisely 
how it happened, an unanalytical age barely presumed to 
inquire God had communicated directly with men and given 
them a message, in which the true purpose of existence was 
revealed, and the means indicated by which the full fruition 
of existence for man might be realized. That message was, 
as it were, a bequest consigned to a trust, left in charge of 
a community who, walking by the light of the revelation, 


maintained it intact in their treasury-archives as a funda 
mental document, a title deed to the inheritance. That 
document is of course the sacred Scripture. But while 
maintaining- the deed intact and seeing- to the training of 
a select body, the so-called clergy,, which should be able to 
read and interpret it, the main function which the Church 
claimed as her abiding work was to celebrate, i. e. to repeat 
and realize, in symbolic ceremony, the perpetual meaning of 
the said message. A system of rites, a series of sacramental 
observances, carried out in all departments of life the purport 
of the fundamental conception of life and duty. The aim of 
the Church was to make each individual feel and perceive 
for himself that here and now the meaning of the everlasting 
Gospel was enacted and realized. A symbolic ceremony was 
by active participation of the celebrant the sign of an inward 
process. Day by day, year by year, in appointed cycle, the 
Church re-enacted the deed once done, the life once lived and 
the death once died, not in vain repetition or impious travesty 
of the accomplished fact, but in order to enforce by sensible 
image the eternal and universal virtue of the truth, of the 
law of life, the way to life which is true life, or, as the phrase 
is, life eternal. If it be said that this is but opus operatum 
operari, it might be replied : Even so, always, what God may 
be said to do once for all, man, the child of time, can only 
equal by eternal repetition. 

But with the Reformation, which was also and most 
obviously a Revolt, a new view of the Church s duty emerged. 
It was supposed, not without reason, that the Church under 
took to do by her own authority what had been done once 
and for all in a remote past. Not content to occupy till 
He came who should restore all things, the Church, it was 
said, had usurped the absent ruler s place, and claimed to rule 
by right of her own, as if her dominion were irresponsible 
and not merely vicarious. She was accordingly thrust aside 
as illegitimately intervening between the soul and its God. 


The whole ritual was pronounced to be a work of idolatry. 
And it was reasserted that not the ceremonial was the 
essential, but the inward spiritual change which the cere 
monial typified. And if, indeed, the Church had so stepped in 
between, if she had assumed a mediatorial function between 
man and God, so far the change made was to be justified. 
If, on the other hand, the Church had only acted in its 
organic capacity as a whole, to guide and help the faint 
efforts of its weaker members, the change was less excusable. 
If the Church had meant to teach that not the temporary 
event but its real significance was the essence of true religion, 
if her symbolism was merely the means of making the dogma 
approach the apprehension of ignorant minds, then who shall 
say the Church was wholly wrong ? 

Such in barest outline is the quarrel between Catholicism 
and Protestantism. It is time perhaps to realize that, like 
all violent changes, the Reformation only helped progress 
by accentuating the fundamental issues involved in religious 
life, as a life in the world. It did not answer the questions 
it raised, and it imported a new bitterness into all attempts 
to answer them. At any rate, what happened was that the 
documentary evidence of Scripture came to be looked upon 
as all important. The historical record took the place of the 
Church. The title deed became more important than the 
estate. Nominally at least, the individual was encouraged 
to regard the document as a private promissory note, which 
he could use by the light of his own soul, or by a light 
privately vouchsafed, without regard to the community. It 
was not long indeed before the right of private interpretation 
was claimed. Protestantism gradually and perhaps inevitably 
came to assert that the whole truth, the whole message 
of God to man, was contained in the Testament/ There 
each, even the cottager at her own door, could read clear 
her title to a mansion in the skies. But the fact, which 
remained unchanged by any formal declaration of indepen- 


dence, was that the interpretation,, which fifteen centuries 
had helped to consolidate, remained in its main features 
dominant over those who renounced allegiance to the Pope 
at Rome. The quarrel had in the first instance touched 
only on the machinery. Like all quarrels, indeed, it induced 
a spirit of suspicion which surmised evil everywhere. But, 
in the deeper regions of belief, the old scheme still remained 
in essentials unaltered as the theory of true life. 

And, practically, in all the gamut of Protestantism down 
to Congregationalism, and if there be ranges beyond it, the 
individual never came merely and simply in contact with 
the revelation. He might see with old lights or with new 
lights/ but always he saw the truth revealed in Scripture 
through some common light, a light burning in a community, 
however narrow might be the limits he assigned it. When 
he sought toleration, it was often because he wanted to 
tyrannize in a body after his own mind. With an excusable 
inconsistency Protestantism accepted in the main, though 
with slight reservation and corrections, the doctrinal system 
which the efforts of theologians in council had wrought out 
of the data of the original documents. 

Now in the course of last year s lectures I attempted to 
show that it is a delusion to suppose that these doctrinal 
systems are merely the pure colourless statement in logical 
form of God-given truth. In all cases they are a synthesis, 
a compound product, due to a reflection on the data of 
Christianity, which was guided in the main by ideas derived 
from Greek philosophy. They are a mixture of good metal 
and other less worthy elements. And when I thus express 
it, I do not mean that the dividing line between these 
elements lies at the boards of the Bible. The line of dis 
tinction is harder to draw than that. The tares lie mixed 
with the wheat even within the sacred precincts; and the 
separation of false from true is not to be made by simply 
returning to a given tradition of the past, but in working 


and waiting for what is called the < end of the world/ the 
revelation of the sons of God. These theological structures 
were the result of attempts to rationalize the faith and the 
articles of belief it embraces, and out of them to form a 
system of doctrine. But such a system could not be final ; 
the doctrine must grow, i. e. it must be altered and enlarged. 

Since the Reformation dogmatic theology in the older 
sense could make no advances. And why? It was then 
asserted that the real theology lay in the limited words and 
scope of the Scriptures, and that the creative process of 
religion had been restricted to the space of a few years. Hence 
the naive process by which the early Church built up theology, 
seeking to give to religion and science, to faith and art, 
a unity of scheme and idea, was henceforth condemned as 
unscriptural and illegitimate. All that could be done was 
to set the same old material in a slightly different light : 
but to add to it was impossible. You see the results in the 
endless series of German Dogmatics. A narrower view of 
the "position was to reject all theology or interpretation and 
cling to the Scriptures alone. Hold to them, and you will 
be safe. 

But this standpoint is untenable, (i) The private inter 
pretation of the individual no less than that of the Church 
involves the application of ideas of human and social origin. 
Private theology is liable to all the additional recklessness of in 
dividual judgement. For individual judgement is what ? The 
judgement of one biassed by an opinion due to surroundings, 
to instruction, habit, and all the various mixture of ignorance 
and knowledge. Always it is the product of class influences ; 
its roots lie outside its apparent source, it is the work of 
many causes, necessitated on all hands; and yet it comes 
forward with the claim of freedom and independence. Wir 
freie Geister, says Nietzsche. But who gave us Geisf- and 
Fretieit? (2) The title-deeds themselves are subjected to 
criticism. This applies to Catholic as well as Protestant 


theology, so far as it is founded upon Scripture. Yet 
Catholicism has still the living- and actual faith and practice 
of an abiding body to fall back upon. It has never com 
pletely pinned its faith to history and a limited tradition. 
It has built on the universal tradition of all ages,, i. e. really 
on the essential humanity or rationality of its doctrines. 

What was the crowning merit of Catholicism ? The very 
thing which many a modern, accustomed to identify it with 
the Inquisition and the Society of Jesus, or perhaps with 
a caricature even of these, would probably deny to it. That 
is, that in a rough and imperfect way the Church regarded 
itself as a central and guiding principle of life, to which 
indeed all other things were but ancillary ; but, just for that 
reason, conceived it as a duty to give to each of them a place 
and a function within itself. Hence science, art, social life, 
political union, grew up as integral parts of its structure. 
The unity, perhaps, was somewhat roughly compacted : and 
it only held out against criticism so long as progress was slow 
or imperceptible. But still, as Dante shows us, the synthesis 
of life was there. Already, however, in the Cinquecento the 
Renaissance indicates that disease has set in for the organism ; 
that disease which consists in the too unequal growth of the 
several members. And soon the Reformation comes to make 
a deep rent in the one body of spiritual life. It breaks up the 
unity of art, science, morality, and religion. And it does so, 
though with characteristic variations in either case, both for 
the Reformed Church and for the Church of the Council 
of Trent. 

But, on the other hand, science in the mean time has 
been setting itself up side by side with religion, taking 
religion in the narrow sense. That is, a view of the world^s 
meaning and drift has been slowly growing up, parallel with 
and partly antagonistic to the strictly religious view. The 
latter has no doubt the advantage of being a more closely 
wrought, complete coat of mail. But it is antiquated. The 


new view is growing, fragmentary, progressive, and therefore 
incomplete. It is forming from different sources, by slow 
processes of natural growth, here a little and there a little, 
though it still remains the property of a few and are by them 
known only in parts. It is chaotic, assertive, and self-con 
tradictory ] . 

1 At this point the manuscript abruptly stops. In the three following 
lectures Professor Wallace examined the influence of modern science and 
literature in changing our ideas of religion. The manuscript begins again 
in the sixth lecture with an examination of Mr. Balfour s Foundations 
of Belief, and is continuous to the end of the course. 



THE title of Mr. Balfour s book promises to lay bare the 
Foundations of Belief/ and to delineate, and if possible 
to recommend a particular way of looking at the world- 
problems a way which may be briefly styled the theological, 
perhaps even the Christian. The theme of the book is less 
purely theoretic, and more polemical than its title suggests. 
It is in the main an examination and an indictment of a 
modern creed, to which the critic has given the name of 
Naturalism, and which is, by definition, the negation of all 
theology. The book falls into four parts. In the first 
part there is an exposition of some consequences/ which in 
Mr. Balfour s judgement follow from the naturalistic creed, 
certain changes, which its uncompromising acceptance would 
involve, in our estimate of the principles we call ethical, 
aesthetical, and logical or intellectual : in other words, this 
part seeks to show that the naturalistic standpoint, if 
thoroughly adopted, would in the long run dry up and 
cause to wither away every belief in the paramountcy of 
righteousness and beauty and reason 1 . 

Naturalism, it is therefore concluded, is practically insuffi 
cient. The second part, under the title of Some Reasons for 

1 The book, perhaps by an oversight, describes this part as Some 
Consequences of Belief ; it really treats of Presumable Consequences 
of the Naturalistic Creed. 


Belief, carries us to a point of outlook from which we can, at 
a proper distance, survey the philosophers, the men of sound 
common sense, and the professional theologians, at their work 
of providing- a rationale for a, or their, or Uie creed. First of 
all and that from respect to their formidable following - 
come the Naturalistic Empiricists. By that name is meant 
those who, in the first place, attempt to provide a theory 
which may show on what the certainty and stability of the 
sciences rest, a task in which they have failed ( such/ remarks 
Mr. Balfour, is after all the common lot of philosophies ) ; 
and who, in the second place, disguising- or ignoring their 
failure, have, under cover of the successes of the sciences 
which they profess to explain, contrived to foist upon the 
blatant part of the world a theory of life and of all reality, 
which is no necessary concomitant or part of genuine science, 
and which at once fails to satisfy the conscience, and violates 
the coherence of reason. In a second rank, as befits their scanty 
numbers, and their foreign origin (for their utterances, made 
English out of German, are such no ordinary Englishman 
will consent to assimilate ), come the Idealists. Very remote, 
indeed, from ordinary modes of expression/ the doctrines of 
these Idealists/ or, as they are often doubly dubbed in the 
text, Transcendental Idealists/ are for the general reader s 
sake veiled in a chapter in smaller type, w r hich he is recom 
mended to omit. For the present it need only be said that 
under this head are weighed and found wanting certain views, 
more or less attachable to Kant and T. H. Green; the net result 
of the criticism being that these views have their natural 
outcome in Solipsism, the theory that in the infinite variety 
of the universe there is room for but one knowing subject, 
and that for each one of us severally this subject is "him 
self. 1 " Such a conclusion, so obviously inconsistent with 
science, morality, and common sense, seems indeed to justify 
the place given to < transcendental idealism on Mr. Balfour s 
index expurgatorim. Behind these Metaphysicians who are 


poets of the abstract and supersensible, but to be sure, poets 
with a difference (for it cannot often be said that the product 
of their labours is a thing 1 of beauty ), come as third line of 
array, the troop of Rationalists. These, otherwise known as 
champions of common sense or enlightenment, are not, as such, 
philosophers: they, indeed, ignore, if they do not despise, 
metaphysics. They judge as men of the world, and test 
every belief by one touchstone : they ask, of every article 
of any creed, does it square with the view of the universe 
based exclusively upon the prevalent mode of interpreting 
sense-perception ? Rationalism, in short, is the method 
which, in an age where the physical sciences have a pre 
ponderating eclat, inevitably leads to Naturalism. It is 
1 Naturalism in embryo/ And its right to the name 
Rationalism is based on its carrying out at least that 
principal function of reason, which is to smooth away con 
tradiction, to remove inconsistencies. Lastly, as a fourth 
group, with its own attitude to the problem of belief, comes 
the band labelled Rationalist Orthodoxy/ Here muster 
the Natural Theologians, who make theology c a mere annex 
or appendix to science, a mere footnote to history ; or who, 
in other words, profess, by an extension of physical methods 
and the evidence of historical fact, to read God s word in the 
rocks, in the struggles of animated life, and in the course of 
civilization. The doom of Natural Theology is written : it 
has appealed to natural science, but it is not by the method of 
science that it can c break out of the naturalistic prison-house/ 
The third part propounds Some Causes of Belief/ It 
supposes us to take the position of an observer from another 
planet who, in a spirit of detached curiosity/ surveys beliefs 
from the outside, so as to find out the place they occupy in 
the natural history of the earth and its inhabitants. The 
task of this observer is, it may be suggested, by no means 
easy, not to say impossible : but let that pass. With 
a penetrative power such as archangel cannot match, he sees 


where it exists (in certain vital forms) the correspondence of 
neural change and psychic event: he sees the beliefs of external 
things with their order in time and place forming in the indi 
vidual mind. But he soon discovers that other influences than 
those of the physiological structure of the individual man are 
at work in forming the individual s creed. Man s beliefs are 
not all on one level : they rise in a kind of hierarchy. And to 
explain such of them as are connected with the higher scientific, 
social and spiritual life of the race, there is needed something 
more than physiological structure : an appropriate environment 
is required. In that environment one group of causes influ 
encing these higher beliefs is specially selected for notice. 
This group is named briefly Authority. To fix its place and 
function, according to Mr. Balfour s estimate of it, we need 
only note that it is styled the rival and opponent of reason. 
It stands for that group of non-rational causes, moral, social, 
and educational, which produces its results by psychic processes 
other than reasoning/ To Authority we owe the order and 
stability of the moral world : by it the efforts of reason to 
rationalize are coerced to a fore-ordained issue : throughout 
the whole course of history its part in producing belief is 
immense, inevitable, and, on the whole, beneficent: it is 
through it that are generated psychological climates/ 
i.e. general and irresistible habits of belief of which reason 
is but the dupe or the captive. Even rationalism itself 
rules those whom it rules, not by its reasonableness, but as 
a mood and a fashion of the set, the age, or the place. 
Political loyalty is one of the most valuable products of 
authority. The believer, it is true, will often attempt by 
reason to justify his faith ; and in the causes which, as 
a matter of fact, have generated it, he will profess to discover 
reasons which legitimate it. But in so doing, he is the victim 
of an illusion which he would be the first to condemn in others. 
It is from Authority that Reason itself draws its most im 
portant premises/ It is Authority rather than Reason to 


which in the main we owe not religion only, but ethics and 
polities ; and not these only, but the essential elements of 
the premises of science, and the foundations and the super 
structure of social life. And, on the other side, we are 
reminded, that reasoning- is a force most apt to divide and 

The fourth part offers Suggestions towards a Provisional 
Philosophy/ i. e. towards the unification of all belief into an 
ordered whole, compacted into one coherent structure under 
the stress of reason/ Of these various and heterogeneous 
beliefs, certain, viz. those about the world of phenomena, the 
so-called material world, possess a peculiar prominence ; for 
they seem inevitable and universal to a degree to which no 
others can lay claim. But from the view of reflective reason 
this pre-eminence is irrelevant/ The omnipresence of the 
material world in our habitual moods is the product of an 
irrational coercion ; it is forced upon us by the elementary 
necessities of life, bred from infancy into our very flesh and 
bone. The universality and necessity of our beliefs in the 
reality of the material world cannot, therefore, confer on these 
beliefs superiority of rank or dignity. The needs which a 
scheme of belief must reasonably satisfy are not merely those 
which we share with our brute progenitors/ It is on this 
gradation of beliefs that the whole question hinges. The 
postulate underlying all beliefs about e phenomena/ as well 
as about things other than what are ordinarily called phe 
nomena, is a harmony between our inner selves and the 
universe of which we form a part ; a correspondence not 
partial, but complete, between our essential selves and the 
eternal reality of things. It is the assumption that the 
human consciousness in its fundamental character, its essential 
requirements, strikes a note which is answered in complex 
harmony by the deepest heart in the ordered frame of the 

At this point Mr. Balfour interpolates some remarks on the 


relation between beliefs and formulas especially in theology. 
There, as he puts it, < the explanation and the thing explained 
are mutually dependent/ The abandonment of a theory 
which formulates a religious experience often carries with it, 
to popular apprehension, the negation of the fact on which 
it is based. It is as if gravitation would cease to act, should 
the gravitation theory be shaken. But there is another point 
which gives a special character to the theological formula. 
That formula is not merely a statement of theoretical agree 
ment : it is the index and the support of the unity of an 
associated organization. Hence an alteration in the creed 
tends to draw with it a revolution in the corporate life. 
And even while the formula remains to outward appearance 
the same, its inner meaning is almost certainly undergoing 
a continuous and hardly perceptible change. The words of it 
no longer are answered in those who repeat it by the 
thoughts which they once awakened. And in any case the 
thoughts themselves are, at the best, but inadequate repre 
sentations and expressions of the one all-embracing reality, 
be that reality in the last resort what it may. What kind 
of a universe/ cries Mr. Balfour, would that be which we 
could understand ? It may be exaggeration to say that the 
very absurdity and impossibility of a dogma are the best 
witness to its truth ; but at any rate an excess of simplicity 
in a theory is always a good ground for preliminary 

These distinctions the distinction between the two functions 
of formulas as expositions of doctrine and as a basis for common 
action, and again the distinction between the formal precision 
of formulas as modes of expression, and the material reality 
of the belief they shadow forth may serve to moderate our 
demands upon formulas and our criticism on their imperfec 
tions. They suggest how difficult it is to determine that 
element in doctrine or dogma or belief which may be truly 
styled immutable, which amid all variations of formula and 


explanation may be regarded as the ark of truth, the veritas 
vere catJiolica enshrined and hidden in formulas. What these 
immutable doctrines are, Mr. Balfour does not take upon 
himself to say. But that there are such propositions, charged 
no doubt in course of time and progress of knowledge with 
richer and richer content, c propositions about the real world 
capable of ministering unchanged for indefinite periods to the 
uses of Mankind/ inalienable KriJ/xara es ad, is what he is 
concerned to asseverate. 

The fourth chapter of this part is of the nature of an 
argumentnm ad Jiommem. It is addressed to those who, while 
ready enough to admit or insist upon the radical inadequacy 
of all theological formulae, are under the fixed impression 
that scientific statements bring us face to face with supreme 
reality and touch the very foundation of things. By a few 
pertinent questions, e. g. as to what is a l thing/ and by some 
deeper probing of Mr. Spencer s admissions as to ultimate 
scientific ideas/ Mr. Balfour urges the inference that, if we 
cannot clearly make out even what is a thing/ it is not 
wonderful that we should come short in our knowledge of 
God ; and that, if the basis of physical uniformity is admitted 
to be a puzzle, some obscurity is not a wholly intolerable 
offence in theories about the basis of moral law. 

Science cannot solve all riddles. It cannot, as represented 
by its theoretical exponents, even justify its own premises. 
But it has its place. It is not, indeed, as Naturalism sup 
poses, the possessor and standard of all truth and reality, but 
it is a province and an important one, co-operating with 
others in the revelation of the one reality. These provinces, 
physical science, ethics, aesthetics and theology, are (each in 
its measure and kind) ( the expression of a reality beyond our 
reach, the half-seen vision of transcendent truth ; and the 
problem of philosophy is (with all its powers, be they what 
they may) to harmonize the detached hints and isolated 
fragments in which alone Reality comes into relation to us/ 


We have, however, not done with Naturalism/ It has to 
sustain another and a closer assault. The early chapters 
showed how utterly insufficient was its explanation of morality 
and beauty to justify the place these hitherto have held in 
the scheme of life. But, at the present stage, the point is. 
that Naturalism is inconsistent with the very implication 
or presupposition of knowledge itself. If Naturalism is to be 
our ultimate creed, science or knowledge is a mere accident in 
the course of evolution,, a chance product in the development 
of matter,, with no claim, or at least no right, to be judged as 
true or false. No doubt, if the ordinary assumptions of 
Evolutionism are correct, knowledge/ since it actually exists, 
(only how can it be entitled to the implications of the term 
knowledge?) must have been advantageous to its possessors, 
a useful weapon in the war of world-evolution. But the rank 
of a critic of life or a theorist of ultimate truth it must sur 
render : for these, by its naturalistic genesis, it possesses no 

Only on one hypothesis can we emerge from these abysses. 
And that hypothesis is that, above and embracing us and the 
world, there is Being, Reality, through whom it is intelligible 
and we are intelligent. And if it be said that we cannot form 
any conception of how this one reality, this transcendently 
true, stands to us and the world how it, so to say, interferes 
in things the retort is easy. No more can we tell how soul 
acts on matter or matter on soul. Every self is in its turn 
a creator in the world, endowed with a creative faculty which, 
from the purely naturalistic point of view, is inexplicable. 
Nor merely from the naturalistic point of view. Mr. Balfour 
equally on his own part acquiesces in f the existence of an 
unsolved difficulty/ The problem how man can be an agent, 
in tautological phrase, a free agent, is a real difficulty in 
psychology : but it is certainly not less intractable there than 
it is in theology. 

Science then cannot maintain its claim to be true, to be 


knowledge of reality, without postulating the idea of some 
thing not less real, which is the harmony of mind and the 
world; or, if we may borrow the language of another 
philosophy, the identity (or unity) of subject and object. 
It does not of course follow that this quasi-scientific Deity 
is the God of religion. Yet compatible or connected the 
idea in both departments must be, if the problem of philo 
sophy is to be solved, if science and religion are to be co 

The incompatibility between the two departments is sup 
posed to show itself most acutely in regard to the question 
of Miracles. These are understood to be at variance with 
the scientific principle of the Uniformity of Nature. Here 
Mr. Balfour, retracing the ground of his former book, urges 
that the uniformity of Nature is a fine-sounding but some 
what nebulous phrase, and that laws are not more than 
abstractions formed for scientific purposes. He urges, what 
is more obvious, that the modern definition of a miracle, if 
definition that may be called which practically negatives the 
existence of the definiendum, is entirely foreign to the epoch 
of organic religious life, and implies a division between the 
natural and something else, perhaps spiritual, which is no 
less strange to the religious consciousness. Nor is it possible 
to lay down canons generally acceptable as to what con 
stitutes a wonder : for these can only be based on a prior 
determination of the whole meaning and scope of things, and 
that ex J/ypothesi is not in existence. 

If again a miracle be said to imply the ( special action of 
God/ a special providence, or, in general, a preferential 
exercise of divine power, it may be noted that such pre 
ferential action seems an almost invariable presupposition 
of religion, and not a mode confined to special times or places. 
If so, at what point can we draw the limit to the range of its 
operation ? And, on the other side, with what right dare we 
represent the universal God as entering into more intimate 




relation with one part of creation than another? We seem 
shut up in an antinomy between God as alike near to all, and 
as specially close to each. Nor is this a matter for religion 
alone. Ethics also seems to lose grip, if God is regarded as 
indifferent, or, still worse, as malevolent. An immoral or 
an indifferent God must in the long run render ethics 

It would seem then that, if we assume that God is, ethics 
and religion require us to believe or postulate that he enters 
into special relations with individuals and nations ; and 
evolution, as sometimes interpreted, suggests that the frame 
of things is an economy/ a work carrying out step by step 
a purpose, a striving towards something yet to be. 

In short, whereas, according to a naturalistic creed, scientific, 
ethical, and aesthetic beliefs are simply the products of 
phenomenal causes or sources, non-rational, non-ethical, non- 
aesthetic ; the truth rather is that we can only restore the 
balance between cause and effect, can only get a real reason 
for the alleged result, by postulating behind these non-rational 
and non-moral forces a rational and moral God. Nor is the 
beautiful in a position different from that of truth and morals. 
Beauty may be no objective fact, as the phrase has it : still, 
here too, we may and must believe that in the thrill of some 
deep emotion we have for an instant caught a far-off reflection 
of divine beauty/ Religion too ceases, on the same postulate, 
to be a mere psychological phenomenon of the naturalistically 
conceived individual. Mankind have almost always claimed 
for their beliefs about God that they were due to God : or, 
the cause of religion must be something adequate to the given 
effect. And, if that be so, the distinction between the sphere 
of the natural and the sphere of the supernatural must be 
broken down. The effort, by which the human soul rises and 
grows in wisdom, goodness, and truth, is unintelligible without 
a counter-process, the process by which God continually 
communicates himself to man. Unassisted reason is a fiction/ 


All progress is the product of two factors, a divine influence 
and a human effort. In other words, Inspiration (if the 
divine co-operation with humanity is to be so called) is 
limited to no age, to no country, to no people/ Let us not/ 
says Mr. Balfour, give colour to the opinion that God s 
assistance to mankind has been narrowed down to the sources, 
however unique, from which we immediately and consciously 
draw our own spiritual nourishment/ 

Can we then judge between the conflicting for conflicting 
in many, though not all or perhaps even most, ways they are 
can we judge between the conflicting claims of various 
religions to authority over the lives and consciences of men ? 
Or, putting the practical and immediate question which comes 
first to the occidental, by what criteria shall we determine the 
claim of Christianity to take precedence of a general Theism, 
which speaks of God only as the one supreme Reality or 
Transcendent Truth ? The criterion, says Mr. Balfour, is 
found in the degree in which a religion ministers to our 
ethical needs. What are these ethical needs ? They are the 
aspirations and ideals which inspire conduct ; they include, 
above all, harmony between the interests of the individual 
and those of the community/ And that harmony, urges 
Mr. Balfour, can be perfectly secured only by the complete 
correspondence between virtue and felicity in a future life. 
Above all, the fundamental ethical need is to keep entire the 
dignity of human nature, of man s essential self, as against 
the mere immensity of the material universe. In these latter 
times we search out God with eyes grown old in studying 
Nature, with minds fatigued by centuries of metaphysics, and 
imaginations glutted with material infinities/ Whether this 
be so, whether the causes of the practical atheism of the world 
are not to be rather sought in its petty cares and the deceit- 
fulness of riches, we need not discuss. At any rate, even if 
speculation by itself may discover that moral excellence is for 
ever incommensurable with material bigness (Mr. Balfour says 

6 3 


grandeur/ but th word is out of place ; < grandeur is always 
moral), ordinary mankind can only get an imaginative grasp 
of this truth by a history and a doctrine such as that of the 
Incarnation. Physical science, again, as she more and more 
reveals the immensity of the physical universe, makes us 
realize more and more the dependence of mind on physical 
organization and environment. And if speculative philosophy 
here too shows the account given by materialism to be at 
bottom inconsistent and meaningless, it needs a visible demon 
stration, an intuition of tin; faith-inspired imagination, such 
as the same doctrine of Christianity presents, to transform 
that speculative glimpse for the mass of mankind into a life- 
controlling and life-exalting dynamic. And, last but perhaps 
not least, if the problem of suffering calls for all the power 
of philosophy to explain its function in the great whole, 
Christianity, in its picture of a suffering God, ministers to 
one of our deepest ethical needs/ 

And, now, passing from the analysis of Mr. Balfour s 
contribution to philosophy, let us try to ascertain its value. 
Is it new, and is it true? And first, let us welcome his 
discovery of the function of philosophy. That function is to 
put together c under the stress of reason/ into one coherent 
structure/ the contributions which art and morality, science 
and religion, severally bring to the expression of the One 
Reality. It is to systematize and harmonize the various 
provinces and different aspects under which the Ik ing of 
Iking is known, felt, perceived, and surmised by us. In the 
long run, a double, divided truth, a truth in theology which 
is indifferent to a truth in science, is intolerable to humanity. 
The monistic, if that means the unificatory, instinct is irresis 
tible. To some, no doubt, the transcendent truth, the supreme 
reality, the infinite Personality, may have a more pleasing 
sound than has that pedantic term, the Absolute. If so, let 
them remember that the obnoxious term means neither more 
nor less than the others, so long as the others are kept at the 


height of their meaning*, and not used as a vehicle under 
which casual associations may be insinuated. 

Philosophy offers the great Eireni&on : a method of peace 
and reconciliation. If it is to be monistic, its monism must 
be one which leaves abundant room for difference, for dualism, 
for further even than dual opposition. Unity requires at 
least two, probably more, members of truth. It cannot 
sacrifice religion to science, or science to religion : nor, in its 
completeness, can it neglect even the rights of art. It is 
true that many will probably join Mr. Balfour in his view 
that it is forced and arbitrary to treat the artistic fancies of 
an insignificant fraction of the human race during a very brief 
period of its history as important elements in building up 
humanity and the spiritual world. They may, like him, 
think most schemes of metaphysical aesthetics very absurd, 
and hold that there is no natural punishment attached to 
bad taste/ Yet something may be said on the other hand 
for those who hold that the beliefs of the cultivated races as 
regards the place of art in life are only the more developed 
manifestations of a faith, efficient and living, as early as any 
traces of human life can be found : that the aesthetic theories 
of metaphysicians are after all only the systematized efforts 
to trace out and analyse that charm, which lights up the dull 
levels of life, and of which most of us, if human, have at 
times felt the power; and that bad taste carries with it 
inevitably a lowering of tone, a confusion of judgement, 
a perversion of aim, than which there can be no punishment 
more exemplary. But, whatever may be our estimate of the 
function of art in life and art, remember, is all that gives 
life its grace, its dignity, its form, and not a thing to be 
locked up and sometimes looked at in museums and galleries 
it is at any rate true that, to the English public, the con 
trasting views of life are those derived from religion, which 
in some dim way includes moral doctrine, and from physical 
science. That there are other sciences which deal with the 



inner life, i. e. the completer reality ; that political effort and 
ideal is the obverse and test of morality; and that national 
righteousness is that without which individual righteousness 
is a puny and diseased thing these are points which a few 
realize, and which many painfully surmise. For the most, 
however, the antithesis is set, simply and solely, between 
religion (or theology) and science. And because it is so set, 
without due regard to the environment or context, it is set 
falsely and foolishly. There have indeed been times when 
the conduct of the so-called theologian, in adjusting religion 
to scientific advances, has reminded one of Miss Matilda 
Jenkyns and her friend in protecting the colour of the new 
drawing-room carpet. The sun in its course blazed through 
and down on a strip of the Brussels, and the ladies spread 
newspapers to shelter it from the withering ray. But as the 
sun gradually moved on and on, the newspapers had to be 
again and again taken up and placed on a fresh patch of 
light. It is certainly not so that Mr. Balfour understands 
the reconciliation. Each has its place. Science, such is his 
plea, can only do what it claims to do, i. e. c reveal reality in 
its special way, if it presupposes a theory of existence, very 
like that which in its ultimate premises constitutes the base 
of theology. But reconciliation thus acquired, through 
identity in fundamental principle, is far from interfering with 
a wholesome growth of either separately. As someone has 
said of its relations to theology, non adjutrix nisi libera, 
non libera nisi adjutrix philosophia/ In its labour/ says 
M. Sabatier, the human race builds an eternal cathedral 
of which the two main columns (colonnes maUresses) are 
science and the holy life (la vie sainte). They spring slowly 
from the soil, and rise parallel in the air. Amongst the 
workmen who labour at this divine work, some are dis 
couraged and fear the two columns may never meet and form 
the vaulted arch they dream of. Others, impatient, inflect 
the severe rectitude of the lines of the construction, but the 


false and apocryphal work they thus make, is self-ruined and 
self-demolished, because it violates the rigour of the mysterious 
plan of the invisible architect. The religious worker is 
humble : he guards himself against the impatience which 
makes us faithless, and the discouragement which makes us 
cowardly. He lives by faith, not by sight : he raises the two 
pillars of his inner life in obedience to the prescribed rules, 
knowing that his duty is not to make them arbitrarily con 
verge and join before the time, but to build them stone 
by stone, higher, straighter, more solid. Science is only 
positively served by those who with all strictness apply 
the laws of scientific research. Similarly, we advance in 
the moral life by an undeviating obedience to the ideal law 
of conscience 1 . 

Mr. Balfour therefore has risen to that idea of philosophy 
to which Schelling and Hegel, following out the sugges 
tions of Kant, have given its characteristic modern form, 
but which has really been the underlying aim of all the 
higher modern, as it was in a great measure, of ancient 
speculation. We can hardly indeed apply to Mr. Balfour 
what the aged German poet, Fr. Riickert, has dared to 
forebode (1864) 

Was Kant hat angebahnet, 
Was Schelling vorgeahnet, 
Was Hegel ausgeschliffen 
Zu glanzenden Begriffen, 
Bis es ward ausgepfift en, 
Es wird aus der Veraltung 
Gewinnen Neugestaltung 
In hOherer Entfaltung. 

That prophecy still awaits its fulfilment, when it shall come : 
yet before it comes, it is necessary that the doctrine shall 
sink as a simple rudimentary form into the common stock of 
culture. As such, its appearance in a work like Mr. Balfour s 
is a welcome symptom, that the general standpoint of 

1 A. Sabatier : Esquisse d une philosophic de la religion. 


philosophy is finding 1 its way to the heart of the nation, 
despite the uncouth tongue in which its oracles are written. 
But, before this very general idea can be the principle or the 
foundation of beliefs, it must explicate itself into something 
less indefinite and scanty. It is not enough to say that four, 
or it may be more, provinces must combine, that their several 
glimpses of reality must be reconciled. A good deal remains 
to be done before the terms of union are to be defined. Are 
the provinces or faculties co-ordinate? Are they mutually 
corrective and complementary ? What are their several 
tasks ? To answer these questions is to indicate the founda 
tion of belief: and in common phraseology it is to write 
a philosophy. A provisional philosophy will not answer the 
purpose. Provisional, of course, every philosophy is, in 
a sense : each exists only until there come a better to super 
sede it. But it must not build, on that account, a mere 
shell, perfunctorily : it must do its work with all its heart, 
and soul, and strength, as if it built its house for eternity. 

Of all this positive work, to which contributions have been 
made by many, here and elsewhere, after Kant had mainly 
concerned himself with the critical and negative task, 
Mr. Balfour does next to none. He simply does for the 
English public what Kant had already done, but, according 
to him, had not by his interpreters and commentators suc 
ceeded in teaching to the average insular mind. Whether 
there are not more who have ceased to bow the knee to the 
Baalim of Naturalism than Mr. Balfour suspects, is a question 
we need not discuss. Yet to have impressed upon the public 
that philosophy is the way to a complete theology not, we 
need hardly say, to religion is a service which the religious 
bigot, if such there be, may rate less than lightly, but which 
most other people can only welcome. Our thanks would 
have been less mixed, if Mr. Balfour had not, to generalize his 
own confession, < found it easier to satisfy himself of the 
insufficiency . . . than of the absolute sufficiency, or any of 


the schemes by which it has been sought to complete or 
modify Naturalism/ That is the weakness of a man who 
possesses considerable faculty of dialectic and enjoys the zest 
of debate, and whose instinct is to look for weak points, 
pulling a complex theory to pieces by piece-meal attack. It 
is no doubt the accredited method of parliamentary warfare,, 
but even there its results are hardly so pleasing or useful as 
to lead us to desire its extension to the more serious problem 
of philosophy. 

When Mr. Balfour again urges that ethics, aesthetic and 
science, are only retainable in their truth, beauty and 
righteousness, on the hypothesis that behind the phenomenal 
process of sensation and movement there is an encompassing 
( reality/ if that is to be the word for the presence and power 
of the Idea, we can only say that we are glad to see that the 
fundamental dogma of Platonism still serves to the rest-and- 
shelter-seeking soul as the shadow of a great rock in a weary 
land. Plato too had to fight with the champions of what 
Mr. Balfour has called Naturalism. To them the whole 
fabric of moral, aesthetic, and spiritual ideas was a matter 
of physical history : thought was a fact of brain-movement, 
and beauty a growth of associations, generated out of what 
was utterly without aesthetic quality. The naturalistic- 
theory of life was as complete, if not as detailed, in Athens in 
400 B. c. as it is to-day. And against that theory Plato lays 
down his axiom that it is by the beautiful that things 
beautiful become beautiful/ and that knowledge would not 
have been at all, had not things and perceiver been at one in 
the transcendent truth/ facKfiva TOV oyros, which is, in our 
modern phrase, at once real and ideal, and so above either 
alone. In other words, you cannot completely explain the 
higher form by the lower elements ; a true synthetic unity 
is not a mere product or sum of its elements : it is unique ; 
and they are, at best, its condition, or in an older phraseology, 
its material, but not its final or formal, cause. To use words 


like sum or product, is simply to ignore a principle of organiza 
tion, a law of crystallization, which rules and manipulates its 
constituents. You trace, scientifically, the gradual evolution 
of form from form : but, behind the facts and results, is the 
agent and the life, the idea in its efficiency, the substance 
of Spinoza, the Absolute of Mr. Bradley, the Reality of 
Mr. Balfour, infinite, ever-new, ever-creative ; never a mere 
putter together of the old, but with the old materials, by 
a cosmic and divine phantasy, creating the new. Its 
syntheses are more than syntheses : they are at each stage 
a new birth : a fresh revelation of the infinite spirit of life, 
the life of life, the cause of causes. Yes, here too, we miss 
a deeper view. The religious mind, as well as the scientific 
and the aesthetic and the moral mind, each are jealous of 
their own : the reality behind science stands awful and grim 
in presence of the ideal of art, the God of religion : and this 
introduction to theology does little to bring them together. 
When Mr. Balfour points out that, behind all the variety 
of formula, and all the imperfection of dogma, there are 
immutable doctrines, nourished on which men have lived 
and died in hope, faith, and love, the philosophy which I have 
learned from is agreed. But it would hardly be satisfied 
with the mere confession of an unknown God. That is 
a hopeless search for God and reality, which is seeking him 
in an ever receding reality behind and beyond phenomena. 
Phenomena too are of God, nay, in their place and function, 
they are the visible and sensible body of God. Sensible 
matter too is part of the immutable doctrines. It is not, as 
Mr. Balfour seemed to say, a mere irrelevancy that the 
material body, the material world, stands with a pre-eminent 
reality/ Far from it. Tta whole spiritual, the aesthetic, 
moral, religious life, needs the body ; and with a bodiless, 
a disembodied spirit, it ceases to have meaning, reality, and 
power. You have heard what Mr. Balfour has to say of the 
power of Christian dogma of Incarnation to fulfil our moral 


needs. To my mind the central value of the doctrine of the 
Incarnation is to teach that all men, as they live and are, 
are sons of God ; sons, some of them prodigal, and some 
conceitedly goody : but all, if they would but know it, and 
knowing, realize it, sons of God ; with the Godhead in spirit 
within them, suffering, enjoying with them, their bodies 
temples of the holy one who inhabiteth Eternity. The eternal 
reality is in it all : God is in it all : not, as Mr. Balfour 
seems to think, alone by himself, enjoying an unchanging 
beauty of which we can only catch glimpses, but with us and 
in us, suffering in us and with us, the captain of our salva 
tion, the firstfruits of many brothers. We, if I, a mere 
disciple, may speak for the great masters of those who know, 
take the Incarnation as no mere temporary fact, but as the 
eternal truth of human life and history. We can rise to the 
poet s words : Lady, I fain would tell how evermore thy soul 
I know not from thy body, nor thee from myself, neither our 
love from God. 

Not less is Philosophy in general agreed, that the true test 
of the truth of a religion is its capacity to satisfy our ethical 
or moral needs. It would, perhaps, hardly be content with 
a mere phrase, which is left open for interpretation by each 
private sentiment. Still less, perhaps, would it, like Mr. Kidd 
and Mr. Balfour, regard the consilience of individual and 
social interest as the only nameable moral need, or treat 
a future life, a vague word, as clenching the need. It would 
probably take a different view about the place of punishment, 
and it would certainly note that moral conceptions of the 
future life were the fruit of moral life. But it would in 
the main agree to accept Mr. Balfour s thesis. Only I think 
it would put it in a less restricted phrase. It would hold 
that we are primarily and essential beings who have to act, 
to be agents. We are, as it were, endowed with a problem, 
enriched with a task the task to live. It is only by slow 
degrees that we gather all that it means, that we see what 


we really and truly will. All experience, all science, all 
association, all suffering- and joy, show it more and more fully. 
But always it stands behind and before, above and within, 
a light to our feet. Plato called it the idea of good; the 
Gospel of St. John calls it < the light which lighteth every 
man that cometh into the world/ 





Ax interesting range of questions is opened out by what 
is said in Mr. Balfour s Foundations of Belief as to the nature 
and function of theological formulas, as to the respective 
place of Eeason and Authority in forming beliefs, and 
indeed as to the general scope of the two cognate habits of 
mind or attitudes of thought which have been styled 
Naturalism and Rationalism. 

Perhaps there are few things more noteworthy, and yet 
few things more neglected, in the study of the history of 
human thought, than the tendency to accentuate the points 
of partial difference and to ignore, as if taken for granted, 
the deep and broad bases of fundamental agreement. Each 

great philosopher an* Aristotle, say, succeeding a Plato 

builds in his turn upon the uncontested and accepted body 
of doctrine and belief which is common to him with his 
predecessors. For that very reason he says little about it. 
"W hat he lays stress upon and, to the careless reader, seems 
alone to think essential, are certain favourite ideas of his own, 
certain peculiarities of definition and detail, which are his 
peculiar work, and which pass into history as the essentials 
of Aristotelianism. So things seem from the outside. To 


a profounder study Aristotle is himself a Platonist, sharing 
the deepest convictions of Plato, but, like a true and perfect 
man who is never a mere imitator, carrying the germ out 
into the fulness and integrity of an individual system, without 
which discipleship is a sham and a snare. It is not so merely 
in philosophy. It is a general law that what counts at first 
sight is difference. When we measure our income and our 
resources, it is not wholly what we are and have that gives 
the habitual tone to our mind. What we see as ourselves in 
our mental vision, what we think others will estimate us at, 
is the differential amount between our estate, our endowments, 
and theirs. The nearer the fundamental equation of what 
we are and have with what others are and have, the more 
keenly do we set store by our petty prerogative, in that 
imagination of compared dignity which haunts us like a 
demon. It is not always his poverty that makes the poor 
man s hardship : it is as often the sense that he is poorer than 
others : poorer, above all, than others he would otherwise have 

We may apply these principles to the judgements which 
we have heard passed on Naturalism and Rationalism. An 
-ism is by its inmost being always in opposition. It marks 
a protest against a feature which is believed to be erroneous 
and injurious. As it thus emerges, it is no complete theory 
of the subject with which it is chiefly concerned. On the 
contrary it subsists only because it has tacitly taken over into 
itself, and accepted without question, the great bulk of the 
general creed or system against which it raised a partial 
objection. Utilitarianism e. g. protesting against what it 
considered an irrational, ascetic, or sentimental vice in the 
dominant formulation of ethical doctrine, still, in the first 
instance, accepted the general lines of moral order and pro 
gress. Socialism, again, as it first appeared, was no com 
prehensive theory of the ideals and methods of collective life, 
but chiefly a criticism of the chief evils of a disintegrating 


individualism and a suggestion of remedies. But it is easy to 
see that things cannot so remain. 

In the first place, a struggle inevitably arises between the 
old and the new. From some points of view the new is 
obviously at disadvantage. It is the theory of a partial 
point of view, and as it steps beyond its original limits, it 
is almost sure to fall into inconsistencies, and make mistakes 
in extending its principles. On the other hand, it is generally 
backed by an enthusiasm and eagerness, which is only inten 
sified by anything that suggests the superiority of strength 
that lies at the command of its opponent, the established 
authority. It is inclined to credit itself with all or most 
of the truth, and leave only force to its opponent. The older 
and larger body of doctrine, again, is apt to attach too much 
importance to formal and logical inconsistencies, and to forget 
that there may be much in the new formularies which those 
who hold them read, so to speak, between the lines, but do 
not think it needful to express. But in the struggle it is 
almost certain that each party will exaggerate its differences. 
Forgetting altogether the many points where it might well 
admit f he that is not against us is on our side/ each con 
centrates its view on those apparently cardinal issues, in 
which it can raise its battle-cry, ( he that is not with us is 
against us. 

Now the Rationalism, which we heard described as an 
embryo Naturalism, is under that historic title mainly a 
product of the eighteenth century. In its origin it was the 
continuation of that protest against the men and works of 
darkness, which Ulrich von Hutten waged by the side of 
Luther, the war against superstition, idolatry, obscurantism. 
But as a great authority reminds us, it is hard to pluck up 
the tares without destroying some good wheat. You cannot, 
i. e. the race of man cannot, draw a hard and fast line where 
the true worship of God gives place to superstitious idol- 
worship. It is not merely that good and evil grow so closely 


side by side : that were a minor difficulty : but in most of 
human life it is hard to say where good does not grow out of 
evil, and evil out of good. It is only the sword of God, 
which pierces to the dividing asunder the bone and the 
marrow, that can discern the secrets of life. A too ardent 
assault upon superstition may itself become a superstition, 
and a baleful one, for its champions. 

But for that fault it was not the Rationalist who was 
mainly or solely responsible. The least concession was 
refused to his claim for more light. He was commanded 
to bow reverently to the ever-revealing Church, or to the 
revealed Scripture. In the presence of these oracles reason 
must be dumb. There is a vulgar proverb to the effect that, 
if you ask for a silk gown, you may get a sleeve. As the 
Rationalist was given little, he naturally came to demand 
more. When it came to the time of Voltaire, the cry ficmsez 
I Lifdme, which originally only meant a demand to clear the 
temple of thieves and money changers, came to be the ominous 
threat of a clean sweep of all that Christianity held and holds 
most precious. Nor that alone. There were heard mutter- 
ings : Ni Dieu ni maitre : down with all absolute irrational 
authority, be it in realms secular or in realms sacred. And 
all this, just because the cry for light was gagged, because 
the stream of reason was stopped by a great dam piled ever 
higher, until the stream, gathering into itself the myriad 
impulses of human nature, high and low, became a wild flood 
that for a while swept all institutions into ruin. 

So it is with Naturalism. It in its origin was the protest, 
not against the supernatural in itself, but against a super 
natural conceived as arbitrary, incoherent and chaotic : it was 
the protest against the idle profanity which thinks it has 
explained an event, when it has said, with pious gesture, that 
it is the work of God, as if aught were not the work of 
God. Naturalism is not the antithesis of theology, as 
Mr. Balfour has assumed, though a vindictive theology has 


often pushed it into such an attitude : nor is it the assumption 
that the beggarly elements of sense-perception are enough to 
frame for us the picture of the world, though a foolish 
Spiritualism has often driven it into the arms of Materialism. 
Naturalism and Rationalism must not be judged solely by 
what they are at the worst, in the hands of sciolists and 
polemics ; they must be judged altogether, in their worst 
and their best, in the principles which at first gave them 
direction not less than in the course which through the 
intermixture of effects they have occasionally taken. It is 
an easy-going Rationalism, unworthy of the name, which 
thinks its only function is to knock off corners, and smooth 
inequalities. What/ cries Mr. Balfour, would be a world 
which we should understand : or, as I suppose, which we had 
thoroughly understood ? A world, clearly, without interest ; 
the den of listlessness and dumb despair : or rather the ice- 
age of humanity, when to be and not to be would for once be 
absolutely alike. But, on the other hand, what were a world 
which we did not understand, had not in any measure under 
stood ? A world full of fears rather than hopes : a perpetual 
uncertainty, a grisly mystery, which made darkness cover the 
earth, and gross darkness its peoples. The world which 
reason claims is one where she may go for ever on and never 
die : a world where nothing can be called utterly unknowable, 
though much may remain for ever unknown : a world where, 
as humanity accumulates more and more its intellectual and 
spiritual capital, we shall move about more and more freely, 
i. e. more and more wisely, as becomes those who are called to 
inherit the kingdom. The world which the genuine Naturalist 
desires is not different. It is a world of law : but in the ideal 
sense law in Nature is even as law in the social sphere. To 
the beginner in sociological study, laws are an aggregate of 
commands of a general character, set by somebody who can 
command to others, who will by some means and to some 
extent be constrained to obey. To the idealist you will find 


him in antiquity amongst the great Stoics of the middle 
period (as may be read in Cicero) to the idealist, law is one 
system,, one economy carried out in different grades, all 
mutually interdependent,, whereby the right working of each 
member of the community may be attained, whereby each 
may not only do his duty as past ordinances have appointed, 
but may find an outlook and a stimulus to conceive and 
execute ever fresh, ever higher codes of duty. 

So it is also with the world of scientific law. The older 
scientists looked upon laws as so many ascertained uniformities 
of sequences, regularities in the succession of cause and effect, 
which, as they grew more numerous, admitted of codification, 
and some degree of system. The net result of them was 
a hint to man in his practical endeavours, that certain things 
can be done, certain others cannot be done. The reign of law 
was thus a disguised reign of force : it seemed to consist of 
a network of checks spread over the whole structure of the 
universe, as so many barriers within which God, it might 
perhaps be said, had tied his own hands, as well as limited the 
possibilities of man. On the other hand, the idealist view 
which has always lurked at the heart of religious faith, though 
often strangely marred by foreign concretions looked at the 
future rather than the past, at what was to be, rather than 
what was. Put religiously, it subordinated the creational 
(taking that term in its narrower sense) idea of God to the 
providential. It looked at Nature as, not merely what was 
and is, but also as what will be. It regarded the universe 
(as Goethe has pictured it in that series of aphorisms which 
he drew up under the stimulus of Frau von Stein s charm) 
as at once Natura natnrans and Natura Natural a, as an 
organic community, an ideal, or as St. Paul might call it, 
a spiritual body, working by myriad ways to an end which 
only gradually reveals itself, and using methods or modes of 
operation, which in parts we can discern, and when discerned 
we call laws. The reign of law has here become, if not the 


reign of grace, at least the kingdom of the spirit. All its 
special laws are but fragments,, from time to time abstracted 
and isolated, which enter into the one unity of organization. 
Nor dare we set limits to the possibilities of that organization. 
If we exclude the old conception of miracle, we exclude equally 
the conception of inflexible rules to which God must bow. 
And if we could rise to the height of beatific vision, which 
is difficult, not to say impossible, we might, turning round 
Browning s words, say, All s law, but alPs love/ 

This is a long way from Mr. Balfour s Naturalism. But it 
has an equal right, nay, a far better right, to the name. It 
is the Naturalism that full-grown science seems more and 
more brought to adumbrate. Mr. Balfour, for reasons with 
which it is not necessary/ he says, to trouble the reader/ has 
selected the name Naturalism for what might equally have 
been styled Agnosticism, Positivism, or Empiricism. When 
reasons are concealed, it is improper perhaps to surmise them. 
And yet it hardly seems going beyond a legitimate inference 
to suggest that the name was chosen as a way to deal a more 
crushing blow. To assault Naturalism and Rationalism is to 
strike Nature and Reason : it is to support Supernaturalism, 
and the Materialism of authority. It looks a little like 
seeking to wound an opponent by an insult to his beloved. 

But, as old Socrates pulls himself up, and admits that when 
he saw his love Philosophy lightly dealt with, he spoke some 
what vehemently ; so here we may admit that after all 
Mr. Balfour does not mean it : it is only an incident in the 
polemical debate. 

To the superficial glance, the history of philosophy seems 
to be a mere succession of opinions, contradicting or con 
troverting opinions that have gone before, and to be in turn 
contradicted by opinions yet to come. On a deeper view this 
contradiction is a phenomenon like the supersession of the 
flower by the fruit. For the plant s life under all apparent 
incoherence is one process, continuous, incessant, in which 

H 2 


one plant soul creates for itself a body which is ever chang 
ing 1 , yet which in some sense ever remains identical with 
itself. So. reasoning 1 by analogy, the annals of philosophic 
failure need not unduly depress us. It is, says Mr. Balfour, 
the common lot of philosophies to fail. Even so to the 
rash judgement is every human life and the greater its 
scope and task, the more decidedly a failure. It comes 
with promise of peace and good will, and when it is over, 
it seems to have left a sword that pierces ever deeper 
and deeper into the heart of humanity. It bourgeons out 
with the fairest flowers of art and letters ; and yet, as the 
times roll on, these flowers seem to corrupt, till the air is 
too heavy and poisonous for men to breathe it and live. It 
founds a great and glorious empire in which social energies 
should find all room for their ameliorating play, conquering 
and to conquer; and the political grandeur is there only as it 
were to intensify and accelerate the ravages of the cancerous 
growths under the sleek and prosperous surface. It spreads the 
light of science ; and the chief use of the new weapons science 
prepares is to rend asunder the fabric of social well-beino- 

& * 

And yet it would be rashness, on the strength of these 
appearances, to pronounce a verdict on human life, on the 
efforts of science, art, religion, and law, which would echo 
the merely pessimistic cry as if failure were all. Thou 
fool/ says the strong-hearted apostle, that which thou thy 
self sowest is not quickened except it die, and that which 
thou sowest, thou sowest not the body which shall be, but 
a bare grain ; and God giveth it a body even as it pleased 
Him, and to each seed a body of its own/ Take this 
phenomenon of life by death and death to life, as it shows 
in our own inner and individual life. The resolution which 
(we often can hardly tell how) emerges into the light of 
rational volition, must, before it issues in outward act, plunge, 
first, into the warring mass of other impulses, which, awhile 
silent, as if they had yielded up the ground, only its existence 


stimulated into activity ; and then, as it reappears, altered 
and complicated from the struggle, it must again plunge 
into the seething mass of outside efforts, the surge and swell 
of the adjacent world, to re-issue with the body which the 
providence of nature and history has been pleased, we co 
operating, to give it. To us, the spectators of our own selves 
and of outward event, this drama, this Divina Commedia of 
human life, presents itself so. We have hardly formed our 
resolve, when we regret it : the voices of our other selves, 
of that manifold pack of half-formed personalities within us, 
none of which we dare honestly disown, are raised in protest 
against the usurping monarchy of our overt resolve. The 
democracy, or shall we call it the ochlocracy, of passion and 
appetite has to be heard and reckoned with ; and a struggle 
arises, of which the issue is a modification and enlargement, 
for better or for worse, of the original purpose. It is the 
same with the outward act. It never is exactly what we 
meant it, and as we meant it. We are disappointed and 
discouraged by the event : and often it seems as if, the 
higher and purer our aim had been, the greater had been 
the discomfiture in our achievement. What do these things 
teach us ? First, perhaps, that we must not judge what 
manner of men we are by the thoughts and resolves that 
come to the surface in our hours of clearest vision : that we are 
not the simple and straightforward units we fancy ourselves 
to be, but rather an undulating and varying unity of impulses 
and powers, growing slowly by effort and discipline into the 
unity of the perfect man. And secondly, that we, however 
original, personal, individual, or monadic we may be, are 
still units circling in, penetrated by, and fulfilled with, a 
larger social life, a common, it may be, national spirit, which 
is at once outside us and within us, at once containing us 
and contained by us, on which we depend, and through which 
we gain such independence as can ever be ours. 

It is a mistake, therefore, and a fateful one, to isolate the 



phenomena of life from their context. Fa? sits in uno, says 
a vulgar adage, fa fats in omnibus. One error entails another, 
one lie involves a second, to try to cover it. So undoubtedly 
it in part is : and so it would for ever be, if life and humanity 
were what some people call logical, if pedantic consistency 
were the rule. But the world is not in that sense of the 
term logical or reasonable : though in a larger sense, and 
with a more generous scope, it may still be called logical and 
reasonable. To be reasonable is, in the full sense of the 
term, to be human : it is to cling to and follow after unity, 
but not always to ensure mere consistency. The function 
of reason is to seek totality, to be comprehensive. It is more 
than abstract intelligence ; it is the faculty of ideals,, the faculty 
that dreams of and tries, of course never quite successfully, 
and let us add, never without some success, to give com 
pleteness, system, rounded perfection to our lives. It soars 
beyond science, because it springs from an impulse larger 
than that which brings science to birth. It has been said 
to be the purpose of science to find a theory of nature. That 
is a scope which can only be claimed by science, if we 
give to science a very wide meaning. Science, as such, 
in its actual performance, has a humbler scope, a more 
practical and more practicable aim. And this aim is, 
within certain ranges approximately and roughly marked off, 
under certain conventions, and with certain hypotheses which 
work, i. e. admit of experimental treatment and confirma 
tionto constitute a system of coherent relations, of un variable 
sequences and unconditional causality. For science, properly 
speaking, there is no Nature : Nature is to science a poetic, 
artistic, or metaphysical word. A science deals with a group 
of phenomena, roughly demarcated by common sense, and 
seeks to organize it into a system of coherent relations; 
which, it may be added in case some one may dream that 
you can have relations by themselves include things related. 
Such, at least, is the scope of all the positive sciences. 


The scope of ideal science or philosophy is quite other. In 
common talk, indeed , it is often implied that the science 
of the ideal is only a generalization or an extension of the 
positive sciences into a region where they grow large, but 
at the same time vague and fantastic. But in truth, 
philosophy is no mere sum or generalization of the positive 
sciences. It is a view, or attempt at a view of Nature, i. e. the 
whole sum of facts, lived, experienced, and believed in their 
unity : it is the fulfilment of the task which, according to 
Bacon, is appointed to man, to be the minister et interpret* 
Naturae. That is more than the special sciences do or 
profess to do : it is the work of a science, which is ideal 
no less than positive; a science which includes art, religion, 
and morality as its handmaids, but handmaids who are maids 
of honour and not mere helps in the kitchen of humanity. 

Thus reason is the principle of unity : but of a unity which 
works through, and in, diversity. The dispute between 
reason and authority as to priority and posteriority is one 
which may be paralleled with another more notorious con 
troversy. Did the hen come first or the egg ? To answer it, 
let us ask how reason arose, and what it works : let us ask 
what authority means, and not content ourselves with vague 
nominal oppositions. Just because reason is so often opposed 
to authority, they must have something in common, were 
it only some common subject to dispute. And, indeed, a 
quarrel unites as surely, and the cynic may say, more closely 
and permanently, than a friendship. Indifference, presumably, 
is not union. A certain propinquity of interests, a community 
of purpose, is needed for a vigorous opposition. Nay, may 
we not further say, that in many a case we quarrel more 
fiercely with others, just because they say out aloud something 
which we would fain keep silent in ourselves; and that the 
rage against the enemy outside is only the evidence of an 
inward struggle in our own breast, which we have failed to 
quench ? 


Now what is the fundamental feature of all reason, of all 
ideal forms ? Surely this, that they rise from us, seem to be 
our offspring, nay, perhaps, our product, and yet, without 
any warning, turn round and lord it over us. Take con 
science : it is, says Butler, a principle of reflection, it is our 
act of judgement : and yet it claims (and we cannot help in 
a sneaking way admitting the claim) to be the voice of God. 
Take fashion : it is a whim to which we seem to give 
currency by our own act, and yet it plays the inflexible 
despot. We calmly speak as if we made the laws, and talk 
of ourselves as law-givers and law-makers ; and yet the law 
rules in its own right. We love, and it seems the expression 
of our freest personality; and lo, we have forged a chain 
which, whether agreeable or not, binds us for perhaps a life. 
We act purposely; and it seemed free for us to do or to 
abstain : yet the deed is an irrevocable master ; the gods 
themselves, says the Greek proverb, cannot undo what is 
done. Even the light word, to which we unthinkingly give 
voice, may one day chastise us with scorpions. 

How can these things be? Are we really so little lords 
of ourselves as they seem to show ? Can we only assert our 
freedom in order to throw ourselves into a more effective 
bondage ? Whence came this reason ? Reason, we have 
lately heard from Mr. Kidd, is individualistic in the uttermost, 
the weapon of disintegration. When we say, < Come, let us 
reason together/ it appears that we mean (not, as the men 
of old time thought, Let us try to agree, and remove the 
stumbling-blocks that cause jars between us; but, in 
the modern language), < Let us dispute and divide/ Now it 
is simply impossible to allow any one thus to play the fool 
with language. No doubt, if the thing had been done long 
enough ago, the rose might still smell as sweet had it had 
another name. But as things are, names have been pre 
occupied, and to play false with them is neither more nor 
less than stealing. And stealing a good name, as Falstaff 


tells us, is a more serious crime than stealing the trash 
that is in our purse. It is a kind of treason to humanity : 
Nomina numina. 

Is reason then a private property of the individual ? Is 
conscience,, is soul, is love ? In one thing- Mr. Balfour is quite 
right : the higher spiritual life with its beliefs is not 
explicable from the physiological or biological individual. 
In that biological framework and function, as every one is 
perhaps aware, we are of close kindred with the animal world, 
and, comparatively speaking, of very close kindred with 
certain members of it. We know that every human being, 
as an embryo in his mother s womb, runs in a few months 
through, we may almost say, the whole scale of animal life. 
An ancient Greek sage, of supposed mystic tendencies and 
oracular utterance, told in some verses the story of his life, 
as he passed, still one soul, through various animal forms. 
in sea, in air, and on land ; and people thought him moon 
struck. It is now received as the soberest scientific truth 
that each of us and in the lapse of no long time, as 
measured by the horologe of our daylight world has run 
through a career more romantic and strange than old 
Empedocles or Agrigentum probably ever dreamed of. We 
are and the less we forget it the better, the higher we 
may learn to become we are, in the substantial framework 
and function of our being, animals, comrades of the dog, the 
hare, the ape, and the tiger. They seem sometimes far apart 
from us, brutes at the worst, poor relations at the best. Now 
that I do not say, wisely or unwisely we have concluded 
that we are made but a little lower than the Elohim, and no 
longer see angels as an aristocracy of creation above us, but 
fancy ourselves as its foremost rank, we are apt to forget 
that the difference between us and the nearest mammals sinks 
to at least apparent insignificance in comparison with the 
gulf between them and the amoeba, an apparently amorphous, 
structureless mass, or rather molecule. 



The evolution of reason, of authority, of morals, of art 
and religion, Mat is the problem. I spoke the other day of 
the birth of a soul. 1 may come later to speak of the birth 
of conscience. What is it that we can expect to find in this 
mode of enquiry, in this path of evolution? There was 
a time when the word for the new birth was creation. But 
the word was a little too abstruse for many who employed it, 
and it led to strange fancies of a superhuman man moulding- 
creatures out of nothing. With all this confusion of vulgar 
imagination, the philosophical conception of creation had 
nothing to do. Something of the same confusion has 
infected the modern term Evolution. Evolution has been 
taken to mean a process of continuous change by which, 
if you only give it time enough, an A will some day turn 
into a B, an oak become a beech. So once on a time the 
chemists but at that time they were called alchemists had 
the fancy that, by some method of manipulation yet to be 
discovered, iron or one of the baser metals would be trans 
muted into gold. The alchemist saw transmutations of 
a kind going on everywhere in nature, and with a judgement 
perverted by the lust of wealth, he came to look upon all the 
mineral kingdom as a range of steps which, if we could 
only get the secret of transmutation, would bring us nearer 
and nearer to its final head and supreme development, the 
royal Gold. 

A similar frenzy seized some biologists at hearing the idea 
of transformation of living beings. The whole kingdom of 
animals presented itself to their minds as one continuous 
development from some primary organism which, allowing 
sufficient variation in circumstances and sufficient length of 
time, might become, to put it briefly, anything in the possible 
range of animality. Now that this is possible or impossible, 
I am not concerned to say. The very word impossible , 
indeed, is not one in favour with sensible men, and is one 
that science will rarely use. Perhaps, like Napoleon, the 


sciences may call it a blockhead of a word/ Science, i. e. 
human knowledge of facts and laws of fact, can ascertain to 
a certain extent that something has or has not been done. 
But to pronounce that it cannot be done, is what it will 
only do with the qualification : so far as we at present 

This holds in the region of biology as it holds elsewhere. 
Transformation of animal form and function within certain 
limits has long been a fact of common experience. It is 
hard or, as things stand, impracticable, to lay down definitely 
where these limits lie : they are often very elastic ; how 
elastic, w r e dare not forecast : but all experience tends in the 
direction that there are limits, and even impassable limits. It 
is easy, but it is frivolous, to say that we can place no limits 
to the power of adaptation which we actually observe. Such 
a style of argument is after the fashion of the man who, 
finding his horse did not perish under a gradual reduction of 
his corn, proceeded with a so-called logical mind it is the 
logic of the fixed idea, and common amongst the insane to 
maintain him on no corn at all. We cannot place the limits, 
perhaps, but the limits may be there. All observed varia 
tion in present nature, or in the historical process which 
palaeontology partly reveals, takes place within limits : and 
if the limits in the data afforded for long past ages by 
palaeontology seem wider than those exemplified in the 
present day, perhaps we may be permitted to suggest that 
the evidence of the geological strata is a matter which has 
not yet received its final interpretation, and should not be put 
too much in the first brunt of battle. Evolution, in short, 
is at present a working hypothesis. If any one asks what 
that means, it need only be said that, by the assumption that 
all living things may be conceived as forming links in a con 
tinuous chain of life, instead of being taken, as the casual 
observer might suppose them, to be merely diverse and 
apparently unconnected, we get a point of view for biological 



study which both suggests wise and far-reaching questions, 
and makes it more easy to find answers. More than this 
the Darwinian theory need never become : but this is quite 
sufficient for scientific work ; though perhaps not enough to 
gratify an ignorant and aimless curiosity,, which would get 
behind the beginnings of things,, and, so to speak, see tln in 
as they were before they were made. 

The fact, then, which biology would seem to start from, 
is the probability that man was once, when no one knows, 
a creature in all appearance and in all structure very like an 
ape, a creature closely allied to certain species of our existing 
quadrumana, but yet somehow sui generis : a unique ape, an 
ape which really was not an ape as we know apes, but which 
had in him the promise and potency of humanity; just as the 
human embryo of to-day, though in its earliest stages it 
reminds the observer of certain animals, has in it, whether 
the anatomist can detect it or not, a je ne sais quoi which 
determines it to be man, and nothing but man. The starting- 
point is, you observe, not entirely a fact : but it may fairly 
be called, from the biological standpoint, a plausible and 
workable hypothesis. There was then a time within the 
present century, when each of us, man or woman, so far as 
all the experimental tests could tell us, was the very nega 
tion of all we as adults claim to be : a time when for us 
speech and thought, reason and morality, all the distinctive 
peculiarities of human shape and structure, were not. As in 
the old story of the creation of the terrestrial globe, so there 
was a time when we w T ere without form and void : an 
amorphous,, inorganized mass. And yet shape and organiza 
tion were there, though our organs and even our instruments 
failed to detect them. 

It is in that sense and with these limitations that I speak 
of the evolution of reason or of morality. I can attach no 
meaning to the statement that reason or morality was made 
out of something utterly other than itself. Non-reason does 


never beget reason, nor does non-moral beget moral. We may 
possibly lay down the conditions, the circumstances, the occa 
sions, which facilitated the event, its sine qua non. But the 
secret of the first birth, the secret of life s emergence at 
conception, the mystery of origins, is well kept. Still, now 
as of old, each birth is a creation. We have learned thanks 
to Darwin, and, as I am more especially bound to add, to 
others before Darwin that creation is a process law-governed, 
a work of reasonable not arbitrary deity; that the whole organic 
kingdom is a systematic unity, the unveiling in time and place 
of one grand plan. We can guess with much probability the 
scheme of architecture, but we have not forced the hand of 
the architect, and stolen the secret of his work. We are, to 
him, in a position not unlike that of the grammarian and the 
critics to a great original genius in poetry or painting; we 
can catch, or deem we catch, some of his tricks or his mode of 
composition. But Raphael and Dante are always on another 
plane than their imitators, and He that sits in heaven may 
perhaps smile at those who so boldly identify the way they 
construe his plan with that plan itself j or who fail even to 
surmise and this is the important thing that He is an 
architect who draws no plan and directs no workers, but is 
himself the life that inspires the worker and the source that 
supplies the work. 

It is the evolution of the human mind we study, with 
reason as its governing function, with morality, art, and 
religion as its characteristic products. And that means, 
when, and under what conditions, can mind be seen emerging? 
In what atmosphere did it draw its breath, from what 
parentage did it spring? The psychologist who analyzes 
mental phenomena assumes mind as a given fact ; or rather 
for him the soul is a geographical term, used to denote the 
range within which certain phenomena which he describes are 
to be found, and sometimes equated with the sum or aggregate 
of their phenomena. The comparative psychologist will show 


us by a process of guess-work and more or less plausible 

analogical interpretation of stories of animal life, of move 
ments executed by animals how in the animal world with 
varying degrees there are indications of the presence of several 
of the faculties found in man. And these comparisons are 
very interesting, if always a little liable to the defect of 
alternative interpretation. But we must go a little further 
than either of these, and ask : When or under what conditions; 
do we first observe the human,, the rational soul ? 

The answer briefly is and the same answer will apply to 
morality, art, and religion that reason is a social product : 
it appears and lives in human association. Just as cohesion, 
or electricity, or any other material property only exhibits 
itself in a correlation of elements, which are at once antithetic 
and interdependent: so the human soul is a phenomenon which 
appears and lives in the sociality of human beings. There is 
doubtless a sentiency which is part of animal nature in general : 
but even it, we may note, only exists in a great community of 
physical life. The specially human soul is a social fact, the 
resultant and index, of a social effort. Society, the reciprocity 
of man with man, is the atmosphere in which it breathes, the 
soil in which it grows. Man, the individual physiological 
being, exhibits in association with his fellows the products we 
call rational, moral, aesthetic, and religious. And it is only 
man, not all animals, that does so : a statement which need 
not be pressed to exclude all approaches to reason in the so- 
called lower animals. Hence we conclude that in him there 
is a something which in the appropriate environment will so 
develop. The soul is his potentially, let us say : and yet it 
would never be actual any more than hydrogen and oxygen, 
of their separate initiative, form water, without some con 
straining agent unless another soul were to be made at the 
same stroke. 

To some it may sound a paradox to say that reason is not 
of the individual, as such, but only of the socialized or 


civilized individual. It is not so long ago that indignation 
was lavished on the anthropologist, who dared to hint that 
primaeval man in his birth-time had been speechless. And 
yet the obnoxious fact reveals itself afresh in every human 
infant. The doctrine that reason is the concomitant of 
sociality is a common one to philosophy. Hear Hobbes : 
Reason (which he defines in his rough way as conceiving 
a sum-total from the addition of parcels, as in short reckon 
ing ) is not, like sense and memory, born with us, nor gotten 
by experience only (by experience Hobbes means ( the tear 
and wear of life ), e as prudence is, but attained by industry/ 
Hear Fichte : Man would not be rational or human, were he 
purely isolated and unsocial/ 

Let us not, however, misunderstand. Juxtaposition, associa 
tion, in and by itself, could yield nothing. But where there 
is a something which however we do not know in itself, and 
can only discern in its effects this association leads to a new 
development : it is the meeting of energies which causes birth. 
The human being, to put it in materialistic figures, is charged 
with force, energy, faculty: but energy requires solicitation 
from without, to bring it into exercise and actuality. The 
human individual, as such, is to all appearance simply an 
animal : primus inter pares, perhaps, yet still only amongst 
his peers. But under that appearance there are in him 
possibilities of unique energies. There are tendencies and 
potencies craving to meet each other, and to link hand in 
hand, heart in heart. All the various ranges of Nature live, 
if we speak the religious language, under some special dis 
pensation of God : in scientific phrase, they have each their 
own law of development. The specific law of human existence 
is sociality. It is that which makes us human beings. The 
absolutely solitary, said Aristotle, is either a brute beast or 
a god. This is a truth of which all exceptions prove the rule. 
St. Simeon Stylites is as much dependent on a social environ 
ment for such life as he leads, as the most sociable and business- 



like citizen of Antioch. Even the Cyclops of the Odyssey, 
who is said to live reckless of all neighbours, finds that they 
will not stand his midnight howls. 

But if sociality be the root, the medium, the atmosphere of 
all that is distinctly human, there is one peculiarity about it 
which cannot be passed by. To the rest of the natural world 
their peculiar law, the guiding principle of their being, seems 
(I will not at present go beyond seems ) to be given to be 
their own inalienable property ; a natural endowment, a fixed 
law, which they have without effort, and which they cannot 
or will not transgress. Man, doubtless, like the rest of Nature, 
has his so-called inherent properties, his instincts and qualities. 
But all that he can call specially his own is an effort, an 
acquisition. As I put it before, he inherits a task, he is 
endowed with a problem : his riches are all to be earned. 

This sociality is not a quality but a tendency, craving for 
fulfilment, tasking the energies. Man has been defined in 
many ways. Let us for the present say that he is par 
excellence the being who works, labours : that he is so in 
tendency, in progress. Man the worker that which he 
hath done but earnest of the thing which he shall do/ Tis 
true that barbarian man, and still more savage man, is idle : 
and that their survivals in modern days whether at one end 
or other of the social scale still carry out the old animal 
ideal. But with these exceptions which only prove the rule 
for savage man can only idle while his women and other slaves 
toil, and later barbarians nourish their idleness largely by 
some sort of force and fraud the rule for man is not to 
merely accept the given, but to mould and fashion it for 
himself. In him nothing merely is : it is to be : it has 
taken on it a new law, the law of becoming, as the law 
which governs him and the things he deals with. With 
his emergence on the scene, the world has, as it were, got 
a new relative centre : all things have become, or rather are 
more and more becoming, anthropocentric. 



THE point at which we had arrived in the last lecture was 
a consideration of that sum or group of conditions under 
which the characteristic features of humanity make their 
appearance. In a broad general way we gave it the name 
of sociality : meaning thereby to indicate the fact that reason 
and morality, art and industry, science and philosophy and 
religion, only present themselves in associated bodies of 
human beings. It is perhaps in one way trivial, yet is it in 
another way important to add, that association is not here 
treated as a cause or a reason. If we say that morality or 
religion or language is a social product, we must not deceive 
ourselves. Mere association can do of itself nothing. 
Association is,, so to say, the outward visible sign of an 
invisible inward grace : and the first thing to realize clearly 
is, that you cannot have the one without the other. The 
mere fact of there being two or three or more people together 
would not make anything grow or become, which had not its 
root in some way in the single individuals. So, too, the con 
clusion of a syllogism dare not, in one way of looking at the 
matter, add anything new to the premises : whatever goes 
beyond the premises is of evil, and erroneous. And yet, this 
material identity does not prevent the conclusion being a real 
addition to our sum of knowledge. You put, as the phrase 
is, two and two together : and the result well, it is not quite 



two and two, but two and two put together. No doubt, if 
you insist on overlooking- the put together/ or treating it as 
if it were nothing what anybody can do, and so a neglige- 
able quantity you may say we are exactly where we were. 
Yet, when we are ourselves, and not playing the verbal 
quibbler, we know that to put two and two together is to 
create something new, something irreducible to, and incom 
parable with its factors or elements. All the data of Hamlet 
were already somewhere, before Shakespeare touched them : 
and yet, except as implicit in the predeterminate laws of 
life natural and social, or if you prefer it, in the determinate 
will of God, Shakespeare s Hamlet, the Hamlet of the modern 
world, was not. Or, again, the musical notes are, in a way, 
all there j and yet each musical genius that comes upon the 
scene is a creator of new constellations of harmony. 

So here, the mother, already enriched with reason and love, 
bending over her infant, does not by her glance, her smile, 
her touch, give it a soul, a spirit, a reason : and yet in that 
glance, that smile, that touch, soul, spirit, reason, are as 
surely born as the physiological life of the same child is 
born, and so far as we know is only born, in the congress 
of male and female. As in that case the elements of the 
living being, the constituents which build up structure, are 
older, far older than the two parents, who to popular appre 
hension are the authors of the being of their progeny ; so in 
the spiritual world, the child and its mother severally bring 
to their union of soul a store of powers and faculties prepared 
by, it may be, centuries of inherited tradition. Yet it is in 
the main true, that it is the mother s and father s look and 
touch, charged with the fruits of life, of life both theirs 
and that of myriad others which have gone to make up theirs, 
which kindles into flame the dull materials of humanity, and 
begins that second birth, that spiritual parentship which, at 
least not less than the first, should be the peculiar glory 
of human father and motherhood. And, to prevent mis- 


conception, the gift of soul and spirit, if gift it be, is not 
on one side only. If the parent, in a way, makes the child,, 
it is not less true that the child makes the parent. He 
kindles new lights, and pierces out new depths, in the parent 
soul ; builds his world anew, with other features and fabric 
than of old : brings him nearer heaven or nearer hell ; but 
at any rate, if the parent ever really sees his child eye to eye 
and approaches him touch to touch and unfortunately we 
dare not assume that this always happens, so many parents 
and children have never seen each other s soul-face he is not 
as he was before. 

We are here concerned with facts, and with the funda 
mental condition of our human reality. "With facts. It 
might have been that each of us should have been sent into 
the world, a fixed and complete quantity of energy charged 
with a certain role; a germ, containing a certain bundle 
of possibilities, and capable of developing all that was pre 
figured without help or hindrance from other things. It 
might have been that each of us should have existed as an 
independent individual, burdened indeed internally with 
a certain drag or limitation or inertia of resistance, so that 
the infinity, implicit in each of us, never became at any 
moment w r holly actual, wholly equal to the absolute and 
perfect Being, but yet not hampered by anything without ; 
and thus the outward happening, though it was to all appear 
ance perpetually about to interfere with what we did, would 
yet never really come into contact with us, but would be 
kept off, as by some plate-glass surface, or by some imper 
meable yet transparent adamant encircling our sphere of 
being. So, it appears, thought the great Leibnitz. Each 
real being he called it a Unit or Monad he thought to be, 
as it were, a god, a potential never quite perfect god, but 
filled with an instinct towards greater and ever greater com 
pleteness : a being, always fragmentary, in that there were 
numberless other beings outside it, utterly independent of 


it, yet all somehow, more or less faintly, within its ken, 
ideally present to it ; it and all the rest again having- the 
full, real, true God above and over all as a sovereign, the real 
bond which was represented in this ideal harmony. It is, 
you say, an inconsistent conception. But the inconsistency 
is partly, I may suggest, in the fact that it is the phraseology 
of a compromise. Its voice is the voice of eighteenth- 
century Deism, which was the final deposit of a century 
of Lutheran orthodoxy : but its hands are the hands of 
something very much liker Spinozism than his contemporaries 

At any rate, without committing ourselves to any denial 
that in a higher interpretation the idealism of Leibnitz may 
hold its ground, for the present we must insist on the reality 
of the fact of inter-action. The individual, so far as 
phenomenal facts go, is what he is, through and in his 
surroundings. But to call them surroundings or environment 
is to mislead. The surroundings of the individual are, how 
ever paradoxical the phrase may sound, not merely around, 
but in him. They are part and parcel of him : he is part 
and parcel of them. The old idealists, such as the later 
Stoics, were fond of insisting that things are what we make 
them, or take them to be. Everything, say Epictetus and 
Marcus Aurelius, is v-noXri^ris ; imagination, fashion, opinion, 
rules the world. But if this is true, there is necessity for 
reaffirming a corresponding and counter- truth : Things are 
what they make us become. Neither side, taken by itself, 
has a monopoly of productiveness or creativeness. Things 
are not, as an idealist like Fichte might be supposed to say, 
mere stuff for us to cut and carve for our own sakes, and as 
we please. They are and this is what Fichte, who was not 
a mere idealist, did say the stuff by our manipulation of 
which we become better or worse. In other words, they 
subdue us to them, just as much as we subdue them to us. 
And if that be so, it would seem to follow that what we call 


our acting upon them, is, in equal degree, their acting 
upon us. Action and re-action are always equal : because, 
as a philosopher might say, they are the same thing, seen 
from two ends. 

External things are the tests of our reality. The so-called 
Eerkeleian idealist was supposed to hold that, in the case 
of sensible things, their esse was their perclpl : to say that 
they existed, was only another phrase for saying that we 
perceived them. And some scoffers jeered at the lunatic 
philosopher who reduced all reality to a spectral phantasma 
goria in his, i.e. the philosopher s, mind; or, as the cruder 
critic said, in his brain. But these species of philosophical 
propositions are only fully understood, when they are seen 
to be reversible. It is equally true that the percipient gets 
his being from the perceived. Not to know them, it is said 
of some great ones, argues yourself unknown. Do not be too 
rash, therefore I may perhaps say to the very young meta 
physician, do not be in a hurry to throw overboard the 
sensible world. It is true that a metaphysician of fame has 
declared that you cannot hope to be a genuine philosopher. 
if you have not had at some time a serious doubt as to the 
so-called reality of the material world. There is something 
in this, I admit: but it reminds me of the encouragement 
given to a beginner at the game, when he is told that he will 
never turn out a crack golfer, unless he first breaks a club 
or two : or of the general warrant sometimes thrown out to 
the young that, if later years are to bring forth a crop of 
good and valiant deeds, it is necessary to begin with sowing 
some wild oats. In these cases I suspect there is a little 
of the confusion which in the logic books is said to take post 
hoc as if it were propter Jioc. In other words : it may be 
a grand and generous soul will, just because of his nobler 
mettle, commit faults and break hearts, ere he, so to speak, gain 
the full mastery of his machine, and learns to elicit the high 
music that is in him ; and a player of the grand style may 


break an instrument or two, before he learns that even golf- 
sticks are to be handled delicately and with respect, as 
becomes what are no mere rigid things but organs of the 
spirit. But it would be a perilous thing for the clown to 
draw encouragement from the necessary mishaps of genius, 
and suppose that he can only trundle his wheelbarrow with 
its load, if he imitates the prancings and caprioles of some 
high-bred steed. So it is with the way to philosophy. 
Every one must take his own path, his own royal road. 
There is no regulation pattern, no scheme of philosophical 
salvation, which each must undeviatingly follow. It is not 
necessary, in order to be a philosopher, to doubt the reality 
of the external world ; but it is necessary to abandon two 
beliefs before, philosophically, you can be saved. The first 
is that the external world is the reality, and that our mind, 
our ego, is a mere echo, a reflection, or epiphenomenon of it. 
The second is that we are the reality we, the scheme of 
ideas and that the external world is a mere dream, the 
passing phenomenon of our minds. The former error is 
Materialism, and some people call it Realism : the latter is 
Spiritualism, and some people call it Idealism. Salvation, 
philosophic or otherwise, can come only to one who has 
disowned both errors, and who has learnt that the truth lies 
in the utter qualification of one half-truth by the other. The 
way to philosophy can only pass through a point where we 
see that neither subject or object alone primarily is : where 
we learn that things are, because we by reason understand 
how things are what they are, and, not less, because the sense 
passively receives the impress of their action. Inner and 
outer must utterly coincide to give reality. 

These epistemological considerations are not alien to our 
present problem. For they tend to show that the bond of 
reality, as Leibnitz hinted, is in something which compre 
hends us and things : that reality is not m things of any 
grade whatever, but that things are in reality: or that reality 


resides in the manifold system o relations, the complex, which 
binds them together. None of the rings which form the chain 
of reality is itself strong- enough to hang the others thereon ; 
yet, on the other hand, each of the rings is charged by 
implication with the whole. Each is, has being in itself, 
but when we look carefully, it is in itself only through the 
being of others. Each, as you view it from the standpoint of 
the other, is only a phenomenon : and yet each must be real, 
or it could not even be a phenomenon. Everywhere subjective 
initiative is inseparable from passivity, as of an object, to 
something else. 

This reciprocal interdependence of aspects holds good, as 
perhaps few can care to deny, in the relationship between man 
and things. And to us, looking at the problem from our 
present standpoint, here might seem to be the commencement. 
We go forward to meet the world, to learn from it, to struggle 
with it; if possible (and it is not fully possible) to overcome 
it. But it is we who go forward : we, the collective, the race 
of man. Even when an individual David goes forth to meet 
Goliath, he is a champion of an associated host, the bearer of 
an ancestral and national interest, the worshipper of his 
country s god, the wielder of the weapon which centuries of 
customary skill have fashioned, strong in the sympathies 
of his compatriots, and strengthened by burning hatred 
against the uncircumcised Philistine. The individual in the 
search for science is no less sustained, fortified, inspired, by 
a long past, by many ages of struggling humanity. The 
scholar, even the most rudimentary, does what he does only in 
the strength of what his forefathers and their comrades have 
done and suffered. By all means let him be proud of his 
intelligence, his wit, his genius, his science, his freedom of 
mind. But let him remember that if he is free born, some 
one has had to pay for him the price of his emancipation. 
When Kenan at twenty-five years old entered on his brilliant 
course of philological and historical achievement, he started 


from a great capital of tradition, which he entered upon partly 
by labour but largely by inheritance. He received, in the 
dispensation of Nature, all that acquired power of patient 
work, of sympathetic insight, of natural piety and human 
tenderness, which his Breton peasant forefathers had laboured 
for ; he entered upon all the august memories, the organized 
strength, the systematized logic and learning, the grand 
theistic conception of the Catholic Church: he gathered the 
fruits of a scientific struggle, prolonged through centuries 
of experimental research, of theoretical construction, and of 
attempts to find a law in human life and human history. 
Wirfreie Geister, we emancipated intelligences, is the favourite 
cry of a modern German thinker, as he thinks of himself and 
a band of advanced thinkers. It is a cry that calls for 
humility at least as much as pride. One has read of armies 
in retreat before some terrible destroyer, brought face to face 
suddenly with a deep and precipitous ravine, and compelled by 
the mere pressure of horror from behind to march on and on, 
till the gap was filled with prostrate human forms, and the 
survivors reached the other bank safely by the involuntary 
self-sacrifice of their front ranks. Something like this is 
always happening in the annals of each life. That each of 
us can individually seek to develop our individual minds, 
prosecute our separate studies, reach intellectual, artistic, or 
social eminence, is possible only because we are raised on the 
joined hands of many unknown to fame, who have formed by 
stern resolve and hard clench a solid roof over that abyss of 
mere animality into which we should otherwise fall. Science, 
art, and religion, all that makes life glorious, all that con 
stitutes the special glory of individuals, grows out of the root 
of sociality. They rest and grow, says Hegel, in the State. 
But what, according to Hegel, is the State ? Not something, 
assuredly, which lives in London, and has its holy of holies in 
the offices of the Treasury : not something which lives for the 
time being in the Cabinet, and in the upper and influential 


circle of the bureaucracy. The State, as Hegel conceives it, 
is the completed organization, the self-contained social form, 
in which human life can develop its ideal activities : it is an 
organization in which the family forms the perennial, and so 
to speak the natural basis, the ever fresh, ever creative spring 
of moral, intelligent, and artistic life : in which the inter 
dependence of industrial effort, commerce, social and com 
mercial demand and supply, constitutes the ever-widening 
stream : while the more purely political organization itself 
blends all these divergent interests and natural ties into one 
single and comprehensive nationality or people, wherein the 
members can both play their own part well, and contribute 
their quota in orderly way to the total work of humanity. 

Before the individual could deal successfully, reasonably, 
well with the natural world around him, he had to deal with 
his own kind, and, combined in action with them, to gain the 
weapons and the machinery for carrying out his ends. Before 
he could cultivate science and art, he had to live, and to live 
he must live in a community. It is no doubt a temptation to 
separate one part of this from another, to suppose that outward 
activity created inward faculty, or that inward faculty 
gradually evolved outward instruments. But the whole point 
we here have to insist upon is, not the separateness of these 
two, but their necessary interdependence. Man was not an 
intelligent creature, who gradually devised newer and abler 
tools ; nor was he an unintelligent creature, who became 
intelligent by the reflex action of the machinery he had 
devised. The old question at issue between Anaxagoras and 
Aristotle, Is man the cleverest animal because he has 
hands ? or has he hands because he is the cleverest of animals ? 
can never be answered as it stands. The tu r o developments 
go tm pari pasw, parallel to each other, each always cause and 
always effect of the other. As Spinoza puts it, there is no 
body without a soul, no soul except it be the idea, the life and 
consciousness, of a body. The aptitudes of action belonging 



to the body are exactly equivalent to the intelligence and 
rationality of its soul. Soul is not something given a body 
to direct ; body not something handed over to a soul s direc 
tion. The union of reasonable soul and animal body is 
a deeper thing than either spiritualism or materialism. 
Reality has, according to Spinoza,, a double aspect : seen this 
way, it is soul ; seen that way, it is body : this way, you 
attribute to it modes of thought ; that way, you attribute 
to it modes of extension. It is true, you may say, that this 
is to exceed the facts; for you only see in yourselves, and 
infer in those like you, that there are two aspects. But, 
answers Spinoza, you cannot have this doubleness of being 
even in these cases, you cannot carry your reasoning a step, 
unless you admit that, beyond and behind these two aspects 
in you, there is an identity, i. e. a self -reaffirming coincidence 
of these two aspects. 

That intelligence and reason, conscience and language, 
emerge only through social, collective, or combined action is 
the point. Sociality is not mere juxtaposition, mere aggrega 
tion ; if it be ever describable as a quality or property of the 
human animal, it is only so in the sense that in man there is, in 
a degree and way unknown to the other animals, an impulse 
which drives him to combined action. There are, of course, 
what are called animal societies, of which certain species of 
bees or ants form the typical instances ; though there are 
others perhaps which in some respects come closer to their 
human analogues. Between the almost stereotyped caste 
scheme of the former, and the looser and more flexible 
gregariousness of the latter, man steers a sort of mean. It 
is not that we can say he is, in any line of distinction, 
absolutely and utterly unique. To establish such an impass 
able gulf of division between himself and the whole animal 
world, has no doubt been a dominant interest in human 
curiosity on these matters. But it is hardly describable as 
a noble, still less as a disinterested curiosity. It savours of 


meanness to think our titles to grandeur will be securer, if we 
can exclude the claims of the animal creation. Nobler, I think, 
is the attitude of St. Francis, when he speaks of his brothers 
throughout creation, and, with the Hebrew psalmist, calls all 
things from sun and moon to young men and maidens, old 
men and children, to praise the name of the Lord. One thing 
I know, that neither science nor philosophy are interested in 
the question of excluding dogs from heaven, on the ground, 
apparently, that the spaces of paradise would become incon 
veniently crowded. Perhaps the day may come when the 
gospel can be preached for what some people complacently 
call the beasts that perish/ So long as the device is ( Let 
right prevail/ we may be confident no legitimate right will 
come short. 

But we are concerned with man : and with man sociality is 
an effort. The physiological individual, the pure animal, if 
we have a right to such an abstraction, tends to slip away 
into isolation. At the best, he eats and drinks side by side 
with his fellows ; but, unless provender is plentiful and space is 
wide, he tends to quarrel with his neighbours, with those who 
wander beside him. Even the attraction of sex is a fickle 
and feeble bond. I do not know whether Professor Drummond 
is right in saying that through the animal world the apathy 
and estrangement between husband and wife is radical and 
universal/ Too general utterances in these matters are 
undesirable, and the cynic may point out, with too much 
apparent justice, that this apathy and estrangement are not 
confined to what is ordinarily called the animal world. But 
at any rate it seems tolerably true that, in most cases, the 
connexion not merely between animal husband and wife, but 
generally between animals, is fairly described as indifference 
tempered by occasional caresses and quarrels : while, in the 
cases where a closer and more lasting union prevails, as in 
the social animals, it has a stereotyped and mechanical 
character, as if the several creatures were automata moved by 


some necessitation behind tliem. The human association is 
co-operation, society in work, or action. At first perhaps 
it is an association of labourers cemented by their common 
subserviency to some end ; afterwards the association of 
labourers who interest and attract each other, not merely 
through their final end but also in themselves; not merely 
for the temporary or lasting pleasure their deeds confer, but 
also for their own sakes, as independent centres of action, 
who can be for us all that they may be, only when they are 
never mere instruments but always also sources of original 

This is,, in a nutshell, the evolution of ethics. It begins 
when co-operative action first appears upon the scene, and 
it marks the fact (first) that the single self has made a step 
forward, has broken the mechanism of nature, and assumed 
a direction, set forth an end ; and (second) that it did so in 
a strength not entirely its own, through a will not completely 
self-centred ; that it depended on help, on co-operation, and thus 
submitted itself to a bond. At first, indeed, it lays the stress, 
so far as it can, exclusively on one side. It treats the con 
tribution of others as a mere subserviency to its own initiative. 
It is selfish, and makes its own utility the centre of all 
judgement. It forms relations of inequality, of which the 
type is that of master and slave. The human being is, at 
this stage, only one among the instruments of production and 
conquest, distinguished from the rest only by his flexibility, 
his plasticity to the master s hand. Even this, however, is 
an advance on a more primitive condition. For the merit of 
the relation is that it has introduced order and stability, which 
is the first and indispensable condition of all progress. The 
worse preliminary stage was an age of chaotic, inconsistent, 
erratic conjunctions, when each to other was as a comet 
coming occasionally and at barely predictable intervals over 
the other s path. Such would be the ideal state of savagery, 
a state, it need hardly be said, which has left no traces and 


which, indeed, in its utterness, is inconceivable. For by 
savage we mean simply a degree of civilization far removed 
from our own, in which all the more characteristic products 
of advanced civilization are conspicuous by their absence. 

The evolution of ethics, i. e. the process whereby these faint 
traces of ethicality have been actualized more and more, is 
the process in which the two elements in all ethics have 
acquired increased light, and by which their solidarity has 
become more and more real. These elements or factors, to 
repeat, are the principle of direction of will-movement on the 
one hand, and that of co-operation and co-ordination on the 
other. The essence of all ethics is shut up in the word 
Autonomy -, but shut up, perhaps, so as hardly to be per 
ceptible. Its first part is the idea of originality of action, 
of initiation, of movement to end : its second part is the 
idea of law, solidarity, community. Emphasize the first, and 
ethics seems to be purely idealist, a chase for unattainable 
perfections, for self-satisfaction, it may be, even, for pleasure. 
But, as our most thoughtful novelist says: The cry of the 
young for pleasure is actually I have studied their language 
a cry for burdens/ It may be that a theoretical hedonist 
may say of Lais, I have and hold her, not she me : yet if 
Lais does not hold him, it can only be because some petty 
care, some mean tie, binds him with a more constraining 
force, and makes him lose even the best of Lais. At any 
rate, it is true that the cry for pleasures is the cry for life, for 
struggle, for tasks : and, inevitably, as life rolls on, it turns 
round into another and an opposite ethics, the ethics of 
realism, and of passivity. Thus ethics becomes compliance 
with a code, obedience to a rule, the thraldom of law and 
custom ; it becomes the negative sense of duty, and then, as 
the same novelist adds, the old ones cry for having too many 
burdens on their shoulders/ In this second stage ethics 
leaves half its meaning behind : it grows negative, and 
ascetic, the bondage of Sinai, a schoolmaster to be listened 


to, a school to be submitted to. The very word ( school is 
a standing commemoration of this change. In its Greek 
original, <rxoA.r? is release from the distraction of petty tasks, 
from the bondage of custom, the fragmentariness of practice, 
and the ascent into a freedom where we see things whole and 
true, where we are our own full selves, enjoying the full 
sense of accomplished and yet progressive being. Thus 
school meant the leisure of free development and full self- 
realization, the sense and enjoyment of life unimpaired, one 
and complete, reserved for those who, having passed through 
the trials of experience, the ups and downs of a much-divided 
world, might now on the Delectable Mountains behold the 
turrets of the celestial city rising out of its earthly prepara 
tion stage ; reserved also for those who have yet the world 
before them, and can rest awhile, under the Interpreters 
care and in the House Beautiful, beholding all the winder 
of the world that might be. So are the glories of school 

Of these two elements, let us look at each in succession. 
The first is effort, direction, onward movement, the discharge 
of energy in pursuit of end ; an end which, however, only 
comes clearly into view as it is realized. Its full name is 
work, labour. The human animal, indeed, is not the only 
worker. Some of the animal world have their work more 
completely organized, as the phrase is, than man s has yet 
been. It goes on almost with mechanical regularity. And 
ancient aphorisms, as well as modern socialisms, sometimes 
seem as if they deemed that man would be more perfect, if he 
more nearly approached the painful regularity of the ant. 
A world from which imprudence, folly, intoxication, heroism, 
wantonness were utterly banished seems a promising ideal : 
the ideal of life, not exactly as an eternal petrifaction, but as 
one uniformly self-repeating round of tasks, discharged with 
punctual regularity, in a prison-house from which there should 
be no escape, no release. To organize life, or, more correctly 


perhaps, to mechanize all its movements ; to reach a stationary 
state where all would do well, or at least none could do ill ; to 
remove all volition and substitute an unfailing- determinism ; 
such might be the vision that the sight of the ant should 
produce, not merely on the sluggard. But, alas ! man is not 
the industrious bee, the ever- virtuous and much-to-be-imitated 
ant. These things are perfect in their way, precisely because 
of their inferior nature. The anthropoid, as our scientific 
friends prefer to call primitive man, had from the point of 
view of the rest of Nature what is vulgarly called a * bee in 
his bonnet ; or, to take another phrase, he was at the begin 
ning an f ugly duckling/ He was an outcast amongst the 
innumerable races of the animal world. If I may use for the 
moment the language of a foul-speaking book, lately done 
into English, he was from the very first a case of degenera 
tion. He broke, this diseased, strange creature, through the 
calm stupidity of the animal world. He ate at an immemorial 
date from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil ; and he 
fell, or, in modern slang, degenerated. Even so is the wheat, 
which is our staff of life, a degeneration from some unknown 
and probably little worth, but correct grass, which suffered 
little from blights, and grew admirably even amongst thorns 
and in stony places. 

Let us not insist on both having our cake and eating it. 
It may be that the ant is happier, better, more virtuous than 
man. I know no way of determining it. Or rather it may 
be, as I surmise, that these words used of ants are meaning 
less. At any rate, let us pluck up heart of grace and not 
merely confess, but with all humility boast : Errare kumamim 
est. Let us feel quite clear on this point, that to abolish error 
in this world is to make truth impossible. There may be 
and we hope it at the consummation of all things a time 
when the wheat and the tares will be eternally separated. 
But, for this present temporal scene, let us maintain the 
solidarity of opposites. You must pay for your white, if you 


will have it, at the cost of black ; if not, you will get, if you 
get anything, a dull monotonous grey. The virtues can only 
grow on a soil which as necessarily will bear vices. The word 
purity has no meaning save as against evil desires repressed, 
against incipient impurity. Let the virtuous woman reflect 
that her coronal only shines so bright because of what other 
wise had grown into her fallen sister. There is none good, 
it was said, but God; why callest thou me good? And 
I reply, with respectful decision, one may well call thee good, 
in so far as thou tightest the fight of faith, not as if thou 
hadst already attained, or wert already perfect. And we dare 
not say, God is good/ because so to call him seems to bring 
him down to the level of such an one as mortals are, and to 
offer a cheap commendation of him whose ways are not as our 
ways, nor his thoughts as our thoughts. 

Man is not the industrious bee, or the ever-virtuous ant. 
He is not that kind of pattern. Rather is he, equally at the 
root of him, idle. His industry is an effort : his work is only 
partly a pleasure : he constantly relapses from the strain. 
Oftentimes, indeed, he looks round among the animal world 
and would fain shake off in fancy the awful yoke that lifts 
not night or day, the call of work to be done, all quid facien 
dum. In a grand passage of the Metaphysics Aristotle has 
remarked that in the economy of the universe, as of a human 
household, it is not the highest in rank on whom life sits 
easiest. The slave, as he is called, has his hours of rest, his 
rude amusements : the laugh in the kitchen sounds often 
louder and looser than in the drawing-room. The weight of 
responsibility is removed : whereas in the ruling members, 
noblesse oblige presses with perpetual weight. The roving 
Bushman, with little to bless himself with in material wealth, 
sings all day and far into the night for very lightness of 
heart: while the latest products of civilization with some 
exceptions, thank heaven ! go to their daily tasks with tense 
and apathetic faces, as if they were prisoners. 


There are, in short, two spirits in man, and both seem 
equally natural, equally essential in making him what he is. 
He looks before and after, says the poet. The animals are 
engrossed., it seems, with the present. But be this as it may, 
man, visited by the glimpse of possibilities which arise for 
him through social activity, has thus opened up for him 
a vision of the recurring contradiction of what he is to be 
with what he has been. He is an animal, and sometimes 
would be glad to be nothing more. But there has been 
realized within him, by social action and co-operation, the 
sense of something better. He has risen above himself, yet 
without leaving himself. He has gained a human soul, 
a social spirit, that puts him into sympathy with a portion 
of his fellow creatures, and has in it an expansion to which 
no limits can be set. But it is a spirit which is only to be 
maintained in struggle against his old animal self. It is the 
spirit of a wider nature, born out of other elements besides 
those of his own origination. Thus, though it grows out of 
him, it has its source in a wider, a larger world. It is reason 
in him, and not entirely his ; except in so far as his continual 
effort is to be not only himself but more than himself. It is 
conscience, the eternal witness to the ought against the 
is : and yet a witness also that the ought to be, in 
a higher sense always is/ 



THE relation in which Man stands to Nature makes it to 
him at once antithetical and inseparable. Nature, if we look 
at it in a large way, is that which, whether we will or no, 
goes on according to a law of its own, working out of itself 
all the potentialities it contains. In simple dignity, unhast- 
ing, unlingering, sometimes as it were with simplicity of 
a child, and sometimes with the inflexibility of a formed 
manhood, it marches on, governed no doubt, as we are gradu 
ally brought to surmise, by laws, but not troubled by any 
of that consciousness of possible opposition between the law 
and the fact, which is so frequent and so bitter an element in 
our human experience. We may have by science convinced 
ourselves that its course is hemmed in at every point by 
uniform laws, but nature itself is to the mere obvious percep 
tion free, determined by no alien force, itself supplying the 
very means by which it is made better. And as against such 
nature uniform, complete, all-encompassing, man seems the 
child of caprice, irregularity, and self-contradiction ; his 
business, we should, if we spoke hastily, say was to thwart 
and pervert, to defy and constrain the great power of things : 
only that if he for a little slacken his efforts, and cease from 
troubling, the other elemental forces resume their sway, and 
in a few years or centuries leave no obvious traces of his 
works. He builds his bridges, he forms his conventional 


barriers and settlements over and across nature s surface : but 
they are founded on the moving sand of his conceits, and are 
in no long time swept away to the bourne from which there is 
no return. Impotent and vain, brooding over ideals which 
the natural conditions forbid him ever to realize, man seems 
to the mere realist (who in this matter takes a pessimist 
tone), to be an inexplicable and absurd freak of nature 
a child born of nature in some foul hour of mysterious incest, 
doomed from his birth to struggle, but to struggle for ever in 
vain, against his mother and her ordinances, vexing her soul 
with his vanity, his insanity, his despairs, by his ideals moral 
and immoral; but doomed also, at some distant date per 
chance, to fade away into nothingness, and leave the weary 
world at peace from the perverse iniquity of her Caliban, her 
youngest and most froward child. To the mere idealist 
perhaps, on the other hand, the antagonism takes a more 
optimistic issue. He sees in man a being who already was, 
in some higher sphere before nature came to be, and who still 
will be after all the works of nature are shrivelled into nebula. 
Or rather, perhaps, the idealist sees in him a being who in 
his inmost essence has no past and no hereafter. His life, as 
we, speaking the language of one short-lived race, call life, is 
but the misconceived or half-understood representation of 
something deeper, higher than it appears to be. The true 
life, the life that knows no ending, and perhaps knows no 
beginning, is the invisible but real pre-supposition of the 
struggle to be which we call life. Charged for a while with 
the task of guiding some little portion of material nature, the 
soul, as the old idealism named this imperishable germ of 
being, has a watch to keep, a service to render ; it is, by some 
dark law of universal order, submitted for a time and times to 
a probation ; to, it may be, an exile in an alien world, with 
an ever-present yearning for its true country, which is the 
heavenly, and an occasional reminiscence of its spotless 
beauty : and at length, after the campaign is over, the soldier 

K 2 


spirit, according to its constancy or its cowardice, is given 
back to the real, i.e. the invisible world, with due meed of 
joy, of penal but purifying- torments, or of unending- pain. 

Such are the schemes of conceiving the relation of Man to 
Nature which have had an historical fame. The first, that 
of the materialistic and pessimistic observer, sees in man 
a revolter against nature, an unintelligible accident, the 
sudden emergence oE an unearthly, unnatural ideal, as of some 
portentous star in a grey moonlight sky. It foresees, with 
no shadow of a doubt, that the rebellion of man is foredoomed 
to inevitable failure : that the meteoric light which he flashed 
must and will be extinguished, and leave behind only a dead 
meteoric stone more in the cosmos. And yet, while his scien 
tific senses force him so to judge, there is something else 
in him which, with at least not less authority, obliges him to 
declare that, notwithstanding the inevitable collapse which 
sooner or later will come, he for one will fight, and ever fight, 
whatever the issue. He hears the loud yelp of the Fenris 
wolf coming ever nearer, more heart-crushing ; he sees the 
powers of ancient darkness, the giants, gathering round 
stonily imminent as the light grows dim, and on the face of 
Loki the smile of assured triumph settling grislier and 
grimmer ; the jaws of the world-serpent open for their prey ; 
he feels the eternal frost creeping to the vitals of the earth, 
he declares that he cherishes no hope of an ultimate reversal of 
the doom impending : and yet, undaunted as a bridegroom to 
meet his bride, he goes forth, mightier in his mood than the 
elements which seek to engulf him, and bury him and his 
revolt out of sight. It is unintelligible and absurd, you say : 
but it is magnificent. But is it so unintelligible after all? 
Is it not rather the reason of life suppressing the reason of 
logic, and of what the short-sighted call science ? All men 
are mortal, says the logic-book, and Peter is a man ; there 
fore Peter is mortal/ So far so good : but every man, every 
woman, eternally supersedes that conclusion as a half-truth 


for him and herself, and says by act, which is more rational 
than the formal syllogism, Nou onmis moriar whereby they, 
by deeds done in love, survive. 

The second scheme may on the whole be styled the Platonic, 
or, in special form, the idealist and spiritualist. In the develop 
ment of the Christian church, and partly even in the very 
origins of Christianity, it has entered into the body of Christian 
doctrine in a measure which has made it practically impossible 
to separate the two elements. Perhaps most people hardly 
realize, or even are aware, how thoroughly their conception 
of life and immortality, of the here and the hereafter, which 
they regard as essentially Christian, are in their origin and 
form Platonic : though, be it added, of a Platonism which 
has undergone much vulgarization in the process of incorpora 
tion, and even before it. But the fact is, the modern reader 
of the sacred books can only with great difficulty, much self- 
restraint, much purgation of mind, get into even tolerably 
direct contact with them. In some works of religious art, 
when symbolism took other forms than it does now, the 
artist gave to his saintly figures a nimlus or aureola round 
their head. What is that nimbus? It is the cloud of 
witness, the work of witnessing spirits, who, as the genera 
tions rolled past, have brought out in quasi-sensible shape 
the significance of the bare fact or of the barely visible 
personage, and stamped it, in always altering and increasing 
complexity, on the face of the saint; even as, in a different 
way, a painter by his finer symbolism may depict in a face 
a depth of character which no casual observer had been able to 
see. Even such a nimbus gathers round the plain words of an 
ancient text. Such a text also lives and grows fuller of com 
plex life. It gathers up and bears around it a charmed halo, 
of! which in the end it seems almost sacrilege to try to strip 
it. And to pause a moment in an inviting side-issue, let me 
ask and try to answer the question : Is it well to strip it off ? 
Yes, I reply, for certain purposes well : but not in all respects 


well To illustrate by an analogous case, Let us/ says a 
French writer \ < see in woman nothing to trouble us, nothing 
mysterious : let us strip her of all this romance : (de pomllon*- 
la de tout ce lyriwe) which we throw, as it were long veils, 
upon our troubles : let her for us be truly nature (qu elle wit 
pour nous vmiment nature). We know what to say to this 
proposal of M. Barres ; or if any one will not say it, he can 
hear it from Wordsworth. It is well for certain purposes 
that we should, as he puts it, know the very pulse of the 
woman s machine: should, i.e. know that like all humanity 
she is animal, weak, capricious, fearful : should remember 
that, as Schopenhauer was fond of putting it, < under, or, 
if you prefer it, over the lady, there is always the woman. 
But it is, on the other hand, emphatically not well that, as 
the same Schopenhauer was inclined to do, the man should so 
far strip himself of humanity as to wrench with brutal hand 
from her all that developed and ordered grace and spirit of 
womanliness which, through the age-long operation of asso 
ciation in the family bond with all its varying types, in social 
organization, in natural union, have made her, though not 
less truly nature, still also and thereby, 

A spirit still, and bright 
With something of an angel light. 

And now for the application of the analogy. It is well 
that the scholar and the critic should try to penetrate beneath 
the accumulation of rags and patchwork which, they say, have 
gathered about the ipgissima verba of a sacred book. The 
present generation fancies, and in some respects no doubt 
rightly fancies, that it has at length learned the right art 
of interpreting the texts ; that by scholarship and history 
it enters more sympathetically into their innermost central 
meaning. On the whole I agree : I do not like to quarrel 
with the Zeitgeist. Yet, at the risk of being more than 
usually frivolous, I must just suggest a doubt as to our 

1 M. Barres, Un Homme Lihre, p. 44. 


all-sufficiency. We all sometimes in a vacant hour turn to 
old numbers of Punch. If we go back thirty years, we 
come in its pages upon bonnets, dresses, shawls, which, in 
proportion to our degrees of youth, we pronounce hideous, 
tasteless, unnatural, or at best quaint, such a contrast do 
they present to the naturalness of the present style. Yet 
some of us can remember a time when, for reasons I stay 
not to inquire into, these same pieces of garb seemed to earn 
quite other epithets. So in other more scientific fields perhaps 
I will not go further towards prophecy it may happen 
that a later time surveying the labours of the nineteenth 
century may pronounce our most impartial criticism preten 
tious and absurd ; or, without going so far, may venture to 
say that our critics were under the influence of their time, 
and saw its ideas and beliefs reflected in the works, which 
they professed with due impartiality to do no more than 

But, however this may be, one thing needs remembering; 
and that is that all the books on which humanity has fed, 
humanity has in its turn made to develop new growths. 
And the same is true of its songs and its pictures. Have 
you realized that those books we turn to, not often perhaps if 
compared with our vulgar readings, but again and again when 
we would, as it were, bathe ourselves (se retremper) in the fresh 
bracing pools of some mill stream : that these books have 
much written, so to say, in sympathetic ink between the lines ; 
exchanging the metaphor, that the letters in them quiver and 
glow in the throb of historical emotion? A recent Hebrew 
scholar e. g. gives us a book on the origin of the Psalms, and 
their religious significance. In some respects it probably 
matters little, and for the sake of truth and accuracy it may 
be even a great gain, to ascertain that these lyrics are not the 
effusions of that somewhat excessively amorous and cruel 
adventurer king, David ben-Isai, but the outpourings of a 
later, more cultured, and more devout, and even a more 


patriotic age. But the main thing after all for humanity 
at large, even for the scholar in his ex-scholar moments, is 
the mental, moral, religious sustainment or inspiration these 
hymns afford to universal human life in its struggle onwards 
and upwards. It is the temptation of the scholar, especially 
of the critical scholar, to isolate the text from its comment. 
For purely historical purposes that is entirely right, and we 
are not likely to have too much of it. But all the same, none 
of us can afford to be pure or mere historians. The danger 
therefore is that we go back to the beggarly elements/ under 
the impression that we are thus getting nearer the real truth. 
It is vain to talk of reading these books without note or 
comment. The comment also has in course of time become 
part of the text. Every reader is trained in a traditional inter 
pretation which, with what ability he may have, he helps to 
develop and hand on. There is no private right of inter 
pretation, if that means privilege : private right is based on 
common law. 

And now to return. The Platonist idealism, which has 
largely entered into the formation of the Christian idea, and 
has again issued from it to form quasi-independent schemes 
of idealism and spiritualism, has generally been disposed to 
regard nature as an enemy, but also as an illusory enemy, 
already in essence vanquished. Whereas, on the materialistic 
theory, the sudden rise of the intellectual and moral warrior, 
who defied the hosts of nature, is utterly surprising and un 
explained ; here, on the idealist hypothesis, the spirit is 
distinctly declared to have descended from above and from 
outside. Intelligence/ repeats Aristotle, following an older 
theory, comes in from the door (Ovpadtv). The soul has 
come from heaven, i.e. from the supernal abodes of the 
highest mind, to enter into and dwell with man. Itself 
a divine germ, it has assumed the human form ; or, in 
metaphor, it has entered a tabernacle of earth. In that 
post, however, it has its task before it. It, a pure intelli- 


gence, must co-operate with creatures of lower breed : as 
Plato in his figurative language puts it, the soul is a 
charioteer who can only drive through life with the help 
of two unequally yoked horses, one gallant and violent, the 
other sluggish and cowardly : or, as he varies his metaphor, 
the man we seem at first sight alone to see, has, lurking 
under that fair exterior, a being half -lion, half -serpent, and 
another many-headed creature, more complex and grotesque 
than poet s fancy has feigned. Thus, at least, in moods 
which the dominant current of the later Platonism loved to 
retrace though I think they are after all a by-path, and not 
the royal highway which the great Athenian himself chiefly 
loved thus did Plato present man in antagonism with what 
some will now call his nature. In Plato s speech, nature is 
the eternal order of righteousness, the law that works through 
reason into good. A later age, indeed, came to speak of body, 
or, as it is otherwise called, the flesh/ under the name of 
nature. This, however, is not Plato s phraseology : nor is it the 
phraseology of St. Paul. St. Paul s Greek and his philosophy 
may not be always unexceptionable, but in his letter to the 
converts at Rome, he is perfectly unmistakeable in the dis 
tinction between nature (which is the great common law for 
all mankind, of which Judaic law is only as it were an 
appendix or special edition, issued for the use of a stiff-necked 
race) and those evil lusts which are ayain&t nature ; even as by 
the law of the flesh he means the principle of an imperfect 
life, which narrows its aim, and perverts its proportions to 
partial, one-sided, fragmentary issues. It was a degradation 
of language, in which Christian theologians have perhaps 
helped, to speak of nature as the adversary of spirit. 

Of the two views that wrestle in Plato s mind, the one sees 
Nature as the starting-point of Spirit, as a germ which by 
physical discipline and the moralizing stimulus of society (as 
expressed e.g. in art and letters) may become more adequate 
as a vehicle of the highest life. This tone of thought is 


shown in the contempt he pours on those who spoke as if 
virtue was against the grain, was an unnatural thing. On 
the contrary, he says, virtue is the very path of nature. And 
to the last his theme is that the righteous are by nature happy, 
and the happy must be righteous. Still, in his later writings, 
a change has come over his spirit. He sees the world lying 
largely in wickedness. Natural influences seem banded against 
the life of the highest soul : and an ethics of asceticism ever 
and anon crosses the older creed of free self -development. 
The good recedes into the innermost soul and the utter 
most sphere of reality. Man s true life is elsewhere, and 

not here. 

Of these two views let me add only one word more before 
I pass on. I have sympathies with both. The realistic or 
materialistic interpretation of nature and man may be imper 
fect and may be inconsistent : yet it has at least, I think, the 
merit of seeking to found itself on facts, not on illusions. Its 
facts may be narrowly apprehended, crudely interpreted : yet 
there is such a thing as a sturdy independence, which refuses 
to borrow a crust or a coal which it deems not honourably 
earned, and will rather fight the world starving than beg or 
steal ideal hopes and transcendental beliefs. Of the idealistic 
hypothesis, on the other hand, I will on]y say that it may be 
true : in some essential points, perhaps, it must be true. But, 
as it is ordinarily stated, it soars too daringly into the realm 
of the unknown ; it draws too large cheques on the bank of 
our ethical needs ; and above all, it introduces too vast and 
arbitrary a gulf in the order of development of reality. If 
animal life, though a new thing not reducible to its ante 
cedents, yet comes in the order of nature as their due sequel ; 
in like manner we must postulate that the spiritual life, the 
life of righteousness, beauty, and goodness, shall be a con 
tinuation of the same natural, which is thus in its essence also 
a supernatural, order. 

The soul, mind, or spirit, then, with all its objective, or 


more than barely objective, creations in morals, science, art, 
religion,, is born, generated, produced in the social medium, 
through the effort long prolonged, intermittently pursued, 
and often misdirected, an effort of social co-operation. There 
is, of course, in man, as in all animals that nourish a blind 
life within the brain/ an animal sensibility, an animal pru 
dence, which we call instinct. There is in them, just as with 
due degrees of variation in all living things, a sensitive soul : 
it may be, if we follow the hypothesis of Fechner, that such 
a soul is to be found even in stars, as in planets ; for they also 
in their way exhibit what we call vital phenomena, the 
appearances or exercises of living. And this soul, if we 
for the present restrict our consideration to the animal world, 
comes into existence under conditions of which biology can 
give an approximately correct account. What is more, this 
* vital principle/ the principle of animal life, is not, as the 
so-called vitalists } are alleged to hold., a locally separate 
being or presiding genius who sets in motion, guides, and 
controls the whole stream and circulation of the vital phe 
nomena. That old idea so far as it was ever distinctly held 
by any thinker, and not merely an attempt to express in 
abstract generality the supposed kernel of popular opinion 
on the subject was no doubt an analogue of other old- 
fashioned ideas, not even now extinct in the sphere of 
government and politics. In the pre-scientific mind, in the 
imaginative popular way of looking at fact, in the Vorstellung, 
as Hegel would say, rather than the Begriff, the initiative of 
social effort was believed to lie with a governing power, and 
to proceed thence to all the periphery of the body politic. So 
in the world-government, God, to Leibnitz for example, was 
the sovereign being, or the architectonic mind. And in 
the microcosm, in the human mind itself, the will and the 
intellect, the superior or aristocratic faculties, were understood 
to rule the inner world, and to give the starting-point for 
action and reflection. 


In the modern time, which we sometimes call the scientific, 
,nd sometimes (with the qualification 1 before indicated) the 
democratic time, we neither think so, nor, whatever our 
politics be, can we think so. In this one point the modern 
advanced liberal touches the conservative, and makes one of 
those recurriuo- conjunctions of extremes which puzzle the 
adherent of the old party lines of distinction. The new idea, 
indeed, is difficult to express, for its very nature is to be a 
vague strong feeling and therefore inexpressible : once you try 
to define it, either side will protest that was not their meaning. 
It is, if I may again quote M. Karros . the feeling that the 
masses alone make us touch the foundation of humanity: the 
people have revealed to us the human substance, the sap 
of the world: or In coming near the simple, I have seen 
how under each of my acts there co-operates with conscious 
activity an activity which is unconscious, an activity like that 
which is seen in the animals and the plants: I have simply 
added to it reflection. Or again : Yes, this force which 
agitates in our veins, this absolute " me " which tends to 
sourdre in the deplorable "me" that I am, this perpetual 
restlessness, which is the condition of our perpetual coming to 
be, they know it as we do, those humble companions, the goat 
and the ass, which .Berenice takes out to walk on the common. 
In each is a superior being who would fain realize itself. 
Or again : It is instinct much more than analysis which 
makes the future. Jt is instinct alone which dominates the 
unexplored parts of my being, it alone which enables me to 
substitute for the "me" I appear the "me" towards which 
I march with eyes bandaged. In one word, it is the idea of 
the social solidarity as controlling and enabling individual 
performance, of the whole psychic organism as a higher thing 
than a mere system or hierarchy of powers, of the world itself 
as immanent in God and God immanent in the world, which 
rules our psychology, sociology and theology. 
1 Lt Jardhi dt JbYmiur, pp. 175-183. 


I shall not for one moment seek to ignore the fact that the 
new phraseology has its dangers like the old. We fight for 
a conception, we get it : and yet we are not happy. Even the 
successful suitor who has just got his mistress s yea- word, is 
said to have a momentary shiver of self-searching. None of 
these things,, taken by themselves, can satisfy the soul s 
infinite thirst for truth, beauty, good. Yet may one more 
than another be, for the individual and the age, the appointed 
means whereby he may not merely discern the relations of 
things, but which is the iniitm neccssarium may, to the 
measure of his ability, set his life on everlasting foundations. 

But those who have accepted the conclusions of biology, 
are less consenting when they are asked to follow the march 
onward into sociology. They admit that science is within her 
rights, when she declares that life, animal and vegetable, is 
a phenomenon equally open to study with the phenomena of 
light and heat ; equally inexplicable, if we insist on going back 
to an original or ultimate force ; equally intelligible, if we 
have regard to the laws and conditions of its existence and 
development. They admit that the power of the organism 
cannot be assigned, either in perpetuity or in trust, to any 
archaeus or single agent located in itself. They are content 
to define life as the consensus of vital function, without feel 
ing much put about by the remark of that scare-crow, the 
formal logician, who tells them that their definition involves 
tautology. As if, forsooth, every definition that is worth its 
salt did not. overtly or covertly, contain a circuhi* in (lefi- 
niendo, or, in other words, return into itself. 

But when they come to the intellectual Psyche, what the 
Aristotelians and their successors down to Kant s time called 
the superior faculties, i.e. the intellect, reason, will, conscience, 
aesthetic sense, they cry out against Materialism, Natu 
ralism, Empiricism and so on. They cry out : These things 
are from above: they have a higher origin than the merely 
sensitive and appetitive quasi-animal faculties. And they do 


well to cry out : these things are from above : these things 
have a hi-her origin. Their mistake is to introduce the divine 
stage-manager through a trap-door, or to lower him m a swing; 
to add suddenly and at one stroke of magic, something which 
the original structure of the play we call the universe, a play 
into which he has certainly put himself, would not naturally 
evolve by itself. One of the most significant utterances of 
Him who loved to call himself Man (for that I need perhaps 
hardly remind you is the plain English for the Semitic idiom 
Son of Man ) is, My Father goes on working, up to this 
moment, and I work too/ Creation is incessant and per 
petual : the world is ever in the making : we do not know 
what we are, because we know not yet what we shall be. 
God, said the old legend, rested on the seventh day : but the 
newer legend says with one voice, that God rests never, 
neither slumbers nor sleeps ; and with another voice that His 
Sabbath remaineth for ever and ever. For if it be true even 
of the human artist, that into his work he puts something of 
himself, and that that something like the trees the laird 
planted or bade his son plant will go on growing when he 
lies sleeping; it is more emphatically true of the Divine 
Artist or Artificer: for, with him, fine art and common 
craftsmanship are indistinguishably one. The world is not 
merely his work : it is, as Plato dared to say long ago in 
bold metaphor, his own only offspring, his only-begotten, 
the gradually realizing and realized image of himself, the 
apparency (or, as it has been rendered, the glory, 5 of a) of the 

What we have said, then, was that the emergence of these 
superior faculties in history by which I mean, not human 
record but the process of becoming, or, as it is called, of 
evolution is conditioned by the social effort of man ; of 
man, i. e. originally to all appearance very like other animals, 
but containing germs and tendencies unobserved, because 
unsolicited, which would one day set him perspicuously dis- 


tinct from those who yet are of his kind, the kindred of an 
older lineage than stops at the days when Adam delved and 
Eve span. Those things, powers and faculties, we have 
called them, grow in him as a social being : a being, i. e. who 
is born male and female, and so never quite without some 
relations to pairing, to parentship, and blood-kindred; who, 
even apart from sexual ties, is forced, if he will live, to join 
hand in hand, to lend a hand and an eye, to work for a 
common aim j who cannot be altogether alone at any moment 
of life, and who, though common phrases seem to assert the 
contrary, knows the pang of death through his ineradicable 

Unassisted reason/ we heard the other day, is a fiction ; 
that means that reason is the very breath of sociality. It is 
not the work of the individual. What he ( is pleased to call 
his mind is the evidence of something in him greater than 
his narrower self. All that he is as a spiritual creature, he 
is in the give and take of society. His own, as Shakespeare 
has told us in Troilus and Cressida, is not his own till it 
comes back to him from the life, eye, hand, of another J . 
Our intellectual world, our morality, art and religion, are 
built up, built up to some extent in each of us individually, 
but always by an act which is collective and social. So 
far this, perhaps, will be accepted. But I must press it 
farther home. True, some will say, that the evidence forces 
us to the conclusion that these objective and universal 
creations just mentioned are the result of a national or tribal 
co-operation. But surely you must admit on the other hand 
that the human mind, and its superior faculties of will, 
intellect, conscience, sense of beauty, religious sense, are 
innate and original, the very substance and essence of man. 
Well, without taking refuge in some obvious lurking places 
suggested by the concluding terms, I will directly reply 
with some hope of future counter-admission, that I cannot 

1 Trail, and Cress, iii. 3. 96-123. 



admit this proposition. I know nothing of faculties and 
I doubt if vou know much more, i.e. of faculties apart from 
and utterly previous to their exercise. You would not probably 
be in the way of saying that a man runs because he has 
a faculty of running, any more than you would repeat the 
old joke," that opium causes sleep because it has a dormitive 
faculty. The appeal to faculties is very much like a justifica 
tion of one I think so by another because I think so/ 
Faculties are, firstly, only an inference, though I should like 
to add a necessary inference, from the fact of their exercise. 
If I did it, you say, I must have been able to do it, I must 
have had a faculty for doing it. If you did it ! but are you 
quite sure that you did it, you and you alone? Or, is your 
phrase an elliptical one? Are you not, so to speak, sitting 
in the chair of Nebuchadnezzar? That king (in a pretty 
legend which the somewhat apocryphal book of Daniel has 
preserved) was walking on the royal palace of Babylon, 
and as lie looked on his city for which he had done so much, 
he could not refrain from saying were it but to himself: 
Is not this great Babylon which I have built by the might 
of my power? And, straightway, a voice fell from heaven : 
the kingdom departed from him, he was driven out from 
men and made his dwelling with the beasts of the field. 
The punishment, you observe, is no arbitrary imposition: 
it is only the acted, outwardized thought. For all that 
glory of civilization, these fanes, academies, storehouses and 
all they symbolize, were the combined work of uncounted 
workers in many generations ; and he was but the foremost 
minister of his kingdom, and, if you prefer it, the servus 
ftervornm Dei. And as he said, so it was : he had dreamed 
himself all alone, and alone he was, as one of the beasts of 
the field. 

True, where there is exercise, there must be faculty. If 
it is done, it could (as least then) be done. But this some 
what trite or, as some call it, insignificant proposition hardly 


warrants the assertion that each of us have the faculties 
in question. You can, of course, carry on the war longer, 
if you like ; you can say, we must have had the faculty to 
have the faculty we the individuals to become we the 
social. But here I cease to pursue; if you adopt Scythian 
tactics and retire into the wastes, I can do nothing: and 
at present I am not prepared to follow the plan suggested 
to Darius, and attack the sepulchres of your fathers. Let 
me rather say, that, for all purposes of common intelligence, 
real faculty is only where there is actuality: and that is only 
in the reciprocal action and reaction of at least two agents, 
or, if you prefer it, an agent and a patient, who are for ever 
changing places. 

But there is another thing to be said about the faculties, 
which we thus severally tend to appropriate. When we have 
them all before us, it gets a difficult matter to adjust their 
mutual relationships. How far is conscience e.g. different 
from will, or will different from intellect? How do they 
severally stand to us, to our self or ego ? The phrenologist, 
or, as we now know him, the brain physiologist, will perhaps 
reply: f Oh! but we have localized the faculties in the brain/ 
I understand they have localized, to a not very great extent, 
and with some dispute, something in the brain : but I doubt 
whether it is the faculties. I doubt whether you can, if 
words are to be used plainly, speak of localizing faculties. 
Perhaps, first, you will have to settle whether mind itself 
is localized in the brain. That, some may answer, is a fore 
gone conclusion": to which, if I may give full meaning to 
the words, I assent. < If not there, then, where is it? it 
must be somewhere/ Well, these are questions I cannot 
answer, or you insist on asking. Similarly, I cannot tell you 
where God is : not that I do not draw a difference between 
God and mind. God, it may be said, is everywhere: and 
my mind, well, is not everywhere. One thing I will say : 
as I do not know whether God is to be said to be within 



or without the world, so I cannot tell whether the mind 
or soul is within or without the body. To fix your faith 
on such words, is to play at metaphors with the Devil in 
a game where he is almost sure to win. You do not, I pre 
sume, identify your heart, when you give it away, with the 
central machinery of the blood-pump, nor is a broken heart 
necessarily a rupture in the cardiac muscles. But you reply, 
mind is a function of the brain, is it not? Happy, or shall 
I say, unhappy man, to whom that ill-savoured word func 
tion gives repose. But, if I must use it, I will say : Yes, 
mind is a function of brain, acting in conjunction with the 
whole graduated universe of things. 

At any rate, when we come to conscience, will, aesthetic 
sense, we may cease to talk of brain localization. Of course, 
these, like all mental exercise, involve action of brain cells : 
they go, so to say, through certain tracts, and adopt certain 
paths fitted for them. So some spiritual action uses the 
hand, some the teeth, some the lungs. But it seems to me 
as quaint to call this localization as it would be to say, digestion 
resides in the stomach. These phrases, doubtless, have some 
meaning, but it seems confusedly involved. No : it is in 
the sphere of their action that we get the difference of 
will and intellect, conscience and reason, intellect and aesthetic 
sense. You gain nothing, and perhaps lose much, by hyposta- 
tising a faculty of will, beside intellect. You will and 
understand, you reason and have conscience: but if you 
do, it is in the co-ordinated and combined work of society, 
not by special drawers in your particular mind. Your reason 
and conscience, your intelligent will, and your sense of God, 
come to you in the course of an associate life, towards which 
you co-operate: if they are in you, they are there as social 
energies, for human service, and thereby for higher and wider 


THE question What is Civilization ? s can, like many others,, 
be answered in two or three very different ways. We may, 
for instance, looking round on the more striking- but familiar 
features of our own national life and contrasting them with 
others more remote or opposite in character, select certain of 
these as marking out the boundaries of the word s denotation. 
We know, of course,, it is, indeed a commonplace and an 
axiom, that we are a civilized people. And on these premises 
it is concluded that civilization means railways, lighting of 
streets by night, a certain legalized and moralized form of 
marriage, the institution of property, churches, and so on, in 
a list which may be as long, and consist of such items, as the 
knowledge or aim of the observer suggests. Any group or 
community of men which is without these features, or has 
others opposite to them, is accordingly styled uncivilized. 
We no longer for instance, at least in an offensively frank 
way, buy our women to wife. That practice therefore stamps 
a people as uncivilized. We no longer openly eat our fellow- 
humans, though it is still a legitimate test of skill to be able 
to prey upon our neighbours, and as an elegant phrase puts it, 
suck their brains. The cannibal, therefore, is uncivilized. 
We dress, or rather in ceremonious manner, we doubly dress, 
when we dine : and the absence of clothes at the festive board 
is a mark of uncivilizedness. 


So speaking, we take what we conceive as the essence of 
our civilization to be an absolute standard, to be the civiliza 
tion of civilization; and every feature of it, except such as 
those which we may, for some reason, think trivial or casual, 
is re-arded as an item in making np the total idea. A little 
extension or experience, a little travel through history, helps 
to dispel this illusion, or at least to modify it. Gradually, as 
we escape from our ingrown prepossessions, and can look out 
from a disinterested observer s standpoint, we come to speak 
of a Greek, of an Egyptian, of a Chinese civilization, and the 
rest. Of each of these foreign, and it may be vanished civili 
zations, we can, through the help of books and other monu 
ments, construct a picture, approximately correct : not, of 
course, quite so complete or so well-compacted as we can 
form of our own state; more confined to externals, and pene 
trating less to what is within, but still in essence a picture of 
the same style as that which we delineate of our home 
product. Each such delineation is what we term a < descrip 
tion : and description, though the logicians seem very unwill 
ing to admit and register this plain fact, is, always of an 
individual instance, always a constructed percept, never 
a concept or general idea. And, so long as we keep to this 
field of individuals, and do not dig deeper down to their basis, 
that is, to the universal or general (which again, as the 
logician knows, is always the sphere of definition as opposed 
to description), there is really no good reason for drawing the 
line anywhere, and saying that here civilization stops. Once 
you cease to regard your own peculiar property, your private 
and particular civilization, as the one and sole type of real 
civilization, you are set moving on an inclined plane ; and, as 
historians of civilization, you will have to speak of a Hottentot 
or an Eskimo civilization. But having gone so far, can you 
stop even there, and if so, why? Just as religion means, 
first, and vulgarly, your religion : the dominant or predomi 
nant religion of your nation and time : then, secondly, a set of 


phenomena, found in different and perhaps in all races, occu 
pying- a similar or analogous place in their national life to 
what ours does for us : so with civilization. Our own civili 
zation we know in a way, however imperfectly,, both from 
without and within, subjectively and objectively : the civili 
zation of others mainly from without, objectively. But 
neither of these methods of knowledge is finally satisfactory. 

The historical outlook inevitably leads to comparisons : and 
comparisons lead to criticism, to selection, to judgements of 
good or bad, and to the formation of a scale or order of merit. 
Our boasted civilization is weighed in the balance against 
others, known or imagined : and sometimes, and at some 
points, it is pronounced wanting. With an imperfect con 
sciousness of what and why, there grows up in the mind thus 
reflecting a sense of a direction or purpose, of a main end or 
principle in the complex structure of civilization, by which its 
parts and members can be judged as well or ill developed, as 
degenerations or steps of progress, as survivals that have lost 
meaning, or as rudiments which apparently have not yet 
wholly found it. It may, as just hinted, be sometimes diffi 
cult to say in clear words what this central idea is : for, at 
first, it is only a felt and experienced influence, it acts 
instinctively, and, if you like, blindly as a clairvoyante, before 
it comes to seize itself in the light of clear self -apprehension. 
We come thus to a third stage in our way to the meaning of 
civilization, in which we seek to get at the unity, which 
underlies and holds together the various phenomena of our 
own civilization, and which also is the organizing tie in all. 
And, as a first step in that direction, we must look for what 
Goethe used to call the Uqihanomen, the typical and, as it 
were, aboriginal phenomenon : the single example which 
projects the completest image of the fact in all its essential 
elements : the body, as it were, which lets the soul most 
translucently show through it. 

In one way, the way, we may call it, of Nominalism, it is 


easy enough to see that civilization is citizenship. The fact 
that it points to, or means, is a < city/ And when we say 
a city, we mean, if we but think of it, any gathering or 
association of human beings which, within limits larger or 
smaller and with more or less permanence, has a kind of 
independent completeness; which in a visible way shows 
a co-ordination and subordination of individual actions to 
wards some common end that belongs to all, and can be 
enjoyed by each. A city, in this sense, is equally to be seen 
in the group of tents which shelters an Australian tribe, in 
the commonwealth of ancient Greece, in the kingdom of 
Israel, in the Chinese empire, in the United States. The 
name, however, belongs originally, properly, and grammati 
cally, to only one period of these historical formations. The 
city, as such, appears for the first time in Greece; and later, 
by imitation, in Rome, in the Hellenized east, in mediaeval 
Europe : and thence, by an extension backwards and forwards, 
the name gets applied to all organized communities of men. 
But why, one may ask, first in Greece? Because so at 
least we can partially answer the question in Greece, and 
especially at one period of Greek history, the inner thought or 
idea took perceptible shape, visible form. A city, according 
to Aristotle, the ancient theorist who has tried to tell us what 
the Greeks meant by what they named a TroAis, is of such 
a size that you can easily survey it in a single view, of such 
population that every citizen may know in a rough way every 
other, and where all may be able to meet in such a place that 
one speaker s voice can reach them all. This, you observe, is 
unity to sight as well as unity to thought : it is idea wedding 
fact in a very palpable, tangible way. But, we may, I think, 
go beyond these Aristotelian notes of what makes the city 
a perceived or seen unity. In various other directions, it had 
no less visible and sensible symbols of spiritual oneness. It 
had one central fortress, perhaps, where in extremity it might 
concentrate its militant life; it had one temple, or it might 


be, a conjunct group of such ; it had one market-place, where 
the citizens saw their industrial and commercial unity realized, 
and where, as the hours went round, the business of chaffering 
about the merchandise of each gave place to the business of 
the common good; it had one, or an ordered series of great 
common festivals, half-religious, half-social (if we use our 
analytic terms to describe them), into which the whole com 
munity threw itself with zest and zeal ; it had, perhaps, one 
common, and perhaps open-air, exhibition of art and litera 
ture, which was a gathering-place of the community in which 
it specially felt itself one ; it had its meeting-place for the 
fathers of the city, its public hearth with the ever-burning 
hearth-fire of the land, and its public table where those 
worthy of general honour found a home; it had its own 
comparatively comprehensive yet simple code of laws ; and its 
one great burial-place, where the living could linger and 
dream with their departed. 

Contrast all this with, say, Glasgow. There may be 
physical obstructions other than size which here make a 
synoptic view of the whole city impossible : but, even apart 
from fog and smoke, it is plain that Aristotle s conditions 
would not be realizable, even in a single one of its parlia 
mentary divisions. But it is when we come to the signs and 
symbols of mental and moral unity that the contrast of the 
modern city stands most obvious. There are some attempts, 
costly and even grandiose, to give expression to municipal 
unity, and what a fragment of unity that is, after all ! but 
the most ardent admirer of Glasgow will scarcely assert that 
they are adequate, whether one looks solely to the place they 
take in the mere field of observation, or considers rather how 
far they possess that vigour, that dynamic activity, that hold 
on the lives and sentiments of men, which was exercised by 
the monuments of Greece, and by many imitators of Greece in 
later times. But, while one says this, one should add that 
other things are to be taken into account. The modern city 


has an immense scheme of adjustments and arrangements, 
a mechanism which works to keep it together, which is very 
efficient, and yet not very conspicuous to the outward eye. It 
is a rational or intellectual rather than a visible or audible 
machinery. This rational machinery makes little show and 
has but slender bulk. It does by a touch, a pen-stroke, what 
in more sensuous ages required a vast display of force. What 
in the sensible sphere rings loud and shows clear, that, when 
translated into intellectual methods, grows a thin but efficient 
breath. And yet, while we admit all this, the want is not 
thereby made up. Still, as Coleridge says, the heart doth 
need a language. Man does not live by forms or words : he 
needs also the actual bread of deeds. The word by itself, the 
bare general, unimpassioned, mechanical, reasoning method, 
will never be enough without the bread of visible ceremony. 
No doubt, if we may take an illustration, the civil marriage 
by the formless formality of registration is the main thing ; 
and it might be the sole thing, if we were only reasoning 
machines. But as yet we are not citizens of Laputa, we are 
still human, i. e. weak and reasonable. There is, as Plato 
says, a child in each human being, a child that walks by sight 
and touch, not by faith ; there is, not merely in women but 
also in men, not merely in plain men but even in business 
men and rationalists, a child-like being which craves for its 
due, the meed of sensibility, the intuitive symbol. And what 
is true of marriage, is true in a different way of all the organs 
and systems in social life. Concept without percept, says 
Kant, is empty. The truth has not merely to be said, and 
posted up in formula, it must be done and made visible hour 
by hour, day by day. The very word for the Greek city will 
help to illustrate. We translate it, awkwardly enough, by 
the phrase ( city-state/ That is as if we were to say of a 
human being (and it is what perhaps we dare say of the 
fewest), that he or she was body-soul : the body the trans 
parent and perfect temple of the spirit : a dress, as it were, so 


absolutely well-fitting, as to reveal while it veiled. And as it 
is only a perfectly shaped person who can afford to wear 
a perfectly fitting dress, so only a perfect state, which is the 
spirit, can be embodied in a clear-formed city. 

Civilization, then, was embodied, or seemed or be embodied, 
at one period or rather instant of history, in a city. But 
before it reached that point of development, before the spirit 
had visibly come to dwell in mortal body, it had run through 
a whole series of less adequate forms : and again, after it 
reached that form, it has had to recommence the same 
problem but with larger data, less easily manageable con 
ditions. Greece, as it were, created one visible form of union, 
as an earlier world had created the family : and again and 
again its example has been imitated, no doubt with much 
divergence and defect, as e. g. by the Italian communes of the 
middle ages, and similar institutions. But, partly through 
the ever-increasing size of cities themselves, partly through 
the further need for enabling several cities to form a lasting 
and stable union, the social evolution of the modern world 
has been towards an organization of a machinery which should 
render immensely larger associations possible. The main 
interest of this movement in its recent phases has, however, lain 
in the discovery of the mechanical conditions of organization, 
i. e. the means by which space and time can be practically 
obliterated, and rational or intelligible methods of combination 
made to operate, where the old sensible methods had become 
impossible. This kind of progress is one that is ever going 
on, even within the range of our organic senses. Thus the 
mere primitive senses themselves, touch, with its specifications 
and developments in taste and smell, have been in the higher 
animals supplemented and in part superseded by eye and ear ; 
each, in its own peculiar way, a vastly more rational sense 
than that which it supplanted, bringing us by the mechanism 
of light and sound waves into contact with regions to which 
the primal touch seemed utterly inadequate to reach. And 


yet the rational beauties of a sight and sound world fail 
ultimately to satisfy us. They are only surrogates at the 
best. In the stress of strong emotion, in the keen instants of 
life and of death, we seek to go back to the weak and beggarly 
rudiments, the animal elements of mere touch. Even touch, 
it may be said, does not bring spirit close to spirit. Yet the 
hand grasp, if real, and not a mere play of callisthenics, is our 
nearest approach in the sense world to the soul to soul of the 
spirit. But in the human world, the chain of means and 
methods between us as the agent or source, and us as the 
recipient or end of action, is mainly a system of external 
material things. The age of machinery is upon us, as, in one 
way, it always has been ; but the chain of means by which we 
come in touch with ourselves grows longer, the network of 
mechanism grows denser and less penetrable. The vast range 
of instruments, set in order and system, rises in pseudo- 
independence, a self-subsistent thing, a real world, almost 
like a second and more soulless nature, standing imperious 
between our needs and their satisfaction. The prophetically 
speculative chemist enthusiastically tells us that ere long we 
shall cease to go to the animal or vegetable kingdom for our 
foods, and that he will feed us by new methods from his 
laboratory. Animals and plants will be allowed or encouraged 
by destructive agencies to disappear, and man alone, by 
a series of mechanical creatures of his own devising, will 
gradually convert the realm of nature into his pabulum 
and his dress. 

These things may be only in their extravagance a dream, 
and, as many may think, a hideous dream. But that they ex 
press a direction, and a prominent direction, in modern civiliza 
tion is undoubted. Poets, said old Homer, are strong in fiction, 
and the modern scientific inventor occasionally runs them 
hard in his promises. We have fallen on what Hesiod might 
have called an iron age : in which the machinery of means 
makes us almost lose sight of ends. Civilization has come to 


stand for the means of civilization. But, after all, the life is 
more than the food, whether that life and that food be bodily 
or spiritual : and what we shall put on, is not as important 
as what, within our clothes, we are. Like Martha, we are 
careful and troubled about many thing s ; but many things 
are not needed. The necessaries of life, as Jesus taught her, 
are but few, perhaps but one ; but beyond the necessaries, 
which are but means, come the real goods and true ends, the 
things which, if chosen, are a good part that can never be 
taken away. 

The world/ says Wordsworth, as said the apostles before 
him, is too much with us/ What is this world, against 
which the religious man and the poet raise their voice ? It is 
the skeleton, the carcase, the dry bones of life : it is the 
machinery of living, left apart from the ultimate ends which 
it subserves. The fool in the parable built larger barns and 
increased his stores. He had multiplied machinery and 
thought he had perfected organization. But organization 
in its truth is machinery plus a soul, a heart, a life. These 
alone are spiritual stores such as thieves cannot steal. To 
love the world in this technical sense is to be devoted to the 
things which are the means of true and good life, as if they 
were ends in themselves. Property, wealth, health, honour, 
and all institutions are goods ; but they are good for certain 
ends more ultimate, or, if you like it, more fundamental. If 
you seek them for themselves, and not for the service, the 
action, they render possible, you become an idolater, a world- 
worshipper. You are, in New Testament phrase, godless (or 
without God) in the world. Without God, in one sense, no 
one can be. But each man can, if he will, ignore him without 
whom he cannot be. The old monastic ethics of the mediaeval 
church said, in its bald and drastic way, that the flesh was 
foul and devilish. Wherein lay the foulness and the possession 
by the devil, thus attributed to the flesh and the world ? The 
flesh that is so stigmatized is the body of one who has 


forgotten that the body is what it is by a great co-operation ; 
that it has been wrought by kindred, parents, and society; 
that it is not its own, but bought by a great price, the burdens 
carried by fatherhood and motherhood, by the whole society 
in which it has been reared. Every body is a product of the 
social capital, an investment of social energy and care. It has 
a debt upon it from which it can never be emancipated. That 
body which is stigmatized as the flesh, is a body of one who holds 
it as his absolute own, an estate without debt or mortgage, to 
dispose of as his separate soul may direct. Always, though 
not solely a means, it has been made merely an end. 

Not different is it with the world. The world, the material? 
or mechanism of civilization, is also a social product. The 
world is the realm of outward things, into which man has put 
his activity, and through which he has sought his satisfaction. 
It came into existence, and can only be maintained in existence, 
by constant effort and exercise, and by conjunct effort and 
exercise. Every item is the fruit of consideration and service 
from countless sources. Our comfort, our very existence, in 
even the smallest matters depends upon the co-operation of 
a complex of causes and energies, which no mathematician 
could estimate. In our superficial moods, when we skim the 
newspaper, we are sometimes ready to cry out at the iniquity, 
the malice, the selfishness of men. But we may rest assured 
that in the main it is far otherwise. The psalmist who said : 
All men are liars/ was guilty in his haste of a double exag 
geration. All men certainly are not. But not even any man 
is wholly a liar : he has his exceptions, and, if we knew him 
better, we should find they were many. It is even doubtful 
whether we can safely say of any one : He lies. Politeness 
after all is nearer, as usual, to the truth, when it forbids such 
language. For to lie, when we come to think of it, implies, 
to make it complete, a diabolic malice which it is hard to 
attribute to any one bearing the human form. Our coarse, 
hasty judgement lumps all the qualities of a human being 


under one head which he casually presents to us. He is 
a thief, an adulterer, a liar, a murderer, and therefore bad 
irretrievably and utterly bad. Can any good thing come out 
of that ruffianly and barbarous land of Nazareth ? And it is 
true that one fault by the logic of fact tends to entail another. 
Yet it is also true that utter badness is, so far as we follow the 
indications of experience, impossible. Even the vilest helps 
in many, almost infinite ways, to keep together the political 
frame. He is a thief, we say : but there is honour, and 
a fortiori honesty even among thieves. Vice is possible, only 
because its opposite, common, unrecognized virtue is so super 
latively dominant. The weakest, equally, we may say, with 
the strongest, when either contribution is alike necessary, 
help to create the materials of civilization ; the directing head 
must be supported by the labouring hand ; and unless the 
labouring hand gives free co-operation, born of a partly free 
initiative, all the wisdom of social architects will be ineffective. 
The leader, the director, can only lead and direct by the self- 
leading and self-direction of those he yet is well said to lead 
and direct. What/ asks one, moves the bell-wether ? 
Who leads the leader ? Who sets the fashion ? Who forms 
public opinion ? And the answer is, that in all these questions, 
by the very way of asking, the answer is made impossible. 
There is no independent starting-point of motion : no merely 
passive units waiting to be led. The waiting units are silently 
but surely giving their own direction : and he is the wise 
leader in politics, or elsewhere, who, as it were, can hear 
the grass growing, can by anticipation catch the first faint 
breath of the coming storm. The dumb cattle need the 
herdsman, yet the herdsman, to be worth much, must have 
some insight of sympathy with the dumb herd he seems 
to guide. 

But here, as in the case of the corporeal organism, so when 
he looks upon the part of social product, the world next to 
himself, the individual may easily forget the social origin and 


therefore the social debt. He may look upon the means of 
civilization as his own to be done with as he pleases. Or, for 
getting the end for which they exist, he may treat them as ends 
in themselves. The world is at first the name for the mass, 
ultimately the whole mass, of material things, considered as 
means or machinery by which we may be, each of us, all that 
we would be; i.e. means of self-realization. But when we 
say self-realization, let us guard against a mistake. There is 
a self which realizes and a self which is realized. They are, 
and they are not, the same. The one is the germ, the 
beginning; the other the end, the full-grown organism; 
between them lies a world, an economy of means and ends, 
a passage from all emptiness to all fulness. Yet in the 
emptiness there was more than seemed present. For in that 
germ, in that human thing, there dwelt all the fulness of 
godhead, and the end was ivhat it was, because omnipotence 
lay in the cradle at the beginning. 

We are perhaps now in a position to answer the question 
what is civilization? We may (i) identify it with certain 
objects, a collection or aggregate of things, a stock of objective 
goods or materials, a machinery of useful and pleasant things, 
of which we can draw up a list more or less complete. W r e 
sometimes call it material civilization, and include in it 
clothes, railways, Sec., and in so styling it, we may perhaps 
tend to despise it. Thus we are sometimes said to civilize 
a country, when we get its inhabitants into clothes and 
facilitate their means of communication. (2) In a natural 
revulsion from all this we may declare that civilization is an 
inner subjective thing, a state of mind and character. There 
has been created a common medium, a social atmosphere, in 
which the strangeness, uncouthness, roughness of individua 
lities ceases to trouble. This is formal, just as the other was 
material civilization. Irregularities have been polished off, or, 
at least, a world of common social forms has been created 
society in the narrower sense a world of culture, of education, 


regarded as the means for making us all citizens in this 
world, the world as it is called. In this connexion we may 
almost say that civilitas, which means something more com 
prehensive, has been well rendered as urbanity, civility, 
politeness. It is an admirable and a necessary quality, at the 
very root of much that is good. But it is obviously an inward 
which is very much of an outward. At the best, it is only 
a manner, a hypocrisy, which well imitates the deeper sense 
of solidarity. The real unity of society may have gone while 
the appearance of it still remains ; there is a sort of equality, 
but there is no fraternity. (3) Civilization in the fuller sense 
is the union, or, to say it better, the identity, i. e. the being-in- 
oneness, of outer and inner, of subjective and objective. But 
when we say, union or identity, we must note that this is not 
juxtaposition or addition. It is not enough merely to add to 
the abundance of material civilization a sufficient extension of 
literary culture, of manners, of common sociality. The two 
elements must become in a deeper way one. The material 
must embody the formal; the intellectual life grow out of the 
corporeal. Poetry, art, literature, must begin from home, 
not take their inspiration from an alien world. And material 
civilization must become the visibility of the spirit. Instead 
then of the verbal admission of civility that we are all in 
a way fellow- workers and have in some sort a common right, 
what is wanted is the practical carrying out of that idea in 
every detail of reality. A community is civilized in which 
the solidarity of human effort is the first and foremost 
principle, in which citizenship is realized as the governing 
idea of all life. But realized and real it must be, and not 
merely acknowledged as a mental principle or in words and 
forms. A community is not civilized in which the subordina 
tion of all the materials of civilization to the commonweal 
does not receive palpable expression. That is the point for 
which the Socialists fight, however much they may sometimes 
lose sight of it in side issues. It is an aim not, indeed, 



probably to be reached by what in their sense is called the 
( Socialization of the means of production. 

If, however, it be important to note that civilization is at 
its height morality ; that, in other words, the matter and the 
form of civilization both receive their justification and sancti- 
fication from the life of the spirit which they further and 
realize; it is not less important, on the other hand, to note 
that for morality the material conditions are all-essential, and, 
indeed, are more than mere conditions : or, to put it otherwise, 
they are riot purely material conditions, as that word is usually 
understood, but themselves products and parts of the spiritual 
life. It is true that the ordinary observer of modern times 
has been apt to draw distinction between the moral life and 
the economic or industrio-commercial life very much to the 
glorification of the former. Yet, as against this, it must be 
said that industry and trade are intrinsically parts of the moral 
life, and that, in so far as they fail to be so, they at the very 
same moment cease to fulfil their own proper function. 
Economics is itself a part of moral science; it is a study of 
certain abstracted parts of moral life with a view to deter 
mining 1 their intrinsic relations and laws, ultimately with an 
eye to the welfare of the body social. So, again, the modern 
reader draws a distinction between the various elements of the 
Judaic law : one part of it is moral, another ceremonial l ; 
one is made up of precepts of universal significance, and the 
other of rules of temporary authority, now supposed to be in 
the main abrogated. But all this is a mistake, and a mistake 
which is fraught with misleading consequences. Ethics is not 

1 According to Wellhsusen, Exod. xxxiv. 14 seq. is the original decalogue 
of Jahve worship in old Israel. (Thou shalt worship no strange god : thou 
shalt makethee no molten gods: the feast of unleavened bread shalt thou 
keep : all that openeth the womb is mine : thou shalt observe the feast 
of weeks, and the feast of ingathering : thou shalt not offer the blood of 
my sacrifice with leavened bread : neither shall the sacrifice of the feast 
of the passover be left unto the morning : the first of the firstfruits of thy 
ground thou shall bring to the house of Jahve thy God : thou shalt not 
seethe a kid in its mother s milk.) 


solely concerned with general precepts ; the point of its 
remarks lies in their application. Dolus latet in generalilus. 
Nor again are the special and detailed precepts of a purely 
ceremonial nature : they are commanded, it is not our business 
here to ask how far rightly or wrongly, as conditions and 
indeed parts of universal and individual welfare for Israel ; 
they are therefore entirely ethical. But equally, of course, 
Dolus latet in particularibus. Each particular rule tends to be 
set up as an independent aim, as a thing worthy and precious 
in itself, apart from its relations and functions. 

The prophets of old Israel and prophets, I hope I need 
remind no one, are not predictors of events to come, but 
those who speak to men what they believe to be the truth or 
message of God probably, indeed certainly, made no utterly 
new discovery when they declared that Jahve cared less for 
sacrifice and burnt-offerings than for righteousness and truth 
and mercy. Always the human heart has felt that ; though 
always it has to be reminded of it, so apt is it to rest content 
with what is behind, instead of pressing on to those things 
which are before. And what the earlier prophets said, the 
last of them, Jesus of Nazareth, seemed to corroborate. The 
firstfruits of prophecy, in the movement which began with 
Ezra and culminated in the age of the Maccabees, had been 
an intensification of legal particularism. The nominal bond 
of Judaism covered both those who called themselves the 
righteous, and those who were called the ( sinners/ In its 
nobler phases and no reader of the psalms and the later 
literature can doubt of the existence of such noble phases 
these antithetic names had their ground in the resolute 
courage which realizes the ideal of God s kingdom, as con 
trasted with the weakness which cares for no such thing. 
But, in certain conspicuous and dominant instances, as we 
learn from the New Testament, it was far otherwise. The 
righteous was the Pharisee, the punctual observer of detailed 
rules, and the regular attendant on temple service, while the 




< sinner > was any one without this circle ; what, in these parts, 
we might call belonging to no denomination/ a joined 
member of no religious body/ In the face of these facts 
there is much in the language of the Prophet of Nazareth 
which, to the careless hearer, might sound contemptuous of 
special observance and detailed ordinance. What he really 
warred against was the superstition which thought to sup 
plement moral defects by care in special observances ; the 
idolatry which held particular ceremonies as absolute as 
the ethical needs of man. But the language had its effect, 
as had that of the prophets, when read casually and out of its 
context. It was supposed by a section of those who called 
themselves his followers, that ethics and religion henceforth 
were to deal with the higher spiritual life, and that the 
common round of duties was comparatively unimportant. 
The error was taken up by an unintelligent Spiritualism, and 
ethics, like religion, was treated as almost too good for 
human nature s daily food. 

It is against misconceptions like this that the older Hebrew 
Scriptures, which Christianity presupposes and out of which 
it grows, are of permanent value. It may be true, as says 
John C. Calhoun, that they didn t know everything down 
in Judea ; but they knew some things which it would have 
been well if the later ages had not lost sight of. They knew 
that, even if religion is not a matter of meats and drinks, 
meat and drink are no trifles which religion may ignore. 
They knew that religion is intimately wrapped up with the 
tillage of the field, the pasture of the flocks, the rules and 
modes of wedlock, the custom of the market, with sanitary 
rules, with the treatment of disease. They may have been 
mistaken in some of their views, but they were certainly 
right in their main thesis ; and the whole bent of modern 
progress is towards doing what they did in a complete!* way. 
To them religion and ethics left no sphere of life untouched. 
Every theological doctrine had for its converse a practical 


command, or rather everything they believed about God was 
ipso facto a law of life. No otiose theology this ; on the con 
trary, one submitting itself to experiential verification, and 
glorying therein. It is no mere assertion that God is 
good : it is Taste and see that God is good/ Jahve 
is the God of his people : all their interests are his, 
and he deputes none of them, and thinks none of them 

The modern world thinks too gingerly of God. * Thou 
thoughtest that I was even such an one as thyself ; one, 
that is, who does not care to dirty his hands with manual 
labour, who dwells only in the high places of wisdom and 
policy, who leaves to lower arts and vulgar attention the lesser 
matters of the animal life. What is perhaps worse, some 
have thought that they could tell what God is by the way of 
scientific generalization. But God does not so reveal him 
self. He comes and comes alone to him who does well, i. e. 
faithfully and heartily, the work which in the ordinances 
of nature lies next to him to do. If he come at all, he 
comes altogether, in the lowest as in the highest, sooner 
perhaps to the day-labourer than to the speculative thinker, 
because the latter perchance thinks he can find out God by 
patience and resolution, while the former in honest effort, 
seeking no great things, is perhaps readier to hear the voice : 
Friend, come up higher. The modern world can only gain 
religion, and have such vision of God as man can have, when 
it realizes to the intensest that the wise and foolish equally 
enjoy his sunlight, that to him nothing is common or 
unclean. The old churches at least saw this ; and if they did 
amiss in trying literally to reproduce a code, that may have 
suited the later Israel, for the use of Geneva or of Scotland, 
yet their principle was right, absolutely right, the principle 
that religion is no separate element, no function of a separate 
organ, but a power governing all life and consecrating 
democracy into theocracy. 

M 2 


It is nearly half a century since a German scientist of 
a school which we for brevity s sake call Materialistic, 
scandalized many good people by the remark that Der Mensch 
ist, ivas er isst; an untranslatable pun. < Man is what he 
eats/ Nowadays we have grown accustomed to the scandal. 
It is perhaps unnecessary at this date to note that eat must 
here be taken to imply digestion/ to include drinking and 
breathing, and perhaps other less definable modes of recep 
tivity. Even with these qualifications many people will 
shrink from admitting it in its absolute plainness : they 
will insist that there is something in the original structure, 
and that there is more in any of us that can be, straight off, 
equalled to any aggregate or mixture of carbon, nitrogen, 
phosphorus, and the rest. With these good people I will 
not attempt to argue. I will not even go into the problem 
whether, when the heart of I ami Fritz was captured by 
a dish of apple fritters, there was not something of human 
nature in it ; nor will I appeal to any housewife s experience 
of the ratio between dinner and a husband s mind and temper. 
I will rather say, Friends, are you not, to put it mildly, 
a little wanting in apprehension ? The man who thought it 
worth while to say : ( Man is what he eats, must have 
suffered much from a generation who said that it mattered 
nothing, and that he, his morality, his intelligence, his 
religion were things of a source far transcending what he fed 
on. He spoke in some weariness, and uttered the other half 
of the truth. No man, no, nor angel from heaven, if he 
speaks human speech, can put a concrete truth, a truth, i.e. of 
life-reality, into a simple proposition. 

But what I touched upon this old phrase for, was not to 
rake up the special controversy it awaked. It is to recall the 
truth that morals, intellect, art, and religion, are all, pro 
foundly and in their very inwards, affected by the economic 
condition of a people. Given a certain arrangement of the 
means of production, and you can only have a certain kind 


of morals, art,, and religion. You may encourage schools of 
art, apply the persuasions of punishment and training to 
make people moral, and build churches till they fill every 
corner of your streets, but it will not answer. The founda 
tions of things lie in the commonwealth, and these 
foundations are its economic arrangements. You fancy, no 
doubt, that fine art has nothing to do with vulgar craftsman 
ship or honest labour, but it is far otherwise. You think 
religion will cure the wretched homes of horrid poverty and 
insolent wealth : but it will not ; for religion will not and 
cannot live where there are such abominations. You fancy 
morality sits high and safe on the eternal rocks of reason : 
but, probably, if you got nearer, you would find that the 
venerable queen of life has long since been petrified in these 

The foundations, perhaps even the ground-plan of the 
moral, religious, artistic life, are laid and fixed in the form, 
which at any given epoch is dominant, of providing and 
distributing the means of subsistence. What was the 
beginning of it all ? Of course, we cannot tell : we know 
nothing of primitive man ; most likely we shall in the literal 
sense never know primitive man. But we can go so far as 
the most primitive races that are upon the earth at present. 
Yet, if we speak of races, let no stress be laid upon that 
word, and the differences it may involve. The vanities of 
breed count for little here in comparison with the greater 
uniformities of art, morality, and religion, which are found 
wherever in the surface of the globe there is approximately 
the same form of production of the means of subsistence. 

The lowest rank is taken by tribes, found in widely 
different localities, mainly supporting life by means of 
hunting and fishing. Such tribes as the native Australians, 
some Brazilian groups, the Eskimos, the Andamans, the 
Bushmen in South Africa, and the Terra del Fuegians. The 
terms hunter and fisher have first to be realized, before their 


force appears. To the modern citizen, hunting and fishing 
are to some extent a by-play, a sport : in which the object, in 
the majority of cases, is placed at a hopeless disadvantage. 
We shall understand it better when, with Lady Nairne s 
song, we remember that the herring which some call < vulgar 
faring are to fisher wives symbolic of < lives of men/ But, 
even in the fishers case, the primitive people have a sterner 
war to wage : a war, in almost sober truth, between com 
batants not equally matched, when man had yet to mould his 
weapons, and learn the secret of mastery: when, as tell the 
Indian hunters legends, he began to steal from the various 
creatures their distinctive weapons, and made himself the sole 
proprietor of all nature s wiliness. It was a struggle too in 
which for long the victory was, to say the least, uncertain ; 
in which there were many disappointments, long periods of 
trying hunger, other times of rude gorging; a wandering 
life running round the cycle of the year, as game drew it 
here and there ; with domestic life, fitful and but forced, 
with all the illnesses and weaknesses which fasting and 
feasting alternately followed can produce ; leisure for art of 
a kind ; a passionate love of excitement in moments of full 
meat; a dark, mysterious godhead, dimly connected with 
woods and streams, with storm and cloud, with unknown 
perils, with the beasts. Marriage and property, as we know 
them, were not, save in their rudiments. Yet laws or 
customs, rigid and numerous, complicated and terrible, grow 
up. Nor is hunting all. Almost everywhere in these hunter 
days, the woman has a province of her own. It may be, 
as in Brazil, that she begins a rude cultivation of the soil ; 
and while her mankind prowl in woods for a while and then 
sleep or loll till hunger next appeals, she by feebler, but more 
unremitting energy, gathers a stock of vegetables and fruits. 
So long as life is so harassed, half the virtues we respect, half 
the attributes we attribute to deity, half the developments 
of art, cannot arise. 


It would be out of place here to try to follow out the steps 
by which the pastoral stage emerged ; how the agricultural 
followed : and how, industry always increasing, complexity 
supervened. But if the survey could be made, it would show, 
first, that art, religion and morality, and, we need hardly 
add, science, grow up and take form in society, and that the 
essence or ground-plan of society lies in its economical 
arrangements. The lawgivers of old Israel saw clearly that 
in them is the root of the matter for morals and religion. 
The modern spiritualist laughs at the ancient believer, whose 
god gave him corn and wine, and sat him down under his own 
vine and fig-tree. But we may spiritualize our God over 
much. God is not merely the guardian or the rewarder of 
the narrowly moral law. The real moral law of God is the 
law of all life : and such a God is a living God, the strength 
of all who believe in him, the shelter in the storm and the 
heat. God, we may be sure, is not indifferent to morals 
and still less is he immoral : but perhaps he may be less 
like a moralist or a judge, a lawgiver or a king, than we are 
sometimes taught to conceive. Perhaps, as many count 
morality, he may be more than moral. 



IT is not easy to describe the plain fact of morality ; for 
if it be a fact, it is not as others with which we are more 
familiar. It is not subject to what are ordinarily called 
the scientific tests. It cannot be measured or weighed. You 
can no more detect its presence by experiment strictly so 
called than you can that of mind or will. You cannot prove 
that an act of pure virtue was ever done. God is not the 
only object, if object one may for the moment call Him, 
that neither microscope nor telescope can discover. Scientific 
instruments and methods, in the technical sense of their 
terms, are as little able to detect the presence of intelligence, 
of purpose, of goodness, of beauty. Psychology, as a strict 
science in the older sense, must confine itself to the physio 
logical laboratory. 

Kant himself has not ventured to assert, that in the world 
accessible to the scientific, i. e. the sense-bound intellect, there 
is such a thing as freedom, as morality, as God. All he 
can say is, in the first place, that if morality be unreal, 
or rather if it be not the central reality, the keynote of 
all thought and life, then you have not merely lost the spring 
from out your year, but you have ruined the fabric of reality. 
At least something like this is implied in the course of his 
argument. It is true that the world known by science seems 
to remain as an assured and independent result, whether 


there be a moral reality or no. Given a set of sensations, 
and certain formal tricks of arrangement in them; given 
an intelligence which gives to these sensations some unity 
and consistency j and the phenomena, the casual appearances 
which, as the phrase is, impress themselves upon us, seem to 
form groups and systems of sufficient stability and solidity 
to deserve the name of empirical reality. And empirical 
reality is all Kant claims for so-called things or objects. 
But a philosopher can hardly rest content with a phrase 
like empirical reality/ Even to say, in words more 
intelligible to the plain man, that the sense-world of science 
is a real world, because we feel it inevitably, and because 
we can calculate and predict its phenomena with a high 
degree of security, is to say what is true, but what does 
not go far enough. What is this feeling, this impression 
we speak of as a self-evident datum, and of which we say 
that it is inevitable ? Let us answer : this feeling is always 
the reverse side of activity ; we are impressed, because we 
are active, and go forth to meet the world. Were we not 
active, we could not be thus passive or receptive. The 
physiologist knows that efferent and afferent nerve-conduction 
are ultimately inseparable : the stimulus received from with 
out is only possible because of coincident stimulus from 
within. The eye must strike the sun, in order that the sun 
may dazzle the eye. So in the mental world, perception 
were not, if volition were not. Only a being that wills 
(I use the word in its widest sense) can perceive, as on the 
other hand only a being that perceives can will. So it is 
with the synthetic intelligence, with the scientific mind that 
builds up the data of sensation into groups, types, classes, 
uniformities, relations of cause and effect, and so on. To 
say that all this is so, because of the original synthetic unity, 
or of f the transcendental unity of self -consciousness, is no 
doubt true also, but it does not go to the root of the matter. 
Self-consciousness, what and why is it? Self -consciousness 


does not I fear I must apologize to the philosophically 
trained hearer for making this remark does not in logic 
mean the state of mind when a shy person imagines that 
it is not what he or she does, but that it is he or she who 
does it, which is the fact of supreme interest to all observers. 
Self-consciousness to the philosopher means the emergence 
of intelligence, from its mere awareness of outward fact in 
a sort of mirror-like reproduction thereof, to an apprehension 
of itself as co-agent, i.e. as in action and reaction with 
an outward world, and yet at the same time, as, in some 
mysterious way, supreme in surveying the play of its own 
actions and reactions; itself the scene, the play, and an 
observer, who, in some strange league with author and 
manager, is more than mere observer. Understanding, said 
Kant, makes the world, makes nature. Whereat the wiseacres 
who love to criticize where it is hard to understand, spoke 
certain witty-sounding words about Solipsism, or the strange 
fancy of some mad philosopher that his mind made all 
things ; and also certain words intended to be witty, which 
rested on the assumption that when Kant said nature or 
world/ he meant the whole lump of earth, and other lumps 
of other earths, called suns and planets, with all the countless 
fragments into which we are accustomed to divide the large 
earthly lump, e.g. into coals, carts, &c. But intelligence, 
as we have, I hope, already seen, is not a thing which can be 
the sole property of any one being, or be supposed to be 
included in one single brain : it is, as old Thomas Hobbes 
said, the same in every man, a common atmosphere or spirit 
in which they live and act, and which finds its visible 
embodiment and guarantee in what for shortness we call 
the City or State. The understanding which makes nature 
and the world is in no risk of falling into Solipsism : that 
is the one thing it cannot do : sooner than do that, it must 
perish. It cannot be self-confined, in the narrow sense; 
its self is the universe, potential, if not actual. 


But it is hardly less important to realize that the so-called 
world or nature is not a mere aggregate of things. Nature 
is an elliptical phrase for the order,, the indwelling order, 
the self-unfolding order, the progressive uniformity, of what 
you loosely call the natural world without much thinking 
what you mean. Each separate thing is, no doubt, also 
and rightly, called nature : but it is so, because in each there 
is the presence and power which animates the whole : a com 
plex of relations which we can never hope to completely 
unveil, and which would, if we could but know it, bind 
it in some way with every other item in the universe of 
things. And so it is with what we call the World, with, 
however, this difference. When we speak of the totality 
of things as nature^ we think mainly of that totality as a self- 
directing, self-systematizing being, rolling on the cycle of its 
changes, our vicissitudes even included, by laws of its own. 
But when we talk of the world, we are in the first instance 
more impressed by the practical aspect of reality. W r e see 
in it, not so much a mere theoretical problem to be unravelled, 
as a field of action in which order has been established, and 
will yet more and more be established, in subservience to 
human needs; needs of all kinds and all grades, some of 
them what we call material, some what we call spiritual. 
Even the world, as we saw the other day, tends to slip from 
us into independence: yet always we feel it is the field of 
action, a unity to which we (we and not I, or if I, then the 
absolute ( I 3 of Fichte, which is equal to the collective 
infinity of we^s) have given as it were the bond : we, as 
humanity, as what we are and are not, but will be, when we 
are all that we may be. To the view of the sum of things as 
nature, which is the theoretical view, the outlook of the con 
templative spirit, man seems but a little thing: a part in 
a great system, not merely bowed down before the physical 
immensity of the spectacle, but even more abased before the 
transcendent Power which seems to mould its destinies and 


therefore Us. The other view of it as the world the 
Kosmos, mundus is taken from a different standpoint, that 
of action rather than theory. It sees in the system of 
things an order and an economy, of which man-humanity is 
the central point, on which all things hinge. It implies that 
in him lies the key to the mystery : a key, however, which 
has yet many doors to open : or rather for metaphor must 
break down here a key which has magic history and fairy 
powers, which is not yet what it shall be. It is humanity, 
social humanity, forming itself by slow steps : slow, though 
sometimes, when we are immersed in some petty advance, 
we think with pardonable, yet foolish pride that we have 
made immense strides : forming itself by industry and com 
merce, by art and science, by philosophy and religion, to 
decipher the mystery in which it was born, and thus better 
and better understand itself. For this is perhaps the main 
thing. Man, to use an old phrase, is the microcosm, the 
little world. He becomes more and more himself in pro 
portion as, by work and thought, by art and science, he 
more and more makes the larger world his own. 


And this brings us round to the purport of an inevitable 
digression. The Nature which the philosophic theorist, 
the metaphysician poet, sees as the background of unity in 
which lie all the several materials, of which the several 
sciences make their most by observation and experiment and 
calculus : that nature, as Kant points out, is not itself a fact 
of science, of sense, or of intellect, as he defines them. It is 
the reflex of a mental unity, of a mysterious unifying power 
we sometimes call imagination or the faculty of ideal construc 
tion, and at other times call the original unity of appercep 
tion/ Nature in this sense goes for its roots deeper than 
perception or apperception (which means the organizing or 
assimilating of perceptions into a concrete percept). It goes 
back to the practical side, the active part, the will, the effort 
to do and live, the effort to be more and more of what we are 


as yet less, that nisus of self-conservation which can only 
succeed in being that by being more than that, by being 
a nisus or effort to become more than it was, to be all that it 
had not been. Intelligence reads off one world of uniform 
law, because will demands one world for life to be realized in : 
reason theoretic gives a unity to nature, because reason prac 
tical, starting from a me or ego which is weak, incoherent, 
unrealized, is ever seeking to elevate it to be a me or 
( ego which is one, comprehensive, and complete. If you 
speak of nature as a unity governed by unfaltering law, it is 
because human reason in its action, industrial, moral, artistic, 
postulates the subservience of all events to one common end. 
And that end, what is it ? 

An old answer, most of us here are familiar with, tells us 
that man s chief end/ at least, is to glorify God, and to 
enjoy him for ever/ It may be, I do not know, that those 
who framed these words thought, as think some of those who 
read them to-day, that the two parts of the answer represent 
two stages, one here, another hereafter ; and that they 
regarded the latter as a reward attached by grace to the 
earlier. Yet perhaps too they may have entertained an idea 
of a more intimate connexion between the two aspects, both 
in time and in essence. To us at the present day, the words, 
if we try to get their meaning and do not merely repeat them, 
sound unfamiliar, echoes of a time when other fashions ruled 
the social and intellectual world. To glorify God, ad maiorcm 
Dei ffloriam, are phrases which the sciolist, sometimes in 
places where one would expect better things, finds an easy 
subject of scorn ; and I am not concerned to deny that there 
have been curious misapplications of them. But are our own 
phrases so impeccable ? If, in a bald literal way, it be impos 
sible to glorify the Supreme, as it is impracticable to gild 
refined gold, is it any more possible to organize God, him, 
the supreme organizer and organization? But neither the 
Presbyterian divines nor Renan altogether wasted words. If 


it be a truth that God created man in his own image, it is 
no less a truth that every man recreates God in his image. 
It is the Word, the only-begotten Son, who for ever reveals, 
or, as I should translate it, describes and interprets the 
Father. But to do that, man, so to speak, must be fully 
himself: he must become not a separate sphere in creation, 
but the organizing principle of all. He must more and more 
realize the infinite possibilities that are in him, by realizing 
more and more the unity of creation. Herein lies for him 
a difficulty and a danger. He fancies in his impotence that 
the less others can be, the more he makes them cease, the 
more will he himself be. His grand impulse, his glory 
perhaps and he sometimes thinks it for God s glory also 
is to kill. He crushes down his fellows. He ruthlessly 
sweeps away the lower races which check the free swing of 
his interests. The beasts of the field and the fowls of the 
air fall a victim often to the mere lust of killing ; and the 
choicest trees and shrubs have been irrecoverably cut down 
by the maddened colonist and trader who knows no god but 
Plutus. The terrestrial fauna and flora are fast losing their 
variety. The earth s surface has been ravaged and rent into 
unrecognizableness. He has captured and tamed some of the 
beasts. His own species he has sought to enslave, i.e. to 
destroy their separate personality, and make them mere tools 
of his hand. And, almost universally, he has sought to make 
his vassal or bondwoman out of the woman of his own kind ; 
her, who, just because she is nearer to him and in all senses 
dearer to him than aught else, has always been the most 
unenslavable of all things and the most untameable of all his 
captives. And yet he wonders that he is without peace, 
security, and happiness : he wonders that his heart is 
empty. But if there is one truth more certain than another, 
it is that for every thing destroyed in its own nature and 
independence, there is a corresponding lack created in the 
destroyer. We can only be what we are meant to be, in 


proportion as we can establish such a relation between us and 
other things that they may realize their full being. It is not 
merely human persons that are ends in themselves : though 
their essential worth it may be especially our interest to 
maintain. But in a way all things are such ends. And they 
are so for us because, unless they attain their full develop 
ment, we fall short of ours. The enslaving man is a man 
enslaved, in a worse sense, by his slave. There is nothing 
single nor solitary, said the Stoic, in the city of God we call 
the world. No doubt, we may shut our eyes to the essential 
sociality of man : we may act as if it were not. But in that 
case we pay the penalty, not in a punishment deferred, and 
to be paid by some mysterious machinery, as the Christian 
theologian, misconceiving Plato s metaphors, has sometimes 
seemed to suppose ; but in a lowered vitality, an empty heart, 
the sting of not, it may be, remorse, but of realized failure. 
It is the eternal law of righteousness, that the soul which 
falls short of the law of universal respect, and treats one of 
the least of things as if it too were not God s creature, that 
soul is struck with a withering of which the natural issue 
is death. 

For our own sakes, for our own interest, we must be tender, 
respectful of all things. I know there are some to whom all 
this will sound absurd, quixotic, fantastic, if not worse. To 
such I would say, like Cromwell : I beseech you, brethren, 
think it possible that ye may be mistaken/ It is possible. 
I dare say, that a single soul may find salvation for itself : 
but it may be doubted if such a salvation is greatly worth the 
trouble. A great Christian has left on record the word that 
he would almost be accursed himself rather than see his kins 
folk left to perdition. As Plato has it, a single traveller may 
perhaps find shelter from the dust-storm that ever blows 
across the way by retiring into the shelter of some wall : but 
the only true hope of betterment is to save himself by forming 
a company, and ultimately it must be a large company, of his 


kindred. They are poor creatures who press into the warm 
hall, whilst any of their near and dear ones are still shivering 

in the cold. 

But more than that is here at stake. Freedom, says the 
old Scotch poet, is a noble thing-. But they are of the fewest 
who know what freedom really is. Its essence is, in each, 
respect for the individuality of others. We sometimes hear it 
said that the age of reverence is past, gone with the age of 
chivalry. But if these good things have gone, it may be 
that they were not wholly good ; and that in these good 
customs God did not fulfil himself so fully as to justify 
their eternal endurance. What ended the age of chivalry was 
that it was not chivalrous enough. It is easy to be chivalrous, 
if only the lady be but young and fair, if only your enemy be 
nobly born and nobly bred, and when love and honour follow 
on service rendered. But when chivalry passed beyond these 
charmed bounds, its lance lay useless, and its knight errantry 
grew cold. So, it may be, there was something false in the 
ring of an old-time reverence. It was, perhaps, too one-sided, 
too partial in its scope. Juvenal somewhere speaks of the 
reverence due to boyhood/ What he says in one special 
sense has a wider meaning. There is room for Vice Versa 
between fathers and sons, between husband and wife, between 
many other relationships. Our reverences all round have 
perhaps been but measured on one little patch of life, and 
left all the rest desert. We wish, no doubt, to have others 
in agreement with us, but agreement is worth little unless it 
is genuine and spontaneous. Ibsen, in one of his plays, has 
depicted a husband and wife who, after years of juxtaposi 
tion are still strangers, so that the relation between them is 
one of fear and distrust, tempered by something that might 
grow to love. An occasion arises when an old tie tends to re 
assert itself over the wife. The husband s natural impulse 
is to assert and make good on the other side the legal, i.e. the 
force-sanctioned, bond which marriage law gives him. But 


a more reasonable impulse prevails ; and, by effacing- his own 
brute authority,, he restores his wife to her self-command,, 
and the temptation is at an end. I do not inquire how far 
such conduct might be in each case possible or advisable. 
But I think I may say that half the embroglios of this 
world arise from the substitution of mechanical for moral 
suasion. And by, moral suasion is meant, not counselling, or 
advising 1 , or recommending, or persuading, in so far as these 
imply a foregone conclusion; but an effort on our part to 
exclude the influence of all other than purely rational, i.e. 
common or social motives, to efface all the brute force of 
personality, and to trust only to that higher personality which 
may well be called impersonal. The triumph of morality is 
attained when, with all the earnestness of conviction, we can 
resist the impulse to tyrannize over a wife, or a husband, or 
a child, or any one whose legal relations to us puts them, as 
it is facetiously called, at our mercy. If sons and daughters 
revolt, if a whole sex is shaken by incipient mutiny, it is time, 
not perhaps to tear up the institutions which are concerned, 
but certainly to consider, and consider with practical effect, 
whether there be not something rotten in the state of Den 
mark, to account for such fretfulness and protest. And these 
remarks do not, I hardly need add, cut only one way. So 
long as mere force is in any way directly influential in human 
life, so long- we are not civilized or moral. In an imperfect 
world force is necessary, but only to protect rights : and 
rights are, in their own nature and function, the modes of 
realizing freedom. 

Now the very conception of nature and a natural world, 
with which the philosophy of science makes us acquainted, 
has its justification in this prime moral need. As a world, 
the material objects fronting- us, whether persons or things 
for materiality is a common attribute of them all are a means 
for our self-realization. By it and them we become what we 
are, and the larger and more organically one they become, the 



better developed are we. They are necessary to our fulfilment : 
in and through them we are made perfect. But not merely 
do they constitute our environment, as a kind of spring-board 
by which we may rise to higher things; they are also a 
natural world, a world of nature. As such, they one and all, 
each through all, and all through each, follow a law of their 
own. That is the great lesson which philosophy, as it follows 
the lead of the natural sciences, continually impresses upon us. 
Each part of nature, if you like to put it religiously, is alike 
near and dear to God : alike, i. e. in so far as its nature is 
in its measure his care, as peculiarly as if there were none to 
compete with it. This was the truth which Spinoza expressed 
when he identified God and nature, and refused to concede to 
man a place utterly outside the natural range. It may be 
that the phraseology of Spinoza was hardly adequate. But at 
least, it taught to those who would listen, that the lordship of 
man over nature is essentially a ministry and a stewardship. 

If Kant, therefore, insists that Freedom is the essential of 
humanity, it is clear that this freedom cannot overthrow the 
necessity, such as it is, of nature. Rather freedom has 
meaning only in correlation to such necessity. It lies and 
Spinoza saw this as well as Kant in acting, and not in mere 
being. Nobody is free. All action is freedom. The world 
which is and has been, and which must be because it has been, 
cannot be the only world, or cannot be the full world, real 
with the highest reality. The ordered cycle of changes and 
uniformities must be the expression of an intelligent will, 
and I, the agent, must participate in the direction ; I must be 
not merely a part of things, controlled and necessitated by 
other things, but also and essentially one with the whole, an 
individual, so far independent and co-operative, in a greater 
and complete individuality. And lastly, Kant assumes, as 
has been even now implied, that, if morality is to be the 
centre of reality, there must be God. So far Kant sees 
clearly : but when he comes to ask more definitely what it is 


that God does, his vision seems to grow unsteady. Christianity, 
in Kant s day, had brought the world to a Deism, which had 
ousted God from the present life of reality, and relegated him 
to a Far beyond and Hereafter. From that Far away he 
still came, supervising, rectifying, and punishing. And so 
Kant was understood to speak of him as if it were his task 
to adjust the failing proportion between virtue and happiness, 
to compensate the good for their sufferings, and to make evil 
in the end unprofitable. Yet, if Kant said so, we may be sure 
that was not the true meaning at which he aimed. Even God, 
we may assert, cannot undo what has been done. God does 
not, as Plato supposed in his myth, let go the helm of the 
world for a time, and again and again return to save the 
vessel. He is not the synthesis or adjustment of nature and 
moral order : rather in him they are one. We may not see 
the convergency-point : but action and theory presuppose its 
necessity. Kant, we may maintain even against appearances, 
did not commit what Schelling calls the abomination of 
seeking to deduce God from the requirements of morality. 
And if we may even less care to adopt Schilling s phrase, It 
is a duty to be convinced that all immorality is in its essence 
and root unintelligent and irrational/ we may at least agree 
with him in holding that to the wrong-doer, it is just the 
diminished reality which gets expression by him that is his 

But what is morality ? To this question Kant himself has 
returned an answer which is historic. For Kant the fact of 
morality is, as all the world knows, the sense of duty. 
Kant s King Frederick II may be cited in support of this 
view. Thus in 1760 (in the midst of the Seven Years War) 
he writes to D Argens : You must know it is not necessary 
that I should live, but very necessary I should do my duty. 
We are in this world to work. To do good ... is a duty 
which every man ought to fulfil according to his means/ 
Or again, Both my body and my mind must bend to their 

N 2 


duty/ Or, in a letter to the Electress of Saxony ( 1 766), Do 
to others only what you wish they should do to you : this 
principle includes all virtue and the duties of man towards 
the society in which he is placed/ Duty, no doubt, often 
coincides with inclination ; obligation is often dissolved, as it 
were, in pleasure. But if we wish to see it as it truly is, we 
must, in Kant s view, look at it when it stands alone : we must 
see it, as Plato hinted long 1 before Kant, as it behaves when 
unsupported by liking 1 , opposed by desire. When so seen in 
its purity, it comes upon man with a downright command, 
a categorical imperative/ The latter phrase is Kant s : 
but because the phrase is his, no one need suppose the fact 
which it names was any discovery or novelty of his. The 
categorical imperative is as old as humanity, as old as reason, 
as old as love, as old as the faith in God, as old as the first 
efforts of art to eternalize the passing show. It is a command 
without a reason : because it is the supreme command of 
reason itself ; but for the present, we need not meddle with 
that, and simply note the fact alleged by Kant that its 
authority is unconditional. 

All this, be it said, was not new. But, as German biography 
in the end of last century can show, it had a deep and stimu 
lating effect on the conscience. It disengaged a great fact 
out of a mass of irrelevant details : and even if it a little 
exaggerated it in so disengaging it, that is a fault which may 
well be borne with. Even Goethe, who did not himself see 
the moral life chiefly as duty, felt so far inspired as to make 
it a theme of some stories. It needed some genius thus to 
set duty in its high seat, to realize what Kant calls the 
grandeur and sublimity of its name. Grammatically, all 
that Kant did was only to set the singular for the plural, and 
that you may say is a small thing. Perhaps, and yet, if 
I may borrow an example to make the difference clear, what 
ever tone men may adopt when they speak about women, it is 
generally a higher note they feel themselves obliged to strike 


when they think upon woman. Duties, in the plural and 
they go endlessly into the plural, into the detail of life 
seem sometimes trivial, tiresome marks of bondage and 
hampering conditions to free development. So even thought 
a French moralist, Malebranche, rather more than a century 
before Kant : les devoirs to him savoured of the lesson to be 
learned, the exercise to be done, in consequence of command 
issued yesterday, and to avoid a punishment expectable other 
wise to-morrow. And so Malebranche, turning half-con- 
temptuously from mere duties, bade the seeker for true and 
noble morality keep his eye ever bright with the love of order. 
And there have been many ready to outdo Malebranche in 
depreciating the yoke of duty. It is, they say, the mere 
weight of tradition, the mere incidence of authority. To them, 
the phrase about doing duty in that place and station to which 
God has appointed us, has an air of feudal hierarchism, of 
unchangeable caste, of a system which hangs blindly to the 
past, and forgets the whole onward tendency to the future. 
It seems to bar all progress, all reform. It may do for common 
folk, for country folk who live beneath the shadow of the 
steeple, the parson and the parson s wife, and mostly married 
people. But something better is needed for young men and 
maidens, for all who would (if not leave the world better than 
they found it, which they may think either a vain task or 
a work of supererogation) yet raise themselves higher in the 
scale of being. Why should they be bound by what was 
done ages before them, by the remnants of custom and 
observance handed down from an ignorant and half-barbarous 
time ? Duties : why, the word is a bugbear to check progress ; 
it is a catchword of the friends of order, of the party of 
stagnation and perhaps of reaction. Or, again, they cry : 
Duty is one of the fads } of Christianity : and Kant him 
self in his ethical system was only putting in philosophical 
formulae the memories of his youth, when under pious parents 
he learnt the decalogue and the later commandments. 


So Schopenhauer has said and many have re-echoed since. 
I will take the liberty of saying that it is a poor argument 
a-ainst any part of a philosophic creed, to say that it has been 
smuggled into it from Christian sources. We may all have 
our own views about the personality of him who gave his 
popular and prophetic name (Christ or Messiah) to the 
Christian life : but there can be little dispute about the fact 
that the ideas, the principles at the root of Christianity, are in 
no sense peculiar to it, in no sense its special property. I say 
with Schelling, the Schelling of his later time, Christianity is 
as old as the world : its ideas, its hopes, its faith, its love, are 
those on which the nobler sons and daughters of humanity 
have in all ages and in all lands nourished in some measure 
their inner life, gone forth to meet the world and death. It 
also, like Kant, proclaimed no new truth, no truth which had 
never been there before; but, as its adherents believed, in their 
Master they saw one who gave to words and ideas the power 
of a life, one who helped them to see the invisible world as 
they had never seen it before, and with a strength of faithful 
vision which shot past even the gates of death into the land 
of eternal life. But the ideas of Christianity, its legitimate 
ideas, are consonant with all reason, and kindred with all true 
thought which has tried to fathom the mystery of life. And 
it would be a poor system of ethics which, forsooth, because it 
was proud to be called human or humane, should consider 
itself either entitled or obliged to shut itself out from the 
New Testament and the Hebrew Scriptures, on the ground 
that these were revealed/ If ethics is not to annex any of 
the doctrines which in different ages and countries are believed 
to have been revealed, ethics will have a rather narrow survey. 
But it has annexed them, and will do so more and more. 

And undoubtedly this conception of ethics, as, on the one 
hand, a system of laws, and as, on the other, a duty to fulfil 
or obey them, is one which stands out conspicuously in what 
Hebrew philology has taught us to regard as the great products 


of the so-called prophetic reform. A people of shepherds, 
cradled in the desert, and there taught by some providential 
method to realize the unity of their life in a God, who goes forth 
with them to battle, rejoices with them in their joys and 
has compassion on their sorrows, is through some course of 
events led to occupy a territory half-agricultural, and to 
exchange its nomadic habits for the ways and manners of 
the townsman and the cultivator. As years roll on, its old 
organization shows itself unequal to cope with the altered 
circumstances. Internal dissensions, external violence, wreck 
its prosperity and partially destroy it. A fresh effort of 
concentration is needed : a reform, which is at the same time 
a going back upon the old spirit of unity and obedience to 
the one living and guiding principle of collective action. 
Then arose a series of men, we know them as the prophets 
of Israel, who, strong in the sense of their solidarity with the 
one spirit which guided Israel in the distant and legendary 
past, and will, as they believe, guide him in the years to 
come, declare themselves the messengers of Jahve. Rebuking-, 
consoling, reminding, encouraging, they emphasize one central 
truth that the whole people, and man by man, is the servant 
of Jahve, charged with a work to be done, laden with a burden 
never to be thrown off, but always sustained by the sympathy, 
the help, if need be, the merciful punishment of the Lord 
of Hosts. At first, the work which they conceive as thus 
imposed is a particularist work for Israel s interest, and Jahve 
is the God of Israel : but as prophet succeeds prophet, the 
servant of Jahve, i. e. Israel, collectively and individually, 
becomes, so to speak, an apostle for the human race, and 
Jahve himself is seen to be the God of the whole earth, whom 
heaven and the heaven of heavens cannot contain. Aud God 
himself comes to be, as it were, embodied, though never quite 
lost, in the conception of a Law, of a great order which he 
reveals as determining the aim and methods of life, for the 
nation and the individual. All life is part of a great duty, 

i8 4 


to reveal the glory, the wisdom and mercy of Jalive, and to 
work out the spirit of righteousness. Yet is the Lawgiver the 
friend, the lover of his people: if they have been as the un 
faithful wife, he is as the loving husband, who judges righteous 
judgement, i. e. forgives, because he knows what humanity is. 
The dominant note, therefore, is a harmony of two elements : 
it is the sense of utter and everlasting dependence, the fear of 
Jahve : but it is, in its highest moments, joy in the Lord : if 
he is with us, who can be against us ? and though we faint 
and fail, God is our strength and our everlasting own. 

It is a mere injustice to Judaism to say that it had not 
a spring of life and strength within it, a well of ethical water 
springing up to everlasting life. What the last prophet came 
to fulfil, that the earlier law and the prophets had taught. 
This we may be sure of, that Judaism would not have lasted 
through the fearful ordeal of Mediaevalism, had it not been 
something nobler than a mere system of rules, codified into 
endless multiplicity of detail. Do not let us abuse the Law 
because of the lawyers (some of whom must be bad); or 
charge the righteous with the petty conceits of Pharisaism. 
The Law only came to be a grinding burden, an unfulfi liable 
task, when he that was Lord of the Law seemed to men to 
withdraw into himself, to show himself no more to Israel, 
and to leave as his witness and testimony a cast-iron code, or 
a code which, if flexible, was flexible only that it might catch 
more than it could ever do by its rigidity. The Law became 
an evil to be cast forth, an idol to be burned, at such time as 
it came to shut out God, the living God, from his people, and 
left the Moloch of legalism in its place. But not so had the 
prophets or the author of Deuteronomy understood the relation 
of Law to God : not so the preponderating voice of the 
Hebrew psalmists. Yet it is true that, in the struggle which 
the Jewish race had to wage on its own soil for six centuries 
till Titus scattered it to the winds, stress came to be laid on 
the elements of exclusiveness ; that the fear of the Lord 


tended to suppress hope and joy in believing ; and that the 
Law degenerated to all appearance into a burden of precept 
and deduction from precept, too grievous to be borne. 

Yet if the central idea of Semitic religion took its place in 
European culture, it was not without a profound alteration in 
its structure and its relations to the other elements of national 
life. A Semitic scholar has tried to make out that the great 
contribution to religious thought by the Semitic race was the 
idea of monotheism. It is perhaps a little difficult to say 
what the monotheistic idea veritably is. But, in any case, it 
may be asserted without unnecessary paradox that the strength 
of the Semitic contribution to humanity does not lie, strictly 
speaking, in ideas. The people of ideas/ of thoughts, in the 
ordinary sense, are the Indo-European races. The Semite 
and by Semite I mean in the main Hebrew and Arab is 
a man of vision, a seer, one who envisages truth in its indi 
vidual concreteness. His genius is lyrical and historical, not 
dramatic or philosophical. What he sees, he utters ; what he 
feels, he can reveal ; but it is a monologue, and no reflection. 
And, secondly, he is a man of action, rather than thought ; 
his beliefs are not articles of a creed, but postulates of action. 
For him God speaks to man directly, face to face ; speaks in 
the spirit of the moment, and for the thing to be done. His 
great function is the imperative, the word of action ; not, so 
am I to be rightly thought of/ but c so must it be done/ 
Creation itself is a mandate, not a making : its word is fat. 

Even the later appearance of Semitic religion is like the 
earlier. Mohammed, too, is a man of simple sensuous vision ; 
he sees his Lord as a beardless youth with locks of curly hair, 
and on his feet golden sandals. God comes nigh. He de 
scends till he is only two bows length from the prophet 
and nearer : Mohammed sees Paradise, with its dark-eyed 
maidens and the green-robed faithful at their side. But 
observe it is all fresh and vigorous, with the hues of young 
belief, and not a mere lingering image in some after-time. 


consequences for morals. It took the life out of it, and left it 
a law, a form, a < cold morality. If life, therefore, was to be 
given, it had to be galvanized into the moral order from 
without. That might be done by a supra-mundane God, who 
by fiat corrects the defective correspondence between the sense 
of duty and the sense of life. Perhaps, on the other hand, 
like young Fichte, you may assert in words that we need no 
god other than the moral order. But if you use such words, 
you will probably be obliged to own, as Fichte afterwards did, 
that a moral order so understood is very different from what 
the phrase ordinarily means ; that it is not an order but an 
ordering life ; that it is not moral but something to which 
morality, strictly so called, is a means. 

Christendom, as I showed more at length last year, drank 
deeply, through St. Paul, and later through the Roman 
legalism, of the Judaic spirit. Duty, the sense of ever- 
pressing law, grew to be misconstrued as a regard for already 
promulgated laws, a service to ordinances, a machinery of 
order. But duty is more than order or obedience; and that 
is what it was Kant s especial business to teach ; not to 
emphasize though that also is good that man lives under 
a categorical imperative. The ethical doctrine of Kant is 
chiefly concerned with an argument to show that the moral 
law is freedom ; that iU order is also progress : and that 
the categorical imperative is only fully phrased by autonomy. 
The moral law, if it be a command, is not a command from 
without; if it comes from above and with authority, that 
authority is not (in the ordinary sense) supernatural, and 
that above is to be taken not of locality, but of grade 
of function. Every ethical precept must be judged by one 
test : is it a co-operant part of the great ethical ideal of 
growing perfection for the individual and for the collectivity ? 
Can it, in the fullest light, and with all clearness, be said to 
be an integral part of that good will, that will to good, which 
is the essential prerogative of man, however much in moments 


he fails short of it, or in ignorance works against it ? This 
will to good, which has no limits or dividing lines, which is 
not will for the good of self, or of society, or of humanity, 
but for all good and good in all, is another name for reason, 
and another name for love. It is the spirit in man which is 
his higher nature, ever enacting rules of good, ever setting 
up new methods of reaching the ideal ; but always conscious 
that they are, though good, not the good, and therefore, 
though to be obeyed, not to be blindly obeyed. They are 
to be obeyed, one might say, not as we would obey God, but 
as we might bow before one of his angels. Progress through 
order, and order for the sake of progress : yet, always 
though it is a dangerous truth, as some may think the 
order is progressive, duty is moving. Even so it is with 
religion. Man, it has been said, never is, but always to be, 
blest. So says one, the true God of Israel is not the god 
who comes naturally (i. e. as result of previous process) to 
the Israelitic consciousness : he must be apprehended by an 
express act of the intelligence. All the patriarchs look forward 
to a salvation to come : and God himself is only to be under 
stood as a God who becomes and lives, who for us is not what 
he will yet be. So duty is not adherence to a fixed post : the 
soldier of duty has no doubt an obligation : but he will dis 
charge it ill, if he think it is all predetermined and within 
the bond. 

When in presence of Lear, her sisters and the court, her 
father asked Cordelia his question, her reply was : 

( I love your majesty 
According to my bond, nor more nor less. 

And aain 

You have begot me, bred me, loved me : I 
Return those duties back as are right fit, 
Obey you, love you, and most honour you. 

Cordelia defended herself against the charge of untenderncss 
by the claim to be at least true : and excused apparent coldness 




sequences for morals. It took the life out of it, and left it 
a law, a form, a cold morality. If life, therefore, was to be 
given, it had to be galvanized into the moral order from 
without. That might be done by a supra-mundane God, who 
by fat corrects the defective correspondence between the sense 
of duty and the sense of life. Perhaps, on the other hand, 
like young Fichte, you may assert in words that we need no 
god other than the moral order. But if you use such words, 
you will probably be obliged to own, as Fichte afterwards did, 
that a moral order so understood is very different from what 
the phrase ordinarily means ; that it is not an order but an 
ordering life; that it is not moral but something to which 
morality, strictly so called, is a means. 

Christendom, as I showed more at length last year, drank 
deeply, through St. Paul, and later through the Roman 
legalism, of the Judaic spirit. Duty, the sense of ever- 
pressing law, grew to be misconstrued as a regard for already 
promulgated laws, a service to ordinances, a machinery of 
order. But duty is more than order or obedience; and that 
is what it was Kant s especial business to teach ; not to 
emphasize though that also is good that man lives under 
a categorical imperative. The ethical doctrine of Kant is 
chiefly concerned with an argument to show that the moral 
law is freedom ; that order is also progress : and that 
the categorical imperative is only fully phrased by autonomy. 
The moral law, if it be a command, is not a command from 
without; if it comes from above and with authority, that 
authority is not (in the ordinary sense) supernatural, and 
that < above is to be taken not of locality, but of grade 
of function. Every ethical precept must be judged by one 
test : is it a co-operant part of the great ethical ideal of 
growing perfection for the individual and for the collectivity? 
Can it, in the fullest light, and with all clearness, be said to 
be an integral part of that good will, that will to good, which 
is the essential prerogative of man, however much in moments 


he fails short of it, or in ignorance works against it ? This 
will to good, which has no limits or dividing lines, which is 
not will for the good of self, or of society, or of humanity, 
but for all good and good in all, is another name for reason, 
and another name for love. It is the spirit in man which is 
his higher nature, ever enacting rules of good, ever setting 
up new methods of reaching the ideal ; but always conscious 
that they are, though good, not the good, and therefore, 
though to be obeyed, not to be blindly obeyed. They are 
to be obeyed, one might say, not as we would obey God, but 
as we might bow before one of his angels. Progress through 
order, and order for the sake of progress : yet, always 
though it is a dangerous truth, as some may think the 
order is progressive, duty is moving. Even so it is with 
religion. Man, it has been said, never is, but always to be, 
blest. So says one, the true God of Israel is not the god 
who comes naturally (i.e. as result of previous process) to 
the Israelitic consciousness : he must be apprehended by an 
express act of the intelligence. All the patriarchs look forward 
to a salvation to come : and God himself is only to be under 
stood as a God who becomes and lives, who for us is not what 
he will yet be. So duty is not adherence to a fixed post : the 
soldier of duty has no doubt an obligation : but he will dis 
charge it ill, if he think it is all predetermined and within 
the bond. 

When in presence of Lear, her sisters and the court, her 
father asked Cordelia his question, her reply was : 

I love your majesty 
According to my bond, nor more nor less. 

And again : 

You have begot me, bred me, loved me : I 
Return those duties back as are right fit, 
Obey you, love you, and most honour you. 

Cordelia defended herself against the charge of untenderness 
by the claim to be at least true : and excused apparent coldness 


by the defence, <I cannot heave my heart into my mouth/ 
Her situation was, indeed, excusable; she was tempted.^ A 
foolish father, hypocritical sisters, and a gaping crowd, might 
well have been too much for her; and like a second Vashti, 
she refused at the monarch s beck f to show the princes and 
the people her beauty/ But natheless, even though her 
tempter took the guise of an angel of light, the love of 
truth, she fell, a not wholly innocent victim. For duty is 
not perfectly rendered, when it is rendered as duty and no 
more: it can never be merely debt paid, but always must 
have added grace : it must not be paid, but as if freely given. 
It is sad when the hypocrisy of over-statement drives one into 
matter-of-factness: for matter-of-factness just wants a gracious 
touch to light it up into truth. Cordelia, for a moment, but 
a moment of great issues, was prim and proper ; and considera 
tions, quite irrelevantly personal, closed the issues from the 
heart to the lips. An evil spirit, the evil spirit of sisterhood, 
subjugated nature and daughterhood, and the jealousy her 
words let loose went on to work out all its tempestuous 



WE have seen more than once that it is hard to lay down 
a line to distinguish religion from morality. In a phrase 
quoted from Schelling, we found the religious spirit described 
as conscientiousness, only however in order that such con 
scientiousness itself might be identified with heroism and 
enthusiasm. But in each of the terms themselves there is 
a corresponding antinomy. In religion, e.g. at whatever 
stage we regard it, there is a strange antithesis between 
the power attributed to the god or gods, and the implication 
that the faithful worshipper has all this divine power as it 
were at his command. Even in the lower forms of savage 
religion the worshipper believes that, if only the right 
methods are employed, the powers that rule in the various 
parts of the natural sphere are at his disposal. The believer, 
however, ascribing superhuman powers to his god, still, by an 
apparently contradictory attitude, hopes confidently to find 
these powers subservient to himself. There is thus, on the 
one hand, fear, subjection, dependence: but there is equally 
on the other, hope, confidence, and appropriation. There is 
an underlying sense of essential kindred between man and 
God, but between the two parties there is at the same time 
a division or apparent hostility : a hostility which, however, 
may be said to be implicitly overcome, because it can be over- 


come by means and methods at man s disposal. The face of 
God may be often veiled and apparently averted, but, though 
the friendship may be concealed, it is there, and by applying 
the right means can be re-awakened. God and man are, as 
it were, old friends, as Pindar said, from the same stock; but 
(shall we say, in the process of civilization ?) they have drifted 
apart; a variance has arisen, and requires to be removed by 
communication, according to a certain set of observances. 
These friendly observances, however, God himself has, it is 
understood, revealed at some auspicious moment. He may be 
jealous, he may be mischievous, he may be uncertain ; so it 
has seemed at times to many of his worshippers; but under 
lying it all there is a certainty in the worshipper that, if he 
follows the appointed methods of approaching his God, he can 
by them secure for his interest the great powers of the world. 
Thus understood, religion means a sense, on man s side, of 
a Power superior, indefinitely superior to himself, controlling 
him and things with absolute authority : yet graciously per 
mitting him, by an appointed or revealed series of observances, 
to exercise control in his turn. Man, in his weakness, has 
ultimately on his side God in his strength : if, that is, 
a certain barrier between them be first removed, a mode of 
doing which has in some way been disclosed to man by the 
deity. Thus in the very forefront of religion stands the postu 
lated fact of revelation. Man, away from God and having 
lost sight of him, is as constantly persuaded that he is opening 
a way back to himself, as it were, giving signals and beckon 
ing- from the darkness in which he dwells. 


It is usual in these days to regard everything under the 
conditions of the struggle for existence, and as a weapon for 
use therein. Of material weapons man has invented or 
appropriated many. He has wrested from the creatures their 
own claws, tusks, bones, and used them to subdue others ; he 
has chipped and shaped stones, and finally hammered and 
fused metals into his tools. But all these implements are 


slight in importance if compared with the metaphysical ally, 
the supernatural aid, which he has secured in his contest. 
All the ranges of nature, animate and inanimate, may resist 
as they like his efforts to subdue them : but man has a 
weapon in his possession stronger than anything they can 
possibly bring against him. By an instinct earlier than 
any history can trace, he sets the power in and behind 
phenomena on his side. He is naturally a tJieogonic being : 
he has at the very root of all his action an instinct, the 
instinct of reason, which grows and becomes more deter 
minate, that he is, as it were, backed by great powers to the 
extent of which he can and will fix no limits. He projects 
his own self to be into the nature he seeks to conquer. Like 
an assailant who should succeed in throwing his standard into 
the strong central keep of the enemy s fortress, and fight his 
way thereto with assured victory in his eyes of hope, so man, 
with the vision of the soul, prognosticates his final triumph. 
He sees, often faltering, the writing on the wall, which 
announces for those who can read it the foe s defeat. Thus 
behaves, thus exults, that reason in him, stronger and faster 
than reasoning, which already reaching beyond his mere 
physical individuality, knows ( no limits to its sway; its flag, 
the sceptre all who meet obey/ It, the god-discovering, god- 
begetting instinct, is, as it were, the long-neglected foundling 
of some great hero by a lowly mother, who goes forth, 
a Theseus, in search of home and adventures, working his 
way slowly into recognition, the hidden father ever and anon 
vouchsafing tokens of encouraging manifestations, till in the 
fullness of all times the hour of unification and final 
restitution shall come. 

Such a power reveals itself especially, as it were palpably, 
in particular incidents and events of his history. It takes 
shape here and there, in the course of experience. It is, if 
you like so to put it, the sense of the infinite ; but that only 
means the feeling, and occasionally the vivid realization, that 
^ o 

i 9 4 


behind the definite and the accomplished there is ever more 
and more yet to be attained. For at first the conception 
of the object of each feeling is very inadequate. Its infinity 
only appears in an endless emergence of new and ever new 
gods. We speak of the concluding result of such a theogonic 
movement of the human spirit as polytheism. But polytheism 
is only the summing up by reflection of a process which 
comes upon God here, there, and anywhere, and which, now 
that it has found so many instances of godhead, stops, and 
gathering them together forms them into a system. Thus 
the mere assemblage, the mere pantheon, of a polytheism is 
not the primal religious fact, but a subsequent product of 
theological study, seeking to arrange, codify, and co-ordinate 
the forms of divinity, which have successively arisen in the 
course of natural development. Each of its successive, or even 
simultaneous, deities was a god, or, indeed, was God ; each 
a specimen, as seen under the perspective of a special time 
and place, of the great power of things : and it was only 
when classification supervening found a multitude of such 
beings awaiting its decision, and all claiming to be genuinely 
accredited, that the question arose as to their mutual relation. 
Each, as it first appeared in the form of deity, was God : 
each even afterwards, when the religious worshipper took it 
seriously as a divine power, was still God: but when the 
deifying instinct had ceased, and there were only its results to 
compile and compare, the products left for the artist and the 
historian in the course of the theogonic process had to be 
adjusted to each other. Theological ingenuity, taking each 
of these products as an independent and individually real 
entity, and asking how the multiplicity can be grouped, 
creates a mythological pantheon or system of gods. If, on 
the contrary, we remember that each god was only a frag 
mentary step in the evolution of God, we shall refuse to 
recognize any of them in separateness as fully God ; though 
each was for the time and place a symbol of true divinity. 


We shall treat the variety, not as exclusive individuals to be 
grouped in a collective body, but as fragments or faces or as 
pects of one supreme reality, one Godhead successively surmised 
by man, and successively self-revealed in the course of history. 
A real polytheism, if it were possible, would violate the 
very postulate of religion. If the gods are many, they cease 
to be God, the object of worship and power, and become 
mere objects suitable for treatment in art and literature. So 
it was in Greece, in India, in Germany, and indeed almost 
everywhere : so it might have been in Israel. Always a 
polytheism is rather an artistic than a religious phenomenon, 
a category of theological reflection, not a directly religious 
birth. In the truly religious field the God is one and com 
plete, at each time one and all. It may be that the 
worshipper, who now paid his reverence to Aphrodite, at 
another time to Demeter, could hardly tell what was the 
relation of the powers he successively adored. But, on 
the other hand, these were not problems that troubled him : 
they are problems that concern the theologian. To the 
faithful heart, seeking help and hearing, each at the moment 
is God, each omnipotent ; with, no doubt, the qualification 
added as reflection steps in in his sphere. But, at each 
moment in the stress and strain of real life, the many 
practically converge into one. Here, as in so many other 
instances, religion and theology separate. But theology 
belongs to literature or to art : it deals not with the living 
gods in their life and activity, but with their names and 
historical place ; with the statical aspect of- the pantheon, not 
with its dynamic life ; and its difficulties of mutual arrange 
ment little perplex the real and earnest worshipper. These 
matters are of externals, and do not touch the central meaning 
of religion. They arise after you have left the shrine and 
the presence of God. In brief, the multiplicity of gods is 
but the reflex cast upon Olympus by an ill-organized com 
munity, which has put its parts together by mechanical 

o 2 


imposition: it is the field for sacerdotal learning rather 
than an interest of genuine faith. And when it seriously 
exist, it is a sign that religions development has been 
arrested for purposes other than religious: that political or 
artistic interests have carried the day. To religion, therefore, 
the glorious Greek literature and art gave no helping hand. 
Just as in mediaeval Europe Greek science was spun out 
into multiplicity of detail, but lost touch with the root of 
science in reality; so Greek mythology was a gorgeous 
parasite that left its parent to grow blanched and unnatural 

under its shade. 

The main difference in religions is due to the advance 
of man in other fields, to the growth of man s knowledge of 
the world, to the general result of his civilization : in other 
words, it is determined by the advance of his knowledge 
of nature and by the growth of his own sociality. By the 
former, it is corrected and co-ordinated on its objective side : 
by the latter, on its subjective. If it be asked which of 
these is most important, perhaps, from the religious stand 
point, we shall not err in emphasizing the subjective. The 
theory of objective godhead is essential : but its revelation in 
and to man is the natural prius. It was e. g. in the former 
direction that unity was given by philosophic reflection to the 
theology of Greece, in the latter direction that unity was 
given by prophetic effort to the religion of Israel. To the 
man of scientific reflection, God was the central being, the 
supreme cause and source of movement in the physical or 
objective world : he was the reality of all reality, the object 
in all objectivity. To the religious man, who did not analyze 
his religion, God was the central source and rule of action, 
the standard to live after, and the life to live by, of the 
moral community. Thus the poetic remoulding of Greek 
mythology was in the first instance mainly a matter of 
theology : it did not directly touch the heart, and had little 
or no effect on the popular religion. Of that religion, 


at least of its inner life of faith, prayer, praise, we indeed 
know but little : literature and art can tell us comparatively 
little about it. It is the picturesque, the artistic, and finally 
the historical and philosophical sides of the products of 
religious o-enius that we see : of the devotional side we 

O O 

can gather but little directly from the works of the sculptor 
and the poet. But we are hardly, therefore, entitled to 
suppose it non-existent. To the cultured classic writers, to 
whom we owe the main part of our knowledge of Greek 
civilization, religion was evidently a matter which lay in 
the main outside their range of interests. And from several 
indications we are almost entitled to assume that, even 
as art was defective and almost prohibited in the more 
religious phases of Semitic civilization, so religion, strictly 
so called, was a defective and undeveloped element in Greece. 
Non omnia possumus omnes. Religion in Greece always tended 
to become identified with a sort of theology and theosophy. 
It was a kind of Oeoopia. Even the monastic Christianity of 
the Greeks tended to be what the occidental worker calls idle 
contemplation, that looked away and away into the easy calm 
of nature and the peace of God ; a leisure of vision in which 
the distraction of life and business were left behind, in 
which even the strain of duty ceased, and the soul was at 
peace with the universe, untempted, unattracted, unoccupied. 
The Greek Church has still a Christianity of its own, and 
under Christian names it reproduces much of the spirit that 
created the drama and the theoretic life. 

If religion be what we have described, it would seem in its 
first essence to have little or nothing to do with the community 
and with morality. It is so to speak on a deeper level, a more 
fundamental stratum than morality. Morality seems to be 
but a means to better and higher life, while religion claims to 
be or contain the fundamental postulate in the struggle for 
life itself, the postulate or belief that the inmost and supreme 
forces of the world are on man s side. Only in the earliest 


historical forms of religion this postulate is underlying and 
implicit, hardly daring to own its presumption, and does not 
with full self-confidence come to the front. It is rather a hope, 
mixed with fears : a wish that has yet to be actualized and 
fulfilled by strange and unintelligible methods. There is no 
security in it : no faith that can cast out fear. It is a groping 
upwards of feeble hands ; and though it never utterly fails that 
were the death of deaths it recurrently droops and hesitates. 
Man is not at inward ease, not at unity with himself, he has 
not risen to possess his own soul ; and hence he finds no unity, 
no stability, no rest in the powers which he postulates in the 
world around him. Just because he is not fully and reasonably 
man, but presents from time to time different and disconnected 
parts of man, so is the God he finds ready in nature to support 
him a self -divided, many-formed, unrestful being. Whether, 
therefore, we assert with the German theologian Kaftan, that 
the object sought in all religions is life and not perfect life, 
that religion is based on the merely natural desire for good, 
and not on any ethical obligation to realize an ideal ; or main 
tain with others, that it is only through religion that mail can 
uphold his inner independence against the obstacles which 
nature throws in his way ; we must still say that life and 
good are words that have no proper meaning for a being who 
is entirely without ethical quality. To talk of ethical ideals, 
unless these terms are carefully defined, is beside the question. 
A desire for good is not a mere desire for pleasant feeling, 
but a desire for self-satisfaction, for a better, truer, more 
real self; and thus in every way it implies an ideal. Life 
is not a purely physical or animal state, but the self-centred 
realization of an intelligent soul. 

Morality, then, far from being a mere means to more perfect 
life which implies that life would still be life apart from it 
is essentially a part, or rather, as we have already ventured 
to conclude, the centre and life of life in all human existence. 
Or, in other words, it was through the social bond and social 


effort that man became a true and living soul. That made 
him in the human sense one life, one being, and differentiated 
him from the mere animal. For his unity as man lies not in 
the physiological organism, but in the enveloping idea of 
common sociality. It is precisely his quality, his privilege, to 
have ideals, because in him always, to make him man, there 
is the contrast between what he is and will be, between matter 
and spirit ; there is the faculty of error, which is the faculty 
of truth. He is always in division and tension between what 
he is and what he would or ought to be. He is not a life 
self-complete, to which a further grace of perfection may be 
from time to time added as an ornament, but which can go 
on in its normal course as mere life. To live is, for man, to 
form ideals and to fall short of them : they may be very 
lowly ones, not what popularly would be called ideals at all ; 
but at any rate, from the day that the social sting entered 
into him and made him a competitor, from the day that social 
sympathy inspired him and made him a co-operator, there 
has always been a contrast, however slight, between his Is and 
his Ought to be, between the given and the postulated. What 
may have been the case in that pre-social life which, according 
to Hobbes, was, if it ever was anything, nasty and brutish Y 
we need not greatly care ; at any rate, for human life in 
general, we may say that always it is governed and constituted 
by reason, which bids a man not to be what he is, but to 
be such as the dictates of a larger and a society-postulating 
consciousness requires. 

Morality is not something without which man would still 
be man, and his life still be life ; not a counsel of perfection, 
but an unconditional universal imperative. No doubt, by 
careless abstraction, we may speak of such a soulless life as 
man s life, and imagine man as still man with all social 
relations and all their hopes and fears and demands obliterated. 
But these are plays of that old fallacy, called by logicians 
1 Leviathan, Part I, ch. xiii. 



Acervus, which supposes that, because you can diminish 
a quality till it becomes next to nothing, you can therefore 
leave it out altogether. If we reject such false abstraction, 
we may go back and assert that in the very beginnings of 
religion there was morality. Non-moral, i. e. non-social and 
non-civilized man, we know not. Morality, sociality, civility 
is his prop num. His morality, indeed, may be quaint and 
untasteful as judged by later specimens more familiar to us ; 
yet that is a judgement which the lowest savage, as we 
complacently call the savages of another type than ours, can 
easily retort. But the rudest savage has a life only because 
he lives in others, for others, by others ; because his life is 
determined and formed by rules, customs, observances, pain 
fully numerous and apparently onerous. It is from this 
superinduced backbone of his, this political framework and 
spirit, which is his only because he is son, father, tribesman 
and what not, that he derives the moral support that enables 
him to claim the strength of nature, or of nature s inner self 
on his side. The claim for life, the Anspruc/i auf Leben, of 
which Kaftan speaks, is a cheque which he feels entitled to 
draw, because nature has already singled him out for a special 
prerogative, charged him, as it were, to be her interpreter or 
steward. His citizenship, his appropriation of the materials 
of the natural order for purposes of his life, seems to justify 
his presumption that he has unlimited right to claim the 
backing of the universe, or of Him who ultimately is the 
reality of the Universe, when in any special instance he seems 
baffled by obstacles in his path. 

Indeed, were it not for the sociality in which he lives it 
would be hard to see how man, in his individual weakness, 
could claim the supports of the force or will that lies behind 
the visible oppositions of things. It is in the conjunct action 
of himself and his group that he feels himself able to hold up 
his feeble self in the face of things. He belongs to a royal 
race, a people chosen by the powers. It is in proportion as 


by social union he makes life more of a certainty and less of 
a weary struggle, that he rises to conceive himself as no mere 
accident or epiphenomenon in things, but as their leading 
purpose and chief interest. If he thinks that he is only 
a little lower than the Elo/tim, it is because he has formed 
a metaphysical reality which is his, and yet something greater 
than his mere natural individuality can hold. If he feels 
himself a match for the powers of the physical world,, it is by 
the strength of his community concentrated in consciousness ; 
and if he dares to believe that the influences of the world are 
anywhere on his side, it is again because he is one of a group 
which has entered into specially close relationship with a 
certain physical region, has become, as it were, co-heir with the 
powers that rule therein, and formed a sort of covenant of 
alliance offensive and defensive with them, or with the main 
Baal and lord of the land. The original gods are local gods, 
of power and influence narrowly defined by the sphere of the 
social power to which they are attached, but in that sphere 
they are supreme. Outside their ordered circle there are other 
natural powers, vague, treacherous, not yet as it were reduced 
to the social order of human companionship, but even they 
too are not wholly unreconcilable enemies. When we speak, 
therefore, of nature-religions and ethical religions by way 
of contrast, we use terms rather loosely, and a potion. The 
German anthropologist speaks of nature-peoples. But there 
are no nature-peoples, Natnr-J dlkcr^ but only peoples which 
to outside judgement leave much to be desired in the character 
of their civilization ; so much as hardly to deserve the name 
civilized at all : yet are they still in some degree civilized, 
never mere children of unadulterated and non-rational nature, 
and their very abominations are the proof of their humanity. 
So in the other case. A nature-religion is only an ethical 
religion of a rather less organized ethicality than is presup 
posed in other religions. There is no non-ethical man, though 
the ethics of certain times may be very unlike those most 


familiar to us. But, as we have already seen, ethics, religion, 
art and science are dependent for their development on the 
degree in which the community has solved the problem of 
sustaining life by the production and distribution of material 
goods, so here it may be noted that in the early stages of 
civilization the incident obligations of ethics are perpetually 
dodged by the ever-pressing pangs of hunger. 

And just as man believes that the life and emotion of the 
Power in nature beats somehow in deep sympathy with his 
own, and that a force greater than his own is on his side, 
whatever obstacles may temporarily deflect his course, so he 
believes that the visible life he and others lead here is not 
altogether extinguished by death. If it be an indestructible 
tendency of social man, i.e. of man as man, to claim the 
support of the general principle at the heart of things, and 
to have by appointed modes metaphysical aid always at 
his beck, it is no less his tendency to assume his existence 
prolonged into a world beyond death. Even to the savage, 
and most of all perhaps to the savage, the idea of the ter 
mination of all his existence by death seems absurd and 
unintelligible. But in this case, as in the others, it is in 
the strength of the social tie that he is able to prolong the 
vision of life in a perspective to which only the incompetence 
of his imagination sets a limit. The tombs of his fathers, 
these are his holy of holies : there is set up in visible 
shape the enduring memorial of his conviction, that death 
cannot break the invisible continuity of his real life. 

In a passage of great power at the close of Fifine at 
the Fair, Browning has given a sort of survey of human 
civilization. Beginning with a vision of a great crowd in 
the Square of St. Mark s at Venice, he proceeds to use it as 
an emblem of that strange masquerade of change in per 
manence and permanence in change, which the movements 
of art, science, morality and religion present. At length he 
sums up all the work of human culture, in all its branches 


and all its variety, in one single picture, reduced as it were 
to its lowest denominator, its grayest and most unadorned 
shape. And that epitome of all man s monumental labours 
is one of those dolmen- tombs, the long, low, narrow avenue 
ending in the funereal chamber with its great bread lid 
and its foreignly curious stones, supporting as at Maezhow 
a great memorial mound. That is the net result, the epitome 
of civilization a tomb ! For in that grim structure, so 
toilsomely reared as if for ever, man has boldly claimed to 
be heir of the ages, he has extended his hopes into the 
illimitable future, and with superb self-confidence declared 
that he does not all die. Such a tomb is a temple, the 
witness to a faith in life eternal ; for even the gods in older 
legend had their sepulchre : was it not in Crete that men 
showed the grave of Zeus ? But the tombs of the saints still 
work wonders ; and the graves of the fathers are the pledge 
to the sons of the times that are yet to be, as well as the 
record of immemorial beginnings. 

Let us not however misunderstand the evolution-formula. 
There have perhaps been some who have regarded the pro 
tective defences, by which some persecuted race has survived 
and escaped its assailants, as a happy trick by which it 
suddenly endowed itself with new properties. So some seem 
to think, man, like to be worsted in the struggle for life, 
said to himself : Let there be gods, beings of my kindred, 
but far more potent, on my side : Let there be a life hereafter, 
so that I may not be haunted by the weakening thought 
that all is vanity. If man so said to himself, it was, we may 
be assured, by no idle Jiat, but because in him spoke some 
thing other, and yet not wholly other, than himself. Scientific 
writers sometimes remind us that the whole beauty of sight 
and sound in the world is a sensuous illusion : really, they 
tell us, there is no colour, save in the eye, no music but 
in the ear. It is kind of them to stop where they do ; for 
why there should be even weight, or force, or direction, if 


the human senses are gone, some of us may be excused 
for doubting. Certainly if *ifs and ans are to be used 
so boldly as good ware, we may expect crashes. It is a poor 
jest to argue that, if something which is were not, something 
else would be something still more else. It is not for us 
to pick and choose the bits of reality we are to accept as 
genuine. It hangs all together: and if you give up any 
of it, its most sensuous or materialist part, vou cannot be 
sure of retaining even the spirit. And. equally, if you give 
up the more spiritual. \ on endanger the more material. No 
doubt the reasoning and rational being, generally younir, 
imagines he could pick and choose, so as to leave out certain 
disagreeables. Hut experience (and experience is only matured 
reason) shows that good cannot be got without evil: or 
rather that those distinctions, though practically useful, are. 
as Spinoza saw. not easily attributable to the supreme sub 
stance, the 7>rw, which is another word for .Ww/vt. 

It is not man s single intellect that makes the gods, any 
more than it is man s single intelligence that in Kant s 
phrase makes nature. The intelligence in either case is more 
than the physical individuality can contain, and the making 
is in this case prosu pposing : which means realizing that 
there is something efficient in nature, which does not appear on 
the surface. It is the discovery that the process of civilization, 
which in its appearance and obvious tendency is a turning 
away from nature, a departure by human inventions from 
the rectitude of primaeval arrangements, is not so uniform 
as it looks. It seems as if man were encroaching on the 
divine, and stealing its prerogatives : as if he were preparing 
tor himself the fate of Prometheus, to expiate his rebellion 
agamst the universal law. Hut Prometheus has within him 
secret that keeps him confident even under the tortures 
inflicted by an angry Zeus. He knows that Zeus, who thus 
vrammes over earth and heaven, the blindly natural god, 
: to aMgn for ever: he knows that a saviour will come, 


that in the struggle of man with the first nature a struggle 
which, like all such, is not without the evils and violence 
of wild war there is preparing a new heaven and a new 
earth, wherein dwells righteousness. He knows that he has 
on his side a better and a greater Zeus, a God who far from 
being jealous or hostile to man, will yet reign through man, 
and raise the son of man, in the consummation of all things, 
to sit upon the throne of his kingdom. 

There are two weapons, if w r e again turn to the evolutionist 
formula, which man has used against the waste and wear 
of time and chance. In the strength of a living and active 
sociality, man has defied the brute powers of nature ; and he 
has appealed with faith to their inner spirit and purpose : or 
rather he has taken the permanence of sociality as the pledge 
and foretaste of an extension of his being, to which time and 
space can set no limits. He has claimed God for his ever 
lasting ally, and been content with nothing less than immor 
tality. But if we say l immortality we must guard against 
any special limitation of its meaning, any special theories as 
to what and when and where man is immortal. Our ideas on 
that subject and I suspect, as I hinted the other day, 
on many kindred topics are largely dependent on popular 
and exoteric interpretations of Platonism : and, even if Plato s 
ideas on this topic were much clearer or more undisputed 
than they are, and personal immortality were a less ambiguous 
phrase than it can honestly be said to be, we need not here 
bring them into account. As I use the term, I take it, in its 
very widest sense, to mean that our inner true being is not 
a visible and a sensible thing, that it is that in us which 
is unextinguished by death. { Seiitimus experimurque? says 
Spinoza, HOS aetenios es*e : a personal experience tells us we 
are above and beyond time. That is all. And if you say, 
it is not much ; if you speak confidently of life and 
immortality elsewhere brought to light, if you refer to the 
speculation of St. Paul which we hear so often by the opened 


grave ; I will only say that, though as a human being I would 
fain like others be able to say more, and be glad, like the 
children in the carol, to bring tidings strange yet true from 
the land of the leal, I can see in both of these only the 
reaffirmation of one doctrine, that man lives and fights 
the world in the faith of a persistence, whose possibility he 
can by science neither affirm nor deny, neither prove nor dis 
prove, but which in some shape and some grade seems as 
essential an element of humanity, whether externally formu 
lated or not, as the belief in God. Both are still of faith 
as of old ; if they were otherwise than of faith, they would 
not move men as they have done. If they seem less obviously 
prominent in the world than they once were, may it not be 
that they have sunk as perpetual stimuli even into the hearts 
of those who, when they consciously reflect, seem half- 
inclined to reject them from their creed ? For as not every 
one who says, Lord, Lord ! shall be admitted to the 
kingdom, so, says one, loving hearts have thought they saw 
in atheism a form, to their mind the most respectful, of modest 
and profound piety ; and many, who in words have rejected 
immortality, have done so because of their ideal faith that 
flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God/ These 
things, like others, are justified by their fruits. That is 
a poor faith in immortality, which would seek in it another 
chance to make up for neglected opportunities here, or to 
replenish in after-time the now-kept-empty vessel of love : as 
it is a poor faith in God, which is content with the belief 
that, however slackly things go now, he will one day come 
to be our judge. 

But, as of the belief in gods, so of that in immortality, it is 
true that, in a loose use of words, we may say that it is at 
first without ethical significance. What does ethical mean 
in this connexion? Probably to most people of an unre- 
generate mind, it means that which is or ought to be visited 
with rewards or punishment ; and to the most unregenerate 


mind, especially the latter. Ethical, to this type of moralist 
and he has long been a common one always connotes, in 
the first instance, approval or disapproval, and, in the second, 
a wish to see an example made and a whipping inflicted. 
Such moralists take a fine personal interest in the moral law, 
but perhaps scarcely an ethical interest. There is undoubtedly 
a time in the history of civilization when punishment occupies 
a foremost place amongst its machinery. There was a time 
when, wild in woods, the noble savage and especially the 
noble savage s children ran, little troubled with the fear 
of discipline, and with no obvious penalty from political 
sanctions. There was, no doubt, a sort of tit for tat : but 
it had something of a sportive character about it: as when 
the Australian savage, having injured a man, has to stand 
as a goal for the missiles of his adversary or adversary s 
relative. But as things went further, and civilization 
advanced too fast for the natural pace of some who had to 
follow, it was found necessary to apply sharper goads to the 
slow and refractory so as to quicken their pace. And so it 
continued, till punishment almost came to be looked upon as 
the end for which civilization had been wrought, and jails 
and scaffolds as its obvious symbols. At present we begin 
to have some doubts as to the right to punish. Just as we 
now recognize, if we but think, that physical sicknesses are 
very largely due to our own misconduct, and therefore, in a 
schoolmastering world, fit objects for penal treatment ; so we 
recognize, on the other hand, that crimes have some of the 
nature of disease, and are in many cases their own punish 
ment. And we have on the whole admitted, not that 
criminals are faultless, but that casting stones at them is 
not the best way of putting matters right, and has an 
unpleasant tendency to generate fresh offences. At any rate, 
punishment has ceased to be quite the noble function it was 
half a century ago. 

Now, when people spoke of the ethical transformation of 


the religious idea and that o immortality, they were thinking 
of the spirit of a time when, in the course of social and 
political development, the important uses of punishment had 
first dawned upon men. In Homer, e. g. where penal codes 
are still defective, there is on the whole little use of the after 
life for penalty, except in the case apparently of some 
extremely profane persons. In Pindar, again, the after-life 
is partly conceived as a field for further development of things 
set going here. But in Plato the penal machinery of the 
other world is in full operation, and for the punishment craze, 
i. e. the extravagant enthronement of it, he is considerably to 
blame. Curious results, indeed, come about by the change of 
view : and Zeus might have to punish in his modern capacity 
what he (according to earlier creeds) might also be said to 
have inspired. But that, perhaps, is an inconsistency not 
confined to the Hellenic world. 

And what Plato did in a mild way, the extravagances of 
vulgar, and especially vulgarly theological, imagination carried 
to terrible lengths in Christendom. Both perhaps got the 
framework of their ideas from Egypt, where, as the Greeks 
thought, the immortality of the soul was discovered. And 
certainly, if not discovered, it was there applied as a great 
disciplinary agent in accordance with the exemplarily bureau 
cratic spirit of the Egyptian regime. The world of the dead 
was a great law-court sitting in permanence, and making an 
exhaustive scrutiny of the deeds done in the body. 

The important point for us is not to rest satisfied with the 
restriction of ethical conceptions to a stage when they are 
dominated by the rule of laws. Of laws, I say, not of Law : 
for while laws are commands with penal sanctions attached, 
Law is the voice of God, or the sweet reasonableness of 
harmonious and self-completing life. The law, said one, 
meaning the code of laws, was a schoolmaster to bring us to 
the heirship of the promises. There is a period of discipline, 
but it is subordinate, and a means of self -development ; its 


justification is to anticipate the end, and so give direction to 
effort, that would otherwise hurt itself and others, and waste 
precious time. But it has its limits in its end : it must never 
extirpate, though it may accelerate and facilitate, self -education 
and freedom. And of God, therefore, we need not think too 
much as an authority to coerce an erring world. True morality 
is not a thing of rules and observances. Far, indeed, should 
any man be from speaking scornfully of forms, traditions, and 
the bonds of social authority. Without them we should be 
poor and miserable creatures ; through them is all progress. 
But they are not everything. When Michael Angelo s great 
vision of the last judgement was set open to view, a certain 
high official at the Papal court complained that its nudities 
were indecencies, worthy of places unnameable rather than of 
the buildings in charge of the Vicar of Christ. Michael 
Angek/s first notice of the criticism, says the legend, was to 
give his critic a place amongst the evil shameless ones. But 
he had at length to reckon with the Pope, who echoed the 
complaint. That, replied the artist, is a fault easy to set 
right : there are harder things to amend than that. And the 
order was forthwith given to Daniele da Volterra, to be known 
hereafter in art history as II Braghettone, the breeches-maker, 
to veil the offending members. Now breeches-making in this 
sense is a comparatively easy matter ; and a great many people 
are of opinion that it is the most important of all matters. 
And its necessity to some extent is undoubted. Only the 
tailors must not be too proud. It is a nobler task to mould 
fine limbs, strong, graceful and active; and for that end 
tailoring, otherwise commendable, sometimes stands in the 
way. It is excellent again to clean the outside of the cup 
and the platter : but there is still the business of the inside. 

And so, let us not forget we all do forget that the art of 
morality is not, how not to do it. Its function is not merely 
to keep us from falling, nor is it to help us to become proper. 
It is to teach us to love God with all our hearts and strength 



and mind, and our neighbours as ourselves. The old Stoics 
used to say, Follow Nature : and Bishop Butler has 
remarked that this is but a loose way of talking-. The 
Stoic perhaps might have retorted that it was a lax way of 
talking to say, Obey conscience. For all formulas in nut 
shell fashion are lax. 

The Stoic and Butler also said, Follow God/ In each case 
you must realize that, whichever you do, you take your life in 
your hands ; you enter on a grand enterprise, a search for the 
holy Grail, which will bring you to strange lands and perilous 
seas. For you cannot say, interpreting, Thus far and no 
further, merely according to the bond and the duty/ In fol 
lowing God, you follow by what has been, what is ruled and 
accomplished, but you follow after what is not yet. It may 
be that the gulfs will wasli us down ; it may be that the 
gods of the past will rain upon us brimstone and horrible 
tempest. But he that is with us is more than all that are 
against us. Whoever keeps his ear ever open to duty, always 
forward, never attained, is not far from the kingdom. The 
gods may be against him, the demi-gods may depart, but he, 
as said Plotinus, if alone, is with the Alone. 


P 2 


THE phrase ( natural rights is, we are sometimes told, 
a survival from the obsolete language of a controversy long 
since forgotten. The very words that make up the phrase 
are ambiguous. Each has in turn been the confusing battle- 
cry in a combat where the fighters knew not what they 
fought for. And yet, if we look into it, the question 
underlying the phrase is not of a merely antiquarian 
interest. It touches on problems which never cease to 
excite curiosity which each age has to face and to seek to 
solve for itself. 

The history of the idea we need not here attempt to draw 
out in full. Perhaps germs of the claim to natural justice 
have never been altogether absent from the world, even in 
primitive conditions of society, but it may fairly be said that 
such demands hardly rise into the clear light of reflection 
till the last days of the ancient world, and the time when 
modern Europe slowly emerged from the disintegrating 
structure of the Roman Empire. The idea of natural rights 
inherent in man as man seems to indicate its source in 
a period when the atoms that had been solidly built up into 
ancient society began, as dissolution of that society set in, 
to feel themselves entrusted with their own fortunes, masters 
of their scanty savings from the ruin of the old world. That 
old regime of Greek and Roman times at least had taught 
the few who were favoured by social status to be free and 


equal : and had inspired thinkers to suggest that, apart from 
the ordinances of statecraft, such liberty and equality were 
the birthright of each member of the human race. The 
history of the early centuries of modern Europe, the so-called 
Dark and Middle Ages, is the record of an attempt, prolonged 
through centuries, to create a tolerable order of human life 
out of the dislocated and scattered elements which were left by 
the changes during the first centuries of that period. The 
old order did not entirely lapse into nothingness ; it survived, 
however, not as a visible empire, but as an idea of order and 
unity, an idea animating the efforts of many individuals, 
governing the actions of more, and rising in a few to the 
height of a bright and passionate devotion. This idea of 
human unity, which was the legacy of the decaying system of 
antiquity, was brought into contact with another idea, the idea 
of voluntary attachment, of fidelity to comrades, of loyalty 
to a self-imposed leadership, the idea of community based not, 
as the old world had been, on local ties, or on family neces 
sities, but on free and independent combination to attain 
some common end. The typical associations of the mediaeval 
world, the orders of chivalry, the monastic brotherhoods, the 
industrial guilds, found their unifying principle in partici 
pation in a work for some general good, in giving them 
selves up to the realization of some object freely chosen, 
but, when once accepted, claiming the sacrifice of the whole 
breadth and depth of life. The Church itself both directly 
and indirectly fostered this sense of individual independence. 
Over against the visible local kingdom and its claims upon 
the subject, Religion set up the idea of a higher and uni 
versal kingdom, which was above and beyond the secular 
authority. If it often sank into only another and a subtler 
tyranny, still in theory the Church was to the members of 
the petty principalities of Europe ruled by their local despots 
one of the safeguards of personal liberty. It cannot be too 
clearly stated that in the darker periods of mediaeval history 


there were learned and wise priests who upheld the reign 
of impersonal law, of justice and mercy, amid the struggles 
and brutal violence of selfish chiefs. 

Thus the very methods, through which order emerged as 
a self-won product from the chaos of the transition period 
between the old world and the new, made it only too likely 
that a sentiment of individual autonomy, of free and inde 
pendent contribution to the result, should remain as a settled 
conviction in the mind. The services rendered in this process 
by the idea of citizenship, as a natural law in which lived 
transfigured the political results of the old world, were hardly 
remembered. It is not therefore to be wondered at, if, as 
soon as political speculation began to awake, as soon as 
attention was turned on the nature of sovereignty, the view 
gained expression that kingdoms and commonwealths were 
the work of the voluntary efforts of individuals. Such 
speculation, first started into keen activity when the con 
troversy between Pope and Emperor reached a climax, was 
invested with new and more general interest by the wars 
of religion in the sixteenth century. We there find Jesuit 
and Protestant alike (with different motives) proclaiming the 
theory of the divine right of the peoples to choose their own 
form of government. A fresh stage of the controversy was 
due to the fifty years struggle between the Stuart kings and 
the leaders of Parliamentary government. The advocate of the 
Puritan revolution, John Milton, lays it down that all men 
were naturally born free, . . . born to command, and not to 
obey : that the authority and power of self-defence and 
self-preservation is a natural birthright/ whereas the 
power of kings and magistrates is only derivative, trans 
ferred and committed to them in trust from the people/ So 
too John Locke, the advocate of the glorious revolution of 
1688, taught that men, being by nature free equal and 
independent/ surrendered their natural power and freely 
consented to abide by the decisions of the majority so long as 


they were thus the better enabled to preserve themselves, 
their liberty and property/ 

When we come to the middle of the eighteenth century, 
we find Blackstone, in his Comment-ane* on Mm Lawn of 
Knylawl (1765), expounding the lessons of Loeke as a funda 
mental doctrine. The principal aim of society/ he explains, 
< is to protect individuals in the enjoyment of those absolute 
rights which were vested in them by the immutable laws of 
nature/ These absolute rights of man, summed up in the 
general name of the natural liberty of mankind/ which 
means f a power of acting as one thinks fit without any 
restraint unless by the law of nature/ have in most other 
countries been restricted or altogether destroyed, but in 
England they are coeval with our form of government. Thus 
though founded upon nature and reason, or even on the will 
of God, they have in this country, according to Blackstone, 
the peculiar advantage of being defined by different laws in 
a number of private immunities. They include three principal 
or primary articles, the right of personal security, the right of 
personal liberty, and the right of personal property. These 
broad terms, however, are whittled away by definition. 
Personal liberty, e. g. is explained to consist in the absence 
of slavery, and the freedom from arbitrary or illegal arrest. 

Ten years afterwards the question of natural rights was 
transferred from the region of academical discussion to the 
arena of public meetings. The ideas of the revolutionary 
party in Europe were carried to America by Thomas Paine, 
the author of Hound Common Kunxn (1776) and The Crmv. As 
early as 1773 a meeting at Mendon in Massachusetts had 
adopted resolutions ( that all men have an equal right to life, 
liberty and property/ and that a right to liberty and 
property (which are natural means of self-preservation) is 
absolutely inalienable arid can never lawfully be given up 
by ourselves or taken from us by others/ The principle 
of self-preservation/ which holds the central place in this 



document, is pronounced necessary alike to the well-being 
of individuals and to the order of the universe. In the 
American declaration of Independence of July 4, 1776, the 
same views are reproduced: * \Ye hold these (ruths to he 
self-evident., that all men are created equal, that they are 
endowed hy their Creator with certain unalienahle rights, Unit 
amon^ 1 these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness: 
that- to secure these rights governments are instituted amon^ 
men, deriving their just powers from (he consent of the 
governed, and that whenever any form of overnnieiit he- 
comes destructive of these; ends, it is the ri^-ht of the people to 
alter and to abolish it, and to institute a. new ^ovenimeut, 
laying its foundation on such principles and or^ani/in^ its 
powers in such form as to them shall seem most likely to 
effect their safety and happiness. 

The attitude of Burke on the suhject of natural rights 
is worth noting. In his Thoinjhtx on (lie (\ut,ti of tin 1 
Present Discontents (1770) he maintains in a, most outspoken 
manner the origin of all government in the popular will. 
The King/ he says, is the representative of the people: so are 
the Lords : so uro the Judges. They are all trustees for the 
people, as well as the Commons : because no power is j-ivcn 
for the solo sake of the holder: and although government 
certainly is an institution of Divine Authority, yet its forms 
and the persons who administer it, all originate from the 
people/ But. on the whole he declines to enter upon ultimate 
questions of principle. His consideration, he says, in his 
Speech on, Conciliation wil/i Ann rlca (i77, r )), is limited to 
the policy of the question. k I do not examine whet. her the 
^ivin^- away a man s money he a power cxcepted and reserved 
out of the general trust of ^ overnment : and how far all 
mankind, in all forms of Polity, are entitled to an exercise 
of that rio-ht hy the Charter of Nature. The question 
witli mo/ he adds, is not whether you have a ri^-ht to render 
your people miserable : hut whether it is not your interest 


to make them happy. It is not what a lawyer tells me I 
do but what humanity, reason and justice tell me I ought to 
do/ He contrasts titles and compacts with what the reason 
of the thing requires. 

In his Reflexions on the Revolution in France he con 
trasts the historical and legal character of the English 
Revolution with the abstract theories of the French. No 
experience/ he says, has taught us that in any other course 
or method than that of an hereditary crown, our liberties can 
be regularly perpetuated and preserved sacred as our hereditary 
right When our liberties are thus considered in the light of 
an inheritance, ... our liberty becomes a noble freedom. It 
carries an imposing and majestic aspect. It has a pedigree 
and illustrating ancestors. ... We procure reverence to our 
civil institutions ... on account of their age and on account 
of those from whom they are descended/ The French declined 
to follow this path and give to their recovered freedom 
a correspondent dignity by recalling the privileges that had 
been discontinued. They have "the rights of men/ Against 
these there can be no prescription : against these no agreement 
is binding, these admit no temperament and no compromise/ 
For Burke these rights are a piece of political metaphysics/ 
dangerous only because they afford a ground of quarrel with 
all government, on a question of competency and a question 
of title/ Not that he denies what he calls the real rights of 
men/ Civil Society is an institution of beneficence : and law 
itself is only beneficence acting by a rule. Men have a right 
to justice : they have a right to the fruits of their industry, and 
to the means of making their industry fruitful. They have 
a right to the acquisitions of their parents : to the nourish 
ment and improvement of their offspring : to instruction in life 
and consolation in death. Whatever each man can separately 
do, without trespassing upon others, he has a right to do for 
himself ; and he has a right to a fair portion of all which 
society, with all its combinations of skill and force, can do in 


his favour. In this partnership all men have equal rights, 
but not to equal things/ 

But man, in the convention by which society is formed,, 
has divested himself of the first fundamental right of un- 
covenanted man, that is, to judge for himself and to assert 
his own cause. ( That he may secure some liberty, he makes 
a surrender in trust of the whole of it/ Government, 
however, is not made in virtue of natural rights/ It is 
a contrivance of human wisdom to provide for human wants/ 
And if ( men have a right, that these wants should be provided 
for by this wisdom/ then, as amongst these wants is the 
want, out of civil society, of a sufficient restraint upon their 
passions/ it follows that the restraints on men, as well as 
their liberties, are to be reckoned among their rights/ And 
the moment you abate any thing from the full rights of 
men each to govern himself/ from that moment the whole 
organization of government becomes a consideration of con 
venience/ Thus the science of constructing a commonwealth 
is not to be taught a priori. It presupposes a long experience. 
Political reason is a computing principle. It calculates 
morally and not mathematically/ Whereas the pretended 
rights of men are all extremes/ morally and politically 
false in proportion as they are metaphysically true, the rights 
of men in government are their advantages : consisting 
often in balances and compromises. { By the theorists of the 
revolution the right of the people is almost always sophistically 
confounded with their power/ But till power and right are 
the same, the whole body of the people has no right incon 
sistent with virtue/ Men have no right to what is not 
reasonable and to what is not for their benefit/ 

Burke notes the influence which the legal profession 
exercised on the course of the American as of the French 
Revolution. I have been told/ he says, (Conciliation with 
America) f by an eminent bookseller that in no branch of 
his business, after tracts of popular devotion, were so many 


books as those on the law exported to the plantations. . . . 
I hear that they have sold nearly as many of Blackstone s 
Commentaries in America as in England/ 

The language of the American declaration of independence 
is vague and rhetorical ; it reduces the language of popular 
philosophy to the form of doubtful maxims. It proclaims in its 
fantastic simplicity not merely the right, but the duty of insur 
rection against an unfaithful government, and suggests in the 
f unalienable right to the pursuit of happiness * a justification of 
any acts of a human being whatsoever. What may not a man 
dare to do in such a quest? Similar assertions of inherent 
rights/ unalienable and indefeasible/ occur in the special 
declarations of principles or bills of rights drawn up by the 
single states. But side by side with these appeals to abstract 
rights, to general principles, borrowed from the dominant 
philosophy, there is, as we noticed in Blackstone s remarks, 
an appeal to historic precedents. The Congress of New York 
in 1765 claims all the inherent rights and liberties of the 
king s natural-born subjects within the kingdom of Great 
Britain/ They are entitled to the undoubted rights of 
Englishmen, and appeal to the principle and spirit of the 
British Constitution/ The people of Connecticut takes its 
stand on the liberties, rights, and privileges which it has 
received from its forefathers. And the declaration of rights 
drawn up by the Congress of Philadelphia in October, 1775, 
bases the American claims on the old rights which were 
brought from the mother country, on the English Constitu 
tion and inherited privileges founded on the acknowledged 
acts and practices of the British Empire. The two grounds 
of argument are directed to different classes. The reference 
to historic facts is intended for the diplomatic world, for those 
accustomed to the language of statesmanship, who count 
a single precedent worth a hundred principles. The appeal 
to natural justice- to imprescriptible rights-is for the 
popular heart, for the crowd which rolls like a sweet morsel 


under its tongue the large sounding phrases of vague and 
flexible ideals. 

The success of the Americans in their insurrection had 
been largely due to the help of the French fleets and armies. 
Among the French officers, the most distinguished was the 
noble and brave, but vain and imprudent,, Marquis de La 
Fayette. When the news of the uprising in America reached 
France, La Fayette, then nineteen, and a captain of dragoons, 
enthusiastically resolved to espouse the cause of liberty, and 
braving all opposition of friends and the dangers of arrest by 
his own Government, hurried across the seas to take part in 
the struggle for independence. After the war had ended in 
success, La Fayette returned to France, and in 1787, at the 
still juvenile age of thirty, was elected as one of the Notables 
whom the king had summoned to advise him on the measures 
to be taken for the redress of grievances throughout the 
country. In the Constituent Assembly which succeeded, we 
find La Fayette on July n, 3789, presenting the proposal 
for a declaration of rights modelled on that which Jefferson 
had framed for the Americans. 

The sound of ( rights was far from unfamiliar to the 
French ear, but hitherto it had been associated with a very 
different set of ideas. The rights that most promptly 
occurred to a French lawyer were the feudal rights, governing 
the tenure of property and regulating the lives of almost all 
dwellers in the country. It was not that these rights were 
peculiar to France : they were found, and sometimes in a 
stricter form, in almost every country. But in France the 
peculiarity in the position of the privileged classes, the nobles 
and the clergy, was that for more than half a century before 
the Revolution they had ceased to occupy any direct place in 
the political administration of the country. When the long 
struggle between the monarchy and the feudal lords was 
ended, and in 1 756 the last of the feudal brigands was taken 
and beheaded, the king Louis XV was left in a position where 



lie could fairly say, as he did ten years later say, It is to me 
alone that the legislative power belongs, independently and 
without participation. The whole of public order emanates 
from me. When that result had been reached by the efforts 
of Richelieu and Louis XIV, the justification of the feudal 
system had ceased. The great nobles had practically 
abandoned their place in the country in order to dance 
attendance at court, and the smaller nobility who still resided 
on their lands were often poor and had no real participation 
in the management of local affairs. The same was true of 
the clergy: neither they nor the nobility performed any 
public service, or had a sense of public and national duty. 
An administrative centralization had been established long 
before the Revolution ; France was governed by central 
bureaux; the king felt the sovereignty as his heritage and 
managed the public revenues by his own intendants in each 

But though the territorial lords had been deprived of their 
supremacy, many of them had still many fine rights (de 
beaux droits) attached to them. Though he neither dis 
charged a useful function as local magistrate and adminis 
trator, or as representative at the seat of central authority, 
the seigneur had a number of privileges which were felt as all 
the more burdensome by his peasant neighbours just because 
they were no longer in any legal political dependence upon 
him. His seigneurial jurisdiction one of the prime con 
sequents of feudal superiority (for la justice suit le fitf\ was 
still left to him, and he had those rights d aulaine, cTepaves, 
Sec., which followed from the feudal sovereignty of the land 
holder, besides the so-called lanalHes (the obligation of the 
tenant to use the superior s mill, &c.) and the corvees (or 
obligation to perform so many days work for the superior). 
Besides these the noble class enjoyed in many cases either 
a total or partial exemption from taxation, and public places 
were often in their hands : they had the exclusive right of 


sport, and the game-laws were a constant offence to the 
cultivators. The nobility and clergy, in short, had sunk into 
the position of privileged classes, who no longer justified their 
position by exceptional services. They were the inheritors of 
imposts and dues felt as oppressive by those who saw no 
reason for them, and as insulting by those who had come 
to feel themselves comparative freemen. Feudalism, as 
De Tocqueville remarks, ceasing to be a political institution, 
still remained the greatest of all the civil institutions of 
France. The seigneur had ceased to govern : but his 
presence in the parish and his privileges effectually prevented 
any good government from being established in the parish in 
place of his own. To such a position had sunk those knights 
who, says a Spanish chronicle in the tenth century, kept their 
horses in the hall where they slept with their wives, to be 
ready at any moment to repress disorder in the land. 

From the earlier part of the century onwards a pervasive 
influence had been making itself supreme in France. The 
practice of social intercourse among all who belonged to the 
privileged classes, or could for temporary reasons be reckoned 
amongst them, became the main problem of life : encroaching 
on and gradually suppressing the intimacies of conjugal life 
and of parental affection. A uniform code of manners, la 
lienseance, imposed upon the select multitude a characteristic 
form which was so finely balanced, so soon impressed, and so 
universally spread that it seemed hardly to be felt as a gene, 
and became to a large class a sort of second nature. It 
taught the art of sympathy, the form of friendship ; it gave 
the skill of concealing pain and weakness, of checking 
unseasonable individuality, of putting on a smiling and serene 
face in trouble, and of not offending others by the assertion 
of personal prejudices. The great vice to such a period lay 
in being une espece, an original. But even this wide empire 
of the salon had its limits. The distinction between the gentil- 
liomme and the roturier remained uneffaced and apparently 


uneffaceable. The nobility and the < third estate grew more 
and more hostile to each other: and France offered the 
spectacle of a country broken up by class distinctions, into 
groups almost caste-like in their nature. 

But beyond all these divisions there lay a common meeting- 
ground in literature. And the literature of that period is 
a literature which is dominated by philosophy, by speculation, 
by the search for and the worship of abstract and absolute 
ideas. Political theory which had been fostered in the 
seventeenth century in England found during the middle part 
of the eighteenth century its home in France. In a social 
state, founded on inequalities and permeated by conventions, 
inquiry dealt by preference with the theory of natural justice 
and the nature of political power. The list of writers who 
lay the foundations of social and political science is headed by 
the name of Montesquieu. The Spirit of Lairs (1748) did 
not do all that its admirers have sometimes said : it did not 
discover and restore to humanity its long lost titles. But it 
did, on the basis of the vague definition of law as a necessary 
relation derived from the nature of things/ paitly show that 
laws are in the last resort facts beyond the arbitrary inter 
ference of governments, dependent on circumstances of nature 
and history, and governed by scientific principles no less 
inflexible than those of the physical universe. Before such 
a theory, arbitrary powers and incoherent privileges must 
necessarily hide themselves. Other theorists, dazzled, as even 
Montesquieu himself at times is, by the splendours of Greek 
and Roman history, and misled by the legendary glories of 
early Sparta, preached doctrines more tempting to the dis 
satisfied and unsuccessful. The Abbe Morelly in his Code de 
la Nature (1755) laid down three fundamental laws : the non- 
existence of private property : the character of public 
functionary attached to every citizen : and the duty of every 
citizen to contribute to the public welfare. The fountain 
of Socialism flows in his postulate that every citizen is 


to be supported, maintained, and employed at the public 

One of the most instructive of these writers, especially as 
dealing with the question of natural rights, is Mercier de la 
Riviere, in his book De I ordre nalurel et essentid des societes 
politiqiies (1767). The first of all rights according to him 
is that of individual liberty, or personal property : from 
which as a necessary consequence flows first that of property 
in movables (mobiliere) and secondly in land (fonciere), the 
latter to be justified by noting .the necessity of continued 
possession for making proper use of the soil. These three 
fundamental species of property are linked together and 
justified by the maxim : that duties are the justification of 
rights, and rights give the means of exercising duties : Point 
de droits sans devoirs, point de devoirs sans droits/ But if the 
right of property thus understood is a necessary consequence 
of human duty, it is no less evident that it further involves 
liberty and security : and that all institutions which are 
indispensable to maintain these three ends are parts of the 
essential order of political societies. So far Mercier follows 
the common track of the liberal theorists of his day. But in 
what succeeds he makes a new departure, and follows a line, 
afterwards adopted by Fichte, in opposition to the maxims 
of Montesquieu as to the separation of the three powers of 
government. His view is briefly stated in the words: la 
puissance executrice est toujours et ne cessairement puissance 
legislative ; and his reason is that the distinction if made can 
not be maintained : either will inevitably usurp the functions 
of the other. But the real justification of this view is to be 
found in his distrust of the sway of personal opinions and 
arbitrary pretensions among the various claimants of supreme 
power. The ideal institution of government is, he maintains, 
to be sought in the direction which will leave least room to 
the rivalry of individual interests, to the varying chances cf 
a majority. The best government is therefore a hereditary 


monarchy- a despotism, but one founded not on ignorance, 
but on a knowledge of the true laws of the social order It 
is in short the ideal of paternal government, of a legal 
despotism/ of the authority of one man who is supreme 
and sole but who has no other interests than those of the 
community, and whose knowledge is adequate to his 


What Mercier de la Riviere thus lays down is the view o 
the great economists of the century. Political liberty, as 
the active participation in legislation by each member of the 
community, is what they hardly consider worth striving for. 
These writers are the panegyrists of the State. The main 
security for Liberty which they thought necessary was 
a wide-spread system of popular education. According to 
Quesnay, public, general, and continual instruction in the 
principles of essential justice and natural order are the means 
to render despotism impossible. And he has nothing but con 
tempt for representative assemblies and all the machinery of 
popular checks to the preponderance of the central power. 

What the economists desired was a social and administrative 
reform : the removal of abuses, the destruction of unnecessary 
restrictions to free intercourse and commerce; they wanted 
to simplify government and give administration uniformity. 
Turgot, Vincent de Gournay, and Fran?ois Quesnay are the 
chief names amongst these writers who, as the advocates of 
the emancipation of agriculture, industry, and trade were 
originally known as ^conomistes/ but since the time of Dupont 
de Nemours have been commonly styled Physiocrates/ The 
title Physiocrat gives expression to one of the two principles 
which Gournay is said by Turgot to have discovered : that 
the industrial and commercial life of nations is governed by 
laws as unbending as those of physical nature. The other 
principle is the practical application of these laws to explain 
by their habitual violation the misery of the poor and the 
straits of the government in France. For in France there 



prevailed a complex system of regulations interfering at every 
stage with the freedom of trade,, a system on which province 
was set against province, town against town, on which free 
initiative was impossible, and invention had to contend 
against established prescriptions. The programme of Gournay 
was Laissez faire, laissez passer. It was the protest against 
the exaggerations by which the royal intendants in the 
provinces fixed the length to which a piece of cloth should be 
woven, the pattern to be selected, the number of threads of 
which it was to be composed. Such was the founder of the 
doctrine that Turgot (1727-81) sought to make his country 
men understand. Quesnay (1694-1774), the physician of 
Louis XV, is the author of the Maximes Generates du gouverne- 
ment economlque (Tun royaume ac/ricole (1768). He believed 
that agriculture had been depressed by an undue pursuit of 
the manufacture of articles of luxury, and directed his 
attention towards methods for increasing the production of 
grain and wine, in which he believed lay the national wealth 
and strength. What he demanded was the liberation of the 
farmer from those burdens which pressed so heavily abolition 
of forced labour, reduction of the taille, and complete libera 
tion of the trade in corn both within and without the 
kingdom. Thus Quesnay claimed for agriculture and original 
production, what Gournay asked in the interest of manu 
factures the removal of useless and harmful restrictions. 
After all they only repeated and repeated almost in vain the 
advice that Boisguillebert, that insense pour Famour du public 
(1697, Le detail de la France), and Marshal Vauban (1707, 
Projet cTune dime royale) had given long before. Vauban 
pointed out that le menu peuple was the part of the nation 
which bears all charges, which has suffered and does suffer 
most, and which yet by its labours and its taxes enriches both 
the king and the kingdom. To remedy that state of affairs 
Vauban suggested the abolition of all existing taxes and 
replacing them by an income tax of a tenth on all. 



These aims-the emancipation of labour and trade from 
fatal bondage, and the economical constitution of the finance 
system- the economists hoped to get from the hand of a strong 
monarch who had learned the true laws which govern the 
production and distribution of wealth. Once the state had 
thoroughly learnt its duty, it was to be altogether unrestrained 
by checks! The form of liberty matters little : the substance of 
good government is all important. And there is no doubt 
that in this view the economists practically coincided in their 
results with what the Revolution actually brought about. 
The levelling process which they commended, the erasing of 
old barriers Tnd divisions, was carried out, and the despotism 
of an enlightened representative of the scientific order was 
apparently realized. The great achievement of the revolu 
tion was certainly not the attainment of political freedom as 
it is commonly understood : its real result is what was finally 
consolidated in the Civil Code, in an equal system of private 
law, a regular and open administration, a removal of 
hampering inequalities which prevented the development 
of agriculture and industry. Political and social life is 
a thing of slower growth, which needs intelligent co-opera 
tion and careful interest on the part of individuals. It 
implies an effort of reorganization. 

The declaration of the rights of man which Lafayette 
proposed was, after some discussion and several alterations, 
promulgated on November 3, 1789, as a preface to the Con 
stitution (of 1791), under the title of a Declaration of the 
Rights of the Nan and the Citizen. The assembly begins 
by setting forth the sentiments that animated the young 
and generous men whom the philosophy of the age had made 
enthusiasts for freedom. ( The representatives of the French 
people, constituted as a National Assembly, considering that 
ignorance, forgetfulness, or contempt of the rights of man 
are the sole causes of the public misfortunes and of the cor 
ruption of governments, have resolved to set forth in a solemn 


declaration the natural, inalienable, and sacred rights of man, 
in order that the declaration, being- constantly present to all 
the members of the social body, may continually recall to 
them their rights and their duties. ... In consequence the 
national assembly recognizes and declares, in the presence and 
under the auspices of the Supreme Being, the following rights 
of the man and the citizen. Art. i. Men are born and 
remain free and equal in rights. Social distinctions can be 
based only on common utility. 2. The end of every political 
association is the conservation of the natural and impre 
scriptible rights of man, These rights are liberty, security, 
property, and resistance to oppression. 4. Liberty consists in 
being able to do everything that does not harm others : thus 
the exercise of the natural rights of each man has no limits 
besides those which assure to other members of society the 
enjoyment of the same rights. These limits can only be 
determined by the law. 1 1 . The free communication of 
thoughts and opinions is one of the most precious rights of 
man : every citizen may therefore speak, write, print freely, 
on condition of answering for any abuse of that liberty, in 
cases determined by the law. 17. Property being an inviolable 
and sacred right, none may be deprived of it, unless public 
necessity, legally certified, evidently so demands, always under 
the condition of a just and pre-payable indemnity/ In the 
sequel to this declaration the assembly makes some promises 
of no slight range, which seem to be consequent upon it. It 
guarantees the establishment of secours publics a system of 
public reliefs : and to create a public education, 
common to all the citizens, gratuitous, so far as regards those 
parts of instruction which are indispensable for all men. It 
engages in short to help all who cannot help themselves, and 
holds out a scheme of free elementary schools. 

The constitution of 1793 substantially agrees with these 
provisions, perhaps seeking after greater accuracy. Article I 
is : The end of society is the common happiness. Government 


is instituted to guarantee to man the enjoyment of his natural 
and imprescriptible rights. 2. These rights are equality, 
liberty, security, property. 3. All men are equal by nature 
and before the law. 6. Liberty ... has for its principle nature, 
for rule justice, for safeguard the law : its moral limit is in 
the maxim : Do not do to another what you do not wish 
should be done to you. 8. Security consists in the protection 
accorded by society to each of its members for the con 
servation of his person, of his rights, and of his properties. 
1 6. The right of property is that which belongs to every 
citizen of enjoying, and of disposing at his will of, his goods, 
his income, the fruit of his labour and of his industry. 21. 
Public reliefs are a sacred debt. Society owes subsistence 
to unfortunate citizens, whether in procuring them work or in 
assuring the means of subsistence to those who are incapable 
of working. 22. Instruction is the need of all. Society 
ought to favour with all its power the progress of the public 
reason, and put instruction within the reach of all the citizens. 
33. Resistance to oppression is the consequence of the other 
rights of man. 

The Constitution of 1795 (August 22), drawn up after the 
fall of Robespierre, departs somewhat both in form and matter 
from the two earlier statements. Among the list of rights, 
it preserves silence on the right of insurrection, either as 
primary or derivative right : and it observes the same dis 
cretion as to the claims of the unfortunate poor. With regard 
to equality it lays down (Art. 4) that it admits of no 
distinction of birth, no hereditary transmission of powers : 
a phrase which for vagueness probably gains the prize amid 
the whole collection. The main novelty, however, of this 
paper is its title : it is a Declaration of the Rights and Duties 
of the Man and the Citizen. Under the head of the Duties of 
man we find, Art. 2. All the duties of man and citizen follow 
from these two principles, graven by nature on all hearts : 
Do not do to others what you would not wish any one 


to do to you : Do constantly to others the good you would 
like to receive from them. 4. None is a good citizen who 
is not a good son,, a good father, good brother, good 
friend, good husband. 5. No one is a good man who is 
not sincerely and religiously observant of the laws. 8. On 
the maintenance of property depends the cultivation of the 
field, all production, every means of work, and the whole social 

Whatever may be the faults of these documents, it is clear 
that they do not sin by their revolutionary character. Their 
tendency is eminently sober and conservative. No thorough 
equality, no licentious liberty is promised or praised : but 
moderation in all things, and a mild sort of fraternity, in 
volving no very severe services to humanity. The liberty 
sought is absence of illegal and arbitrary interference by 
individuals : the equality is only an equality in rights or 
before the law. Property is expressly and evidently placed as 
the keystone of the social fabric, and the control of his goods 
entrusted to the proprietor is ample. We know indeed that 
on this last point there were debates : and at one time 
Robespierre thought it well to argue against Condorcet and 
the Girondists, who held that man is master of disposing at 
his will of his goods, his capital, his income, and his industry/ 
and to insist that the right of property was borne comme lex 
autres. But this acknowledgement of the right of the com 
munity was not seriously proclaimed, especially after Babeuf 
had in his newspaper insisted that each citizen should have 
secured to him la snffi&ance, mais rien qiie la suffisance, and 
had added that, as the soil of a state ought to secure the 
existence of all its members, the population should, if need 
be, suffer diminution to the requisite extent. And the con 
demnation to death of Babeuf and Darthe was the answer of 
the majority of the revolutionary authorities to the demand 
of Sylvain Marechal, another of this band, for egalite dufait, 
real equality, and la Communaule des biens. The revolutionary 


movement was in its accredited utterances far from being- 
socialistic, or antagonistic to the rights of private property. 
Indeed, the charge most readily brought against it would be 
that it appealed to the baser prejudices of the bourgeoisie, 
and was too much a mere middle-class movement, which 
ended in elevating the third estate to a level with the two 
older privileged classes. 

It has often been remarked in similar cases that the general 

phraseology of a document must receive its interpretation 

from the special circumstance to which it applies. People 

talk large and wide : but they have definite facts in view. 

Partly from incapacity to formulate in definite and precise 

terms, partly from the weakness of rhetoricians, men are in 

the habit of clothing- their meaning in preposterously ample 

vestments. At the time this difference between the sign 

and the thing signified is not so striking for those whose 

situation helps them to interpret the langnage, but as distance 

of place and time intervenes the gap between word and 

meaning grows more conspicuous. The accent, the tone, 

the sentiment, which qualified the sense and pointed the 

hearer to the fact, are now absent : and one has to wonder, 

and wonder in vain what the orator had precisely in view. 

Now in the case of these declarations it is evident that they 

are drawn up by journalists, half trained in philosophic 

thought, and hurried by the appetites of their clientele ; 

anxious to formulate in a few brief propositions and catching 

phrases of apparent simplicity the cardinal principles on 

which society ought to be reformed, which were also in their 

opinion the principles always underlying social life, though 

now and for a long time past ignored and despised. It is 

undoubtedly true that the course of the revolution is marked 

both in the very beginning and during the reign of the 

Terror by wild excesses, lawless orgies of passion-driven and 

base-hearted individuals and multitudes ; that a system 

of terroristic administration prevailed during considerable 


periods ; and that low selfishness and degraded hatreds sought 
their gratification under the guise of a demand for legal 
fairness and punishment of accumulated misdeeds. But in 
its general and legitimate current and tendency, to which 
these documents are an attempt to give a logical expression, 
the revolution was only a levelling up of the tiers etat to the 
condition of the two others, and a removal of the disabilities 
which checked the free growth of arts and industry. The 
revolution of 1789 in fact was the victory of the tiers etat. 
When the abbe Sieyes at the beginning of the struggle 
asked his famous question, What is the third estate ? the 
only reply he gave was Nothing : it had by the revolution, 
as he predicted, become Everything/ It had swallowed up 
the privileged classes. It had succeeded in quashing the 
old feudal entanglements, which still were potent enough to 
make life for the peasant and the townsman full of real or 
supposed indignities. No doubt in course of that process 
the poorest class had gained incidental relief. Dependence, 
like that described by Voltaire as prevailing in the vicinity 
of his own country seat, was no longer possible. The serfs 
or dependent bondsmen (mainmortables) of the great monas 
teries had been emancipated. But what was chiefly attained 
was a common law, without privileged exceptions (auciui 
privilege ni exception an droit eonimun de tons les Frangais], 
and a removal of the old guild restrictions (il ny a pins ni 
jurandes ni corporations de professions, arts et metiers}. There 
were to be no more lettres de cachet, or arbitrary arrests of sup 
posed dangerous characters. And as to that fraternity which 
is so often coupled with liberty and equality, perhaps the 
only mention of the thing is when it is spoken of as an 
object to be secured by the institution of fetes nationals. 
For the spirit of fraternity we must go elsewhere : go for 
example to the Scotch poet, Burns, who welcomed the New 
Year of 1795 with the spirit-stirring ode which concludes 
with the lines 


Then let us pray that come it may 

(As come it will for a that), 
That sense arid worth o er a the earth 

Shall bear the gree an a that. 
For a that, an a that, 

It s comin yet for a that, 
The man to man the world o er 

Shall brothers be for a that. 

But in Burns the cry is not in the first instance for either 
liberty or equality ; but for something very different, inde 
pendence. The man o independent mind/ the honest man, 
tho e er so poor, is king o men for a that/ 

The declarations state the rights of the man and the citizen. 
The second epithet qualifies and limits the first. They say 
nothing of the woman and the child. The very document 
which lays down the principles of liberty and equality, pro 
ceeded to exclude from their operation a large portion of the 
population of France, or at least to draw a far-reaching- 
division between two classes of citizens. Section II of the 
constitution of 1791 marks off from the rest what it calls 
the active (as opposed to the passive) citizen. An active 
citizen must be a man and a French man, not less than twenty- 
five years of age, paying rates equivalent to three days work, 
not engaged in menial service, not under accusation of crime, 
nor under decree of bankruptcy. By the constitution of 1793 
the age of active citizenship was reduced to twenty- one years, 
and no other debarring conditions were allowed, except con 
demnation to peines infamanles ou afflictive* : but the consti 
tution of 1795 again refuses citizenship to the bankrupt 
debtor and to the menial servant. 

These facts are enough to show that the large professions 
of the creed must be cautiously interpreted. The same point 
is involved in some of the arguments by which Bentham, in 
his chapter on Anarchical Fallacies/ has criticized the 
declarations of 1791. Is the relation of husband and wife, 
of master and apprentice, of hired servant, consistent with 
the assertion of such rights of equality? Are not the 


principles of equality and liberty in their literal statement 
sufficient grounds for destroying all social order whatever? 
The so-called right of resistance to oppression says in effect : 
Submit not to any decree or other act of power, of the 
justice of which you are not yourself perfectly convinced : 
and the practical result of the formula is to excite insur 
rection at all times against every government whatsoever/ 
Bentham starts from the principle that natural rights is 
simple nonsense : natural and imprescriptible rights, rhetorical 
nonsense nonsense upon stilts/ f A reason for wishing 
that a certain right were established is not that right/ 
Bight, the substantive right, is the child of law : from real 
laws come real rights, but from imaginary laws, from laws 
of nature, come imaginary rights, a bastard brood of monsters/ 
Bentham further attacks the contract theory of government 
on which the doctrine of the superiority of natural rights 
to law is based. The theory, he says , is a pure fiction, or in 
other words, a falsehood/ All governments that we have 
any account of have been gradually established by habit, 
after having been formed by force/ And, as he adds, What 
signifies it how governments are formed? Is it the less 
proper that the happiness of society should be the one end 
kept in view by the members of government in all their 
measures? The protest of Bentham is mainly directed 
against the vague and impractical nature of the resolutions, 
and the danger which such indefinite formulations carry for 
the uneducated who are unable to supply the necessary cor 
rectives. Once assert that the laws have no right to forbid 
certain actions/ or that whatever is not forbidden by law 
cannot be hindered/ and you destroy all habits of obedience 
to government, and annihilate for the time being and for 
ever all powers of command ; all power the exercise of which 
consists in the issuing and enforcing obedience to particular 
and occasional commands : domestic power, power of the 
police, judicial power, military power, power of superior 


officers, in the line of civil administration over their subor 
dinates/ There is one thing 1 and one thing- only superior to 
the laws,, superior i. e. to this or that particular law ; but 
that is not a natural right, it is the law of the constitution, 
the fundamental principles, which particular laws are so many 
attempts to express in detail. Of the conformity of these laws 
with this general spirit of union no single man is the judge, 
although each is entitled to his opinion : he is free to think 
as he pleases, and we may add that he has a right to express 
his opinion. 

The declarations themselves are shallow and uncertain, 
whenever they are pressed to disclose a consistent meaning. 
They fail either to present in clear conception, or to define 
in a satisfactory mode, the comparative claims of natural 
rights and the common happiness. They make no attempt 
to define that law before which all are equal, which determines 
the limits of liberty of speech and of the right of property, 
as of liberty in general. They hint, but dare not say, that 
liberty is only realized by law, and that all law is in its 
very essence coercion. For in short they are trammelled by 
the situation. It was, on the one hand, necessary to throw 
a decent covering over the accomplished insurrection, over the 
revolt made against constituted authority : and this is done 
by affirming a right of resistance to oppression and by a 
protest against hereditary privileges. But it was, on the 
other hand, no less incumbent on the framers of these docu 
ments to make order possible for the future : and to this end 
they insist upon the limits of the natural rights and on the 
majesty of Law. Thus double-faced is the catalogue. As 
for the reference to public relief of the poor, and a general 
system of education, they were for the time sacred duties/ 
i. e. pious wishes. 

These rights of man, like much else in the Revolution, drew 
some of their inspiration from Rousseau. But Rousseau was 
a deeper philosopher and a less narrow mind than the leaders 


in the political strife, and had a wide human scope which was 
foreign to their whole attitude. The social problem had 
exercised him deeply in its various aspects. In the year 
1732, he tells us, as he was making* his way on foot through 
France, he had allowed himself to be drawn from the road 
by the interests of the landscape, and had wandered so long in 
his entrancement that he entirely lost his way. Weary and 
faint, he at length gained a peasant s hut, at which he made 
bold, after the manner of his native mountains, to ask for 
refreshments, for which he was willing to pay. The peasant 
gave him and it was all that he had, according to his own 
account a dish of skim-milk and a piece of coarse bread. As 
the young man greedily swallowed his repast, his entertainer, 
concluding from his appearance that he was a bona jide 
traveller, proceeded to open a trap-door by which he descended 
to a cellar, soon to reappear with a good white loaf, an 
appetizing ham, and a bottle of wine. But when, after this 
more generous meal, his guest offered payment, the peasant s 
suspicions revived that his visitor was a spy of the tax- 
collector ; for as it appeared, unless every sign of a prosperous 
homestead were obliterated and abject poverty stamped on 
whatever met the eye, ruin from exactions was inevitable. 
Rousseau left the spot, he says, with the germ of that 
inexhaustible hatred he ever afterwards felt against institu 
tions which enabled the oppressor to wrench from the toilers 
those gains which nature had in her bounty destined for 

Some people tell us that in every man there are two natures, 
two selves : but it is seldom that the two beings within a man 
are so at variance as in Jean Jacques Rousseau. The very 
name is a symbol of antagonism. On the one side, the 
commonplace and ordinary John James, doubly common, by 
its two common names : on the other, the distinctive character 
of Rousseau. A union of aristocrat and democrat : of man 
and woman : of child and sage : of sinner and saint. His life 


up nearly to his fortieth year was passed in a silence and 
secrecy, which we should be unable to get over, were it not 
for his own revelations in his later years. Left without 
a mother at his birth, his earliest years were spent in unequal 
companionship with a father, not much more settled in man 
hood than himself ; and the two would sit for hours entranced 
over the fortunes of some hero of romance, or the scarcely less 
fantastic story of some of the great men of classic biography. 
At the age of ten he was deprived of this snatch of home life. 
His father, involved in the consequences of a brawl, sought 
relief in flight from Geneva, and abandoned his son, who was 
taken under the protection of an uncle, and brought up for 
a few years in a way that failed to supply the discipline he 
had hitherto lacked. The youth grew up with no real world of 
duty and drudgery to limit his straggling impulses, but rather 
in a fantastic world filled with the ideals of sensuous and 
sentimental gratifications ; ready always, like a Don Quixote, 
to deck out the real with visions of fair and pure femineity 
and grace, but also inclined, more like Sancho Panza, to sink 
these high ideals in the realities of vulgar or worse than vulgar 
prose. His first contact with the requirements of steady work 
was a failure. He seemed incapable of becoming a clerk, and 
he found his apprenticeship at the engraver s intolerable : 
and so in his sixteenth year he absconded from Geneva and 
began that life of wanderings and vicissitudes which lasted 
for more than twenty years. He became to appearance an 
adventurer and a vagabond : a stranger to his country, and 
a recreant to the religion of his native town : a hanger-on now 
on one patron or patroness, now on another : obliged to descend 
to the position of a menial and a lackey, in order to earn 
a livelihood : gaming strange experiences of woman in a love 
that was an inextricable labyrinth of passion and calculation, 
of delicacy and coarseness : sinking into depths of pruriency 
and meanness, and vulgarity that one is hardly obliged to 
believe literally even on his own showing. And yet in that 


strange nature with its keen and erratic sensibility and its 
defiance and distrust o convention and decorum in that 
incessant contradiction between ideal independence and real 
subjection to the implied or expressed wishes of some noble 
protector, there was something- pure and noble, which was 
dimmed but not extinguished by the vulgarity and rudeness 
which clung to many o his outward acts. It has been said 
by an ancient thinker that the true physician should be one 
who has himself run through an experience of the ills that 
flesh is heir to, who has learnt by suffering what maladies 
really are. Perhaps it may be sometimes so in moral malady 
and weakness also. If we believe, as we may, that he who 
sins does not wholly sin, but still preserves a principle of moral 
health which, though driven back into the central citadels, still 
does not altogether yield the fortress, then we may think that 
Rousseau had emerged from the night of spiritual sickness 
and uncertainty with a tenderer perception of the inroads of 
evil, a more clairvoyant sympathy with the temptations 
of weakness and doubt, than he could have had if he had 
himself been whole and sound. The inconsistency in Rousseau s 
behaviour is not so inexplicable as it seems. To the majority 
of the world the intercourse of life takes place by forms and 
symbols, by external ordinances, which are as it were the organs 
and feelers connecting soul with soul. In Rousseau s case 
these intermediate helps which divide while they connect were 
dispensed with. He lived in direct and immediate rapport 
with his environment. As on summer afternoons he rambled 
alone with his dog through the woods of Montmorency his 
spirit was wrapt up into sympathy with the nature around him ; 
he abandoned himself to a stupor of ecstasy and could only 
utter the words 6 Grand Eire ! 6 Grand &tre I For such a spirit 
passing in immediate spirituality from itself to the life and 
heart in all around, it must have been hard to keep pace with 
those who only moved and felt by means of the material 
organs, the garb and fashion in which they had moulded 


themselves. And such disengagement from human ordinances, 
from form and symbol, is impossible without loss. If it is the 
spirit alone which can truly inspire communion, and convert 
mechanism into life, it is no less true that without a definite 
mechanism, without external signs and objective manifesta 
tions of the inner will there is no real communication, but 
only an intention of it, an unreality which is blown about by 
every wind of fancy and feeling. It is impossible really to 
live the solitary life in which the society of the hermit is 
created for him by the vigorous intuitions of imagination. 
So when Rousseau tells us that he began to live on April 9, 
1756 (the day he settled at the Hermitage), because he left 
behind him the intrigues and frivolities of Paris ; when he 
speaks of himself as surrounding himself in these solitudes 
with an ideal society worthy of their beauty, we must 
remember that though he holds the peasants of Montmorency 
to be more useful members of society than the well-fed idlers 
of erudite Paris, still the society of his Therese, of his well- 
beloved dog, and his old cat, have their corresponding defects 
and mar the perfect development and freedom of his spirit. 
Disdaining the graces of civilization because of its hollowness, 
he iinds relief in a vulgar liaison which has its own deceptions : 
and when he asserts the independence of the sage, he some 
times falls into the rudeness of the egoist. When he made the 
great discovery which so many Stoic souls have made before 
and since, that the source of men s misery and wickedness lies 
in their false opinions, he forgot that it is impossible even for 
the solitary to avoid and leave behind him the dangers of 
mistaken estimates of the goods of life. He was engaged in 
an impossible struggle, and in a world where forms must exist, 
his every act solicited that inevitable contradiction which 
keeps asunder the ideal and the real. It is hardly to be 
wondered at if his overstrung brain, assailed by real persecu 
tions and pestered by designing friends, at length gave way 
to the strong and often baseless delusions that embittered his 


later years. We must take him for what he is, and not refuse 
to accept the prophecy and the poetry, because the poetic 
harmonies gave but a shrill sound and his visions of the 
perfect had but a shabby translation in his actual life. An 
indolent soul scared at every care, an ardent, bilious, and too 
susceptible temperament (it is so he analyzes himself) are bad 
endowments for an honest and honourable life : but they 
could not destroy the sympathy which went forth for all 
beings, which grasped humanity in its folds, and entered even 
into the unconscious life of the nature around. 

The first lesson which Rousseau had to teach his generation 
was, like almost all his writings, a paradox to his age. All 
truth at its first announcement must be a paradox : a shock to 
existing opinion : to scholars a stumbling-block and to the 
world foolishness/ The current belief of the literary circles 
of his time its belief ever since the time when Bacon and 
Descartes had pleaded for freedom of thought, for more light, 
for the increase of knowledge was that in widening our 
acquaintance with the laws of nature lay the panacea for the 
evils of the world. Multiply science and art, and you 
accelerate the millennium. To that opinion Rousseau in his 
first work threw down his gage, and he continued to the end 
to maintain the thesis then set up. That thesis is not that 
science and philosophy are pernicious, that civilization in the 
sense of increasing culture is a mistake, but that they are 
not all in all, that they are instruments and not ends ; that 
life is more than art or science. Mere knowledge is but a 
poor thing. What Burns puts in his simple words : 

It s no in books, it s no in lear, 

To make us truly blest, 
If happiness has not her seat 
And centre in the breast ; 

or what is implied in Bishop Butler s words, the science 
of improving the temper and making the heart better - 
is the theme of Rousseau s first essay. This was what 



Kant meant when he said that Rousseau first taught him 
that the supreme work and glory of arts and sciences lay 
in the service of humanity, not in the mere scholar s 3 oy in 
discovery and creation. 

The second step taken by Rousseau is in form a discourse 
on the origin of inequality amongst men/ That inequality 
it deduces as the inevitable consequence of the development of 
the human faculties, due to the freedom by which man com 
mands nature and seeks to rise to greater and greater perfec 
tion. But when the moral authority conferred by law is out 
of all proportion to the physical inequalities, it is contrary to 
natural right. Such contrast to natural right is seen when 
a child commands a gray-beard, when an imbecile conducts 
a wise man, and when a handful of people is ready to burst 
with superfluities, while the starved multitude is in want of 
necessities. The original man, the uncivilized child of nature, 
is indolent and easy, he lives in himself, il ne veut que vivre 
et rester oisif/ But the civilized man is never at rest, he 
seeks for power and reputation, he works himself to death in 
order to gain the means of living; because it is from the 
opinion of others and in their judgement alone that he gets 
the feeling of his own existence. The civilized man thus lives 
only in appearances, he sees himself through the opinion of 
others, and hence an universal dissimulation, de Fhonneur sans 
vertu, de la raison sans sagesse, et du plaisir sans bonheur/ 
This is the true theme of the essay. It is the demonstration 
that man in society has lost the mastery of himself, that he 
has handed himself over to an authority which deprives him 
of all real initiative, all spontaneous action, all sincerity. 

The same theme appears in the mile and in the Nouvelle 
Helo ise. The Nouvelle Helo ise is a dissertation, presented 
under the form of a romance, upon love, marriage, and family 
life. Few subjects connected with these interesting questions, 
whether sentimental, moral, practical, educational, economical, 
are not to some degree touched upon or even examined at con- 


siderable length. The HhnMe is a treatise on education. It is 
an education not for a special end : vivre est le metier que je 
lui veux apprendre ; and its hope is to produce a man who 
in one and the same course shall be prepared to transcend that 
contradiction in life as it is, which makes nature drag- a man 
one way, and men drag- him another; that contradiction 
between the moral and the physical which afflicts humanity. 
Civilized man is born, lives, and dies in slavery : his first ideas 
are those of empire and servitude. The method of Rousseau, 
which he holds is the method of nature, is to treat the child 
for many years as a purely physical being*, to let him feel in 
good time the heavy yoke of necessity, la necessile des ckoses, 
but to give no place in his dictionary to the words obey and 
command/ and still more those of duty and obligation. The 
child is not a reasonable being, and ought not to be treated as 
such : but just for that reason he must not be made to feel 
himself the puppet of human will. His rights as an indivi 
dual in the natural world ought to be respected : he also must 
learn Thabitude de s asservir sans peine a la necessite des 
choses. It is absurd to speak to children of their duties 
before you speak of their rights : the first sense of justice is 
not from what we owe, but from what is due to us. 

The fundamental idea is the slavery in which society holds 
as. Eut it would be unjust to Rousseau to suppose that he 
wishes us to return to the state of the unspoiled savage who is 
sufficient for himself and lives a real totality, not a mere frag 
ment of the social body. Rather the aim of education is to 
secure for man his independence as a member of society. The 
ancient philosophers sometimes discussed the problem if the 
best man was also the best citizen : and they answered it 
by saying that the two ideals would coincide only in the 
perfect commonwealth. Rousseau, as it were, answers from 
the other side. When man is so educated as nature pre 
scribes, he will, when the age of reason comes, be able to 
take his place in the true commonwealth. But the moral 

E 2 


and political life must not be permitted to thwart and pervert 

the natural. 

If Rousseau has given in his view of education a new con 
ception of the rights of the child not to be a plaything of men, 
but to be subject only to the laws of nature, until he becomes 
of an age to understand reason ; he has in the same treatise, in 
the book entitled Sophie ou la Femme, based the education of 
women upon the indications of nature. 

The treatise on the social contract is an attempt to give 
new force to the old doctrine of the sovereignty of the people. 
But who are the people who are thus declared sovereign? 
Not the multitude, or any portion of the multitude, which has 
been separated and distinguished from the governing body. 
The people which is sovereign is the organized people, actually 
assembled in its completeness ; if it is sovereign at other times, 
what it has is a passive sovereignty, a background of authority, 
vast, indivisible, inalienable, which rounds off and underlies 
the several exercises of authority in the existing government. 
The people is sovereign, but the sovereign does not govern ; 
he does not exercise executive functions, he does not put his 
own hands to work : like the immortal gods, the mortal god 
called the state only works by his delegates. 

The people is sovereign : what it wills is the law, the prin 
ciples which guide the exercise of the magistrates. But how 
is this will to be ascertained ? The people is a multitude, it 
consists of individuals, one of whom may wish this, and 
another wish that. Can we find out what they will by 
counting votes, and conclude that what all have willed is the 
will we are seeking for ? No, replies Rousseau, the general 
will is not the will of all. Each is guided, naturally or 
directly guided, by his own interest : and only if we suppose 
the more and less to cancel each other, would we get the 
general will. The people, if left to itself, always wishes or 
wills the good ; but of itself it does not always see it. The 
judgement which guides the general will is not always 


enlightened. AY hat the general will requires, then, is not 
identical with the decisions of a majority or even of a unani 
mous vote : for if the voters are blind, their decision does not 
truly represent their will. The people thus is represented as 
a blind but good-natured giant, who needs to be enlightened 
as to what he really wants : to be taught the conditions of 
civil association which we call laws. 

To teach it that, to let the people see what it really wishes, 
is the function of the legislator. Thus, strange anomaly, the 
people must get some one to teach it what is its real will. 
Such a teacher must be a superior intelligence, sympathetic 
with human passion, and yet himself passionless : indepen 
dent of our happiness, and yet ready to charge himself with 
its care : in one word, a God. The legislator is not a magis 
trate, nor is he sovereign. Having no authority, he yet has 
before him the enterprise of transforming human nature. 
Unable to employ either force or reasoning, he must have 
recourse to an authority, the intervention of heaven, which 
can constrain without violence and persuade without convinc 
ing. The fundamental laws of a nation, its action of supreme 
power, come as it were from something in man which is 
higher than man : they reveal themselves to him as the 
central tendency and drift of his being. The general will, 
in short, transcends the individual and can never be confused 
with the tyranny of democracy. 

A somewhat curious instance of the effect of the ideas of 
Rousseau and the Revolution upon a mind of ordinary 
qualities, though in extraordinary mass and mixture, is seen 
in a youthful composition of Buonaparte. The following are 
extracted from an unfinished essay he wrote in December, 1790 
(he was then twenty-one), in competition for a prize offered 
by the Academy of Lyons for an answer to the question 
Quelles verites et quels sentiments importe-t-il le plus d^in- 
culquer aux hommes pour leur bonheur? } (Buonaparte, it may 
be noted, was then at Ajaccio full of plans for the emancipation 


of Corsica.) He begins by defining man s happiness as Ma 
jouissance de la vie la plus conforme a son organisation/ 
That organization is partly physical and partly moral. With 
regard to notre organisation animate/ it has as its indispen 
sable wants food, sleep, and sexual pleasure (manger, dormir, 
engendrer 1 ). It is only emphasizing the last point when he 
remarks that < Sans femme il n est ni sante ni bonheur/ But 
man is more than animal : < notre organisation intellectuelle 
a des appetits non moins imperieux : sentir et raisonner/ 
And man must learn < que sa vraie gloire est de vivre en 
homme/ And happiness lies especially in the feelings (not 
in the reason), le sentiment is the bond (lien) of life, of 
society : it is by it that we enjoy ourselves, nature, our country, 
and the human beings who surround us. Such enjoyment 
does not require great wealth as its means. In fact the rich 
live to their hurt under < Fempire de Fimagination dereglee/ 
Still all men have a claim to be listened to for so much as is 
necessary to enable them to carry out the life required by their 
organization. Hence not merely a wife, but a certain amount 
of terrestrial property is a sine qua non. 1/homme en naissant 
porte avec lui les droits sur la portion des fruits de la terre 
necessaires a son existence : and it follows that the legislator 
(the organ of society) must resolve the political problem de 
maniere que le moindre ait quelque chose/ 

One may compare with this what George Sand (Histoire de 
ma Vie, i. 50) says of her grandmother Madame Dupui de 
Francueil. Among other papers the latter left behind an 
essay Du Bonheur/ which began Tous les hommes ont 
un droit egal au plaisir/ The word plaisir, according to 
George Sand, means f un bonheur material, jouissance de la 
vie, bien-etre, repartition des biens. 

The demand for the maintenance of natural rights was 
almost a new feature of political life in the eighteenth 

1 Cf. Xenoph. Hiero, 7. 3 crmotj KOI TTOTOIS ai vnvois tta.1 a<f>podiffiois iravra. 
opo iais TJSfaOai t cu/ce TO. a)a. 


century. In the Petition of Rights exhibited by Lords and 
Commons to Charles I, in 1628, the claim is made to 
a * freedom inherited by the laws and statutes of the realm 
the rights and liberties prayed for are those according to the 
laws and franchise of the land, the laws established in 
the realm, either by the customs of the realm or by acts of 
parliament. And in the Bill of Rights of 1689 the rights 
and liberties asserted and claimed are the true ancient and 
indubitable rights and liberties of the people of this kingdom/ 
and the acts complained of are distinctly stigmatized as illegal 
usurpations of power. Everything asked for is a corollary of 
the same liberties, rights, and grants, which in Magna Carta 
secured the supremacy of the law of the land and justice over 
arbitrary power of the king or the king s officials. The 
tendency prevalent throughout is what may be called 
Legitimism, the doctrine of historic rights, of hereditary 
privilege. The claim of the present is founded on a posses 
sion of the past; it is the consequence of a precedent. 
Liberty and right rest upon a charter, a special historical 
fact. The rights and liberties have the same justification in 
a, line of long descent, as the nobility and the monarchy have 
put forward for themselves against the parvenu and the 
radical. Unable or unwilling to raise the difficult questions 
of right and wrong, the advocates of national freedom and 
of justice contented themselves with the appeal to a distinct 
past a past which was never present, a supposed and believed 
primeval use and wont. It is the same appeal to the custom 
of our forefathers which leads Antigone in the Greek play to 
appeal against the commands of the king to the unwritten 
and sure statutes of heaven whose origin is in immemorial 
antiquity. What the race holds dear it credits with birth in 
the beginnings of the ages l . 

1 Heine, Englische Fragmente, xiii : Die fruheren Bestrebungen, die wir 
in der Geschichte der Lombardischen und Toskanischen Eepubliken, . . . 
verdienen nicht die Ehre eine Volkserhebung genannt zu werden : es war 
kein Streben nach Freiheit, sondern nach Freiheiten, kein Kampf fur 

24 8 55,4 yS IN MORAL PHILOSOPHY [i 

The eighteenth century was not satisfied with the results 
of this doctrine of historic rights and of iegitimism . It 
despised the weakness which, rather than confront the real 
issue of right and wrong, took refuge in an alleged creation 
of the right by primitive custom and statute. It would have 
no more of those liberties (franchises) which are the creations 
of charters and royal grants. It came to the conclusion that 
rights were something which monarchs and governments 
could not bestow, that liberty was ( above their sceptred 
sway ; that rights and liberties had a basis in the nature of 
things, independent of rulers who might acknowledge and 
declare, but could never make them. The mission of govern 
ment, one of the philosophers of the time had said, is not 
to make laws, but to promulgate those laws which are 
necessary and natural, which are relations inherent in the 
nature of things. To ascertain these rights therefore is 
according to the philosophers the province of reason : and 
what is from one point of view called natural right may from 
another be called rational rights. 

A right, it is said, is always the creature of law. But law 
is itself an ambiguous term, or rather there are laws and laws ; 
and it is and has been a problem to say what are the differ 
ences and what the analogies which subsist between moral 
and positive law, between law political and law physical, 

Rechte, sondern fur Gerechtsame : Korporationen strittenum Privilegien. 
. . . Erst zur Zeit der Reformation wurde der Kampf von allgemeiner und 
geistiger Art, und die Freiheit wurde verlangt, nicht als ein hergebra elites, 
sondern als ein urspriingliches, nicht als ein erworbenes, sondern als 
ein angebornes Recht. Da wurden nicht znehr alte Pergamente, sondern 
Principien vorgebracht. See also Goethe, Faust, p. 72, ed. 1858, Mephisto- 
philes to the student : 

Es erben sich Gesetz und Rechte 

Wie eine ew ge Krankheit fort : 

Sie schleppen von Geschlecht sich zum Geschlechte 

Und riicken sacht von Ort zu Ort. 

Vernunft wird Unsinn, Wohlthat Plage, 

Weh dir, dass du ein Enkel bist ! 

Vom Rechte das mit uns geboren 1st, 

Von dem 1st, leider ! nie die Frage. 


laws of nature and laws of society : or generally between 
what is called the law of man and the law of God. And the 
usage of language can here be no certain guide. It is easy of 
course to begin by propounding the view that every law is 
a command, issued by a well-marked superior to those in 
habit of submission within a political community knowing no 
master outside,, and a command moreover which says not 
merely Do this thing/ but Do this sort of thing/ For the 
rough and ready practice of jurists such a definition may be 
sufficient : and it is then natural to add that laws of nature 
and moral laws are comparatively improper generalizations in 
the usage of the term. But it has to be pointed out that for 
the most part laws, even political and civil, are not so much 
commands to do a sort of thing, as statements that, if some 
thing is done or left undone, certain painful consequences are 
intended to fall upon the doer or the negligent person. Each 
so-called law has its place in a system of law, and has its 
meaning governed and determined by that system : it is 
subject to the canon of consistency. The laws of a country 
are thus the successive and continuous explication of the con 
ditions of social welfare, inherent in the general characteristics 
of human nature and in the special situation and qualities of 
the special community. A semblance of consistency at least 
is therefore indispensable, if they are to be laws. But if this 
be so, the laws of a country are only in a very secondary sense 
the commands of an assignable authority. The popular con 
sciousness has always seen in the laws something above the 
control of individual will, of dictation or caprice. Actual 
law, it is true, has not unfrequently seemed due to the 
individual will : but this was and is possible because of 
the ignorance in which the community lives as to its 
true will, because, at the time when the law was enacted, 
the discrepancy between the decision of one and the demand 
of the universal was not apparent. 

The dispute which, as it was formulated during the Middle 


Ages, raged round the origin of law from will or from reason 
was, Is is usual with such disputes, partly a question of names. 
When Grotius held that natural right is so immutable that it 
cannot be changed even by God ; or when Gabriel Biel pro 
claimed with the true scholastic piling up of impossibility to 
a climax : If, which is impossible, there were no God, who is 
divine reason, or if that divine reason were in error, still if any 
one were to act against the right reason of angels or men, or 
any other there may be, he would do wrong : and if no right 
reason at all existed, still if any one were to act against what 
right reason would dictate if there were any, he would do 
wrong, they certainly seem to run counter to the view 
attributed to Occam that law originates solely from the 
divine will, and binds only in virtue of his command. Yet it- 
is only the old question of Christian philosophy puzzling over 
the distinction of faculties of intellect and will. The eternal 
and necessary conditions "of existence and of welfare rule us 
whether we will or no : and a mere perception of their 
existence elevates them into the position of laws. But in the 
case of human welfare there are peculiarities. Human life is 
governed by the conception of ends, by ideals. Its charac 
teristic feature consists in the formation of common aims, of 
ideals in which a community or society are interested. The 
human being is essentially a social animal : a creature which 
enters into confederacy with others, which forms groups or 
unities. Or rather, to speak more truly, the human being is 
from the beginning, so far as we can see, differentiated from 
all animals by a something in him, which makes him not 
merely a creature of momentary impulse but a unity of self 
through diverse times : which makes him at one with others 
so far at least that, in order to realize his own existence, he 
must conceive and set it forward as bound up with others in 
a unity a unity of greater or less compass, according to the 
circumstances and the time. There thus is ever present within 
him, but in greater or less degrees of force and range, the sense 


of community, of a common basis or unity, a common life in 
which he and others share. This sense is what in some 
respects we call the work of reason, in others of sympathy. 
In other words, what forms the unity is partly an unconscious 
principle, natural fellow feeling- founded on sensuous and 
visible ties : partly it is a reflective and reasoning- principle, 
which carries him from more obvious and more sensibly 
palpable ties to the more universal, generic, and intellectually 

Now this community only exists by means of the minds 
of those who constitute it. These partial unities which are 
formed, no doubt make use of natural facts and rest upon 
physical boundaries : but, strictly speaking, there are no 
boundaries in nature. One part passes on into another and 
the world is a single totality. A river, a sea, or a mountain 
only becomes a boundary in virtue of the action of those who 
live beside them. Energy and enterprise can practically 
annihilate the barriers which nature interposes : whether a 
particular natural feature shall be a barrier or a link of con 
nexion, depends on the human beings who have to deal with 
it. Thus the principles of union in the actual community 
rest upon the will and intellect of those who make it up. It 
is not a natural fact ; but is made what it is by the conception 
and loyalty of its members. 

This is the place at which arise the two opposite concep 
tions of -a political unity as, on one view, a work of human wills, 
of deliberate and intentional compact, of action originating in 
individuals; and as, on the other view, a natural structure, 
a necessity of human nature, a fundamental fact which must 
be accepted but cannot be explained. The theorists of the 
eighteenth century, as has been already pointed out, were led 
to regard as most prominent the part of individual enterprise 
in forming- the social body : it seemed, in short, as if they 
regarded the state as depending for its existence on the good 
will, the caprice even of the individuals, who with a view to 


further their private ends entered into a compact of con 
federacy. Now as against this view it was perfectly fair for 
writers like Paley to urge that all government, having begun 
either from the power of a parent over his family, or of 
a commander over his fellow-warriors, had from these natural 
beginnings been maintained by the three motives of 
prejudice, reason, and self-interest on the part of the 
governed. But it was wrong in them not to recognize more 
explicitly than they did that the authority alike of the 
patriarch and of the leader in war rested upon reason and 
sympathy from its very commencement, was at least dimly 
felt to be the vehicle for attaining a common utility, and 
presupposed the indistinct conception of a unity and system 
of things. Even from the first we may make bold to say the 
human unity, however constituted, was not founded on mere 
naked force, but owed a certain homage to will and reason. 
The despot who wilfully applies the resources of a family or 
a community solely and singly for his individual good is 
a rare phenomenon : he generally is himself persuaded and 
manages to some extent to persuade others that he is sub 
serving permanent and general interests. For, as Paley 
remarks, the physical strength almost in all cases resides in 
the governed, not in the government. 

It would seem to follow then that the authority of a govern 
ment rests upon the idea of a common good, upon a general 
will, which it is supposed to interpret and promulgate and 
enforce upon recalcitrant members. For indeed the very 
existence of government implies first, ignorant, and secondly, 
malignant members : i. e. people who do not know the 
general good which embraces their own, and people who 
prefer their own interests instead of the universal. As 
against the first class, government can avail itself of the 
instrument of education, of instruction in the rights and 
duties of human life : and for those who believe that a know 
ledge of the right is a certain method of realizing it, the 


second object would in this way also gradually be attained by 
removing the main cause of their recalcitrancy to authority. 
Such obviously are the two chief functions of government : 
and if the duty of punishment is the more directly incum 
bent, the duty of educating, i. e. of giving them all necessary 
and desirable means to enable them to perform their civic 
functions, is even more fundamental. 

The ideal perfection of a state then would apparently involve 
its own suppression. But practically such a result does not 
come within the bounds of possibilities. For the conception 
of the duties of the commonwealth is not a fixed and settled 
quantum : it grows from age to age : and hence the necessity 
of education and of restriction is always incumbent. For as 
the existence of the state lies in the active conscience of its 
members, every new apergu of its duty and function arises 
in a single mind, and has to work its way by the growing 
association of several, until it becomes the dominant belief of 
the majority. Thus the practicable ideal of a state is that 
its constitution shall be in accordance with the wishes and 
intelligence of the largest possible numbers, shall rest upon 
the widest possible basis of popular agreement. But this 
necessity of the nearest possible approximation to unanimity, 
as a practical condition of a working polity, must never put 
out of sight another side of this question ; and that is, that the 
material points in which the popular majority agree, shall be 
the true and abiding interest of the whole community and so 
of each member. A mob and a multitude in agreement is no 
guarantee of the right of truth of its conclusions. Private 
judgement and public deliberation/ said William Godwin, 
are not the standard of right and wrong : they are only the 
means of discovering them. The functions of society extend 
not to the making, but only to the interpreting of laws : it 
cannot decree, it can only declare that which the nature of 
things has already decreed/ In other words, while it is the 
aim of the prudent politician to take measures such that 


the vast majority of a country shall be on the side of truth 
and justice, and so to secure what is called political liberty, 
or the participation of each in the making- of the law, it is 
equally the duty of the wise statesman to take means for 
making the majority realize the true issues and complete 
bearing s of the measures which may be set before them. He 
must, in short, get them to see that they are on the side of 
reason and nature, that their resolutions are not creating 
a right, but recognizing the conclusion forced on them by 
the events of history and the circumstances of nature. The 
human mind must be disabused of the delusion that it makes 
laws, must discover that there are conditions governing the 
common life of human beings whether they will or not, and 
that it will never be well with it till these are recognized. 

Does what has thus been said leave room for the distinction 
between absolute and relative rights, as they are severally 
called by Blackstone, between natural and adventitious rights, 
as they are called by Paley ? It is evident, and hardly need 
be said, that the term natural need not be taken to imply 
a state of nature previous to that of civilization. The natural 
is neither equivalent to the savage, nor to the paradisaic 
stage of the world s life. Savagery and civilization are alike 
within the realm of nature, and alike show departures from 
the natural. It is no doubt the case that longing eyes are 
sometimes cast from the confines of advanced civilization 
towards the apparently unfettered ranges of savage life. But 
experience soon shows that the bonds of convention are not 
solely to be found in the higher levels of society ; that the 
rule of custom and usage rules with iron rigidity the primitive 
barbarian. It has often indeed been supposed that innocence 
and natural grace have taken up their abode in the country 
with the peasant, in the borders of civilized lands, in the 
primitive barbarism of the tropical islands. But the truth 
in this only is that the savage and the civilized man have got 
different vices and virtues. Nature can govern life in all 


levels of civilization, and unnatural life is enforced to no grade 
or landscape. 

Natural rights then are consequences of the fundamental 
laws of social existence,, of those laws which make life-in- 
communion possible in all countries and all times. Now 
though it is true that we can to a certain extent choose our 
company, the extent to which we can do so is limited. We can 
to some measure change the incidence of social pressure : but 
get rid of it altogether we cannot. In certain states of society 
it is reduced we may say to a minimum. But it is the 
very condition of human life that we cannot get rid of it 
altogether. We may therefore dismiss the hypothesis of 
a meeting of individuals previously isolated and independent 
with the view of constituting an association. Individuals 
thus absolutely individualized would never have come together 
at all. Sometimes indeed speculative theorists, in order to 
put in an emphatic light the necessity of a recognition by 
each of something higher than these petty selves, have put 
forward the picture of the brutishly chaotic state of affairs 
which would be inevitable, if each were in his acts to behave 
as if he were alone in the universe, if each in short were 
resolutely to pretend to be what he knew he is not. But the 
picture of such a social state is only the reductio ad absurdum 
of pure egoism, a demonstration that pure egoism vigorously 
carried out is self-destructive. And pure egoism can only be 
carried out, if it is ever carried out, because so many other 
principles of salvation for society are in operation, that its 
effects for evil are swallowed up in the general tide of good. 

The question therefore is society being the condition of 
human life will we adapt ourselves to its indispensable terms 
or not ? Now it is evident that those terms will vary to some 
extent from place to place and from age to age. The conditions 
oh which society is possible for a group of hunters will be 
very different from those incumbent on a society partly 
agricultural and partly manufacturing : the conditions for 


a country village will be different from those of the closely 
packed inhabitants of a large town : those of a set of peasant- 
farmers will be other than those for a body of ecclesiastics. 
And yet it is scarcely less evident that amid all these 
diversities there will be certain analogies, certain principles 
common to all forms of association. Not of course that we 
can find these general principles as so many separate conditions 
on which the peculiar and local principles supervene. The 
world is not made in that way. Rather it is that we, coming 
later and reflecting comparingly on what we see, can detect in 
the characteristic constitution of each certain features which 
can be stated approximately in general terms. These general 
features of life, never presented abstractly by themselves, but 
always realized in a special type, are what give rise to what 
have been called the absolute or natural rights of man. 

There is another sense in which we may speak of natural 
rights. By what is natural, we mean the opposite of 
artificial and affected or forced. A thing is natural when 
it flows from one principle in all its details, when it is not in 
one part out of accordance with itself in another, but exhibits 
a solidarity and unity of all its members and functions. The 
natural is marked by unsought harmony, by consilience, as if 
each element by some magic power in itself sprang up to 
meet and join hands with every other. In the course of 
history a society like a clock gets out of order. The one 
spirit which ought to pervade it, the one law which ought to 
govern it, is replaced by a number of petty principles. Under 
a superficial bond of unity, for example, under a strong cen 
tralized financial administration, there may yet be no real 
unity of life throughout the kingdom. Such, for example, 
was the condition of France before the Revolution. Such 
more or less tends to be every great social union. There 
arises a state of affairs which may be illustrated by comparison 
with the conditions of the physical body in disease and in 
dissolution. In disease what happens is a disruption of the 


social continuity : some of the organs and tissues acquire 
a partial independence,, and work by other principles than the 
general consensus of the bodily organs. 

After dissolution a similar process is repeated with intensi 
fication. New organisms arise and take the place of the 
former vital structure. Something similar to this occurs in 
a state of society. Parts of it get ossified : one part has gone 
on, while others have got left behind : some have developed 
abnormally and, as privileged bodies, attracted more than 
their fair share of the supplies of vitalizing matter. In such 
a state of affairs the cry for natural rights is a demand for 
justice, equity, equality, for the removal of narrow restric 
tions, for the destruction of complexities that have ceased 
to be useful or intelligible, and for greater simplicity and 
uniformity in the administration of business, especially in 
application to law and business. 

Thus in these ways we may agree both with the school 
which speaks highly of natural rights, and with the school 
which disparages them as misleading and unmeaning verbiage. 
Where they are dangerous is when they are supposed to be 
something which the individual carries about with him from 
his birth onwards, something so peculiarly his own that he 
can at pleasure retain them or surrender them to others. To 
this theory no mercy can or should be shown. All that is 
a man s own is what he can do : what belongs to the physical 
individual is mere power or force. Even the word can is 
ambiguous : it sometimes means what one may do and in 
that case is not applicable to the mere individual, considered 
out of relation with others. But a man s rights are not mere 
powers ; they are powers sanctioned or recognized by some 
thing transcending the mere individual. They are claims 
which he has on the behaviour of others, grounds for inter 
ference, justifications for action in certain contingencies. 
Such grounds for claiming from another some specified 
behaviour presuppose a common standpoint, a public ground 



on which persons meet; or, in other words, rights belong 
only to persons, and a person is an individual who 
subordinates himself to some comprehensive or uniting- 
principle, something- which puts them in relation to each 
other. The rig-lit implies a controlling- authority on which 
these persons can fall back, something (at least logically) ante 
cedent to and inclusive of the individual, which makes him 
more than an individual, by giving him the entry to a sphere 
in which other individuals also enter. The mere individual 
has no rights as such ; he has rights only as a person, i. e. as 
member of a society, as embodying in himself, at least partially, 
the larger aggregate of which he is a unit. The person has 
rights, because though an individual he is also implicitly the 
species: in him we find exemplified and realized the law of the 
class to which he belongs. A person in short is an individual 
who has what we may call a public character, a social function 
to perform. He is raised above himself by his conscious 
adoption of the class to which he belongs, by his sense of 
being constituted and governed by the general system or idea 
which is exemplified in him. A person is an individual 
realizing the universal. He is not merely one amongst many, 
not merely a single being in the multitude whom we note as 
we pass over them in review, not merely a being with pecu 
liarities or idiosyncrasies of his own, out of which we can by 
an effort of abstraction disentangle the general properties. As 
a person he is conceived of as having respects and relations 
to the whole of which he is a part, and to the individuals who 
are his fellow-members. Thus the person is the individual which 
has lost its unrelatedness, which is a member of a group 
a conscious and co-operating unit of a society. 

There are legal and moral persons just as there are legal 
and moral rights. The term moral is ambiguous. At times 
it merely denotes the opposite of the physical : as when we 
distinguish a man s physique from his morale, or physical 
from moral sciences : a sense in which the words mean pretty 



much the same as the antithesis between material and im 
material. The moral in this general sense is what cannot 
be brought to book in definite objective fact, what eludes the 
test of experience and observation. Something of that wider 
meaning always attaches to the term moral : the moral is 
intangible j it cannot be weighed, counted, and measured. As 
such it is especially opposed to the legal, as the outer and 
obvious shell is opposed to the inner kernel, as the potential 
to the actual ; as the great may be to the definite and ascer 
tained is/ But the antithesis must not be pressed too far, or 
treated as absolute. They are two partial aspects of a single 
fact, that fact being the fact of human society : of which 
they respectively present the statical and the dynamical 
element, the element of order and the element of progress. 
The legal is the moral cooled and stationary : the moral 
shows us the same element still fluid and energetic, shapeless 
and indefinite, but alive. The total fact is the social life of 
the world, where the principle of progress is in a healthy state 
always in union with the principle of order, the dynamical 
always keeping up the statical. Law is but the deposit, the 
fixed result, of the operation of that instinct, which while 
still heaving shapelessly is called morality. In the actual 
world they are never wholly separate : one without the other 
is dangerous to the community. 

The merely moral is the purely internal : the merely legal 
the purely external. And just as it is true that summum 
jus summa injuria/ so it is occasionally found that nothing is 
so immoral as the conscience which refuses to be enlightened 
by objective order. Law, moreover, in constituting obligations 
and rights, does not constrain the holder of the right to make 
use of it. Morality, on the contrary, issues in the inexorable 
imperative of duty. Rights permit : duty constrains and 
obliges. Or, perhaps, while rights control another, duty 
controls one s self. And carrying this a little further we 
may see that rights are strictly speaking concerned, not with 

S 2 


the inner relations of a man to himself, but with his relations 
to others. A man s rights refer to his external aspects, to 
those points on which he comes into contact with others, to 
his objective manifestations. So long as he remains purely 
inward, rights have no application to him. Thus if we say 
a man has a right to his opinions, we must mean, if we speak 
correctly, to refer to the expression or utterance of his opinions, 
so long as they remain merely opinions, and do not affect 
the existence of others injuriously. So again the right to 
freedom of conscience would have no meaning, unless it 
included the outward expression to what extent of course 
is a problem of the beliefs and ideas which conscience 
cherishes. And as conscience is primarily negative in 
function, it at least will cover the right of not taking part 
in any performance to which conscience objects. 

It is for the same reason that the person means in the 
first instance the physical body; for that is obviously for 
external purposes the primary objectification of the self. In 
the body the will and intelligence is present or presumed 
to be present for the outsider : and any injury done to the 
body is an injury distinctively done to the person. No doubt 
we can speak of the moral person ; and the person as moral 
is independent of the body, is purely inward and spiritual. 
And such a power of abstraction has sometimes been claimed 
by those who maintained that the beauty of the soul remained 
untarnished by whatever was done in the body who supposed 
in short that the sanctified spirit could lead a life of its own 
in lordly indifference to the claims of the grosser nature. 
Such is the tendency of some forms of mysticism. But 
a humbler philosophy, which follows the track of experience 
and confines itself to the fortunes of the embodied spirit, holds 
that in the main the soul is sympathetic with, suffers and 
acts in and along with the body. It refuses to admit, except 
for moments of difficult and dangerous abstraction, the separa 
tion of the inward and the outward of human nature ; and 


while it maintains and allows the distinction of inward and 
outward, it denies their separate and independent existence as 
a fact coming within the purview of science. 

Rights then are conditioned by law, and law only exists 
where there are external relations forming a system, consti 
tuting a social group. Rights mark out the place which 
belongs to each in that system, and are only valid where such 
a system, economy, or constitution prevails. Outside it and 
apart from it, an individual has no claim to be called a person, 
and to be charged or invested with rights. Belonging to 
different societies, more or less co-ordinated with each other, 
an individual sustains several persons and thus possesses a 
variety of different rights. The basis of his rights then 
lies in the system to which he belongs ; and to belong to 
a system is to perform the functions which are required of 
him in that system, not merely to be a passive and idle 
member of it,fruge$ consumere natns. A right is thus, as it is 
said, correlative with a duty. My rights, or the sphere of 
my rightful existence, are the consequence of my performance 
of certain external acts, of my making my existence felt by my 
prescribed conduct. 

At this point comes in the right of coercion. So long as 
my entry into a society is an entirely voluntary act, so long 
the right of coercion in that society can only exist in a very 
moderate degree. I enter it upon a definite understanding, 
and can only be responsible to the extent of the bargain. 
Even here the society naturally expect me to make good 
any loss which my conduct may have caused it to sustain. 
The way in which it accomplishes that result is as follows. 
Strictly speaking all men form in the last resort one vast 
society. But for practical purposes that comes to mean that 
all civilized men form one society. The extent of that 
confederacy has varied from time to time. In the ancient 
world it was an oasis on the shores of the Mediterranean : 
indeed it was so much as this, only in the concluding days 


of the Reman Republic. In modern times it comprehends 
a large minority of the world. Slowly through the ages pro 
gress is made towards realizing actually the implicit community 
pointed to by the Stoic saying : homo sum, nihil humani alie- 
num : changing the moral into a legal community, and creating 
a real/a* gentium, a true international law, not in the sense of 
a public law governing various nations as nations, but in 
the sense a common law dealing in a uniform way with the 
acts of individuals in society. So-called international law, as 
a collection of diplomatic usages, conventions and courtesy- 
rules of intercourse especially in war, is of course no law at 
all, but a set of inferences from the common practice of belli 
gerent states, supplemented by an indefinite number of pious 

In reality the summit of real unity is reached in the 
independent political state, which so far acknowledges its 
solidarity with other civilized states as to assist them by 
the extradition of criminals against the common law. The 
state then, for all practical purposes, may be taken for the 
supreme society : and up to it all subordinated societies 
ultimately refer ; or it finally takes cognizance of all inferior 
societies, as if they were its delegates and instruments. The 
state then is the ultimate creator, guardian and guarantee 
of all right in this world. It exists by the combined action 
of its members, and exists more or less clearly in the con 
sciousness of each. It is important that this consciousness 
of the whole in each should receive an objective manifestation 
in a special body, told off for the purpose a universal 
estate, separated as far as possible from individual interests 
and entrusted with the guardianship of the common weal. 
This estate is what we call the government, the executive 
and judicial body, the permanent administration. It is 
charged with the duty of seeing that the conditions of public 
order and progress laid down, or to be laid down, in the laws 
are complied with. In order to carry out that mandate 


it has the right to punish. That right to punish does not 
belong to the government in virtue o any compact, by which 
the members of the state bound themselves on entering it 
to submit themselves to chastisement, if they violated the 
term of their engagement. As we have seen already, the 
state as society is the condition of human life ; and although 
at first a community may feel itself as merely a little 
usurpation amidst the general chaos, and so allow its 
defaulters to escape if they can beyond its limits, it gradually 
comes to see that the earth is one, and that it is bound to 
pursue the criminal from land to land through the world. 
The state, in short, must realize that it is the mortal 
God, and that in this world it should be ubiquitous and 

Its duty as a government is then to see that the laws 
or conditions of social (i. e. human) order and progress shall 
be obeyed and realized in the conduct of individuals ; in 
other words, that the rights of each, both his general rights 
and those special rights he possesses as member of special 
associations guaranteed by the general order of the state, 
shall be respected and maintained. To this end punishments 
are available. What is a punishment? A punishment in 
the first instance is an act of restitution, if possible: a re 
investment of the injured party into rights of which he was 
deprived, and a denudation of the violator from the rights 
which he had misappropriated. But this is only sufficient 
in certain cases : those cases, viz. where examination shows 
that a right has been interfered with ; where loss has been 
sustained, but where no malice or intentional hurt can be 
shown to exist, where there was good faith on one side as 
on the other. There all that government has to do is to see 
that the goods removed are replaced by an equivalent, as 
nearly as may be to the loss sustained. But in such cases 
it is not enough to show that no malice was intended; it 


may also be required that no criminal neglect of ordinary 


precaution be proved. It is an assumption based on the 
very nature of society that certain obvious and fundamental 
relations shall be continually present to the mind and govern 
the conduct. 

But punishment proper only steps in where the injury is 
designed,, or where the carelessness is of the degree styled 
culpable, i.e. is such as to show a dereliction from the 
ground of the first principles of social life. If it be asked, 
does the law then take cognizance of the motive and of the 
character, the answer must be both yes and no. Of the 
motives affecting the agent law has no regard, except so far 
as they modify the action; but in so far as they give the 
action a new character and constitute it what it is, law must 
take regard of the motive. If the action is conformable to 
law, is overtly in accordance with social terms,, the state 
by its authorities is satisfied : if it is not in conformity, the 
state may have a very considerable interest in the reasons 
of that non-conformity. For though law deals only with 
actions (which are all outward) it cannot lose sight of the 
fact that an action is made such by a purpose, an act of will, 
and that an act of will is due to the adoption by the whole 
acting man of some desire or appetite which arises within 
him. It has therefore to consider the demerit of that 
appetite as a principle of action and overt consequence. 
Accordingly the punishment will be heavier or lighter not 
in proportion to the character of the individual, but in pro 
portion to the more dangerous character of the dispositions 
which evidence their existence in his actions. If drunkenness, 
for example, is the immediate motive of the action, then 
the action will be more severely punished by those who hold 
that the temptation to indulgence in liquor is supremely 
pernicious to the interests of the community. 



A PERSON is commonly defined as the subject of rights : 
it is sometimes added, f and of duties/ The two ideas of 
rights and persons are thus closely connected and perhaps 

Persons are distinguished as * natural or fictitious : as 
physical or c moral : as simple or compound. In other 
words, they are either (i) individual human beings, or 
(2) corporate groups invested with powers of individual 
action, such as the state, a municipality, &c. 

Some confusion may arise by applying the word moral 
to corporate personalities, as when Rousseau (and others) call 
the state a personne morale : artificial associations, corporations, 
colleges, &c., coming under this head, and denoting aggregates 
which are formed of units already existing in the shape of 
individual human beings. But these human beings, as mem 
bers of the corporation, seem in part to surrender their original 
personality. They are called moral in distinction from the 
individual persons, human beings who seem to derive their 
personality from nature. 

But, strictly speaking, we may hold that all true personality 
is moral. Pufendorf seems right in holding that personality 
is always moral/ always, i. e. due to a relation of thought, 
and to be carefully distinguished from mere natural indi 
viduality. A person is, according to him, an ens morale ; it is 
originally (he speaks the language of the contemporary logic) 


a modus (not a substantia), though it is constantly in danger 
of being ( ad normam entium physicaram ) treated as itself 
a substantia, i. e. hypostatized in an individual reality. Per 
sonality, in short, is a quality of the human being that expresses 
his moral nature. And the moral nature of man lies in his 
being subordinate to a general law, or being a member of 
a community, in which he forms an integral part and performs 
a function. Or, personality, like morality, only belongs to 
man in so far as, though a physical individual, he is implicitly 

The community to which man belongs is in its idea 
absolutely universal : i. e. if expressed in terms of space and 
time, it is a community of all times and places ; eternal 
and omnipresent. In fact, it is only of limited range, or 
of restricted universality: a community consisting of a special 
group of human beings in a special country and age. The 
physical individual, as member of this absolutely ideal king 
dom (of humanity and of God), is a moral person : as a member 
of a particular and definite kingdom, he is or has a legal 
person. In practice, the moral personality is not always 
widely separated from the legal. The moral is just a step 
or two ahead in extent : we do not rise at once from the 
special to the absolute universal, but rather in certain direc 
tions seek to diminish the narrowness of the actual scope of 
life and advance a little way towards that infinite which we 
can never attain in actual accomplishment. 

In the other or common sense of the phrase e moral person, 
however, nothing of this sort is implied. It only means 
a person made up by the aggregation and organization of 
individuals into a unity, which acts and suffers in common, 
and has recognized organs for the expression and enforcing of 
its will. And, strictly speaking, it would seem that such an 
aggregate only receives the title of a person, in the legal 
sense, when it is itself treated as a unit by a larger unity 
in which it inheres. Thus the corporation in a political 


community is invested with its personality by charter or 
similar authorization from the supreme sovereign. On the 
other hand, an independent state is only a person, in so far as 
the consciousness of the state at any moment is governed by 
the idea of its ultimate end or function, of its place in the 
system of humanity: it is a person in so far as it has what 
we may call an eternal and infinite consciousness, or as it 
recognizes above it the authority of conscience and of God. 
And in practice it is a person in so far as it regards other 
states and other states regard it, not merely as so much 
power, but as power controlled by moral ends, regulated by 
reason, freely setting before it good aims i. e. aims con 
formable and contributory to the general good. 

It may be of some use to note historically the usages of 
the word person. Persona in Latin means a mask an 
assumed or fictitious countenance in contradistinction to the 
natural face ( fades sua/ Sen. Ep. 24. 13). Secondly, it 
means the part or character played by an actor : his assumed 
part : and thus by degrees the individual himself considered 
as having a certain outward presentment. Thus even a thing 
may be said to have a e persona/ when it is conceived of as 
presenting a certain aspect or front, an appearance as distinct 
from its reality. In this sense personatus means e assumed/ 
counterfeit/ unreal. The general meaning of the word, 
however, does not include this suggestion of deception : it 
merely connotes the particular aspect and character in which 
a man appears to the world : and from this it is easy to see 
that a human being may sustain several persons, or play more 
than one part in the complex organization of any existing 

In law the contrast is put between person and thing, 
between persona and res. A persona is thus a human 
being, but considered as invested with a certain function and 
social character; not a mere abstract human being, but one 
having a special place in the body politic, one who counts as 


something in the world. Hence in a state of society which 
legitimates slavery, the slave is in legal language said to have 
I\Q persona or public character. His social existence is, so far 
as the law goes, entirely absorbed in that of his proprietor : 
6 bovkos -rrapa roty i>o>ois airpoa-uiros e<m, rovre ort, oi5e SoKet 
171; oi&e airflvaL 1 . His presence or absence makes no difference 
in the social sum : he counts only as a chattel. It is tolerably 
evident that such personality is a quality inhering in the 
individual through his place in a system : or that to transform 
the merely living human being into a legal person there is 
required recognition on the part of the state. 

In mediaeval Latin the word persona is found in several 
shades of meaning. To lose one s persona is to become a 
slave. But more commonly it denotes a dignity or faculty, 
and secondarily the person charged with such dignity, func 
tion, or right and obligation. Thus we hear of a persona et 
potestas emendi et vendendi : and Boniface speaks of Laicus 
quidem magnae personae ad nos veniens/ It is especially 
used, however, of the holder of a clerical dignity : hence the 
modern English parson, which in Chaucer is still persoun/ 
A persona is in John of Salisbury a beneficed clerk (as opposed 
to a curate). Personatns is the dignity of a persona. A piece 
of Old French of the twelfth century speaks of a meeting 
where erent del pais li barun assemble, deien, arcediachre, 
persones (= cures) et abe V A personnat is a sort of 
benefice in a cathedral church. It is evident, in short, that 
the dignity and office par excellence of the mediaeval period 
has usurped to itself the title persona : the c parson is the 
clerical functionary, the most distinct representative of a 
public character. 

As we come down we find the word person extended like 

other dignities to a larger and larger sphere. Even in 

Madame de Sevigne it has still a certain distinction attached 

to it: speaking of a lady, she says f elle lit, elle travaille, 

1 Theodor. Herm. vii. 6. 2 See Littre and Du Cange. 


enfin c est une personne : she is in short ( somebody 1 . But 
at last it seems in a phrase like etre content de sa personne" 
to be satisfied with one s self, one had got to the bottom. 
Even here perhaps a careful observer might allege that there 
was a distinction between the judging self and the apparent., 
presented self, which appears to others. In English a person 
is about the least one can say of one : when one speaks of 
a young person one has come close to a state where the 
human being has ceased to be even a woman and become 
a mere link in the chain of society. 

There is another use still however. A law treatise on the 
Liberty of the Subject speaks of laws relating to the body 
or person/ and of the security of the person or body/ And 
it is from the same reason that we speak of a woman^s person, 
meaning thereby her physical appearance. My face is my 
fortune, sir, she said : it may be that in the case of a woman 
there is an especial ground of regarding her physique as 
specially constituting the character or part she has to play in 
the world. 

The theological application of the term c person need not 
detain us. It is now well known that the so-called Athanasian 
creed, in which the doctrine of the three persons of the Trinity 
is so conspicuously presented, is a document compounded about 
the time of Charlemagne in the Latin language, and only 
assigned to the authorship of Athanasius in order to give it 
venerable authority. The Greek term corresponding to per 
sona is TTp6(T(*)iTov : but the Greek word on which turned the 

1 Cf. Keller, Leute von Seldwyler, i. 31 : Sie machteganzlich den Eindruck 
von etwas Einzigena und Personlichem : es war, kurz gesagt, eine 
Person. Schiller, 10. 308 : Die Abstraction unterseheidet in dem 
Menschen etwss das bltibt und etwas das sich unaufhorlich verandert : 
das bleibende nennt sie seine Person, das wecbselnde seinen Zustand. 
See Zietelmann, Begriff und Wesen der juristischen Person (Leipzig, 1873 . 
Cf. Luther, Wider Hans Worst : Die Person wird euch nichts helfen, 
wenn euch das Recht verdampt. Goethe, 43. 5 : Der Schauspieler muss 
seine Personlichkeit verlaugneii ; 25. 364 : Der Meni-ch wirkt alles was 
er vermag auf den Menschen durch seine Personlichkeit. 


disputes of the Arian controversy in the fourth century was 
vTToa-Taa-is. An hypostasis is represented in Latin by sub- 
stantia, and the question of hypostasis is closely allied to the 
question of essence or nature. In the condemning clauses 
of the original form of the Nicene creed rebuke is addressed 
to those who teach that the Son is ere pas ^Troorao-eco? T) ov<rias. 
Gregory of Nyssa is the Eastern advocate of the Trinity in 
Unity : according to him, Scripture is found (f)v\aTTovcra 
TavTorr]Ta OcoTrjros (v iSior^n viroo-racrf^v, and he seeks to 
reconcile to the mind the antithesis between the f) rrjs ^weco? 
tvonis and fj Kara ras vTroortWi? 8ia/c/H<ns. The same lan 
guage appears in Augustine 1 , who declares that the same 
whole is a Trinity propter proprietatem personarum/ and 
one God propter inseparabilem divinitatem ; but he differs 
from the Greek Fathers in holding that in each Person the 
Godhead is fully realized, not, as they maintained, merely the 
particular aspect of universal deity. 

If we next ask what attempts philosophers have made to 
examine the ultimate principles involved in a term which 
jurisprudence is content to handle without too minute analysis, 
we may first turn to Locke. Dealing in Book II, chap. 
xxvii. of the Essay on Human Understanding with the 
question of personal identity, he is careful to maintain that 
it cannot be based on, or consist in some mysterious 
identical substance, a solid substratum of hard matter at 
the centre and kernel of life. It lies and can only lie in 
an active consciousness, a thinking thing/ which attributes 
actions to itself. Personal identity lies in consciousness ; 
it is the sameness of a rational being and consists in 
the act of intelligence, in the consciousness which, while 
distinguishing itself from itself, still refers the passing, 
variable mood to the permanent self ; shows the variations of 
consciousness as phenomena of one consciousness, and realizes 
the one consciousness (out of time) in the succession of con- 
1 De Civ. Dei, xi. 24. 


scious states in time. A person, says Locke, is a thinking- 
intelligent being that has reason and reflection, and can con 
sider itself as itself (the same thinking- being) in different 
times and places/ A little further on he tells us that 
Person is a forensic term, appropriating actions and their 
merit, and so belongs only to intelligent beings, capable of 
a law and happiness and misery/ He means that, when we 
punish, we presuppose that we are dealing with a person, and 
by that we mean an agent whose acts are recognized as part 
and portion of himself, as proceeding from himself and all 
connected together in one sequence or consistence, forming 
parts of a single unity. But he also means that in merely 
intelligent beings, without feeling of pain or pleasure, this 
idea of a self, a responsible self, would never arise. In us,, 
however, the concern for happiness } is an unavoidable 
concomitant of consciousness. 

The last point may be compared with some remarks of 
Lotze. It is impossible, he says 1 , to define the meaning 
of mine" 7 by a logical combination of concepts. It is a 
primary experience, by which the difference of the mine and 
not-mine is first felt and realized. This form of experience 
consists in the feeling of interest, of pleasure or pain. What 
pains or gladdens we is absolutely distinct from what I repre 
sent either as indifferent, as painful, or as pleasant, without 
feeling the supposed weal or woe. And so in his Psycho 
logy ( 5 1 ) he maintains that a mere act of knowledge cannot 
be the motive of this distinction (between me and not me). 
Mine comes before f I or me : and we must distinguish., 
he adds, between feeling our self as a self, and knowing our 
own being : between the sense of self and self-knowledge. The 
latter is the subsequent interpretation of what came earlier as 
an experience of feeling. Thus the consciousness expressed in 
( I does not belong- to a merely intelligent being. We must 
accordingly distinguish between the spiritual nature common 

1 Beligionsphil. 33. 


to all, the general essence of soul or universal appearing in 
all individuals : and the nature of the ego by which each soul 
distinguishes itself from all others 1 . Each is not a mere 
specimen of a class, a mere particular case : he is also and 
more essentially a being-for-himself, a self-centred being, 
referring all that he is to himself. This is the secret of life, 
which is inapprehensive to logic : of personality, which refuses 
to be dissolved in the universality of philosophy. 

As yet we have only seen that personality was based on 
reason and intelligence, on the power of self -disruption and 
of self-reunion, but, further, on a reason which is not mere 
intellect but is an intelligent life, feeling and realizing its 
concepts, and realizing them indeed before it can properly be 
said to know them. It was natural for Butler, commenting 
upon Locke, to raise a question as to what Locke meant by 
the substance he perhorresces, and how it differs from 
being : and to declare that, though consciousness may 
ascertain for us our personal identity, it can hardly be main 
tained to constitute it. The discussion touches on a radical 
problem of philosophy what existence applied to spiritual 
being or to ideal reality can properly be held to mean 
which hardly came forward for clear examination till Kant 
and Fichte. 

Mansel 2 can hardly be said to throw much light on 
the question. Distinguishing between the accidents of 
consciousness and its essential constituents he points out 
that, though the matter of consciousness is continually 
changing, the form abides permanent and immutable/ No 
great gain perhaps follows from applying to the question this 
Kantian distinction of form and matter. It however empha 
sizes itself in a phrase like this : I exist as a person 
only as I am conscious of myself, and I am conscious of 
myself only as I exist/ Our being is a conscious being : 
a phrase which is too bald not to stand much in need of 

1 Cf. Lotze, Medic. Psychol. pp. 493 seqq. 2 Metaphysics, p. 359. 


exposition. Mansel adds that there are two conditions indis 
pensable to personal existence, time and free agency : there 
must be a succession in time (of modifications in a persisting 
subject), and also a power of attention or volition. The 
last seems to mean that a person must not be a mere drift 
of events upon a stage, but must also possess a power 
of surveying and so far controlling the stream, a power 
of comparison, unification, and initiative. We come back 
very much in this to the phrase of Leibniz : Persona est 
cuius aliqua voluntas est, seu cuius datur cogitatio, affectus, 
voluptas, dolor/ Clearly in other words a person is not 
a thing. 

It is only very incidentally that Kant has given any 
exposition of the idea of a person 1 . We call a rational being 
a person, he says, because his nature points him out as 
something \vhich can never be a mere means, but must 
always be treated as at the same time an end in itself. As 
persons, rational beings are possessed of a certain worth or 
dignity, in that they obey no law but a self-imposed one. 
A person thus has the special prerogative of guiding his 
course by principles derived at once from his own point of 
view and from that of every other, as a legislative being. 
Our person is distinguished from our state (Zustand): our 
personal value from the pleasant or painful condition in 
which we are. And thus finally our personality reposes upon 
the power we have of regarding ourselves from an ideal or 
intelligible point of view, as purely free, originative being s. 
And so Kant comes to a conclusion like that of Ahrens, 
that human personality lies in the union of the contingent 
and finite element of individual life with the absolute 
and divine reason : and implies a power of the mind to 
detach itself from the given fact by an act of utter spon 
taneity. A person is one who has been able consciously to 
grasp and make his own all the varied qualities of mind and 
1 P. i. no. 


soul which belong to him as an individual. This power of 
reducing to unity and stamping as his own every mental 
element and faculty is what belongs to every person as such : 
and it constitutes the common generic aspect of human 
personality. Hence, says J. H. Fichte, the normal man is 
one who has raised his individuality in all its parts to 
personality, who has brought all mere instincts, &c., to the 
full property of intelligence 1 . Yet in all men this person 
ality is imperfect. There always remains an insoluble residue 
in the background, from the depth of which continually rises 
the unexpected and the undesirable. 

The movement towards personality is thus a realization 
and concentration of the characteristics of the individual. 
These, scattered and isolated, are appropriated and unified by 
the act of the genius or inner self : they are no longer mere 
fragments of being, but fused into an instrument and symbol 
of the self. But in this act each sets himself in antagonism 
to others : he becomes a person by asserting and determining 
himself against others: he marks off his own sphere of 
personality; and in constituting himself a person shuts 
himself off from others, who yet are recognized as independent 
of him in that very act of renunciation. Thus the person is 
essentially an individual, one among many. But the forma 
tion of personality is a process which goes on in each by 
reflection on others, whom he at once acknowledges and 
excludes : the creation of this reduplicated individuality thus 
implies a movement pari passu towards community, or the 
recognition of another self another yet the same in others. 
The subject thus measures the value of his personality by the 
reflection of it he imagines he can trace in the judgement of 
others. The individual or free subject thus attains to per 
sonality only in company and competition with others ; and 
from this social relation flow both his rights and his duties, as 
he alternately seems to exclude others and to include them 

1 AnthropoL 251. 


with him in the same community. Those rights which follow 
from the mere fundamental conditions of community, before 
any definite and special free relations have been formed, are 
the original and inalienable rights of men, the rights in which 
all men, as members of any community whatever, are equal to 
each other. It is in these everlasting rights that personality 
as such consists : the abstract right of free self-development 
and self-determination the equal right to exist and live his 
nature out. 

But as J. H. Fichte has hinted, anl as Lotze has enforced 
at some length, the finite being finds himself on all hands con 
fronted by forces with which he did not invest himself, and by 
laws which he has to accept, as well as by wills different from 
his own : nay, even in the recesses of his own being he seems 
to meet with a dark strange substance which is in him, but is 
not he ; and to which as a vehicle his whole personal develop 
ment is attached. We have grown up as it were by piecemeal, 
and are never wholly ourselves ; we identify ourselves with the 
particular point of view at which we stand in a particular stage 
of our development. The complete sanity of self-control, of 
self-mastery, and absolute possession and appropriation of all 
our souls is what we never fully attain. It is only to a 
limited degree, concludes Lotze l , that we can say that it 
is we who act : for the most part action is carried on in us 
by the several groups of ideas or feelings to which our 
mental machinery at each instant has given predominance. 
Still less are we in time quite all our own. Much vanishes 
from memory : most of all does it gradually lose hold of the 
individual moods of feeling. Many grooves of ideas, in which 
when young we were at home, come before us in later years 
as foreign phenomena : we can hardly find our way back to 
feelings in which we once indulged with enthusiasm ; the 
power they once wielded over us has left scarcely a trace 
behind. In the walks into which later life brings us we 

1 Microc. iii. 574. 
T 2 


come to regard as unintelligible aberrations those aspirations 
which we once held to be inalienable members of our inmost 
self : we cannot understand how we could ever have felt such 
impulses. In truth, therefore, we have little ground for 
speaking of the personality of finite beings : personality is an 
ideal, which like all ideals is proper only to the Infinite in its 
unconditioned nature, but to us is, like every other good 
thing, only vouchsafed under conditions and therefore im 
perfectly/ Thus, he sums up, a full personality is possible 
for the Infinite alone : the peculiarities of the finite are only 
hindrances to its development/ 

It is necessary, however, to examine briefly this attribution 
of personality to the Infinite or Absolute. The point on 
which Lotze seems to lay special weight is the imperfect 
character of such personality as is exemplified by human 
nature. The same thing may be said also of morality, and 
even perhaps of religion. Each of these has a something 
in it which presses onwards to a perfection, the attainment 
of which would be its own annihilation. The religious man 
aims at a growing and increasing divinity or likeness to 
God: if this likeness reach its ideal limit in identity with 
the divine nature, then it is no longer strictly entitled to 
be called religion. It has passed beyond itself into the 
reality which it aimed at, and in the continual but unending 
approximation to which its very life and existence consists. 
But the state thus imagined is one which it is impossible 
to realize in clear thought. The truth rather seems to be 
that religion, like everything else in humanity, only exists 
in what we may call a radical antithesis, a synthesis of two 
aspects, neither of which can be severed from the other. It 
is, on the one hand, a sense of the dependence on the divine, 
of the infinite littleness of human nature, and on the other 
a sense that God is with man and that even now, in this 
world, God and man are reconciled in one. 

And so it is also with morality. The law of duty is a 


standard which, as it is approached, ceases to bear the old 
aspect of obligation, and passes into the guise of autonomy. 
A perfect morality would be a state of soul in which the 
struggle between conscience and appetite has been com 
pletely transcended in a willing union, where the appetites 
become the ready messengers, or organs instinct with good 
doing their master s will as their own. Morality, as Kant 
says, arises because man regards himself as a citizen of 
a higher world, a spiritual kingdom; regards himself as 
a legislative and spontaneously legislative member of that 
kingdom, embodying a law universal in his every single 
resolve and action. But man, though obliged by something 
within him to put himself in that position, to assume that 
high place and rank, finds himself as matter of fact a citizen 
of the sense world, the world of nature, a mere link or rather 
an aggregate of mere pieces in a physical system, which 
governs his movements. He is moral only by an effective 
act to make himself; to realize his vocation, and affirm the 
initiative and independence of physical law which he claims. 
He finds himself a fragment; he believes himself to be a 
whole. His life is a struggle between his realization of this 
faith and his acceptance of the position of fragmentary fact. 
Neither aspect can be ignored, and so long as that is so, 
man cannot be perfectly moral, just because he is a sensible 
creature. Morality thus is founded upon an idea the idea 
of a spiritual nature, the faith in an intelligible world an 
idea which can never in this world be realized. Perfect 
morality and perfect religion carry us beyond themselves to 
an absolute in which we may suppose them to be satisfied : 
satisfied, however, by being carried out to that consummation 
which destroys what is their very essence. 

It is the same with personality. The ideal of personality 
is the complete penetration of all that comes within the 
compass of the person : it is the animation of all the parts of 
the human mind and body, and all that subserves these, with 


one mind and spirit: the thorough appropriation of every 
particle that is mine with the full reality of me, so that 
I may be complete and at home in every part. But such 
an appropriation rests upon a distinction of mine and thine 
which is fundamental and immediate: it involves an indi- 
vidualitv, feeling and asserting its own distinct existence 
amongst other individualities. The personality therefore is 
only a position assumed to mark out and define individual 
existence. If it could be what it would fain be, it would 
be universal, all-embracing : for at no point can I stop and 
say : Thus far do I go, and what is beyond is to me indifferent. 
Any limit which is to be drawn must be imposed by the 
existence of other personalities equally self-assertive in the 
region to part of which I am obliged in this way to confine 
my claim. Just as religion only exists because man is always 
differenced from God, and morality because the appetites 
are not absorbed and annulled by the reasonable will, so 
personality only exists because we are not pure spirits and 
mere ideal beings, but have a visible and sensible basis to 
our existence, in passions, limbs, and material conditions. 
We are persons because we have an excluding individuality, 
4 ein lestimmtes materiales Icli ; though that personality is 
only inherent in the definite materiality by virtue of an 
implicit universality of appropriative and unifying thought, 
It is only because they act in a sense world that rational 
beings come into connexion with each other, and, while 
excluding one another, yet somehow keep up their unity with 
that which they have excluded. Hence personality can only 
belong to a member of a world, to one who is not everything, 
but stands in contact and relation with others outside him 
self. Such a position cannot belong to the Absolute or 
Infinite. We cannot indeed say that the absolute is im 
personal, but we may at least say he is something more than 
a person. 

Personality then is an idea which, as we know it, is realized 


in the case of a person, or of persons. As in other cases, 
we must distinguish between the singular form of the 
universal idea, and the singular or plural of its several mani 
festations. Thus truth is an idea; its real aspect is seen 
in particular truths, none of which are ever adequate to the 
absolute idea. Nor can we deduce from the idea of truth 
any particular truth whatever, or find in any higher concep 
tion a criterion or standard by which all subordinate truths 
may be recognized. We can only say that all truths must 
be consistent with each other: that a truth which is incon 
sistent with another truth shows itself or the other to be 
no truth; that wherever there is a want of clearness and 
distinctness or of coherency with the whole system there 
there is error or falsehood. "When we refer our perceptions 
to experience, we do not merely mean that one perception 
is coherent with perceptions of the past, we mean that 
they both form members of that united world in which all 
experience is embraced. 

Similarly we distinguish duty from duties : and we dare 
not try to deduce the latter from the former. We can only 
sav here again that duty is (not indeed an abstract, merely 
identical unitv, but) a system of unity in which perfect 
harmony prevails ; or that, in the language of Kant, the only 
criterion of moral law lies in its absolute compatibility in 
every part its adaptation to hold good in action under 
everv circumstance. * Les devoirs/ as Malebranche said l t are 
infinitely various they are only the external fact, the devoirs 
exterieurs : but true virtue is only one the amour de 1 oidre/ 
H ne faut pas confondre les devoirs avec la vertn/ What 
Malebranche called * la vertu/ Kant called die Pflicht. It is 
this inner spirit which is his ; great, sublime name : an inward 
or ideal, which can never be proved by experiment to have an 
outward existence, or ever to be a fact. The duties are given 
us bv the conditions of human life in society, and we cannot 

1 Trmti de Jfcrafe, c. 2. 


deduce them from any idea of duty, any more than we can 
deduce a given animal from the general idea or law of life. 

So too, according 1 to Plato, we rise from the diversity and 
accidentality of outer conduct, of justice as the world knows it, 
viz. as this or that Suecuoi;, to the conception of inner SIKCUOCTWTJ, 
the justice in the soul, the systematic disposition of faculty in 
the system of human nature. The just act as such may flow 
from various characters : it may be the product of prudence, of 
calculation, of caprice, of impulse, of hatred or of love. But 
it has only one true and genuine cause, the proper balance 
and co-operation of the several principles which constitute 
human nature : the proper subordination of the impulses which 
crave for enjoyment, for pleasure, under the conception of the 
true reality and good of life, and their supplementation by 
a due development of that spirit of independence and activity, 
which in its excess delights in war and struggle, and of the 
intellectual energy which by itself might be lost in mere con 
templation of speculative conceits. The man in whom such a 
balance of forces was established, would be in himself a prin 
ciple of justice. And being such a principle, he would, if he 
could exist, have no need of external arrangements and systems 
of polity : he would be a law to himself. Unfortunately such 
a unified being is only an ideal, a standard man, with whom 
we compare the man developing each of these interests to 
a more than due extent. And in the city which Plato con 
structs we have a machinery by which the ideal, not realizable 
perhaps in the individual, may be attained by the influence 
which in the fabric of the state each part exerts on the other. 

So personality is only known as a person among persons, 
as a visible and sensible one among others, maintaining his 
ground amongst others, keeping up a unity and consistency 
of his being in all its details. But each of these details, and 
they are infinite in number and minute complexity, is part of 
other connexions ; each enters into a variety of relationships, 
and has so to speak interests and laws of its own. The person 


therefore is a fictitious unity, an artificial product, so long as 
he has not completely identified himself with all his parts, and 
them with himself. But such complete identification is for 
a finite being impossible. Each part of him carries him out 
beyond his actual self into another world, a world in which he 
is not supreme, and where other persons hold sway. Hence 
the person soon begins to compare the implicit or potential 
universality that he felt himself striving to be, with his own 
partial attainment of it, and with the like attainments and 
claims of others. The result is a mixture of oppositions. On 
one hand he seeks to carry the claims of personality farther 
and farther, to extend his being in range, even if he cannot 
master its ground in intensity of penetration. Such is the 
instinct of power. On the other hand, he seeks to get the most 
out of his actual possession, to identify himself completely 
with what he does appropriate, and to gratify the instinct of 
pleasure. Or again he may seek more and more to realize for 
himself that his personality is something transcending all that 
is visible and sensible, that he is other than the things he sees, 
feels, and conquers ; and this in its excess is the instinct of 
the mystic and the quietist. For him the external world is 
annihilated : his personality is wholly inward and invisible : 
and his only actions are done in his soul. Instead of using 
the invisible self as a stepping-stone or point of view, he 
essays to dwell in this upper world. The conflicts which arise 
in the visible world deter him from venturing into it. He 
surrenders the corporeal embodiment of self, and withdraws 
himself into his purely spiritual being. He concerns himself 
solely with the internal unity, and resigns to alien control 
that outer world where supremacy is always imperfect and 
can only be kept up by constant effort and is constantly liable 
to interferences which no skill or prudence can wholly provide 

Real human personality must be something different from 
this. It uses the world as not abusing it : or, in every tie 


which it forms with external things, it remembers that the 
conjunction is a temporal one. Or, feeling itself in essence 
eternal, it does not on that account make light of its 
existence in time, from moment to moment and in local 
and limited spheres. Human personality is essentially a unity 
of oppositions. And we may even go so far as to say that its 
special appearance is in the visible and outward sphere. As 
a person, we are primarily what we are to our neighbours : 
we occupy a certain place and discharge a certain function in 
the visible world. Hence a man s personality is not his mere 
intellect, but his whole being : it is more than his books, more 
than any definite work he may have accomplished. A great 
personality is a sum of influences, each of which may so far 
be exercised apart, but which produce their chief effect in 
virtue of some individual bond which holds them altogether 
and makes us feel more than we can consciously explain on 
analysis. Thus the personality is not the body merely, but 
the body and matter as informed, controlled, organized by 
mind and soul. 

But the essence of personality is undoubtedly shown in the 
distinction of I and Thou. To be a person is thus not merely 
to be an individual, but an individual which recognizes an 
other individual as possessed of the same essential character 
istics. The person, while marking off self from others and 
claiming a certain sphere as his own, does at the same time 
admit the existence and rights of the other. Each has as it 
were a double order of organs. His grosser organs are exposed 
to the influence of the external world, whether he will or not. 
He cannot choose but hear, when mighty noises convulse his 
ear. But so long as a certain point is not passed, he is 
independent, and can only hear by an inward sympathy or 
participation. He hears only when he imitates by an inner 
and more delicate organ the tones which are echoed in his 
outer organs. He must help if the effect is produced. This 
is the right of personality : and it is violated when another 


individual by physical violence forcibly induces a change in 
the organism of the first to which he does not respond. 

When so looked at, personality or personal identity (on 
which, as Locke says, is founded all the right and justice of 
reward and punishment ) is made an ideal of complete uni 
fication and self-control of all the parts and aspects of a 
man s nature. We begin with what may be termed psycho 
logical personality : the I which is not a conception, 
but a mere consciousness that accompanies all conceptions. 
Thus the f l think is a conception (or judgement) which 
is the vehicle of all concepts whatever l . Or, as it is put in 
the Proleg. 46, note,, the "I" is no conception, but only 
a designation of the object of the inner sense, so far as we do 
not apprehend it under any specific character : it is nothing but 
a "sense of existing" (Gefuhl eines Daseyns) without the least 
conception, and only represents to us something to which 
all thinking stands in relation. Kant s point, it must be 
observed, is that the I is not a thing or object among other 
things : we cannot put it before us as an object : if we could 
do so, the I would cease to be an I, and become a Not-I. 
Or, as he otherwise puts it, the I is not something of which 
we have a c standing and abiding impression, a steady clear 
image. It is always a subject, always active, and never 
to be conceived as a passive object, or permanent substance. 
Thus Kant maintains against metaphysical (rational) psycho 
logy that the Ego is a bare apperception, which underlies and 
makes possible all our forms of conception : but we can never 
so far objectify it, and put it in the order of objects, as to 
treat it as a substance, the simple persistent something which 
underlies all mental change. Thus he calls it a mere feeling 
of existing, as distinguished from the intellectual ideas of 
relations. Subject can never become object, or it ceases 
to be subject. There is a profound and indelible distinction 
between the idea of a thing (which is a formula expressing 

1 Kritik der R. F., Dialektik, bk. ii. ch. i, Paralog. 3. 


the relations between tlie parts constituting it, and between 
it and other things which are connected with it) and the 
existence of that thing, its real being, life and actuality. 
As Kant remarked, in dealing with the scholastic arguments 
for the divine being, existence is not an attribute of a thing, 
not a mere part and portion of the idea : but something 
unique and gui generis. The reality, as distinct from the 
idea, is something active, something which appropriates and 
holds the idea, and feels resistance or contradiction of the 
idea as a disturbance of its own being; something which 
exerts an effort and sustains opposition. Existence then in 
its last resort is not something which can be touched and 
measured, but something which is felt, felt above all in the 
immediate self-experience of mental life. Existence therefore 
is properly spoken of only where there is susceptibility to 
influence, capacity of action and reaction. 

Hence, as was already hinted, no being can be called 
a person who is not capable of feeling and action, as well as 
a mere idea of the intellect, a mere object of apprehensive 
judgement. Personal action is distinguished from the 
operation of necessary laws, or from the authority of mere 
ideas, which are true, but do not exist. Mere ideas, mere 
concepts, have no power in themselves : they are made alive 
and real only in a living consciousness. The idea has to be 
incarnated in flesh and blood. Hence the influence and place 
of great men in history, the force of a real personality. The 
theorem may be there : the facts may arrange themselves in 
the very act of expressing a law : but unless the living heart 
and voice take up the burden of the idea it is ineffectual. 
The mere words even may be present; but they are only 
<j)(DvdVTa a-vveTolo-iv. They require, as Plato says, the father 
of the word to cherish and defend the children of his thought, 
and strengthen their ghostlike forms with his own life and 
blood. The soul or central self is more than the mere intel 
lectual concept : than a type, plan, or idea on paper or in 


mere words : it is the actual concentration of all the system 
of relations in one source of power, making the words breathe 
and the thoughts burn. It is only as a state of the soul that, 
the concept enters as a force into the real world and changes 
the material. That the idea may live, it must be embodied in 
a person or an institution: and an institution is after all 
only a moral person a complex person. 

Kant then seeks to show that the Ego cannot be treated on 
the same level as the mental or physical phenomena which it 
observes : it cannot be well or adequately described by such 
terms as substance/ thinking thing/ and the like. It is 
the perpetual concomitant of all mental acts, but not the 
single object of any : if it be made an object, it is of a 
peculiar sort a subject-object. We may to some extent 
consider it in abstraction from its special phases or attach 
ments, but we ought not to speak of it as existing apart from 
them. We cannot take the f H out of ourselves and put it 
1 there before us. It is true the consciousness I think is 
a simple and unanalyzable consciousness ; whenever we go into 
further detail, we leave the simplicity of the condition of con 
sciousness and descend into the detail of actual consciousness 
of this or that object. But a simple consciousness does not 
entitle us to speak of the simple nature of the subject of 
consciousness : consciousness cannot get behind itself and 
consider its own cause or principle. The Ego is only the 
form of apperception attached to every experience : an 
epithet noting the subject condition on which all knowledge 
depends. All the categories on which knowledge depends are 
only special and detailed forms of this ultimate power and 
principle of synthesis. Being itself the ultimate condition of 
all knowledge, we cannot get behind it to see its conditions. 
It is an irreducible and ultimate sentiment of reality, a feeling 
of being. 

So much for psychological personality, the condition of 
moral action, or the prius of morality. It consists in the 


presence of a central unity of apperception, a feeling that we 
exist in our several modifications, that the various feelings, 
desires, emotions are ours, belong to us, have a common 
ground and a mutual interdependence, thus constituting a 
system with necessary relations. Personality, moral person 
ality, has a double aspect : it is the relation and inter-connexion 
of elements claiming some measure of independence. Within 
us personality presupposes a nature which is one and yet 
many : which has from the beginning a potency of unification 
of instincts and principles, and which can occasionally at least 
raise that potency to an actual symmetry and solidarity. It 
presupposes various apyai, which ultimately fall under the 
guidance or control of one apx 7 ? : an(i m tnat relation, implicit 
or actual, of the central monad to the others in our being, 
personality as an inner quality consists. But there is also 
an outer personality : a personality for the eyes of others and 
in an external community. In this aspect personality depends 
upon a system of society, in which each has his place 
appointed, and therefore occupies a special restricted position. 
But still in fulfilling that place his inner and moral per 
sonality must remain intact. He is no doubt a mere unit : 
but a unit which can embrace and reproduce in himself the 
whole society of which he forms a part. 

It is for this reason that Kant calls personality eine 
Achtung erweckende Idee. Moral personality is nothing 
but the freedom of a rational being under moral laws (whereas 
psychological personality is merely the power of being con 
scious of one s self in the various states of one s identical 
existence) : from which it follows that a person is subjected 
to no other laws than those which it imposes on itself (either 
alone, or at least at the same time with others). A Person/ 
in short, is that subject (agent) whose actions are capable of 
imputation : whilst " a thing " is capable of no imputation V 
In virtue of being an end in himself man possesses a dignity 

1 Eechtslehre, EM. p. 24. 


(Wurcle) 1 . Personality 2 , as freedom and independence from 
the mechanism of the whole of nature/ elevates him as 
a moral being- above his sensible nature, which attaches him 
to the order of things. Personality belongs to a being 
endowed with inward freedom with the power of absolute 

Thus, as Hegel remarks, to be a person is the grandest 
thing a man can be : and yet the bare abstraction a person 
is somewhat contemptible in the very expression/ It is 
different from the subject or psychical person, the mere possi 
bility of personality which is found wherever we find a living 
human being. As an individual, I am a being denned in 
various ways, of such and such an age, so tall, in this or that 
space, with such and such a temper, character, and modes of 
thought. But all the while as a person I can set aside all 
this particular aspect of myself and recognize it as something 
separable from me : can look at myself as a pure personality, 
in which all speciality and limitation of my nature is can- 
eelled and lost to view. So viewing myself I see myself as 
absolutely unconstrained and unlimited, as infinite, universal, 
and free. Thus if I can be said to see myself here as an 
object, it is an object absolutely simple, general, and self- 
identical. It is not till an individual and a nation have 
reached the point at which they can dismiss as irrelevant to 
themselves any special phase of being to which they are 
accustomed, that they can be said to attain personality. Thus 
in personality we have the contrast between the limited 
actuality and the unlimited possibility, between the pheno 
menal aspect and the essential being, between the particular 
definiteness and the latent universal. Personality is the 
power of realizing and keeping in view the universal, free, 
and unlimited being, amid the particular and definite or 
isolated forms which threaten to overwhelm it. It is as 
tending to sink the particular in a mere general relation- 

1 Tugendl. 38. 2 Kr. d. Pr. Ver. p. 214. 


ship that the term person seems occasionally a term of 

Thus a person is, on the one hand, an individual or indi 
vidualized being 1 , one among many in ordinary cases, a single 
living human body which, on the other hand, has the 
capacity of regarding itself as a universal, not bound by 
limits of actual achievement, but as infinite and free. This 
is the so-called mystery, grandeur, or contradiction of per 
sonality. In the little physical individuality which is alive 

in the single subject or living soul which is a mere point 
excluding all others and excluded by them there is a potential 
universality, a claim to absolutely unconstrained existence,, to 
complete independence of action, utter spontaneity. Un 
checked this may degenerate into disease; the individual 
may see himself in his petty individuality as all-embracing 
and deserving universal empire. 

But on two sides this danger is guarded against. In the 
individual consciousness there is the sense of the moral law, 
which gives moral personality : i.e. the individual sees himself 
subject to a law which categorically regulates his actions and 
appoints his sphere. And around him he, as a living indi 
viduality, is confronted by others, who implicitly claim the 
same universality as he does : and with whom therefore, if he 
is to live, some modus viveudi must be established, on the 
ground that each of them is equally a person, and that what 
ever be their implicit universality, in the bounds of their 
external manifestation, their personal existence, they must 
mutually recognize each other. 

Thus personality has a double aspect: neither part of 
which can be absent, though the one is mainly emphasized 
ts moral, the other as legal personality. The legal personality 
s always found in a thing, a material body, or something 
which can represent or stand for a material thing. Even the 
human body comes under this head. It is more closely 
connected with the person than other things: but of it too 


it can be said that the person can divest himself of parts of 
it and yet retain a visible personality. But also of things 
external to the body it may be said that I cannot be alto 
gether without them : I must have something mine in the 
external world, or my personality will cease to exist. Thus 
my organic body is the first and most rudimentary realization 
of my personality, but of it, as of other things, I must take 
possession by an act of will, forming and appropriating my 
body as an organ of myself. My body and my property are 
means of objectifying, realizing and maintaining my freedom, 
my universality, my independence. In them I am present, 
and by them I carry out that absolute claim to all things, to 
self-mastery and complete sovereignty, which is inherent in 
personality. The human will goes forth with the conviction 
that things are lordless, appliable by the first comer, waiting 
for a meaning and soul to be given them. 

The legal personality is under the rule of right or law. Its 
principle lies in the restraint imposed upon the freedom of 
each by the recognition of the (in principle) equal freedom 
of all. The rule of right is, ( Be a person and respect 
the personality of others V As the will of a person towards 
things, as the instinct of realizing personality in a material 
world, the range of personality is unbounded. The mere 
thing is impersonal, and has no rights. Hence man, 
individual man, has towards things an unlimited right of 
appropriation 2 : he treats the purely natural world as pos 
sessed of no substantial existence, as a mere vehicle for his 
manifestation. But the position is altogether altered by 
the existence of other persons : and now there arise two 
conditions of existence. On the one hand, each recognizes 
the existence and right of the other: or perhaps it is now 
first of all that we can properly speak of rights, meaning 
that each recognizes a certain sphere of action as belonging 
to the other, and gets a certain sphere recognized as his own. 
1 Hegel, Rechtsphil. 36. 2 Ib. 44. 



But on the other hand, each may persist in the original 
instinct and ignore the other: we have then the rule of 
might, where they take who have the power, and they keep 
who can. When this rule of might is regarded as an outrage 
on the natural law of right or mutual recognition, it is 
describable as the dominion of wrong and transgression. 

The moral personality is not under an external, but an in 
ternal law : it is a member of a spiritual and invisible, not of 
a visible and material kingdom. The moral law commands : 
the law of right only forbids and restrains. The sphere of 
law is the range of what is permitted, or of what is forbidden : 
it does not say, Do this or that, but rather, Do not do this or 
that. The sphere of moral law is the sphere of obligation 
and duty. The latter commands categorically : the former 
only permits. Thus while legal personality concerns in the 
first place my relation to other beings, moral personality deals 
with my relation to myself, or with the relation of my sensible 
to my spiritual nature. Legal personality therefore depends 
upon the institution of a common law, of a sovereign judge, 
of a commonwealth organized and united. Moral personality 
is independent of all outward law: and if all beings were 
perfectly moral, i.e. subject to the inward law, there would 
be no need of a law of rights. But man is very far from 
being so constituted : he can only make himself moral (which 
he is not through nature) by means of the labour and 
discipline of education. The law of right is part of such 
education. It attains its object indirectly. 

Logically it may be said that law comes before rights, and 
that rights are the creations of law : they exist only because 
they receive the public sanction. But historically the process 
often seems to present the opposite aspect. Law is only the 
gradual accumulation of a number of jura, or rights, indepen 
dently asserted and determined by special acts. Law at first 
only exists in petto, in the consciousness of the people, and is 
elicited by its chosen interpreters. The judge in Homer has 


for his function 81*17^ Wvvrara eiTtelv, to pronounce the right 
most straightly : he is a (k/cao-Tro Aos avrip : he has no law to fall 
back upon as a written and systematized body of laws. Law 
at first only exists as a fundamental and underlying principle 
of right and equity in the biKaios avrip. It is created as 
a system in accidental or occasional decisions, which affirm 
the special right in an individual case. Gradually such 
isolated jur a, or asserted and accepted rights, grow in number, 
come more and more into relation with each other, and 
require consolidation and harmonizing. For as they grow up 
singly, and, though resting on a common consciousness, have 
to be got at by a special fact and through the judgement of 
a single human being, they may possibly conflict with each 
other. Again, considering the strength of the tendency to 
imitation, there is a chance of precedents gaining ground in 
cases which are hardly in pari materia. Still in some ways 
it may be that, while law thus remains in the common con 
sciousness, it is less likely to get stereotyped than when it is 
reduced to a written code. But on the other hand, the legal 
administration passes from the people to the judgement of 
a special class or person, who in German is said to shape the 
verdict or doom. When that happens, formality, pedantry 
and ossification are apt to set in. 

Still we may say that law makes its first appearance in the 
shape of so many rights or decisions actually given. These 
rights present themselves as belonging to the individual, and 
it is in battle for such rights that revolutions take place. 
And while law seems to come from above and be imposed on 
the unwilling, rights spring from beneath and only require 
to be affirmed and accepted. Jus is right : jus civile is the 
right attaching to the citizen (of Rome). The struggle for 
legal right takes the form of an effort on the part of individuals 
and classes to claim something, which they believe to belong 
to them and to be unjustly withheld. Thus legal rights 
arise as the claims of personality, of individual human beings, 

u 2, 


as the claim o the individual to a recognition from others. 
It is only gradually that the idea of rights sink into the idea 
of a common law. 

Eights then are the claims of individuals upon others, and 
they are only affirmed as rights by the recognition and 
acceptance of them on the part of these others. It is 
moreover as against others, against individuals, that the 
individual has rights : not as against the state or organized 
community as such. They are the boundaries between 
individuals, denoting the range of power and influence which 
the community has recognized as belonging to its several 
members. Such rights therefore need not be equal : they are 
simply the powers belonging to the individual, which are 
licensed, accepted, or recognized by the state. The principle 
of right is reciprocity : what you would not wish done to 
yourself, you are not to do to another. This is the respect of 
personality, the negative condition of virtue. Right assigns 
to each his place and prevents one from encroaching upon 
another. Its real origin is a moral one, the claim of personality 
to be master of its own development, to be subject to no law 
but that which it imposes upon itself. But to attain that 
end, it must recognize in others the same claims as it makes 
itself, and so restrict its own plenitude. No one can claim 
a privilege strictly so called, that is, a right which departs 
from the general equity and balance of the system. 

Thus the right of personality is the right never to be 
treated as a thing. No person, however, can claim that right 
unless he himself admits and practises it. Persons/ says 
Pichte 1 , treat each other mutually as persons, only so far as 
each acts only on the higher sense of the other, and therefore 
leaves it to his free will to accept the action, leaving his lower 
organs wholly unassailed and unchecked/ 

In practice this view is confronted by the difficulty of 
determining whether the conditions of personality have been 
1 Nalurrecht, p. 87. 


complied with. But here it is probably best to err on the 
side of presuming- personality to exist, and therefore requiring 
to be respected. As we have seen, personality in its full 
phase is an unrealized ideal. It is therefore difficult to 
discover any inferior limit where it may be presumed absent. 
At what time,, for example, is personality to be recognized as 
present in children ? It is true that the law fixes with some 
show of agreement a time when the infant acquires the full 
rank of person, when he emerges from minority and is invested 
with the charge of himself. But the period of majority is 
fixed in view of certain domestic and social interests, and 
cannot be regarded as an answer to the scientific question. 
Nor can we altogether accept the poetic dictum that 

The baby, new to earth and sky, 
What time his tender palm is prest 
Against the circle of the breast, 
Has never thought that this is I : 
But as he grows, he gathers much, 
And learns the use of I and me / 

as meaning more than that the feeling of defined isolation 
is not yet clearly conceived and set before him. Personality 
may exist in very real germ long before the use of the per 
sonal pronouns has been mastered. And even the baby has 
something more than the thing, as also in another measure 
has the animal : they each appear in some degree to be con 
scious of an inherent principle, a right to their own unim 
peded development. 

This right of personality then is never to be treated as 
a mere means, but always as having its end and principle in 
itself. Thus the body in which the personality is primarily 
objectified must always be treated as the cause of its own 
movements, and still more the mind. A person e.g. is not 
treated as a person, if external action upon him is so vehement 
and violent that it moves and affects him without his own 
consent. Any loud speaking, e. g. which bursts through the 
1 In Memoriam, 45. 


barriers of his organs, is thus disrespectful and obtrusive. 
Any rough handling or fondling, which in the least forces his 
organs to comply with those of another, is an outrage on 
personality, which is not penal, only because it is commonly 
vulgar. Where personality is presumed to be fully developed, we 
must always ask the other to co-operate with us, to respond, 
to do himself what we wish or teach him to do. Only partial 
imbecility can justify any intrusion. But on the other hand, 
if non-intrusion be a right, affability and readiness to meet 
another is equally a duty. 

Still the person must be allowed, so to speak, to choose his 
own company, ideas, movements, &c. All that he can be 
fairly expected to do is not to shut himself up to the sugges 
tions of others, and not without special reason to close the 
organs of sense to the communication of others. The very 
essence of personality is equality, liberty, and fraternity. 
Liberty is a peculiarly negative word : it means that the in 
dividual as a person is not to be made to do anything against 
his own will : it means freedom from assault, intrusion, and 
outrage : but it does not always mean liberty to do everything 
which he might like to do. It is guarded by equality and fra 
ternity. But equality in this phrase does not mean equality 
of powers, natural or acquired : such an equality is partly 
impossible, partly undesirable to secure. It is sometimes said 
that the equality meant is equality in rights or equality before 
the law : i. e. that in all affairs of public interest there shall 
be no privileged treatment of individuals or classes : it 
means, in short, a claim to equity and impartiality. But it 
also is a postulate that beneath social differences and natural 
distinctions there is a common meeting-ground, an average 
standard to be presumed, a dignity of man and of woman, as 
such, which puts them on a level. And this equality therefore 
is bound up with fraternity : the equality is that of brothers 
and sisters, of children of the same father; members of 
a community. Liberty is checked by equality, and the excess 


of equality prevented by liberty : and both are humanized 
by fraternity by the identity of a common humanity. 

How far the conditions of personality are satisfied in an 
individual is not easy to say. It requires possession of mental 
and bodily health. But what, it may be asked, is health? 
The answer is supplied by Plato. The body, like the soul, 
is an organism : a system of parts mutually adapted, each 
possessing- a certain independence and proper function : which 
however in a healthy state never actually rises to utter 
severance from the general. The whole adjustment in its 
details in the body is governed by the laws of mechanism : at 
no point can we say that a special principle of life, a vital 
principle, steps in and directs the interaction. The principle 
is one with its parts, it is in each part and in the whole : it 
is the supposed explanation of the fact that there is this 
solidarity, this unity which transcends and interpenetrates the 
separation of parts, tissues, and organs : it is the principle of 
equality and fraternity in the body: and also the principle 
of liberty. No part can encroach on another, no part can be 
held less essential, no part be treated as separable from the 
others, without in each case inducing a perturbation of the 
general fabric. Each has its own province, its own right or 
duty : but none can permanently act in independence of the 
others ; and all must practically experience that the general 
law of life, of self-maintenance of the total organism, is a 
principle overriding particular rights. 

It is equally so in the soul, in the psychical range, only 
that here something further seems to supervene on the mere 
organism. The vital principle is always engrossed in its part, 
and can never be regarded as an independent agent. The 
unity of the body is a unity of co-operation, the result of 
factors which work in obedience to a common law. But that 
common law is out of sight. In the soul, on the contrary, 
the very essence of the whole movement is that it rises in 
some degree into the light of consciousness. And the peculi- 


arity of consciousness is that it is a whole conception or form 
which gradually fills itself in detail with the fullness of its 
partial shapes. The unity, however implicit and potential, 
underlies and realizes itself in each step towards particular 
manifestation. The unity is primary : and it is only because 
duration as a whole of time lies as an undeveloped basis that 
we come to make distinctions of the duration of special states. 
We count these, not by the summation of their separate 
periods, but by the means of a common basis of consciousness 
which, while parting itself out, does not lose hold of the whole. 

This unity of consciousness reacts, if we may say so, upon 
the body. The body has other than the merely organic 
movements, which follow according to impenetrable laws of 
instinctive nature. The purely animal movements are 
governed by an idea; and the body itself is by mind 
transformed (i) into a sense, (2) into an instrument. It 
is in this double capacity that the body is strictly ours, 
the organ of our mind, of our intelligence and our will. 
The word organ, indeed, covers both meanings. As such 
the body is organized or articulated by the mind : i. e. its 
parts are differentiated in use and function, made to some 
extent independent of each other and under the direct control 
of each other, and capable at the same time of co-operation in 
executing a complex movement. 

Now bodily health consists in this completeness of organiza 
tion and articulation of the body as an organ or instrument of 
the soul, no less than in the mere regular movement of the 
purely organic life. The difference however between the 
normal soul and the normal body is considerable. Of the 
proper proportion of parts and distribution of functions in the 
normal body, it is easy to get a tolerable definite conception. 
But as Lotze remarks 1 , we have no type of the definitive 
shape which ought normally and necessarily to be taken by the 
several psychical powers. In order to estimate how far a soul 
1 Medic. Psych, p. 580. 


is or is not in a healthy state, we have recourse to two methods. 
On the one hand,, we gradually form some ideal picture of the 
state which the soul in its collective capacity ought to reach. 
On the other, we consider how far the various means at our 
control for that purpose may enable the soul, not alone, 
but when aided by the average amount of favourable condi 
tions presented by life, to attain this normal end. That is, 
we first have a rough idea of what mental sanity ought to be, 
and then we ask how far the given facts in ordinary conditions 
are likely to realize it. 

Now as regards the first, we see that mental health and 
wealth do not depend on a mere accumulation of single 
facts, but on solid ideas of what life is and ought to be, 
and what the world around us really means : it does not lie 
in confinement to a fragmentary life, limited in its range of 
view, and moving for ever in the same monotonous routine, 
but in a large and free scope of experience : nor does it 
lie in the degree of variety and intensity to which we 
can bring our sensations and aspirations, but in acquiring 
the proper estimate of values, in calming the turmoil of 
temper and gaining at once sweetness and light, that 
gentle reasonableness which, though not less free to receive 
impressions than in the beginnings of life, is at the same 
time matured by experience to a wiser judgement of their 
comparative worth. The true ideal of a fully developed per 
sonality does not consist merely in a keen intellectual acumen, 
nor in an intense but inactive susceptibility to the moods of 
happy feeling, nor in a perpetual unresting activity ; it 
involves a balance of all these elements. But few, if any, 
reach this ; and if this be perfect health, wir sind, as Lotze 
says, fast alle krank/ 

Yet we are not in the habit of applying this rigid standard. 
We are indeed ready to admit that we are far from having 
made the best of our possibilities. We see, as we look back 
on ourselves and others, that many faculties which had the 


germ of almost endless expansion and usefulness, have turned 
out mere single accomplishments, petty facilities of pro 
duction in one department, whilst others have taken lines of 
growth of which we thoroughly disapprove. Hours of self- 
examination come, when we are ill at ease in reviewing the 
result to which time has brought abilities that promised so 
fair. And yet in spite of this self-condemnation, we still do 
not hesitate to pronounce ourselves spiritually sound. To 
explain this contradiction, we must take note of the second 
point of view, our judgement on the possibility of reaching 
the ideal by the help of normal and average conditions. 

We admit that our course of mental growth has taken 
false directions : but we do not believe that the psychical 
formations are equally irrevocable with the corporeal. We 
separate the permanent reality from what we suppose the mere 
appearance. We fancy ourselves, even after all these mental 
misgrowths, to be still fundamentally unaltered in our general 
capacities as when we began our career. And when the 
failures of development have been cast away, as the withered 
leaves are stripped from the trunk of the tree, we expect that 
the indestructible root of life and character within us will 
throw out fresh shoots, perhaps more vigorous and better 
than those which went before. So long as the derangement 
has not penetrated to the very root and centre of our life, we 
conceive it possible that alongside the actual depravity and 
failure there still survives a better spiritual principle, an unex- 
tinguishable source of fresh spiritual health. It is only when 
we find that movements originating within us, or obstacles 
which we can trace to some bodily infirmity, hinder us either 
for a time or for ever from giving birth to new and fresh 
life from the old source of life, that we recognize the com 
mencement of spiritual disease. And it follows from this 
way of thinking that we are indulgent in our judgements : 
we do not regard as intolerable departures, either eccentricities 
of feeling and sentiment, or disagreeable specimens of intel- 


lectualism cultivated in one line solely, or excess of un 
reasoning passions. It is only when, on actually experi 
menting, we find that there is no longer the capacity of 
applying the general potentiality of mind to even simple 
objects, that we admit the existence of mental derangement. 

But this hypothesis, which would so much simplify the 
problems of mental diagnosis, cannot be accepted. We cannot 
always distinguish the permanent health of the faculties from 
the perversity of their actual applications. There are no 
ready-made faculties of permanent quality and power, which 
can be manipulated without alteration of their structure and 
nature. As Plato said, the food of the mind cannot be 
conveyed in vehicles alien to itself, but only in the mind 
itself which is modified according to its content l . The 
soul cannot be conceived of as exerting side by side a variety 
of utterances, good or bad, according as outward circum 
stances suggest, while the root and stem remain sound and 
unaltered : every application of the general faculties of mind 
is at the same time a modification of the instrument we use. 
Nor can it be denied that the employment of the faculties, as 
it varies, leads to changes in our powers of judging things ; 
the eye is perverted when the heart is turned on base material. 
There is danger in the tendency to treat these prejudices, 
peculiarities and whims of character, as mere superficial in 
equalities not affecting the sound heart and judgement at the 
bottom. The outside angularities, irregularities, and so-called 
originalities of mind which are thus engendered, are symptoms 
of a state verging towards mental insanity. Still there is 
some excuse for the distinction between the faculties them 
selves and their applications. In derangement proper there 
is a thorough-going unrest, a want of proportion between 
the inner faculties. But in the product resulting from 
cramped and perverted development, the mental forces have 
got some sort of equilibrium. The weak, ill-grown mind of 
1 Piotag. 314 B. 


one tied down to a narrow round of life may be compared to 
a chronic disease, when a species of mutual accommodation 
has made the defects suit each other, and produce an existence 
which in ordinary conditions goes on without much friction. 
The sick man s mind is not violently or conspicuously ill, 
exhibits no great lesions. But it is all on a false scale. His 
want of sanity has grown into a bearable system, but still 
it is removed from true health of soul. 

Mental derangement then, as ordinarily understood, does 
not merely mean the state in which, from whatever causes, 
the estimates of things and the sense of their importance are 
perverted, or in which the views formed about circumstances, 
in themselves distant and indifferent, show a want of intel 
lectual balance, an inequality of judgement : it means that, 
whether from these conditions or others, the ordinary facts of 
everyday life, open to what may be called ocular demonstra 
tion, are falsely apprehended or are misinterpreted. 

But when the law treats a person as a responsible agent, this 
is the ultimate limit which it lays down. A responsible agent 
must not be suffering from mental derangement : he must be 
in possession of sound senses and sound mind ; and by this 
the minimum meant is that he is capable of ordinary percep 
tion of single facts and has ordinary capacity of interpreting 
or inferring from these facts. Without this a being is said to 
be utterly irresponsible. He is not strictly speaking a person, 
is not possessed of the common foundation of rationality. 
Yet it may be doubted whether it is possible to lay down 
definitely the conditions required to prove responsibility. 
Jurisprudence certainly has not done so. In the nature of 
the case it is obvious that no absolute rules can fix how much 
power of judgement and perception is sufficient to constitute 
rationality and responsibility ; and in any given case it can 
hardly be possible to prove that these conditions have not at 
all been satisfied. Thus we are forced, like Aristotle, to be 
content with general and vague considerations. 



THERE are two points of view from which responsibility 
like personality may be regarded. We may deal with it, 
looking at the individual or at the community. In either 
aspect we get a part of what is meant by responsibility. 

The word is partly synonymous with terms like account 
ability, irnputability, and is closely connected with punish 
ment. The term responsibility/ says Bain, is a figurative 
expression. Seeing that in every country where forms of 
justice have been established, a criminal is allowed to answer 
the charge made against him before he is punished, this 
circumstance has been taken up and used to designate punish 
ment. We shall find it conduce to clearness to put aside 
the figure and employ the literal term. Instead therefore 
of responsibility, I will substitute punishability/ To the 
same effect J. S. Mill trenchantly says : Responsibility 
means punishment/ 

On this, however, two remarks suggest themselves. The 
first is that, when punishment is made the practical index 
or proof of responsibility, the real question, as Mill himself 
says, is one of justice the legitimacy of retribution or 
punishment 3 : not punishment merely, but the conditions in 
the individual which make it right to punish him. And 
secondly, though responsibility is a condition of punishment, 
it is not limited to acts which deserve punishment. It is 
a feature of the world, which might perhaps be explained, 


that the good that is done is accepted much more passively 
than the evil : 

1 Men s evil manners live in brass : their virtues 
We write in water l ; 


The evil that men do, lives after them : 
The good is oft interred with their bones 2 . 

People are responsible for the good they do no less than 
for the evil : but no one is curious about the authors of our 
blessings. The public treats all its servants as bound to the 
full discharge of all the benefits their faculty affords, and only 
attends to their special performance when it falls short of the 
normal average. 

The terms accountability and responsibility undoubt 
edly seem to refer to a scrutiny or examination, to which 
the deeds of a person are liable in consequence of his 
occupying a public function. Such is the vTtevOvvos apyj] 
which has to give an account of his administration who, 
unlike the povvapyLa 3 or autocracy, is subject to law. The 
idea is one of dependence subjection to a higher will. A 
evOvva or account has to be rendered : the person so rendering 
an account being evidently treated as a deputy or servant 
charged with a function, and not as a wholly independent 
(irresponsible) or self-centred agent. But while the term 
virevdvvos is in Greek specially applied to public functionaries 
and a public scrutiny, the term amos and amao-0cu has 
a wider range. The term alnavOai means, to bring a charge 
against, to accuse ; but it has also the more general meaning, 
to allege as the cause : and similarly while air La generally 
means an accusation or change of crime, a crimen, it is some 
times used by Plato for a cause or source (atria ayaOov). Thus 
in Pindar, Nem. vii. n, a pehtypov air Lav poaio-i fj.ovcrav means 
a pleasing subject (motif) for the flow of song : and curios, 

1 K. Hen. VIII, Act iv, sc. 2. 2 Jul. Caesar, Act iii, sc. 2. 

3 Her. iii. 80. 


though usually the culprit or < accused/ is also the author 
or originator 1 : so Plato, Rep. 379, T &v ^Iv aya6v ovbeva 
aXXov aiTLarlov. In Greek therefore, while vneuQwos denotes 
especially the liability to a public account and examination, 
the idea in afoios is that of authorship or causality, of source 
or origination. 

In Latin again the term reus is usually applied to the 
accused person, culprit, both before and after trial ; but it 
is also used to mean one under obligation to get or supply, 
e. g. reus clods, or voli reus, i. e. bound by a vow : the reus, 
in short, is the party who has made a covenant : and a res is 
a ground of action, a reason, or plea. A causa similarly is 
an interest or reason for acting : like res, it seems originally 
a forensic term which has come into wider use. Res means 
the object of a right : a reus is a human being who is the 
object (not subject) of a right. 

Responsibility, it thus appears, has something to do with 
causality. The term imputation means the same as attribu 
tion : imputare often means to make a merit of/ ( to take 
credit for/ or to give credit for/ Thus Tacitus, Germ. 21 : 
gaudent muneribus, sed nee data imputant, nee acceptis 
obligantur i. e. they take no credit for giving, and count 
it no obligation to receive. So ascribere is literally to place 
a thing to a person s credit, to count it among his debts : 
i.e. to treat it as part of his property and dependent upon 
his will. 

The notion of desert (merit), good or ill-desert, falls in the 
same group. The idea of ill-desert, says Butler, does not 
merely mean that it is for the good of society that the agent 
should suffer : it follows (as a perception) on finding that an 
action is unsuitable, or out of proportion to the capacities of 
the agent/ In other words, an action has good desert, not 
because of the rewards which law or custom may attach to it, 
but intrinsically by its natural and inherent adaptation to the 

1 Thuc. iii. 22 -qyovvTO 5e oi ircp at TTJS Treipas ainoi rfaav. 


constitution and circumstances of human nature. In Latin 
hcne Mi-rcri is to earn a place on the credit side (<h republica^ 
on the books of the commonwealth) : to pay a debt or perform 
a duty is mcrcrl : whilst the epithets bate or male connote that 
the obligation has been more than or less than equally dis 
charged. Thus the idea of ill-desert is to have fallen short 
in duty, to have failed in extinguishing- the debt. Mcritnm 
means debt or due ; or, otherwise, the same thing is on one 
hand a debt, on the other a credit : hence the word has both 
the meaning of benefit and fault/ So the debts belong 
ing to a person may mean his rights of action against others, 
i. e. what is to his credit in their books, no less than what 
it is his duty to pay. 

Through the whole phraseology there shows the close 
parallelism between the moral and the economical use of 
the terms, between the moral and the legal. Nor need 
this cause surprise. The moral, though it form the basis 
of both legal and economical, is later in coming to distinct 
expression. The juridical moreover includes the economical. 
And all of the terms imply a system of things, an 
established order: they connect with ideas of order and 
authority. Responsibility implies an ordered world, in which 
all things (act) have their place and are related to one 
another, have mutual connexions. The fixing of responsi 
bility is like the search for causes: a responsible agent is 
a cause in the moral world. And just as each cause is 
also an effect, so each responsible being is also, from certain 
aspects, only a link in the change of causality. He is not 
amoj, but only avrairios. Just as we may say that the 
cause of an event is the sum of the whole antecedents or 
conditions, and yet can select as the cause one circumstance, 
which directly produces the effect that up to the moment of its 
appearance had not seemed to begin, so the responsible agent 
is the last or decisive moment in leading desire into action. 
In ordinary life we are under the belief that a healthy 


mental organization is responsible for the direction of the will. 
No question is here raised as to free will as a metaphysical 
problem. It may be maintained by the metaphysician that 
the will is always governed by the law of sequence of effect 
upon cause. The question now before us regards a difference 
between individual wills. Are there any wills which are under 
the sway of a malformed mind so completely that responsibility 
is to be denied them ? It is generally admitted that there is 
a class of human beings thus incapacitated. To say precisely 
who are insane is not an easy task for medical or juridical 
psychology. Such definitions as that it is a chronic disease 
of the brain inducing chronic disordered mental symptoms 3 
are little more than verbal, with the addition that mental 
aberration is a predominant symptom of brain disease. But 
how much of this physiological disease is necessary to 
constitute the irresponsibility of the insane, is a question 
to which probably no general answer is possible. We must 
content ourselves with saying that there are mental states 
(dependent apparently most directly on nervous conditions) 
which, in certain cases and under certain respects, deprive 
a man of those faculties on which mental responsibility is 

Such conditions required for a rational direction of will are 
(j) a correct apprehension of the external world, and of the 
precise point in it towards which action is directed ; (2) suffi 
cient collectedness to see the present aim of action in its 
general bearings on our life and circumstances; and (3) a 
healthy sense of reality, which makes this estimate of con 
sequences no mere dreamy conception but a vital active 
apprehension. Where we are under a delusion as to outward 
facts, and especially of the physical laws governing the matter 
we propose to manipulate ; where we are infatuated by a 
present passion to such an extent as to lose all sense of 
proportion and to be unable to keep our permanent well- 
being in view, and where we see the world and ourselves, 



but see them like phantoms in a world which we have no 
connexion with there responsibility in the fullest measure 
is absent. But there are shades of difference in this general 
sphere. Sometimes, as in the case of a passionate outburst, 
or of acts done under unreasoning" panic, or under the effect 
of stimulants, the responsibility for the single act is in 
abeyance; but it is replaced by a general responsibility for 
the habitual character which facilitated their perturbations. 
Many of our actions originate in a very fragmentary self- 
consciousness. But, merely on that account, we should not 
lose responsibility : imputation ceases only when there are 
causes working not merely in the moment of action, but per 
sistently causes, not susceptible of our modification, which 
make the average amplitude of clear and realized perception 
and conception impossible. 

For law fixes, or at least assumes, an average standard of 
sanity, an average duty of self-possession and attention. It 
calculates on every man in a way doing his duty. This is the 
basis of responsibility as of obligation. Nor, when we say 
that the individual is responsible to society, do we mean only 
legal responsibility. Legal responsibility as a rule looks only 
to the past : for the aim of law is to maintain or preserve the 
established and attained order of things. For law is mainly 
the instrument and guarantee of order and security : it is little 
concerned with progress, and has its interest in the conserva 
tion of the past. Law does not anticipate and lay down lines 
for future development, but rather fortifies what has been 
achieved against the risks of innovation. But moral responsi 
bility looks upon the order of things not merely as fixed but 
as progressive; it treats man as a member of a progressive 
system, and as having duties other than the mere maintenance 
of the past. 

It is thus assumed that every man has a sort of public 
interest a conception of a good common to him with a social 
body : that he regards his action as entering into and forming 


part of a system or realm of conduct, and as not remaining 
isolated and ineffectual amid a foreign mass of other actions. 
In consequence of such a postulate, a man is bound to know 
the law so far as the law is an expression, made public, of 
those conditions and relations under which his acts must 
adapt themselves to the general body of action. There are 
cases where ignorance of the law does excuse ; but in general 
it is assumed that a man, as a <3o/ TroAmKoV, recognizes him 
self as a perfect self only in his relations with his community, 
and is aware of the recognized and published conditions of his 
partnership. Similarly, a man is presumed cognizant of the 
general notions of morality current in his place and time. In 
all of these points it is taken for granted that the individual 
lives consciously the common life, participates in the common 
ideas, and knows what is definitely and generally expected of 
him. These common obligations or expectations he is bound 
to fulfil, answer to, and satisfy. 

He is also expected to have a tolerable idea of a common 
system of things into which his action enters : a capacity of 
knowing the nature and consequences of acts, the general 
rules and probabilities of sequence in events. It is from 
this point of view that a man is held responsible for the 
consequences of his acts, and that these consequences enter 
into our estimate of his moral character. But the con 
sequences which are thus taken into account are the normal, 
natural, and necessary consequences the outward utterance 
of the inward intention. But a man is not responsible merely 
for the consequences of his acts which he intended : he is 
responsible no less for those which with ordinary foresight he 
could have known to follow inevitably from them. This ex 
tension of responsibility will be variously measured in different 
cases. But undoubtedly there is a culpable negligence, 
and a minimum of attention to facts and conditions is 
presumed from every citizen. 

Similarly a man is presumed to be capable of some amount 

X 2, 


of self-control. He is credited with the power of attending 
to general principles of conduct and to distant motives, and 
of comparing them calmly with immediate incitements. A 
man must be able to control himself, just as he must know 
the nature of his own acts. He must not lose sight of general 
duties and considerations in the moment and under the 
pressure of the momentary sentiment. His power of self- 
control may be limited in two ways. He may be subjected 
to compulsion by means of threats, or perhaps of bribes. But 
compulsion of this sort does not remove responsibility : it 
forms no excuse for crime, though it may be admissible as 
a ground for mitigating the punishment. The only compulsion 
in question is that which destroys freedom and responsibility. 
Such compulsion is physical constraint, which properly speaking 
leaves the doer no longer an agent, but only an instrument in 
the hands of brute force. But in ordinary practice, com 
pulsion is allowed to embrace motives which are exceeding 
terrible and powerful such as, in the words of Aristotle, 
no man could withstand, or which exceed the measure of 
human nature. There is a gradation, not fixed on any 
principles, bat introduced on particular occasions, between 
such constraints from external suasion as average self-mastery 
is considered equal to resist, and those which tax to the 
uttermost the most heroic virtue. Here, as in the question of 
knowledge of act and circumstances, jurisprudence follows on 
each occasion a vague tact, or popular sense of discrimination 
a common cuo-07/o-is rather than any definite rule or logical 

But as there is a violence, an encroachment on the will 
from without, which may culminate in actual violence, or 
physical constraint by the force of others, so there is an 
internal violence, which may culminate in a state of pure 
passivity to the solicitations of any whim or fancy, without 
power or wish to resist it. Such a state of insanity of 
idiocy, when the judgement is absent and reason or knowledge 


is impaired, or of mania or melancholy, when passion bl inds 
the will and prevents the employment of reason is recog 
nized as destroying responsibility no less than external 
violence, or fraud or deception. The case is not so simple 
with the lesser degrees, in which impulses cognate with 
insanity are prevalent. Here it is obvious that, just as we do 
not regard any threat as proof of practical compulsion because 
it was successful, so we cannot hold every insane impulse to 
be irresistible, merely because it is not resisted. And just as 
with compulsion, persuasion, instigation, &c., we hold that 
a man for practical purposes is not so free and responsible as 
without them, but yet that he might resist them if he would; 
so, in regard to the stimulation of appetites and instincts which 
tend to carry towards unlawful action, we do not consider the 
difficulty of overcoming them a reason for holding it not 
possible to overcome them. 

Rather the current view is loath to regard any one as not 
in some measure a free agent. Practical law insists no doubt 
that one must draw a line somewhere ; it cuts the Gordian 
knot which it cannot untie. Law has to do with averages, 
and makes rough assumptions, subject always to a certain 
amount of modification and correction in applying them to any 
case. But for all except those who are proved to belong to 
another category, the law assumes their sanity and responsi 
bility. And in so doing it does them honour : it credits them 
with the possession of the common attributes of social 
humanity. It assumes, that is, that they are not dumb 
driven cattle/ but can always it rests with them become 
heroes in the strife. It treats them as men free and 
responsible, self- controlled, self -legislative, persons who are 
their own masters, who have reduced their own impulses to 
unity and subjection, and who have raised themselves to the 
common or universal standard of their age and country. It 
does not degrade them to the position of automata or 
machines moved by forces of which they have no mastery, 


which they are barely conscious, and even if conscious, are 
powerless to alter. 

But if the popular sentiment shrinks from degrading any 
human being to the level of irresponsibility, it is otherwise 
with the scientific inquirers of modern times. On the one 
side, emphasis is laid on the preponderant influence exercised 
by heredity. Each at his birth receives by descent from his 
nearer or more remote parents a physiological endowment 
with a corresponding temperament, proclivities, instincts, 
which so far predetermine his conduct for him, and render his 
responsibility for his actions a rapidly vanishing quantity. 
On the other hand, it is alleged that the statistics of crime 
prove, by their comparative uniformity through periods of 
years, that criminality depends more upon the constitution 
of the social environment in manners, morals, ideals, than 
on that of the individual personality : who is thus freed 
from a responsibility which is transferred to the shoulders 
of the community. 

According to a recent development of these theories, con 
nected with the names of Cesare Lombroso l and Enrico Ferri 
in Italy, and of Prof. Benedict of Vienna, and which are 
fanatically adopted by some Russian writers, the criminal is 
a distinct and hitherto unrecognized species of human being, 
marked off by definite peculiarities both from the sane and 
from the insane. According to Benedict, human beings fall 
into four groups, which comprise, besides the mentally sane 
and insane, the two classes of the degenerate and those who 
are congenitally deficient in psychical calibre (neiir-asthenics). 
There are thus found amongst us, partly from inherited 
qualities and partly through the acquired effects of certain 
modes of life, a large class of individuals who are beneath the 
normal definition of human beings, whether that definition 
be purely physiological, or moral, or aesthetic, or intellectual. 
To beings so constituted the ordinary stimuli appeal with 
1 L Uomo delinquents. 


little or no force. If their physiological force is under par, 
they become skulkers from work, fond of vagabondage and 
indolence. If their debility is moral and aesthetic, they are 
unsusceptible to the voice of sympathy and beauty, of art and 
nature, of duty and social ties. Intellectual feebleness is 
shown in the inability to follow the links of a continued 
argument beyond the first and simplest steps 1 . 

According to these writers crime is due to four main causes 
or conditions. These are social circumstances, pathological 
states of the agent, degeneration, and atavism. The first of 
these may be afterwards considered. The others may now be 
examined. No one is prepared to deny the influence of 
heredity. It is an undoubted fact that peculiarities of parents 
are reproduced in their children : that not merely are their 
general characters physical and moral often repeated, but that 
even apparently incidental and temporary conditions of the 
progenitor are exhibited in effects on the progeny. Every 
one can quote examples of famous parents with famous 
children : of personal peculiarities which mark families 
through several generations, of the frequent occurrence of 
physical resemblances. And, in the next place, there is 
a general agreement upon the interdependence of physical and 
psychical characters. No one seriously believes nowadays, 
if they ever did, that in the phenomenal world, the only 
world of which there is science, the spiritual is not inseparably 
conjoined with the corporeal. It is further admitted that 
nowhere do we find the normal man or woman the abstract 
generic type without any specific modifications. If we define 
man as the rational animal, we do not mean that he is never 
unreasonable : and if we call him a social animal, we are 
aware of a rooted instinct of independence and isolation 
in him. 

If heredity is a fact, so likewise is variation. If on the one 
hand the progeny resemble the parents, on the other they tend 
1 Of. Rev. des Deux Mondes, April, 1887 ; Unsere Zeit, Feb. 1888. 


to vary from them. Natural and artificial selection, the action 
of circumstances and the operations of human purpose, tend to 
alter the hereditary nature into new forms. And these forms 
in certain cases tend again to reproduce themselves,, and again 
to be subjected to the modifying agency of man and nature. 
In some cases the acquired characters remain a permanent part 
of the stock ; in others they last only for a few generations, 
and then revert to the original stock ; in others they do not 
descend by inheritance at all, but each individual has to 
acquire them afresh. 

These facts would seem enough to show that, though 
heredity is a fact, it is premature to speak of a law or laws 
of heredity. M. Ribot in his work on L he redite psychology que 
admits that it is indeed impossible to determine scientific 
laws of heredity, but proceeds to lay down four empirical 
laws/ as a convenient classification founded on experience. 
These are as follows : ( i ) tendency of parents to bequeath 
psychical characteristics; (2) preponderance tendency towards 
inheritance from one parent; (3) tendency to resort to remote 
ancestral type, atavism; (4) heredity exhibited at corre 
sponding periods of life. 

It is hardly necessary to say that such vague tendencies 
can scarcely be called laws. There are laws in the same 
inexact sense in which we speak of the laws of association of 
ideas/ For a law in a proper sense, more is needed than 
a mere discovery that one fact is sometimes, or generally, or 
often, connected with another. We want to know the precise 
conditions in the one which are influential upon the other 
the numerical evaluation of the amounts, ratios, &c. 

Heredity has been admitted as a fact. Strictly speaking it 
might be urged that it is only a theory or interpretation of 
a fact. This fact is the occurrence in progeny of qualities and 
characteristics similar to or identical with those exhibited by 
their parents or ancestors, near or more remote. To say that 
these qualities are inherited is to use metaphorical language 


borrowed from the sphere of law. But in the case of in 
heritance strictly so called,, what is inherited is an existing 
right, which has a continuous existence and can be passed on 
from one person to another. In the case of heredity strictly so 
called,, there is no such persisting- right, property or thing. It 
is easy to say that the characteristics inherited are, while non- 
apparent, in a state of latency, dormancy, or abeyance. But 
these terms are only covers of ignorance, and convey no real 
or positive meaning. A latent or dormant object is existent, 
but inactive, concealed and asleep. But to say that the 
characters in question are in any true sense existent, is to talk 
the language of figure. 

It is much the same here as in the case of memory and 
recollection. The ordinary language of heredity is parallel to 
the crude conception of ideas or images stored up in the mind 
or brain and recalled from their latency into active conscious 
ness. A little reflection shows that we can only in a meta 
phorical way talk of the furniture of the mind, and regard 
the mind as possessed of store-rooms and presence chambers. 
And if we adopt the language of some scientific specula 
tors, and speak of hereditary qualities as organic memory, 
this transference is more interesting than really edifying. 
We may, if w r e please, indulge in a supposition that the 
elements of our original constitution are a limited number of 
elements, which, like the coloured pieces of glass in a kaleido 
scope, present a succession of different forms as they revolve, 
but occasionally in consequence of their small number recur at 
intervals in the same form, or if they once assume a peculiarly 
stable grouping, may for some time recur in almost identical 
shape. At any rate, if the number of original elements in each 
stock is limited, clearly the number of permutations is also 
limited, and it may even be that one combination will, while 
certain influences predominate, recur very frequently. 



THERE are two judgements which according to our 
changing moods we are inclined to make about our species. 
At one time we are especially struck by the diversities which 
part man from man and race from race. At another we are 
apt to feel the influence of that touch of nature which makes 
the whole world kin. Perhaps the abstract philosopher is too 
ready to assume the permanent identity of human nature 
everywhere, and the mere historian and naturalist too likely 
to take every variety as a unique specimen. If this be 
generally the case, it is also specially applicable to man as 
a moral being. 

First of all, it is clear that, in every period of history and 
every sphere of life, man has a life to lead under circumstances 
and conditions which are the same to all. Rich and poor, 
learned and unlearned, have alike to traverse the path from 
birth to the grave, alike to learn the terms of life, alike to 
struggle with enemies and with circumstances, alike to win 
friends and love, alike to learn some measure of wisdom and 
character. Up to certain limits nature allows no exceptions to 
her law : omnes eodem cogimur. It can hardly be said too 
emphatically that in the deeper realities and the fundamental 
problems of life, savage and civilized, king and peasant, have 
nothing to envy each other. But on the other hand, if the 
fundamental notes and harmonies of the tune are the same, 
there is immense variation possible in the minor details, 


details too so numerous that in their succession and multi 
plicity we often lose sight of the main movement, and 
imagine we hear an unique performance. There are the 
general differences of rich and poor, strong and weak, wise 
and foolish, which entail corresponding intervals between 
lives, as they show more rapid movement, more elaborate 
detail, and more precise systematization, or the reverse. Even 
length of years may seem to involve such additional wealth, 
though in most cases it hardly affects the substantial value 
of the life. Specific differences again of different posts and 
offices in life, entail a variety in the qualities required to make 
them exhibit in their special range a reflection of all that life 
ought to be. 

But there are other differences between human being-s. 


Hitherto they have been considered as single beings, in 
essentials the same, though differing in natural endowments, 
and in the accumulated powers which these natural endow 
ments have permitted them to acquire. But human beings 
are not known to exist in this unqualified individuality. 
Historically and really every human being is a member of 
a group. That group may be a nation, a tribe, a family ; 
it may also be an association with which the ties of kinship 
have very little or nothing to do. But always anomalies 
like Robinson Crusoe on his desert island do not make an 
exception men and women are members of such a group. 
And what is implied in being a member of such a group ? 
Very much ; and that mainly because such membership is not 
a mere matter of arbitrary choice, and is not a mere juxta 
position of individuals, each of which remains as independent 
and self-centred as before. What brings people together into 
such groups is not their will, but their need ; their poverty, 
and not their will consents. The cause which combines 
people in a society is not a matter of their choice; it is 
an idea which confronts them more or less consciously as 
essential to their welfare, as expressing their need and 


demanding their service. People realize, not always equally 
clearly, that there is a work waiting- to be done, a work 
which they have to do, and which can only be done by con 
joined effort. The world without them, the national world, 
for example, of field and wood and river, is not cut up into 
parts distinctly separated from one another : rather each 
part is dovetailed into another, and all form a unity. There 
is no absolute boundary line anywhere, if we inspect closely 
and minutely : to a microscopic glance there are connecting- 
links and transition lines to be detected everywhere : but 
it is otherwise to a rough practical survey. For practical 
purposes there are many demarcations apparent between parts 
of nature some of them no doubt arbitrary and artificial, 
others however decidedly more natural and scientific. As an 
instance take national boundaries. An absolute dividing line 
might be said perhaps to exist in an impassable range of 
mountains, in an innavigable water, in a trackless desert, or 
a malarious swamp. But there are no such mountains, waters, 
deserts, or swamps. Yet for practical purposes there are 
many changes of geological formation which interpose 
sufficient barriers. And a thousand other circumstances, some 
physical, others dependent on history and tradition, combine 
to magnify the obstructions of these geographical circum 
stances, and to form national and political groups, in their 
totality quite distinct from their neighbours. So it is in 
other divisions. Each trading and industrial group tends at 
its extreme to pass over into some other : every rank or order 
in society fades away into others adjacent : every association 
of believers in any creed tends to lose itself at its margin in 
a class, who are hardly distinguishable from those who hold 
the opposite creed. But for practical purposes the distinctions 
hold good : the world is an aggregate of parties and societies, 
in which individuals have their place and subsistence. In the 
long run the whole inhabitants of the world form a unity of 
will and purpose, just as the earth is one whole and its 

iv] DUTY 3I? 

differences sink into unimportance when we note how they all 
pass at their limiting- verge into each other. 

Such a vision of unity in the world in the world visible 
and material, and in the world human and moral was 
not, and could hardly be, clear in the early days of history. 
More limited horizons, both material and spiritual, spanned 
the survey of early humanity. Yet whatever was its range, 
the collective world gave to the view of the single members 
within it a power and a system which they could not otherwise 
lay claim to. Built up into the compact unity, they shared in 
the power, the interests, the joys, the sorrows of all the rest. 
Their little souls with tiny range and scanty powers, it may 
be were expanded and elevated by the partnership of others 
in the group of higher genius and character : and these last 
gained a fulcrum for their energies in the sense of solidarity, 
the willing hearts and hands around them. So there grew up, 
and always in some measure grows up, a common, a social, 
a collective life; a spirit only realized by the energies of 
individuals, and yet living on above and beyond them, 
taken singly. It is in the light of that common life that we 
look at and judge our own special lives. In the background 
of our consciousness, dominating it though never coming 
much into view, stands a collective life, a common enter 
prise, a general achievement, in which our contribution 
and effort takes its place and does its part. On such 
a support and such an embracing unity we all singly fall 
back, and in the light of it we form our plans, and carry 
them out. 

Such grouping also gives an ideal extension to our life. 
Before we came into the world and after we leave it, that 
world has no direct bearing upon us. But by means of those 
who associate with us, and w r ith whose lives our own is bound 
up, we find ourselves living in idea both in the past and the 
future. The members of the family e. g. thus get a con 
ception of life and work, which invests them with the burdens 


and the pleasures of a vast brotherhood a kindred which 
ramifies out in many directions, both towards the generations 
that have passed away and those which are to follow. And to 
this ideal extension of the scope given to the individual 
there are barely any limits assignable except the limits 
which practically arise because, as successive circles of 
influence carry us further from the self, the vision grows 
fainter and at length sinks exhausted. Still far beyond the 
range of actual touch, historical sympathy sets the individual 
amid a kindred of great names. Even in the barbarian tribe 
the individual has set in his soul, embalmed in sweet 
memories of old achievement, the heroes of his race, whose 
acts he almost feels to be re-enacted in himself again. In 
their strength his strength is as the strength of ten, because 
his heart is the great heart of his race. And even in our 
associations of to-day, half the secret of our life is hidden in 
the social groups, to which we belong and from which we 
draw our influences. 

It is because and in so far as we live thus not for ourselves 
but in the common life, the general work, of some portion of 
the world, that we are moral beings. To be moral is to be 
raised out of our selfish isolation. Purely and wholly isolated 
indeed we cannot be. We are parts of the world and have 
a share in the common activity, whether we will or not. 
But it makes a great deal of difference how we enter upon 
our inheritance and take our part in the community of toil 
and pleasure. And it makes a great deal of difference what 
community our lot and circumstances have cast us into. In 
the ideal, as we have seen, each community, each gronp, dove 
tails into another, and by degrees a federation of communities 
would bind the inhabitants of the world into one great con 
sentient realm of humanity. The real aspect is very different 
from this : there is no such hierarchy or gradation, or harmony 
of the different associations. They grow up at haphazard, 
here and there, without plan, and without adaptation to each 

iv] DUTY 3Ig 

other : they necessarily fight against each other, as each sticks 
persistently to its own aim, and ignores or thwarts the others. 

Yet in each community there is some good ; each of them 
is relatively and comparatively a moral influence. Even the 
band of robbers and thieves nourishes within it some virtues. 
Seen from the outside indeed, all seems dark and terrible. 
But we must never judge by the outside alone. It would be 
difficult to find any community in which all the influences 
were hopelessly and utterly bad. And as Bret Harte is fond 
of illustrating in his stories, not merely is there honour among 
thieves, but there is love and self-sacrifice amongst the 
degraded. As we penetrate into the heart of a society, we 
find it different from its mere superficial character. 

We have then no actual community which is all-embracing 
either in place and time. Even our oldest societies, even our 
national existence, or our ecclesiastical institutions, carry us 
after all but a little way back into the history of the past. 
We trace our national history back for a thousand years, but 
long before we reach even the Conquest it has lost all close 
connexion and touch with us. And so it is in the divergence 
of associations throughout the world. Nowhere is there more 
than a side of humanity represented. Nationality rises up 
against nationality. And it hardly seems possible to hope 
that it will ever be otherwise : nor if it were possible, does it 
seem desirable. At times it seems as if national differences 
were fading away : but probably the change, when it occurs, 
is only a passing phase, a transient step on the way to 
the formation of new groups. So long as the natural 
diversities of soil, climate, and production exist, so long 
probably there will be partitions of grouping amongst the 
inhabitants ; and so long as human nature varies in indi 
viduals, so long they will league themselves together in a 
variety of disparate groups. But in and through each aspect 
and branch of life there shines the faint light of an idea greater 
than itself : each nation in its own conception has ennobled, 


perfected, and rounded off the circle of its life : and through 
its limited actuality it has given expression to an idea much 
grander (because really infinite and eternal in its aspiration) 
than its framework would let us suppose. 

We turn to some of the great historical societies of the 
world to illustrate how their moral idea is rooted in their 
principle of community and takes a special form according to cir 
cumstances. Let us begin with the people of Israel. There are 
two things about that people which at once strike the stranger : 
its Law r and its God. In history there have been codes and 
laws, ancient and modern : nowhere perhaps has a nation been 
so wedded to its law, and that law so grand, as among the 
Hebrews. The very life of the later Judaism is based upon 
its law : a law not in the modern sense only, but a complete 
guide of life, moral as well as political. And that law the 
law of God the God of the nation. Then, as never else 
where, a community felt itself the especial favourite, and 
therefore the more than ordinarily obliged subject of the 
Lord of universal life. And that Lord was finally regarded 
as commanding c to do justly and to love mercy ; to let 
judgement roll down as waters, and righteousness as a mighty 
stream to set right the oppressor, judge the fatherless, 
plead for the widow/ The good Jew therefore had his 
undoubted temptations to national pride, because he was of the 
chosen people, and to attachment of excessive importance to 
the letter of the law ; and by these temptations he fell. But 
in his idea he was greater than in his performance. He and 
his nation was the servant of Jehovah/ the servant i. e. of 
him whose revelation lay in the law of mercy, righteousness, 
and truth. That is the truth which Judaism reached at its 
point of highest development, and which it has handed down 
for all like-minded in after ages. We have sneaking proverbs 
amongst us, to the effect that Honesty is the best policy, and 
that God helps those who help themselves. How much 
grander the confidence of the Jew when he says, Thou hast 

iv] DUTY 


loved righteousness and hated wickedness : therefore God, thy 
God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy 
fellows/ For all humanity the Jew has expressed the faith 
that the path of the just, the wise, the merciful, is the path 
that shineth more and more unto the perfect day : that it is 
the path traced by the stars in their courses, the law of the 
world. Some say the moral law is only a human concern, 
perhaps even a human and temporary convention. The Jews 
had seen it in another light. There were days in their history 
when they had thought their God concerned mainly with 
incense and with offerings. They learned otherwise, as one of 
their later teachers says : Thus saith the Lord of Hosts, the 
God of Israel, I spake not unto your fathers concerning burnt 
offerings and sacrifices : but this thing I commandeth them, 
saying, Hearken unto my voice, and I will be your God. . . . 
Trust ye not in lying words, saying, The temple of the Lord, 
the temple of the Lord are these : but if ye throughly amend 
your ways and your doings; if ye throughly execute judge 
ment between a man and his neighbour, if ye oppress not the 
stranger, the fatherless and the widow, . . . then will I cause 
you to dwell in this place 1 . 

Let us next turn to the Greeks. Here the circumstances 
are altogether different. In Palestine, an isolated people, 
hardly holding its own between the great powers of the 
Euphrates and the Nile, a little enclave in the desert of Syria, 
clings firmly to its national unity and its national God, and 
sees itself a royal nation, with a sacred law : and when it 
sinks from its height, still clings to its legal obedience, still 
maintains its isolated place. In Greece, a people open to 
influences from all hands, and spreading in all directions into 
the adjacent lands : a catholic and versatile race, but a race 
which had broken up into scattered communities, and which 
had advanced beyond the patriarchal into the industrial and 
civic age. Here the characteristic form of society is based on 

1 Jer. vii. 4-6, 22. 


the existence of an aristocratic order, a class of organizers and 
rulers, removed from the necessity of daily toil in all its 
severity, and yet not far enough removed to be made idle 
and luxurious. They are just so far above want as to be 
released from its terrors, and their minds are still free and 
vigorous., open to all the curiosity of the child, eager to under 
stand and ready to enjoy. In the age of Greek history which 
gave rise to this ideal the Athenian could boast : <<AoKa- 
\ovfjiv p.T VT\ias. To us at the present day art is a costly 
thing. "We pay our best painters paltry sums : and when 
they are gone, we lavish thousands on the picture-dealers, 
professional and amateur, who have speculated on their works. 
The great artist of Greek antiquity found his customer in the 
community : but it was a customer who worked w T ith him, 
and with whom he was in sympathy. 

What governed the member of such an aristocratic class in 
his conduct ? The idea of his class, no doubt, its opinions, 
and judgements. But who were that aristocracy ? Not, as 
in modern times, a select few, far beyond the common level, 
nor a crowd of rich, possessed of something far exceeding 
the common means. They were a great body of citizens, of 
various grades, but not separated by the great gulfs of modern 
society, members of some town, small as judged by modern 
standards. Theirs was a select opinion, unquestionably, but 
not so select as to be strikingly narrow. It was freed from 
a depressing utilitarianism, one which is careful about imme 
diate and vulgar utilities : and could give itself up to those 
higher and wider utilities, which are not of the moment, but 
for ever. Hence the standard was the beautiful. The 
beautiful means to the Greek a great deal more than it 
does to us : more of an ideal and less of a mere sensuous 
quality. Of all the powers which can act upon a people to 
inspire morality perhaps the yoke of this is the lightest. And 
yet even here the standard is not purely subjective. The idea 
of beauty grows up in the consciousness of the community 

iv] DUTY 


and under the stimulus of an environment. But it is as it 
were in a region above the law, not something required, but 
something freely given for the sake of the thing s own grace. 
And so, in the days of Athenian greatness, the spirit which 
animated men to do great deeds was not sense of gratitude to 
the state, so much as a desire to keep up the consciousness of 
high and noble achievement. The word was virtue rather 
than duty. People did not realize that to do all they could 
do was after all only what was required : they aimed at dis 
tinguishing themselves by adding some new glory to their 
common mother, by raising higher the name of the common 
wealth. They fancied themselves glorified in and through 
their country, which did not stand as a sovereign over them, 
but as the expression of their best activity and to be carried 
further by fresh energy. Their loyalty is tvvoia : not devotion, 
but good will : and their ideal of a community is one where 
all are free and equal, and where to rule and to be ruled are 
always alternating. 

Turn to another epoch of the world, the Middle Ages, 
when out of a general disturbance of relations order is slowly 
establishing itself in the world. Countries that had gained 
some measure of industrial and intellectual civilization, but 
had failed to organize themselves otherwise than for purposes 
of taxation, are overrun, and, as the phrase is, conquered by 
tribes of semi-barbarians headed by some chief. The chief, 
wjio merely owes his authority to his warlike supremacy and 
his control over those who have banded under him so as to 
win power and substance, is gradually turned into a monarch, 
and his chieftains or captains into so many rulers of provinces. 
It takes a long time before the mere warrior learns that he 
has other duties than those of plundering strangers and 
enriching himself. What violence has gained can only be 
maintained by further violence. Hence the old feudal barons 
and their men in the tenth and eleventh century are brutal 
and barbarous : they live in a world full of strife, treachery, 

y 2 


cruelty, and they flourish by their fitness in these arts. But 
it was only an uncomfortable sort of survival after all : the 
conqueror was miserable in his conquest. And alongside of 
him there was an order protesting against murder, against 
bloodshed at first even against soldiering in every shape. 
But the church, gradually departing from this strictness, 
which Augustine had maintained, had come to express a 
toleration of war, if war was just. Partly through Chris 
tian teaching, partly through the common protest for mercy 
and gentleness, which cannot long be altogether absent 
where human hearts beat, a change had come over the view 
of the soldier s work. Chivalry appeared as the fair flower 
and spirit of feudalism. The latter had been hereditary: 
knighthood could only be acquired by steps of probation and 
showing one s self worthy of the post. How it first grew up 
one cannot tell. Elle naquit d elle-meme/ says one author. 
Or like the Romance order of architecture, elle est nee 
partout a la fois, et a etc en meme temps I effet naturel des 
memes aspirations et des memes besoms. It was founded on 
the German usage of pledged allegiance to a leader, but it sub 
stituted allegiance to a moral ideal. And it appears as a full- 
grown institution in the Chanson de lioland (1066-1095?), 
i.e. it is always more of an ideal than an institution properly 
so called. It was the sacrament, baptism, consecration of the 
warrior. He was still a soldier, but his sauvagerie had 
become prouesse ( nul chevalier sans prouesse ), and he 
had added < courtoisie/ The knight of the crusading epoch 
was no doubt bound, first of all, to fulfil the divine law 
( essamplir la loi Dieu ): he was presumed to be loyal to 
the Christian faith and to the Church: and in his special duty 
of courage, he was expected to let the unbelieving Saracen 
feel the weight of his arm. 

One of the greatest defects noticeable in certain philo 
sophers books on Morals is that they confound the duties 
(devoirs) with the virtues, or that they give names of virtues 

iv] DUTY 325 

to simple duties : so that though, properly speaking, there is 
only one virtue, the love of order, they produce an infinity of 
them. This puts confusion everywhere, and so embarrasses 
the science of ethics that it is hard enough to see clearly 
what one ought to do to be a good man (homme de bien). 

It is evident that virtue ought to render its possessor 
virtuous : and yet a man may discharge his duties, may do 
with ease acts of humility, of generosity, of liberality, without 
having any of the virtues. The disposition to discharge this 
or that duty is not properly speaking virtue without the love 
of order. When a person discharges his duties, he is virtuous 
in men s eyes. But a man is not always such as he appears : 
and he who never fails in the outward duties of friendship, 
except when the order, which alone is our inviolable law, 
prevents him, though he may sometimes appear a faithless 
friend, is truer and more faithful, or at least more virtuous 
and more amiable, than those excited friends who sacrifice to 
their friend s passions their relatives, their life, and their 
everlasting salvation. 

Virtue then ought not to be confounded with duties, on 
account of the conformity of names. That deceives men. 
Some of them imagine they follow virtue, though they only 
follow the natural inclination (penchant) they have to perform 
certain duties : and as it is by no means reason which guides 
them, they are actually vicious to excess, when they suppose 
themselves heroes in virtue. 

Malebranche, when he thus writes in his Trait e de Morale 
(1684), is instructive both by his approach to Kant in doctrine 
and his divergence in terminology. Though he is barely consis 
tent in his use of terms, and sometimes himself interchanges 
the duties and the virtues, his main contention is that duty 
is the mere act what falls in the eyes of men the visible 
conformity to requirement, which may be done for any 
motive, and is mostly done in response to our inclinations, 
our humours, our imagination. It is only when these 


outward acts are done through the promptings of the love of 
order/ of that e immutable order/ the inviolable law of all 
intelligences and of God himself/ a willing subjection to the 
universal system of reasonable truth. (For to be animated 
by the love of order is to be guided by reason.) But as it 
needs a e very grievous sort of labour to be guided by reason, 
men renounce its direction, and abandon themselves to the 
easier direction of imagination, to vague and confused ideas, 
rather than make the effort to get clear and distinct ones. 

Examples of duty and of dutiful conduct may be found in 
every sphere of life. But for some purposes one may see 
what duty involves, what the sense of duty can prompt and 
how it may mislead, if one takes a case conspicuously set 
forth before all men. A convenient hypothesis reigns among 
many of us who are not kings that they are given or have 
been given to take duty lightly : that their life is one of 
pleasure and pleasure only. A common ignorance and a 
commoner envy lead us to look at the high and mighty ones 
of the earth with unfair eyes. We try them by a sterner 
standard than common men. Our feeble imagination enters 
but slightly into their difficulties and dangers. We expect 
them to be made of harder stuff than ordinary, and we allow 
nothing for extraordinary temptations. In modern times 
when so many direct rivals of kings exist in the shape of the 
vast army of the uncrowned king s of journalism, monarchy 
fares but badly in the balance of public opinion. This self- 
complacency by which we thank our stars that we are not 
even as these princes is a little Pharisaical. Let us see how 
once on a time a king found his inspiring principle in the sense 
of duty. 

If we were to call Frederick the Great, king of Prussia, 
a hero, some people might object against his right to the 
name. To hear them, the term is only applicable to an 
ideal, a blameless king. Not so was the word used : not so 
ought it to be used. A hero is far from being a perfect man. 

iv] DUTY 327 

He is a man who in some one or more aspects of conduct 
rises above the average level, and resists fears or temptations 
which ordinarily are victorious. A single gallant act may 
justify the name, even though other weakness come to cast 
a shade over the glory. So we may speak of Frederick as 
a hero, and not the least of them, if also not rising to the 
utmost heights of heroism. He had fallen, we may say, on 
an unpicturesque age, a humdrum and commonplace time. 
Yet for that reason he may the better serve as a model for 
common imitation. He represents upon the throne the general 
tendency of the eighteenth century : the mixture of science 
with utility, the reduction of science to human enlightenment 
for bettering and beautifying life. It is the spirit of Lord 
Bacon s philosophy : that knowledge and art should justify 
themselves by ameliorating the estate of man. With Frederick 
that philosophy ascended the throne. 

In 1739, the year before he became king, he had finished 
his Anti-Macchiavel (which appeared in 1740 anonymously). 
It professes to be a criticism of the Prince of Macchiavelli. 
The great Italian who wrote it spoke the language of an age 
when treachery was universal and tyranny and falsehood 
had corrupted all. But he spoke it with the view that, in the 
aim of reuniting Italy into one state, and casting forth the 
strangers who preyed upon it, no terms should be used and no 
quarter should be given. It was the desperate device of 
a patriot who, when his country s interest seems to demand 
it, calls out that no compact, no right, no duty, shall stand 
in the way of realizing his aspirations for independence. The 
cry is a mistaken one, but one can at least sympathize with 
the end, and pity those whose desperation seems to justify 
to them such means. But Macchiavellism came to mean 
something else. It came to mean that a government, in order 
to preserve itself against internal and external enemies, need 
be held back by no claims of right or principles of duty. In 
the holy duty of asserting legitimate authority of sovereigns 


the subjects were to be treated by the reason of state, i. e. 
cajoled, deceived, and if need be imprisoned. Macchiavellism 
was another name for political Jesuitry. 

Frederick had grown up under two influences, which com 
bined to mould him into a man unlike the average sovereign 
of his time. On the one hand he had been a scholar of the 
philosophy and literature of his age : he had learned to admire 
Wolff, and was devoted to Voltaire. From the former he 
learned the principles of liberal and reasonable morals and 
politics : from the latter a wide humanitarian culture. 
Wolff taught him to reason the principles of conduct : 
Voltaire taught him to rise superior to the narrownesses of 
superstitious religion. He gathered, in short, the ideas of the 
reforming and liberal thinkers of his time, both in their 
constructive moderation and in their critical flippancy. And 
for a while it seemed as if he were going to lose himself in 
the life of a dilettante and amateur in literature. But he 
had grown up under another rule which, though he spurned 
it at the time, left profound traces. His father was 
intellectually of little breadth of view, liable to fall into 
pedantry and bigotry ; but under these excesses there were 
concealed the sterling qualities of punctuality, dutifulness, 
willing service to the country he ruled. And one is glad to 
know that Frederick Wilhelm before he died was known by 
his son to be a true-hearted father to his people, doing his 
duty to the full measure of his knowledge, even if that know 
ledge itself was small. 

Frederick, so influenced, was not likely to accept the 
ordinary Macchiavellism. He was indeed no believer in the 
virtue of either kings or common men. Le gros de notre 
espece est sot et mediant. Tout homme a une bete feroce en 
soi/ The human species when it is left to itself is brutal, 
ferocious, and barbarous. And what men in general are, 
sovereign princes exhibit in a more conspicuous way. Between 
man and man, in short, there are no hereditary distinctions. 

iv] DUTY 329 

Everything/ he says,, would be lost in a state, i birth were 
to carry the day over merit. Le prince doit etre sans cesse 
attentif a ne distinguer que le merite personnel, et a ne 
temoigner que du mepris pour 1 opulence sans moeurs et sans 
vertus/ Birth is only a chimera, if it is not sustained by 
merit/ Les hommes, ce me semble, sont tous d une race 
egalement ancienne. He protests therefore against the view 
common amongst his contemporaries, that a king s subjects 
are only meant to be the ministers and instruments of his 
ill-regulated passions/ 

A prince, on the contrary, should realize that ce rang dont 
ils sont si jaloux (leur elevation] n est que 1 ouvrage des 
peuples/ Hence the sovereign is strictly the representative 
of the state : he and his peoples form only a single body. 
Far from being the absolute master of the peoples under his 
dominion, he is only le premier domestique/ A sovereign 
prince est le premier serviteur et le premier magistrat de 
Fetat obliged to act with probity, with wisdom, and with 
entire disinterestedness, as if at each moment he ought to 
give account of his administration/ Thus the true glory 
of the rulers consists a remplir les devoirs de leurs charges, et 
a repondre en tout a Pintention de ceux qui les ont revetu 
de leur pouvoir, et de qui ils tiennent la grandeur supreme V 

The general maxim of government is this : La base de ces 
systemes (de lois, politique, &c.) doit toujours etre relative au 
plus grand bien de la societe/ The sovereign thus becomes 
a far-seeing and kindly householder. He must direct his 
conduct by a prudent estimate of the common need. Tout 
souverain attache au bien public est oblige de se pourvoir de 
magasins abondamment pourvus, pour suppleer a la mauvaise 
recolte et pour prevenir la famine/ He will have specially to 
realize to himself the needs and difficulties of the poor. Le 
souverain doit se souvenir de Fetat du pauvre peuple, *se 
mettre a la place d un paysan et d un manufacturier, et se 

1 Consider, s. le corps polit. de I Euvope. 


dire alors, si j etais ne dans la classe dont les bras font le 
capital, que desirerais-je du souverain ? 

In his own view he was born for the arts/ and it was, as 
he once puts it, chance which decreed that a philosopher 
should sway the sceptre. From the battlefield he yearns for 
the time when he can reason with his friends sur le vide 
et sur la nullite de toutes les choses de cette vie/ But in the 
true spirit of the Stoic, he corrects himself: II faut prendre 
Fesprit de son etat/ For, as the Stoics had long ago recog 
nized, it was not every day, if it was anywhere short of the 
ideal world, that the sage could perform a Karop0a>/ma, 
a thoroughly right and successful action, a deed of perfect 
virtue. More essential was it that he should know how to 
deal with ra KaOijKovra, i. e. with the requirements of his post 
and situation, as they severally came upon him in life and 
demanded his energy. And Frederick feels that he is born 
a prince, and is only anxious to realize all the requirements 
of the post. Thus though he confesses to the Electress of 
Saxony that, if the choice had been his, he would have pre 
ferred the quietude of private rank, the remark is only one of 
those imaginations of the great may-be. His real conviction 
is that Fliomme n est pas fait pour etre oisif : il faut qu il 
s occupe a quelque chose, et qu il ait toujours pour but le bien 
de la societe/ A good citizen is a man who makes it his 
inviolable law to be as useful as is in his power to the society 
of which he is a member : and as a type of the citizen who 
does his duty in the narrow circumstances of an artisan, the 
king depicts his shoemaker Heinhart. 

On what principles does the king found this morality ? Not 
on what is ordinarily called religion. * L/amour de nous- 
memes, Thumanite, la nature enfin, nous retient et nous 
retiendra plus que la religion/ Of religion his view is that 
it consists of two parts, a superstitious and fabulous element, 
and, on the other hand, a moral creed necessary for the 
maintenance of society. Of the former he is contemptuous, 

iv] DUTY 

33 1 

he sees in it little better than falsehood and deceit ; but he 
is hardly prepared to admit that all orders of society can 
dispense with the necessity of such an admixture. It is 
otherwise with himself and the selecter souls who have got 
enlightenment. For, according to Frederick, the interests of 
morality can be benefited only by the spread of sound 
knowledge. Le meme esprit qui donne le gout des sciences 
porte ceux qui Font a remplir exactemeiit le devoir/ 

The first principle of all action, he says after the Stoics, is 
self-interest. But it is the special province of education to 
give a true and enlightened view of self-interest. Always la 
plus grande et essentielle partie de ^education est celle des 
mo3urs/ But whereas to the great mass this teaching is by 
precept or catechism, by example, and above all by the inter 
mingling sanctions of religion, in the enlightened mind the 
teaching must be a fuller revelation of the intimate ties 
which bind things together. How individual and general 
interest combine Frederick does not clearly explain. They 
act reciprocally : La societe doit faire notre bien, et nous 
devons travailler reciproquement a son avantage/ In his 
letters against the political indifference of the Epicurean he 
lays it down that to the country which has done for him 
everything he owes a thorough and absolute gratitude. Sains 
piM ica is his supremo, lex. Whatever his country needs he will 
cheerfully yield : if its interest bid him renounce a treaty with 
another nation, then that renunciation will be made. His 
principle of duty he professes is much the same as that of the 
gospels. Ne faites aux autres/ he says in 1776 in a letter to 
the Electress of Saxony, que ce que vous voulez qu ils vous 
f assent: ce principe renferme toute la vertu et les devoirs de 
rhomme envers la societe ou il est place/ It is in short the 
principle of reciprocity, and, as it stands, it is in need of 
some support from the idea of the. unity through which the 
reciprocity is made possible. 

For him then self-interest is identified with labour for the 


benefit of the community. I have a people that I love/ he 
says. I must bear the burden which lies upon me. I must 
remain at my post/ We see that Frederick envisages 
his ideal under the form of attachment to the State, as 
the highest earthly realization of his conception. He has 
a religion ; it is a pure theism : not very dogmatic or firm, 
any more than are his views on the immortality of the soul, 
or on the freedom of the will. On all of these points, which 
in earlier years he had been so ready to discuss, his attitude is 
rather that of an aspirant hope and craving for the ideal s 
realization than that of a firm belief. He falls back therefore 
on reasoning to justify his faith in virtue : but after all that 
faith itself is its own best justification. The utility of virtue 
is such a noble utility as does not admit of a single and ocular 
demonstration : and only appeals to those who, as it is said, 
aiment la vertu pour Pamour d elle-meme/ Hence in his 
epistle to Keith (1751) he represents himself and his friend 
as one of those who cherish a disinterested love of virtue : 

<Le bion du genre humain, la vertu, nous anime ; 
L amour du devoir seul nous a fait fuir le crime : 
Oui, finissons sans trouble et mourons sans regrets, 
En laissant 1 univers comble de nos bienfaits. 

This sense of duty is his constant consolation. It is the gift, 
he says, of philosophy which, as he put it (1760), was the 
staff on which he stayed himself, his support in adversities. 
In calmer times he aimed at combining the inclination to 
be happy with the claims of duty. He would be at once 
Stoic and Epicurean. Pour moi, he writes to his sister 
(Oct. 7, 1747), je suis heureusement desabuse de cette passion 
(ambition); j ai cuve le filtre qu elle m/avoit donne, et je ne 
songe qu^a ecouler d une fa^-on tranquille les jours que le ciel 
me depart, de profiter du plaisir sans en abuser, de faire tout 
le bien que je puis, et d abandonner Fen-cur, Fastuce, et la 
vanite a ceux qui en veulent etre les dupes/ But in the 
darker days of the Seven Years War he falls back on the faith 

iv] DUTY 333 

in duty. Thus he writes to Voltaire (July, 1759), l J aime 
& etre heureux autant que qui que ce soit. . . . Quoique je 
desire tous ces biens, je ne veux cependant pas les acheter par 
les bassesses et les infamies. La philosophic nous apprend 
a faire notre devoir, a servir fidelement notre patrie, a lui 
sacrifier tout notre etre/ As he had said on his accession, 
Fai cru que depuis la perte de mon pere je me devais entiere- 
ment a la patrie/ so he writes to d Argens (1760), vous 
devriez savoir qu il n est pas necessaire que je vive, mais bien 
que je fasse mon devoir/ And again (1768), il faut que mon 
corps et mon esprit se plient a leur devoir. Faire le bien 
c est un devoir que tout homme doit remplir selon ses moyens/ 
So (in 1759), je vais mon chemin : je ne fais rieii centre la 
voix interieure de ma conscience/ It is not necessary that 
I live : but quite necessary that I do my duty. 

Thus in January,, 1757, he left instructions that, if he was 
captured by the enemy, not the least account was to be taken 
of his person, or any attention be paid to what he might 
write under imprisonment. So in the liaisons de ma Conduite 
Militaire, I have held it my duty to render account to the 
state and posterity of my position and the grounds which 
determined me. . . . When the question is about love to 
country, I challenge the whole world for rival, and to these 
sentiments I will stand fast to the last breath of my life/ 
Our life, said his testament (written 1/69), is a long passage 
from birth to death : during this span of life it is man s chief 
end to work for the weal of the community he belongs to. 

The cardinal or essential trait of the moral consciousness is 
the control of some feeling or feelings by some other feeling 
or feelings/ says Mr. Spencer *, such subordination being of 
course conscious, i.e. being what is called self-restraint. But 
if it be a conscious relinquishment of personal for general good, 
such moral self-control presents features which may be pro 
duced by several external motives, by fear, (a) of a visible ruler; 

1 Data of Ethics, 113. 


(b) of the general opinion of society ; (c) of an invisible or 
supernatural ruler. All of these sanctions of duty, the 
political, social, and religious,, as they are usually called, 
bring about results which are apparently identical with 
those of the properly moral self-control, of the self-control 
fully and strictly so called. According to Spencer, they are 
at first co-extensive with and indistinguishable from moral 
self-control: i.e. it is impossible for us to penetrate into the 
inside of an action, and say definitely what principle prompted 
it. Further, he adds, the socio-political and religious or 
sacerdotal controls are preparatory to the moral, which evolves 
under their shadow or protection, and only finally emerges, 
after a course of social evolution, as an independent principle. 
These non-moral controls of action, again, are essentially 
coercive, i.e. they have joined with them the thought of 
external coercion, and are based upon or refer to certain 
extrinsic, incidental, or factitious consequences, generally evil 
consequences. The dictates of moral self-restraint, on the con 
trary, have a perceived rectitude/ or an essential propriety ; 
they refer to the intrinsic effects of the acts in question. 

Thus in the conception of duty or obligation the sense of 
restraint or control has a double source. The one is a certain 
coerciveness or compulsory quality, due to the extrinsic effects 
of the socio-political and the sacerdoto-religious sanctions. 
This element is obviously, thinks Mr. Spencer, of only 
temporary value a feeling due to transitory circumstances, 
which will fade away, when these other restraints have done 
their schoolmaster work, when the Law has prepared the 
ground for the Gospel. The other element in self-control is 
the superior authoritativeness of the representative or more 
complex feelings, of the ideal feelings, as compared with 
the simple sensations and appetites. Those feelings which 
are representative or ideal, which are concerned with indirect 
rather than immediate effects, and with effects general rather 
than with effects special, have on the whole, by their own 

iv] DUTY 335 

character, and still more by the influence of tradition, educa 
tion and experience,, a preponderant authority over mere present 
impulses or sensations referring" to immediate gratification. 
But here too,, as moralization increases,, the sense of authority 
diminishes : whereas originally we feel in our immediate pro- 
pensions constrained, as VTT^KOOL or subjects of the ruling 
(apX^v) reason or general feeling- ; as we grow more morally 
self-restrained, the sense of restraint disappears in a o-^^coyta 
or ofj.6voia between the two orders of feeling, so that they fall 
naturally and normally into one harmonious tone or utterance. 
In that ideal state of consummated morality, the essential 
trait of the moral consciousness will itself disappear : there 
will be no conscious control or subordination of feeling to 
feeling or, in commoner language, of passion to reason but 
the very possibility of discord will have been removed. Thus, 
as we may conclude, the end or consummation of morality is 
to be absorbed, to render itself unnecessary: at its moment 
of perfection the antithesis in which it lived will disappear 
and be merged in a complete unity. 

The first point which calls for examination in this sketch 
of moral progress is the commencement. The moral idea 
appears (according to Spencer s account) at first in a sort of dis 
guise, so mixed up with the company of the socio-political and 
religioso-sacerdotal controls, that it is indistinguishable from, 
and co-extensive with, them. Gradually it emerges from this 
subjection into the place of an independent principle, only 
however in the close to disappear and fade away in the efful 
gence of the blessed life of the ideal or absolute social state : 
a state so constituted that man s spontaneous activities are 
congruous with the conditions imposed by the social environ 
ment (p. 275), and that the remote pleasures have been made 
in all their force immediate. Now that moral self-control has 
in all ages been mixed up with external controls, is a fact 
so palpable that perhaps none will dispute it. But when 
we ask the relation between these various controls, and the 


explanation of their authority, some divergence of opinion 
may appear probable. Or, in more general language still, we 
may ask, what is authority and how does it stand related to 
coercion? The answer to these questions is that authority in 
its proper and original sense does not imply compulsion and 
constraint, but rather a priority of origination and superiority 
of idea. Authority originally belongs to those whose voice 
was foremost, whose thought was rapidest, whose energy 
was most effective. The socio-political sanction is in its 
origin the influence of the pioneer, the leader, the earlier and 
abler. So only without factitious aids could it have esta 
blished itself. In other words, it rested originally on identity, 
on solidarity of view and interest between the ruler and the 
ruled. Apx?? i g essentially authority of the pioneer or com- 
mencer. But no less unquestionably and inevitably this 
rightful sovereignty, this natural and normal apiaTOKparia, 
takes on less pleasing characters : and it does so by the opera 
tion of the family principle. The leader hands down to his 
sons the superiority which he owed to nature and reason, as 
a gift passing by inheritance. Then the mischief begins, when 
the natural basis of authority is gradually replaced by mere 
imposition and force of inertia. When authority rests upon 
tradition upon what was, but is not, or even when a judge 
ment is accepted a second time merely because its author had 
found acceptance before then it rapidly passes into the false 
position of an extrinsic director, an arbitrary and coercive 
influence. That all authority degenerates into such a com 
pulsory force, may with a certain propriety be admitted : but 
no less it should be maintained that before it could become 
degenerate, and as a necessary backbone even to support its 
occasional and frequent acts of degenerate character, it must 
possess a general acceptability of leadership, a strength 
derived from its being the interpreter and spokesman of 
a public sentiment. Before the king could impose a violent 
restraint in arbitrary ways, he must have acquired the intelli- 

iv] DUTY 337 

gent confidence of the majority; and before the priestly 
power could wield the superstitious instincts of a people in 
crafty ways, it must have gained what authority it has by 
the work of the natural instincts of the people themselves. 
When Othello is charged by Brabantio with stealing his 

daughter s affections by drugs, and charms, and conjurations 

for how else could 

A maiden never bold, 

Of spirit so still and quiet that her motion 
Blushed at herself 

how could such a maid fall in love with what she feared to 
look on ? the accused succeeded in convincing his judges 
that the only witchcraft he had used had owed all its efficacy 
to the fact that that seeming-quiet maiden had subdued her 
heart and consecrated her soul and fortunes to her lord the 
Moor. So it is with the control of the visible ruler, the 
invisible ruler, and the general social pressure : they are not 
originally superimposed upon an unwilling people, but are the 
objectification of tendencies and ideas inherent in that people. 
It is the natural result of the way in which the mind regards 
phenomena and interprets the sequence of cause and effect,, 
in other words,, of the ruling ideas that it imports into its con 
ception of natural processes that a religious authority arises 
in this world to represent the dicta of the invisible world. 
The king and ruler is made such ultimately by the willing 
suffrage of those who obey him, and ceremonies often keep up 
a memory of the original process long after it has ceased to be 
a reality. 

Such is not Mr. Spencer s view of the philosophy of history 
or of the law of sociological development. That process he 
reads apparently as consisting in the preliminary existence 
of a military to be followed by the dominance of an industrial 
age. This view, which seems to repose largely on the super 
ficial aspect of the change from mediaeval to modern Europe,, 
can hardly stand a close inspection. It is a strange delusion, 
i- z 


fostered in part by the different form in which modern war 
presents itself, and partly due to hasty inferences from the 
exceptional circumstance of Great Britain. Industrialism and 
military life are not separated in this gross fashion, any more 
than egoistic and altruistic impulses. Far from being sepa 
rated, they are constantly united in their development. The 
industrial type of each is reflected in its military type, and 
the latter reacts upon the former. The organization of 
industry reappears in the organization for war, and the fact 
that one is industrially engaged is no reason why one 
should not also perform military functions. In a primitive 
community all have certain industrial functions, even the 
women and children : and similarly all are obliged to perform 
their part in war. As civilization advances, some are excluded 
from direct participation in industry, and the same applies to 
the service of war. In the modern world both industry and 
war are practised on more scientific principles : i. e. they are 
more socialized, carried on by great companies, systematically 
organized and not liable to the casual arid intermittent phases 
they severally used to display. 

It is possible no doubt to imagine that the modern world 
should surrender its local patriotisms, its national prepossessions. 
Instead of the inhabitants of a certain coast or valley seeking 
to get the best market for their peculiar produce and trying 
every means to oust their rivals from the supply of that 
produce throughout the world, we may fancy to ourselves 
a general federation of states, which should organize the trade 
of the world in such a way that every district would have its 
speciality of produce, and would receive in return for its con 
tribution a proper and proportionate share in the other articles 
making up the total production of the world. Thus inter 
nationally the principle that each shall produce by labour 
according to his faculties and shall receive for consumption 
according to his wants, would be established, say, at first for 
Europe. But such a consummation, not to mention that it 

iv] DUTY 339 

would only make the situation worse for externals, is some 
thing- toward which we see no tendency ; to which, indeed, 
the fierce recrudescence of nationalism within the last half- 
century runs entirely counter. When every country of 
Europe is wag-ing- an internecine industrial war through the 
savage continents and the islands of the Pacific, it is a curious 
thing to commend the age for the growing superiority of the 
industrial over the military spirit. The modern form of 
industry and trade gives a wider range to the weapons of war. 
What we see, and are likely to see in the future, is a keener 
phase of the struggle for existence between nations. No 
doubt by the constitution of modern states, which has afforded 
a certain sphere of comparative security, a rapid extension of 
industry has been made possible : and the few states, or the 
one which was able to take advantage of the situation thus 
produced, have had a fine time of it for a little while. But 
as the numbers of competitors have increased, the profit has 
rapidly waned. Each nation is forced to discover rude and 
unknown markets, where it may for a while extract an ex 
travagant rate of profit. Its whole aim is to make immediate 
gain, and in doing that it cares not one whit what may come 
next after it has left the scene. The European commercial 
world is doing on a grand scale what the Arab ivory and slave- 
trader does in a more forcible way in Africa. He looks only 
to immediate returns, and in an attempt to secure them he 
wastes recklessly the materials of wealth. Every European 
country is tending more to depend for the substantial 
necessaries of life on the barbarous parts of the globe : and 
retains its supremacy only by a certain control of the 
mechanical arts and practical technology. But these are 
easily transferable in this age of mechanism, and when 
that transformation is accomplished, the countries of modern 
Europe will find themselves face to face with a difficulty 
which they have not previously encountered. 

To return then to the views of Mr. Spencer with regard to 

z 2 


the evanescence of duty, an idea which is due to the coercion 
of political and religious authorities, and which tends to disap 
pear with the advance of civilization, we may say that, as 
he himself admits, it is not of the essence of morality, which 
means free self-restraint or self-control. The mere coercion 
of external order does not generate a moral act, but only an 
act which in its outward aspects can hardly be distinguished 
from it. The laws, as Aristotle said long ago, speak about 
everything : they bid us do all the acts which are the character 
istic performances of the good man in each department of life. 
The visible, the invisible, and the indefinite (or mob) ruler 
extend their voice and decree over all that a human being can 
do. And the majority of the world, as we found Malebranche 
saying, are apt to confine their view to these requirements. 
Nor, if we look facts fairly in the face, have we any reason 
to suppose that this coercion is becoming less and that the 
individual is gradually accommodating himself to the environ 
ment. It is true that in some places phenomena point in that 
direction : but they are hardly such as make one long for the 
ideal of society when the sense of legal and social compulsion 
has ceased. Mr. Bryce has described what he calls the 
1 fatalism of the multitude * : meaning thereby the loss of 
resisting power, the diminished sense of personal responsibility 
and of the duty to battle for one s opinions, which disposes 
a minority and an individual to submit without the need of 
a command, to spontaneously renounce its own view, and to 
fall in with the view which the majority has expressed 1 / 
That, however, is not what Mr. Spencer means. For beyond 
this mere mechanical moulding of the individual as an un 
resisting unit or member in the social mechanism, he directs 
his view toward an ideal society, where each has become his 
own government and supplies his own ruler. In such a case 
obviously coercion is needless; each naturally and normally 
does what is right and finds pleasure in it. But hardly any- 

1 American Commonwealth, iii. 127. 

iv] DUTY 34I 

where are there obvious tendencies to realize this complete 
independence of the righteous individual. Rather everywhere 
the yoke of social and political and religious coercion seems to 
continue, though it may occasionally change its aspect. Till 
the possibility of crime has been eradicated from human 
nature, we may spare our attention to the details of this 
evolutionist utopia. 

There is somewhat more to be said on the second point in 
his doctrine of the evanescence of the sense of duty or 
obligation, namely, his view as to authority of conscience, 
the moral imperative of duty. Authority and obligation, as 
Butler long ago maintained, naturally belong to the prin 
ciple of reflection or conscience *. Judgement, direction, 
superintendency is a constituent part of the idea of con 
science 2 . As a principle of reflection, it is manifestly superior 
to a mere propension. So, according to Spencer, the repre 
sentative, complex, and general feelings possess a superior 
authoritativeness, as compared with simple sensations and 
appetites. How they get this is not very clearly explained, 
but he seems partly to claim acceptance for it as a self- 
evident truth. Partly also he would accept Darwin s view, 
that the sense of duty is caused by the felt contrast between 
a higher social instinct or acquired character and a mere 
natural and original instinct. But this is again to revert 
to the explanation of authoritativeness from coercion or ex 
ternal pressure. And in that direction there seems to be no 
hint of any explanation of the word higher/ if that be 
taken as something different from mightier : or of the idea 
of authority as distinct from coercion which after all means 
only an application of strength or power. And, as Butler 
remarks, there is an essential difference between mere power 
or strength and authority : between superiority de jure and 
de facto. 

Now Spencer does appear to acknowledge an inherent or 
1 Preface. 2 Ser. ii. 


intrinsic superiority as an element in moral self-control^ 
which fact self-control he regards as the basis and essential 
trait of morality. But he has a strangely hesitating way of 
approaching the fact. The feelings have authorities/ he says, 
( proportionate to the degree in which they are removed by 
their complexity and ideality from simple sensations and 


THE hedonist school lays down that the end of all action is 
to attain pleasure, and, indeed, to get the maximum of pleasure 
or of enjoyment. We profess, no doubt, it is said, to seek now 
for this, and now for that object : for health, wealth, power, 
knowledge, of ourselves and of others; but in reality the 
secret aim, at the root of all this variety of professed goods, is 
pleasure. For surely, it is urged, it is obvious that whatever 
we do, we do because we believe it will afford us satisfaction : 
and satisfaction is only another name for pleasure. Or, to 
follow the language of James Mill : Desire is only another 
name for ( idea of a pleasurable sensation/ It is this idea of 
pleasure and nothing else which originally and really sets the 
will in motion. By degrees, it must be owned, we get into 
the habit of speaking as if we desired not pleasure, but the 
things which bring the pleasure. But this is only a figure of 
speech, which has grown upon us by association, but need not 
deceive us. 

Now in this there seems to be a nest of confusions. One of 
them, which is comparatively simple and not equally obvious 
in all languages, is the identification of will and pleasure. Td 
est notreplaisir : the Latin placet and bene placltum are similar 
instances. With it may be compared the use of the Greek 
e8oe and boy^a rrjs TroAecos to express not an intellectual 
opinion, but an imperative resolution. The lesson to be drawn 
from all such language is, that in real life the psychological 


abstractions of quasi-independent faculties are not treated with 
much respect. We may for our own purposes distinguish 
between the intellectual, the emotional, and the volitional ; 
but none of these exists really without some tincture of the 
other. The human intellect is not a dry light, but suffused 
with a strain of passion. The will has no real existence, 
except as containing an intellectual conception. We have 
allowed ourselves to be over-influenced by the ideal separa 
tion of different faculties. Above all, the intellectual classes 
and they naturally are chiefly engaged with the present 
problems are apt to forget that books are not life and 
reality, but only the reservoirs in which the materials of life 
have been stored up, dried food, so to speak, or goods in tins. 
They confound a vast and always increasing stock of words 
and formulae with an actually realized enjoyment and posses 
sion of ideas. A great deal of our scientific stores is, like the 
works of art in our museum and galleries, in the shadowy 
state of the ghosts in Hades which need to drink living blood 
before they can communicate their message. The average in 
tellectual, i. e. bookish, life breeds in those who come under it 
a habit of treating words as we do the coinage ; never realizing 
that in every coin are represented and embodied the labours 
and the means of enjoyment of real human beings, that 
ro fuo-^a is only T/rraAAay/xa TTJS \peias. But the central con 
fusion in the whole statement is the hypostatizing of pleasure. 

And that in two stages : first it is treated as xwpicrroV n, as 
a something independent, existing per se : this is the fallacy 
of the transcendental ist, who invests the forms of our thought 

I and sensibility with an existence as things. Secondly, it is 
treated as a series of sensible objects TO. TroAAa ^5ea : 
pleasures are spoken of as so many kinds or individuals : 
this is the fallacy of the vulgar, who tend to identify 
a quality or characteristic with the particular things 
which ordinarily or habitually manifest that characteristic. 
The victims of the first fallacy treat of Pleasure, with 



a capital P ; and if they do not, as they are very liable to do, 
take the further step of personifying- their pleasure, they at any 
rate fail to realize the essential relativity of the notion. By 
that relativity is meant that pleasure is simply the sense of 
a correspondence between the agent and his surroundings, or 
the sense that a movement initiated by the organism has not 
gone off at random, but has, as it were, returned and con 
verged in the organism as its end. Pleasure is not another 
thing beside life, but it is the sense of life, and in par 
ticular, of life as a process of outgoing or differentiation, 
immediately transforming itself into the obverse process of 
in-going or redintegration. In health and vigour these two 
processes are almost synchronous, and certainly inseparable : 
the activity which is put forth is not spent on some ulterior 
end, but immediately reverts into self, is at once apperceived 
and realized in the self. At other times there is a long in 
terval possibly between the forth-putting and the ingathering. 
The distinction between the two cases is rendered by 
Aristotle as that between tvtpyeia and yevco-is. The latter is 
activity of which the end or fruition is outside itself : it is 
work done under direction, and having its issue or result in the 
future. It is not being, but a coming to be : it is aAAov eVexa. 
Such is the life of business in its do-xoAia, plagued as it is 
with the hope of an end or consummation yet to be reached. 
It is the TrpaKTiKos /3tos, if 7r/)ais is taken in its narrower 
sense as negotium, the antithesis of o^oA??, as the action of 
one who has set his aim, his goal, in the future. But in the 
wider sense of 77pafi9, in which it is equivalent to tvtpyeia, the 
activity is self-realization, fruition as well as action, not 
merely Trpafts in the limited acceptation, but also 0ea>/na. It 
was indeed a tendency of the Greeks, fostered by their political 
and social condition, to find such tvepytia more especially in 
cr^oA?/, and to identify it with Staycoy?}, that activity which is 
so little of an effort that it is little beyond the tranquil easy 
consciousness of life passing on, like the ceaseless rippling, 


glittering, and whispering of a brook over its pebbly bed, or 
like the tofaepov ye Aa^a of the waves breaking gently on 
a sunny shore. But whether we take Mpycia after the calmer 
mood of the Greek, or the more energetic of the modern, it is 
essentially not action which is, so to speak, commanded by 
a power outside it, and directed to a foreign end, but action 
self-initiated and self-enjoyed. If we may believe the writer 
of the seventh book of the Nicomachean Ethics, the Platonic 
school attempted to get from yeWis to htpyeia. by describing 
the latter under the title of a yeWo-is <foe/A7ro8i(rros : an activity 
which was free and self-contained, released from subjection, 
and attaining its natural end. They added, however, that 
the yeWts in question must be aitrfqn? : i. e. the activity 
must be a felt activity, must be consciously apprehended as 
free or self-realizing energy. This is a point to which 
Aristotle himself returns in the tenth book. There we get 
a sort of supplement and correction to the view of ev8*u/xoz>fo 
given in the first book. Happiness had been there defined as 
tvtpytLa ^vxys, and it might be said that if the activity is 
psychic, it must be self-conscious activity. But this is 
hardly correct for the standpoint of Aristotle whose whole 
tendency (in accordance with what we may call the pre 
vailingly objective character of Greek philosophy) is not to 
regard happiness as consciousness, but rather as a function 
of the self, a form of the mental life, a realization rather 
than a possession, but without any special emphasis on the 
purely subjective side. This subjective element, however, 
comes out, though still very imperfectly, in the statement 
that pleasure has special connexion with alo-Orjcris and TO 
alo-dav6p.i>ov } that it is tv rtj evepyeiq, but rather as a super 
vening consummation (t-niyiyvo^tvov n reAos) than as a faculty 
which can consummate : i. e. rather as a natural resultant 
which action puts on to crown itself, than as a special power 
which itself yields that consummation. It is the unbought 
and unbuyable grace of life : the electric spark, as it were, 

v] HEDONISM 347 

which flashes out at the point where the outgoing- line of 
action returns upon itself and is just completing- its redin 
tegration with self : it is the consciousness that the object, 
which is presented by natural causes, or which we have 
ourselves produced by an act of will, is in harmony and co 
operation with the subjective conditions and forces of life, 
which reveal themselves in our voluntary agency. 

It follows from this examination that pleasure is no sub 
stantial or independent entity, no object per se : but, as the 
Stoics called it, an eTriyewTjjjia, a sort of surplusage, like the 
striking of the clock, which may keep equally good time 
whether it strikes or not. Of course this does not mean that 
pleasure is not a real or important element of consciousness. 
As Aristotle long ago remarked, pleasure is the sign or 
symptom of self-realization : the witness that an action is 
not done for external motives, but that it is the exhibition of 
a efis, i. e. of a faculty which has been made part of the 
original self, has been in short acquired or made our own 
second nature, if it was not our first. Pleasure, or as we may 
now call it, satisfaction, means that we have attained our end : 
it is not itself the end. The idea of pleasure, which Mill 
speaks of let alone the doubtful use of the word idea means 
the idea of ourselves pleased, i. e. of ourselves attaining the 
object of our effort, the idea of ourselves satisfied, of ourselves 
self-realized. Such an idea is not an invariable presence in 
consciousness. In cases where the self-realization has its out 
going and its incoming moment in immediate juxtaposition, 
where indeed the one is at every instant becoming the other, 
where action is pleasure, there is no previous idea of pleasure, 
no anticipation of it in faint consciousness to compensate 
us for the reality which is as yet absent. The statement, 
indeed, that the idea of pleasure stimulates to action, is on 
a par with its converse doctrine that it is present uneasiness 
of desire which determines to voluntary action. 

Deeper than pleasure and pain are the stimuli themselves, 


the impulses, appetites, or natural propensities of human 
nature. These are the various aspects in which the great 
fact or process of life is partially and in detail represented. 
That great fact or process may be described as a process of 
metabole, with its two sides of anabole or katabole : or in 
plainer language, life is the continuous ridge or acme of a 
double process, which consists, on the one hand, in the assimi 
lation of material or in the acquisition of matter to realize 
its formative powers, and, on the other, in the rejection 
and disintegration of the formed material as soon as the 
process of formation is completed. Life, in short and this 
seems the essential thing to remember is the process, and 
not the product. It is not, as has sometimes been said, the 
correspondence of inward changes to outward changes, or the 
correspondence of a moving equilibrium within to another 
without. It is the inferior half of a truth to say that life is 
adaptation to the environment : rather where life is, the 
environment is adapted and assimilated, employed in the 
service and for the realization of formative energy, or, in 
other words, to body forth that molecular movement up and 
down in which life as a physical fact or process consists. 

But life, more and more conspicuously in proportion to 
the visible complexity of the organism which it inhabits, is 
parted up into a number of partial processes of self-realiza 
tion. These initial movements, which we call impulses and 
appetites, are the primary details, the several exemplifications 
of the great movement of life. With regard to the large 
number of them, impulse and actualization go hand in hand, 
with little gap or interval. The impulses which find vent in 
exercise of most of the organs, such as those of sense, are 
to some extent of this character. It is different with the 
appetites strictly so called : and it is in problems connected 
with them that ethics is strictly concerned. There the forth- 
putting of energy has to be undertaken for a remote end. 
\\ork, labour, in short becomes necessary to procure the 

v] HEDONISM 349 

means of satisfaction, to complete the circuit. And so we 
are again confronted with the distinction between work and 
play : the latter being activity which is immediately felt 
and found to be at harmony with the self, and thus directly 
pleasant, whereas the former does not immediately carry its 
own fruition with it, and is therefore either neutral, or, if 
contrasted with some possible direct pleasure, may become 
decidedly painful. 

As so regarded, the impulses fall into two classes; one, 
in which the pleasure is normally immediate, the other, in 
which the pleasure is only to be found at a greater or less 
distance. On the one hand are the impulses craving imme 
diate exercise, on the other the appetites of hunger and 
thirst, which demand not so much exercise as satisfaction or 
repletion. The former are tendencies to expend or explode 
what has been acquired; they are processes of katabolism. 
accompanied with liberation of energy. The latter are 
tendencies to acquire and assimilate, to concentrate and 
unify ; they are processes of anabolism, gathering up energy 
and embodying it in structure. The two must go on simul 
taneously, and the ideal of human life at this stage would 
seem to be reached if the expenditure of energy from 
muscle and nerve could be so arranged, that the individual 
was able to appropriate the amount of material goods re 
quisite for the maintenance of his own being and well- 
being. It would be a legitimate development of this idea 
if we were further to suppose that a social group might 
be constituted, of such a magnitude and such elements, 
that the parts of the total product, needed for the main 
tenance of the whole group, should so be distributed amongst 
the members as to make the work of each at once socially 
useful and individually pleasant to the agent. Such was 
the ideal of society formed by Fourier. But it is tolerably 
evident that, although by wise arrangements something 
might be secured much better than our existing society, 


the realization of the conversion of all work into play 
can only be treated as an ideal- the greatest possible approxi 
mation to which, however, remains the duty of the social 
reformer. No organization will ever make labour cease 
to be trouble: but probably a great deal more might be 
done by organization to make it a labour in which delight 
is taken. It is no great curse to be obliged to gain one s 
bread by the sweat of the flesh, or the toil of the brain : 
but it is a curse when the sweat and the toil do not bring 
the bread, or even when they bring it, not as a direct fruit 
or remote result of the toil, but as a supervening some 
thing, attached to it by a social mechanism of which the 
recipient understands little, and for which he entertains little 
faith. And to reverse this state of affairs is a problem which 
cannot be solved by any reduction of hours of labour, but 
which will require a training in the mechanism of the social 
organism such as few have yet dreamt of. 

But to return. Before pleasure emerged, impulses and 
appetites had sought their way to actualization. They had 
found it by natural channels, by the outlet of energy, i.e. 
in those ways which opposed least resistance to its expendi 
ture. Similarly the appetites had learned the matter required 
for stilling their demands, learned it. no doubt, by a course of 
irregular experiments. In the next stage, however, we see the 
clearer emergence of the idea of pleasure as an element in 
the business. Man thus passes from the stage of instinct to 
the dominion of intelligence. He came into the world with 
tendencies and impulses for which he is not responsible, with 
a complicated living organism, which is ultimately a system 
of opi^aL appearing one by one, and appearing first of all by 
the action which they spontaneously initiate. That action 
reveals to him his own nature, at least in its elements, in 
partial or fragmentary aspects, as they occasionally occur. 
And so he has offered to him at least a pathway of escape 
from the immediate and utter subjection of action to impulse. 

v] HEDONISM 351 

So long 1 as impulse, fortuitously appearing, spontaneously 
works its way to realization, one is no more in control of it 
than the savage is of the flood and the hurricane. But once 
consciousness represents to reflection the whole range of 
the spontaneous movement from the first dim uneasiness of 
impulse to the final stage of satisfaction, and does this for 
impulse after impulse and satisfaction after satisfaction, two 
or three consequences are entailed. In the first place, the 
idea of a satisfaction of impulse and appetite takes its place 
as an initiative of movement. It is a misinterpretation of 
this when James Mill defines desire as an idea of a pleasurable 
sensation/ The misinterpretation consists in treating a plea 
surable sensation as an independent object. Of a pleasurable 
sensation as such, there can be and is no idea. What there is 
and can be an idea of, is a definite kind of action, an indi 
vidual phenomenon, which will give, as it is believed on 
experience to have given, satisfaction. It is the idea of 
a definite pleasure, meaning by that the idea of a definite 
event, occurrence, or thing which was found pleasant. It is 
not then an abstract pleasure, not even an abstractly pleasurable 
sensation i.e. a sensation which is pleasant and nothing 
more but an objective and definable fact, which has been 
found to be a realization, a furthering and perfecting of some 
one side of what we know as our self. The idea of a 
pleasure means the idea of a pleased self, and that again 
means no general or indefinite ego, but the real ego or per 
sonality of a particular moment, generalized perhaps, but still 
perfectly determinate and precise. Desire then is and is not 
of pleasure. It is the desire of pleasure, if pleasure be under 
stood to mean not a general something which is pleasure and 
nothing else, but a specific object which by its correlation 
with some aspect of the total organic being has acquired the 
attribute pleasant. 

One more remark on the phrase idea of a pleasure as equiva 
lent to a desire. This conception goes along with that manner 


of psychology which was first made familiar by Hume, and 
has since been reproduced by Mr. Spencer. That is the dis 
tinction of mental facts or phenomena into two orders, a fainter 
and a more vivid, not separated by any hard and fast line, but 
still sufficiently apart to warrant us in regarding the distinction 
as important. It is partly like the old Aristotelian distinction 
between Mi-apis and evepyeia : partly like that between mole 
cular and molar movements : between latent process and per 
ceptible change. At a certain stage movement fails to be 
detected by the unaided senses ; at a further stage it escapes 
the notice of our most accurate instruments of research, while 
it is still pursuable by our inference and logic to further 
depths. So, according to the psychologist, our mental states 
or exhibitions of mental (psychical) action have a variety of 
grades, from their first grosser reality as actual impressions, 
vivid sentiencies, to their finer and more imperceptible reality 
as ideas, the distant echoes or images of these stronger exci 
tations; and finally to the stage of apparent quiescence or 
latency, the stage of what may be called by the somewhat 
contradictory name unconscious idea/ or idea latent in con 
sciousness. Such ideas, of satisfactions emerging by some 
accident from their latency, find themselves occasionally re 
inforced by the circumstances of the moment, when these all 
point decidedly in one direction : and they are developed to 
a still greater extent, when through innate want of energy 
or absence of other external stimuli, the whole soul is allowed 
to dwell and fasten on that single image. Such overmastering 
impulses, due not to the idea of a pleasure, but to the idea of 
an action with which satisfaction is imagined to be intimately 
involved, are the natural experience of the untrained and 
undisciplined young, of the barbarian in all societies, and 
attain their worst exhibitions perhaps in the ill- disciplined 
and ill-proportioned minds of those who by a sudden revolu 
tion have gained imperial position. Of the first Napoleon, says 
M. Taine : Chez lui,, aucune idee ne demeure speculative et 

v] HEDONISM 353 

pure : aucune n est une simple copie du reel, ou un simple 
tableau du possible : chacune est une secousse interne qui 
spontanement et tout de suite tend a se transformer en acte. 
And Taine explains this absence of self-control, not merely by 
the fact that the emperor was tout imagination, but by his early 
upbringing in an island, where the administration of justice is 
a farce, and where the public opinion bestows a frank admira 
tion on well-laid ambuscades and successful acts of treachery. 

But it is by this same faculty of guiding- his course by ideas 
of pleasures that the voluptuary is generated. The voluptuary 
seems to be a victim of reason and imagination. The animal 
is comparatively safe because of his defective range of in 
telligence. But the human being, at a very early stage of 
civilization, or rather in very low levels of barbarism, soon 
learns to misuse the motive power of ideas, and begins to seek 
for pleasure over and above what comes in the normal and 
average performance of function. Idleness and want of varied 
interest are the great parents of intemperance, and the savage 
is fully qualified in both respects. He knows nothing of the 
discipline of labour, and nothing of the other ideal discipline 
which gives a man ideal interests, public aims, social plans to 
pursue. And what is true of the savage, is repeated in some 
measure by the gangs of vagrants and tramps in modern 

A more dangerous development, however, judged by its 
ultimate effects, is seen in the voluptuary proper. He is 
generally, like the tramp and the beggar, a product of a highly 
civilized society ; i. e. a society in which the construction of a 
well- jointed and secure form of social institutions and the estab 
lishment of a solid and safe property system have been carried 
to their height without any corresponding growth of the sense of 
moral solidarity, of public duty, of general human fraternity. 
For such an one the regulative influence of normal work -has 
been removed, and has not been replaced by any zeal for ideal 
ends or common good. He becomes not a seeker for pleasur- 

A a 


able sensations in general, but a very close approach to that 
creation of abstraction. Not pleasure in general, but the greatest 
possible variety and multiplicity of pleasures is his aim. In the 
pursuit of art, he is the dilettante who sips only the honey 
that can be got from the selected flowers. In science, his 
range is measured by what he finds interesting, what gratifies 
his taste, or personal whim. But above all his motto is to 
extract pleasure from as many sources as he may, to turn 
everything if possible into a cause of pleasure, and, if that be 
impossible, to surround himself as far as he can with a well- 
arrayed system of materials, out of each of which as they 
revolve around him he may get its quota of enjoyment. 

That such an art of pleasure is altogether illegitimate it 
would be wrong to say. Under the common name of volup 
tuary hasty thought is apt to confound two persons altogether 
different. Or we may say that there is a true and a false 
Epicureanism. The false Epicureanism makes the acquisi 
tion of versatility of pleasure-taste and the accumulation of 
a stock of pleasure-means an aim in itself, or for the ultimate 
enjoyment of the agent. But within proper limitations, 
Epicureanism may present itself as the effort to make the 
setting and framework of human life free from unnecessary 
jar and fret, so as to leave the energies unimpaired for higher 
and better work. We are told by Mr. Spencer that pleasure- 
giving acts are life-sustaining acts/ and every pleasure 
increases vitality, and raises the tide of life. Both of these 
propositions, as Mr. Spencer well knows and subsequently 
admits, are misleading, because we are not yet in that social 
millennium, where actions are at once and simultaneously 
completely right and completely pleasant. In the world as it 
is, a great deal of readjustment is required before mankind 
can trust the guidance of their emotions, or of their sensations l . 
And this adjustment is not merely, as the author seems to 
suppose, between mankind and the social state ; it is equally 

1 Data of Ethics, p. 99. 

v] HEDONISM 355 

an adjustment needed in the organism of the individual man. 
Except on the idea that the organism is a perfectly normal 
one, exactly adjusted in every detail, the pleasure which 
results from an action is no sure indication of the life- 
sustaining or vitality-increasing qualities of the said pleasure. 
We may almost go so far as to say that there is a pleasure 
which is a sure symptom of imminent death : the satisfaction 
which is felt when the morbid structure is so thoroughly 
pervaded by disease that the sense of struggle and dispropor 
tion vanishes in an ease which is the forerunner of collapse, 
But in general we may say that, in an organism which is 
liable to partial disruption of continuity of function, and 
where each part in turn usurps the prerogative of the whole, 
there may be a great variety of pleasures which, far from 
attesting the health of the whole, only attest the private 
convenience of one organ, and which, though they raise the 
tide of life in a one-sided way, really do so at the cost of other 
parts, and thus depress the general vitality. Such usurpations 
of language which applies only to the ideal and normal man 
in whom every part performs its function in due subjection 
to the common function, without any tendency to separation 
or isolation of life are utterly inappropriate and perilous 
when applied as a guide to the more or less abnormal 
creatures which the great mass of humanity are. Let us 
keep ideals and normals in their place as standards of 
perfection, and remember that each actual individual has 
always a problem of his own which cannot be settled by 

We are on safer ground if we adhere to the negative pro 
position that every pain is evidence of incongruity between 
the part and the whole organism, and between the whole 
organism and its circumstances of life. We may even say 
that pleasure is evidence of a congruity somewhere, but 
for practical purposes that proposition is of little value. It is 
a poor consolation for one dying of some organic disease to 

A a 2 


know that at a certain point there will be such harmony 
established between the diseased centre and its immediate 
surrounding s that he will feel a great ease and calm. Nor, 
again, when we are told that, if the actions are life-sustaining, 
the pleasures which they bring with them will be life-sus 
taining too,, do we learn anything of very much value as 
a guide of life. If you are a normally constituted human 
being in a normally constituted and thoroughly adapted society, 
you may be pretty sure that your pleasures are all on the 
side of normal and ideal existence : but only an irrational 
optimism will treat that hypothetical idea or principle as 
a presumption to be taken for granted in actual life. 

And yet on the other side it is to be remembered that the 
influence of pain and pleasure is not a simple or plain matter. 
Here again facts force us to abandon the general lumping 
of pleasures under one abstract category. To the popular 
apprehension at any rate it would seem evident that some 
pleasures enervate and others stimulate : that some pains 
benumb and others fire with zeal. Mr. Spencer on one 
occasion seeks to prove his point by pointing to the effect 
of what he calls good spirits * on work and play. It is 
but a loose style of argument which can put ( good spirits 
as an equivalent for pleasure, or low spirits for pain. A 
deal of mischief is done by this fancy for levelling away 
all distinctions, so as to be able to point out pleasure here, 
pleasure there, pleasure everywhere, and then get a simple, 
uniform principle. In short, if a general law of duty is 
complained of as giving but a poor light in difficulties of 
moral detail, a general law of pleasure can hardly escape 
a blame for the same fault. 

So to return to our Epicurean with the good heart, in 
bonam partem. He is one who has learnt that a great deal 
of vice is due to the pains of misery : who has observed that 
every irritation and vexation which befalls a human being 
tends to remain in his inner consciousness ready to burst 

v] HEDONISM 357 

forth on the first available object, however innocent. There 
are hundreds of troubles which are not of importance enough, 
or are too much part of a portentous system, to be got rid 
of by a bold act which takes up arms against them and 
by opposing ends them. Pains that at once awake activity 
to overcome them are not unmingled evils. The others, 
which we dare not or cannot treat with these vigorous 
reprisals, are the bane of life. The sufferer feels as if he 
had a general grievance against the world and humanity, 
sometimes even against God : and unable probably to charge 
the offence on a specific cause, he discharges his irritation 
on those who are nearest and ought to be dearest to him. 
Some such evils come through the organization of society; 
and the individual, feeling himself for the most part powerless 
to remedy the mischief by direct action, is content with, as the 
children say, passing it on, and probably with some interest 
added to the principal burden. But other such irritations 
come from causes less amenable to social agency : to the 
effects of an overheated and ill-ventilated room, of an ill- 
cooked and ill-compounded meal, of malarious locality, of 
tasteless and aggravating furniture, of ill-pitched voices, 
of misfitted articles of apparel, of discordant colours, and 
so on. The Epicureanism which for itself and others seeks 
to abolish the causes of these pains, is a noble Epicureanism. 
No one need suppose that, when these are removed, the world 
will be a paradise of lotus-eaters, where it is always afternoon. 
When these curable evils are removed, there will be plenty 
of real evils still, and as the eye is no longer pestered by the 
mists which always accompany a fretful atmosphere, it will 
see work to be done in directions hitherto unsurmised. 
Before the brotherhoods who aspired to live a religious life 
could settle down to their task, it behoved them to clear away 
the thorns and briars, which less wise ascetics might have 
kept in hand to torture themselves withal. 

It follows then that though ethics must be concerned with 


pleasures and pains,, the problem for it is, first, to determine 
what are the right or true pleasures and pains, and secondly, 
to consider the means by which these may also be the actual 
pleasures and pains of the individual. Every activity, be 
it bad or good, may have its pleasures : and according to 
the general verdict of hedonist writers, the only distinction 
between them is one of quantity, however variously in 
detailed methods that quantity may be estimated. Now, 
of an individual it might be true to say that in a deliberate 
choice between two or more courses of action his choice is 
due to a belief that the results, taken altogether, of the 
action i. e. the action taken in its full and entire range will 
give him more pleasure, or be more in accordance with and 
afford more satisfaction to his whole nature, than those likely 
to follow another course. But is this equivalent to the 
doctrine of a pleasure-tariff or pleasure list ? Can a general 
list of pleasures be drawn up, not confined to the estimates 
of an individual subject, but dominating the tastes of a large 
multitude ? 

That such a list can to some extent be made out would 
seem to be generally allowed: and if so, what implications 
seem to be contained in it ? To answer this question we may 
compare an analogous economic question. In the course of 
trade we find that prices are not fixed by the will of isolated 
individuals but by the chaffering and higgling of the market, 
i.e. by a process of offer (hypothesis) corrected by other 
offers, by tentative steps, which aim at arriving at the general 
or common estimate put upon articles brought to the mart. 
The ayopd, mart or guildhall, is the place of public and 
common resort : it is the scene of the respublica, the ground 
on which the KOIVUVLO. is actualized. The price is fixed by 
a social act an act not carried out artificially at one step, 
but, after the manner of natural processes, by a series of 
adjustments and readjustments. In some stages of society, 
it is true, the price is settled by a direct act of the organs 

v] HEDONISM 359 

appointed by the sovereign people. But any difference in 
method need not conceal the fundamental fact that the price 
and the value of commodities is settled by the whole social 
group, and settled by it not arbitrarily, but after comparison 
of the place of the given article in the systematic aggregate 
of social want. Price is fixed not by one man s demand and 
by one man s supply, but by the total demand and total 
supply in the social group to which they belong. It varies 
therefore with the fluctuations in the total social system. 

Somewhat similar is the tariff of pleasures. Each indivi 
dual has no doubt a standard of his own in these matters. 
Just as he has a stronger demand for certain commodities, 
so he has a bias towards certain pleasures. But his enjoyment 
of the latter, like his appropriation of the former, is not 
a matter in which he alone is concerned. If we set aside 
for the moment abnormal cases, we may say that all pleasures 
have a social element, and that they cease to be real pleasures 
except in so far as they are correlated to the consciousness of 
other men. The pleasures of ambition, power, love, sensuality, 
are complete only when they are responded to by the feelings 
of others. The pleasure of each therefore depends upon the 
social consciousness : i. e. upon the conception of life and work 
held by the common group to which an individual belongs. 
For that reason the quantity of pleasure in acts is measured 
in any group by the amount in which the activity, to which 
they are attached, is felt or believed to contribute towards the 
production of the common well-being or general comfort. But 
if we say common well-being, we mean well-being as deter 
mined not by a formal or official creed, but by the intrinsic and 
natural belief in the group and its members. We mean the 
actual conception of happiness which pervades the group : the 
governing ideal of TO ev r\v : the more or less systematized 
aggregate of actions and feelings which constitutes the contents 
of the idea of life for that group. The happiness which is thus 
put as a governing conception is again not a general or abstract 


conception. It may be vague in parts not sufficiently detailed 
but it is the strictly individualized and determinate conception 
held by a particular group, epoch, and people. The concep 
tion of EvScu/iozua implies, when fully wrought out, a hierarchy 
of activities and enjoyments, a systematic conception of life. 

It is built up, no doubt it may be said, of single pleasures, 
and these pleasures of the individual. So, it may be said, the 
total scientific conception of the facts of the world, alike in 
its more popular and its more elaborate phase, rests upon 
what are called single experiences, individual observations ; on 
what we may call in the last resort mere passing sensations 
of the individual. But, as Kant may probably be considered 
once for all to have demonstrated, human consciousness is not 
such a mere disjunct sequence in the single mind, nor such 
a mere otiose co-existence of conceptions in several minds one 
beside the other. It is true that Kant has mainly insisted on 
the fact that ours is a systematizing consciousness : that just 
as our alimentary system analyzes and builds up the mere 
aggregate of elements contained in a piece of food into 
a living organic fabric, so our intellectual and cognitive 
system, in its two digestive apparatus, called respectively 
sense and understanding, constructs the material of experience 
into that formed and systematized experience, which in its 
most formed and systematized degree we call knowledge or 
science. But we may carry Kant s argument a step further. 
Our consciousness is not merely a systematic organ in itself : 
but it is an integral part in the constitution of the general or 
common consciousness of humanity, in each of its various grades 
of association, up to the very highest and most universal. 

What is thus laid down implies that experience is a process 
of continual self-correction : first (if we may distinguish and 
treat separately what goes on pan passu), in the individual 
consciousness, secondly, in the collective or co-operant conscious 
ness, self-correction and self -adjustment. And that, because 
every patch and item of experience, every so-called single 

v] HEDONISM 361 

observation, and mere sensation is for the human being 
a self-extending-, self-asserting, and thus a self-universaling 
fact. Every single perception is a possible infinity : not a 
mere perception, but an apperception of itself, a self-appre 
hension; and that means, that it always carries us a little 
way, and sometimes a great way, beyond itself. The rudi 
mentary idea, just because it arises in a self-consciousness, 
has in it a little of the prophetic and anticipatory : it travels 
a little way into the unknown, it is not merely its bare single 
self, but is symbolic of a wider behind or beyond it. This 
anticipatory tendency, to round off the part into a postulated 
totality, to carry on the present moment into the future and 
thence back to the past, is the rudimentary or essential nature 
of human reason. It is the tendency to interpret the given, 
i. e. to see it not merely as it stands, but in its meaning, in its 
bearings, in its context and implications, in its generality. 
To interpret nature and thus to anticipate her next word 
is the fundamental function of man the ground-function 
through which both truth and falsehood alike become possible. 
Error arises when the process of interpretation and anticipation 
is abruptly or arbitrarily fore-closed at one step, or is carried 
too far at one step without due caution. Truth, on the con 
trary, can only be secured through a continual revision and 
correction of the idea or interpretation in the light of fuller 
data, which, put face to face with the already made accu 
mulation in idea and interpretation, have to unite in furnish 
ing out a fuller and more authentic symbolism. 

Let us apply this to pleasures. There also we begin with 
single experiences of individual souls, mere transient, isolated, 
and momentary emergencies of pleasant feeling, i. e. occasional 
perceptions that some act of our own, some circumstance about 
us, is in harmony and response to the needs- of our organi 
zation as a whole. But what is revealed to us of our 
organization as a whole in consciousness is not much at first. 
Yet we can certainly say that the mere felt feeling is never 

3 6 2 rss.-n s AV MORAL PHILOSOPHY [v 

left wholly uncorrelated with a little range of possille feeling 
around it : it makes us, as a pleasure, feel ourselves as pleased 

it awakes the vacant idea of self and gives it a real content. 

But the satisfaction which is awaked by an incipient idea of 
self, or rather which awakes such an incipient idea, is an 
interpretation : it has symbolized more than it actually is. 
"What we call experience, meaning the succession of circum 
stances that affect our lives and feeling s, conies to test such 
interpretations, and to be itself tested : for each such expe 
rience is itself to us interpreted, and will only be interpreted 
well, when it is taken in connexion with the whole available con 
text in our mind. Gradually there grows up a conception of 
happiness which is strong enough to impose itself as a regula 
tive on each aspirant to the title of pleasure. 

But that strength especially comes to it because it is not 
a mere isolated or individual idea, but is backed up by the 
power of a social consciousness, which has fostered it and 
brought it to maturity. And had the individual been reared 
and had his consciousness developed under a simple single and 
equal social influence, the domination of the social standard 
over his individual feeling would have been supreme, and 
monstrous in its autocracy. An illustration of what the 
dominancy of the social conception of happiness is, is seen in 
the manners, and as in this natural stage the distinction 
of manners and morals is at a minimum in the morals of 
savage races. There, we may say, the whole group is a toler 
ably uniform and homogeneous mass, well isolated from sur 
rounding and disturbing, i. e. variety-introducing influences. 
Hence the influence of rojuos is despotic, and even in the private 
consciousness there is apparently no sign of any rebellion or 
assertion of the rights of the individual. And something 
analogous is seen even at the present time in narrow self-con 
tained groups, little islets of opinion which manage to maintain 
their isolation in the general movement of currents to and fro. 
The possibility of individual freedom, i. e. of the divergence 

v] HEDONISM 363 

between manners and morals, comes with the contending claims 
of several groups, to all of which the individual belongs, though 
without falling precisely under any : or it comes with the 
appearance of divergences of sub-groups inside of the general 
uniformity. Such sub-groups are probably never wholly 
absent in any group, constituted of individuals so variable as 
men, and in circumstances so different as the world affords. 
But in some countries, e. g. in great expansive plains and small 
secluded valleys, the uniformity often becomes oppressive. 

Along with this variety of groups, within the radius of the 
same general circle to which the individual belongs, there is 
given room for variety in the social standards from which 
the individual gets his rule. He is still overpowered by 
social influences, but in the multiplicity of contending 
masters there is an opening for freedom. That such freedom 
should be complete it is necessary (i) that every aspect of 
human nature should find strength and support in some social 
institution, and none be left to languish in the merely indivi 
dual consciousness : (2) that these various institutions should be 
so co-ordinated and subordinated in an organized system that 
none can claim more than its due share of the individual life, or 
attempt to cancel the claims of other aspects. To secure this 
latter condition is the business of the State, which seeks to 
organize social institutions in such a way that it may be an 
exact reproduction of the whole tendencies of the whole man 
in their normal hierarchy and system. In such a State man is 
free, really free, i. e. not liberated from the social yoke alto 
gether, but liberated from its one-sided, fractional, and partial 
tyrannies, which are what make the social yoke intolerable. 
A false emancipation, on the contrary, is the withdrawal from 
the yoke of society altogether, or the pretence of withdrawal, 
which arbitrarily selects an agreeable environment, and leaves 
the rest to look after itself. 

Such is the perfect idea of human society, as it is secured 
in what has been called the free and less appropriately the 


democratic state. Man is essentially social : his whole develop 
ment is accomplished through social influences. But these 
influences,, if they took the form of the simple and uniform 
pressure of a homogeneous environment on the individual, 
would generate a heavy and retarding social tyranny. Even 
when they part into a variety of influences, working through 
their several institutions and associations on the individual, 
they tend, when left to themselves, to affect him unequally 
and irregularly. What happens is as follows. A variety of 
different ideals presents itself to the acceptance of the indi 
vidual. But they present themselves piecemeal and as it 
were by accident : not co-ordinated with each other on any 
plan, not referred to any higher principle. Life has become 
a chaos, amid which the individual, with what resources he 
may, is obliged to select some portion in which to work 
out his own function, leaving the rest to their confusions. 
In such a condition of affairs the political unity may exist 
in name ; but in reality it is only one amongst a number 
of contending principles of association, side by side with the 
religious, the economic and the educational principles. The 
true or reasonable State must be more than this. It must be 
supreme visible organization of all principles of organization 
whatever. With the invisible kingdom of art, science, religion, 
it cannot, even if it would, deal : in the region of temporalities, 
i.e. of materialized and tangible existence, the State is supreme 
not as a supervening domination, but as an indwelling 
organization. With art, science, religion, as such, as spiritual 
principles of human energy, the State has nothing directly to 
do : but wherever they appear as organizations, wherever they 
rise into materialized actions, there the State is present, not 
as something alien and antagonistic, but as the whole organiza 
tion controlling the eccentricity of the parts. 

Such a State is an ideal, but it is the supreme ideal of the 
visible development of humanity. Yet every State, so far 
as it deserves that name, has the ideal aim. Each State is 

v] HEDONISM 365 

in its measure the idea, or it is nothing : in so far as it 
seeks to afford to each of its members a common stock of 
goods, out of which they can individually derive the strength 
necessary for each, and yet seeks to present to each what he 
specially wants, not indiscriminately in a great aggregate of 
omnigenous goods, but in special organizations and institutions 
accommodated as far as is possible to all the existing varieties 
of human temperament and endowments. The State is thus 
in the best sense a socialistic agency, a system in which each 
finds his interest satisfied, in which each gains the appropriate 
scope for his outward development. But it should be added, 
while we are on this point, that the socialisting organization 
has been created and must be maintained by the persistent 
exercise of human function. The stock from which each takes 
what he needs for his private use, he must at the same 
moment replenish, and replenish with interest as well as 
principal. It is a wide-spread and constantly recurring 
fallacy that the State (TO KOLVOV) has an independent and 
self-subsistent stock of resources upon which individuals can 
draw at will. The fallacy was a natural one when the State 
was n ot when, as Plato says, it consisted of two antagonistic 
states, the rich and the poor, one of which supposed that it 
was solely entitled to draw on the civic bank, while the other 
had the less pleasing duty of keeping it supplied. But such 
an abnormal condition of affairs, when a community can 
for ages live by plundering their neighbours and foreign 
communities, or in which one class of the community makes 
the honey which the other will consume, cannot be made the 
basis of political theory, as distinct from the art of politics. 
In the ideal or theoretical State the common stock only exists 
in so far as the associated individuals produce year by year 
and age by age more than they spend. The produce of 
successful brigandage, whether in open war or in commercial 
rivalry, cannot be permanently reckoned upon as sufficient to 
compensate the absence of industrial habits of hand and head. 


Pleasure then is socially determined, just because the self 
is socially realized, i. e. realized by the help of a more or less 
complex social organization. Pleasures and pains, so far as 
ethics is concerned with them, are social pleasures and pains, 
not the mere natural organic accompaniments of psychical 
activity or susceptibility. These, of course, we have to begin 
with : they are the elements, the raw material, out of which 
the life-product, the finished works of the art of life, are to be 
made. The successive experiences of pleasures are part of the 
general experience of life : and as in all experience they partly 
help to build it up, partly receive correction from it. No 
single experience is infallible : it has to be confronted with 
the total idea as its critic, though it serves in turn to suggest 
a criticism of that idea. What experience thus helps to 
establish is a bulwark of sound judgement, of laws and 
general principles, which protect against any casual, desultory, 
and irregular inroads of experience. So in the case of pleasure, 
the total and collective experience (i. e. of the individual, as 
transcending his several moments, and as included in or 
enlarged by his social medium) corrects the mistaken judge 
ments or interpretations of early sensation. For, as has already 
been said, we live not as a whole at any instant, but by 
partial aspects and occasional flashes of sensation, here a little, 
and there a little. And each pleasure is the defined and indi 
vidualized pleasure of a moment of one aspect or phase of 
life. It reveals to us our own nature, but in a partial or frag 
mentary revelation : and it is only through a process of 
constructive comparison that we come to learn what we in 
a fuller and fullest sense are. Above all, the evidence of the 
social pleasures is given towards the doctrine of the social 
solidarity of human beings. 

Thus the general conception of human happiness will 
determine the character of the particular pleasures. They 
no doubt have served to constitute that conception, but in 
constituting it they have themselves been altered and shaped 

v] HEDONISM 367 

in adaptation to the total system. And the conception of 
happiness is, as Aristotle pointed out, a conception of activity 
and of activities : of life in short, as actualization, rather than 
of the pleasant consciousness which attends the actualization. 
As such it is objective, rather than subjective : rather some 
thing done than something felt, or, perhaps, something not 
merely felt but also done, realized, objectified. The dominant 
idea is thus not satisfaction, but self-realization involving 
satisfaction, and involving always a greater and greater 
degree of self-realization. The end is happiness : happiness 
is self-realization, but the self which is realized is not the 
mere self living a solitary life, but a self which, with varying 
grades of attraction, draws first family, then city, and lastly 
the whole human kind into the circle of its self-interest. 

Pleasure thus is useful as an index to the line of life ; yet 
taken singly it is not an infallible index, but one which calls 
for correction, first by an united and growing experience of 
the whole individual life, secondly by the coincidence and 
opposition of other pleasure-experiencers. To this point Plato 
directs himself in the Philebus. The crude positivist starts 
with the assumption that every sensation is true and real. 
A further process of reflection serves to show that to which 
these epithets are applicable is not the sensation as such, but 
the interpretation or implication which is given to it. But 
sensations when thus understood, as they must be in the case 
of human sensation, are not more true and real than they 
may be untrue and unreal. Their truth and reality comes to 
them from their implication and relations, i.e. from their 
connexion with a context. It is only by an ellipse of language 
that we speak of a single object as real : it is real only as 
part of a world in which it acts and suffers. So with 
pleasures. A pleasure is a species of interpretation an 
instantaneous interpretation generally of something as a 
constituent part and parcel of our life and activity : a per 
ception or rather a feeling of agreement or harmony, of 


adaptation of environment to self, and of expansion of self 
without loss in the environment. Such perceptions like all 
others may err, and may err persistently, as in the case of the 
stick seen to bend at its point of immersion in the water, 
or the square tower which at a sufficient distance puts on 
a round shape. The positive Positivist of course refuses to 
call this an error of perception : it is, he says, an error of 
judgement : as if there were any perceptions which did not 
include an act of judgement and rapid or latent inference, 
i.e. extension beyond the mere seen to the suspected. And, 
similarly, he will have it that every pleasure is an ultimate 
and irreducible real element, an ultimate brick of the set of 
bricks out of which life is made. There are no such ultimate 
bricks or atomic (i. e. irreducible and indivisible) pleasures : 
pleasures like other perceptions are what they seem, i.e. what 
they are thought to be ; and what has been called real from 
one point of view, is from another made unreal, i.e. is trans 
muted into another fact. Thus arises in the last resort the 
final or penultimate conception of life, which has been formed, 
not out of an addition of pleasures, but out of a testing and 
mutual correction of pleasures in the medium of experience ; 
where reason, acting on the broad field of time and space, 
through its synthetic powers builds up a world, a living 
world, not by putting piece to piece, but by that subtler and 
higher mode of composition which we may call metabolism 
and metaphorically illustrate by fire where the very mole 
cules and invisible organisms of each constituent are so 
amalgamated that the result is, as it were, the secretion, the 
distillation, the organic product of inorganic elements. Such 
a process of life is the form, idea, or standard by which all 
future experience of pleasures is dominated : just as the 
increasing bulk of scientific knowledge and the clearer con 
ception of fundamental laws and principle of physical existence 
come to dominate experience, and serve as a criterion by 
which alleged experiences of an abnormal character can be 

v] HEDONISM 369 

tried. It is true that neither in the one case nor in the other 
can absolute finality be attained. Not in science, because 
here the unexplored regions are still vast : new lights may 
throw into the shade much that is now approved, and the 
whole system of the physical universe is a moving- and 
advancing equilibrium, of which the sciences have only traced 
the contemporary form. Still we hold it probable that no new 
discovery will utterly destroy and annul the old, though it 
may cause its proud proportions to dwindle and to lose all 
independent place in the new palace of truth. Nor in 
conduct : it is perhaps too early to say that all the possi 
bilities of human nature have been exhausted and realized, 
and new ranges of human life may be made acceptable by 
pleasures hitherto unexperienced, so that the very centre of 
gravity of human existence will be displaced. Yet here too, 
probably, the lesson of the past is rather in favour of the view 
that, though there may be considerable alteration in the 
general arrangement, the main constituents of human life will 
retain a place not very different from what they now possess. 
Thus the moral and social control the physical : happiness, 
as a general idea of well-led life, of activities perfectly 
realized, lays down the law to pleasure in its individual 
appearances. The systematized totality, which is not a mere 
sum of pleasures, but the organic unity in which pleasures 
tend to become completely harmonious, is the standard and 
the measure as against the individual and the occasional. Life 
organized is the judge as against the several unorganized detail- 
performances of life. Happiness is the summum lonum as against 
the single or several pleasures. But the judge is after all only 
the 8ucuoz> t^v\ov, the law which, partly visible only in the 
several cases, becomes clear and strong in their organized and 
systematic grouping. It is not an alien authority, except in 
so far as the part claims an independence and sets itself out 
over against the totality and system to which it ought to 
belong; in which case the law appears as coercion, constraint, 



and compels obedience. And, further, happiness is a law only 
when and because it has acquired objective and permanent 
shape, because it is an habitual mode of life, a solidified form 
of action, an institution. Happiness must no doubt have its 
seat and centre in the breast : but it will not be happiness if 
it have not also a permanent visible objectivity. Only as 
such is it secure and real, protected against the dangers which 
attend isolated and individual pleasures, against individual 
recklessness and fluctuations. Thus the demand for happi 
ness, if it is not to degenerate into a mere clutching at 
a maximum of pleasures, and so eventually to contradict 
and destroy itself, must be regulated by the organization of 
human life, by its objective manifestation in institutions and 
modes of life. 

Such a conception of life in its entirety, in its full deve 
lopment, in its objective manifestation, in its organized 
systematization, is what the Greek philosophers understood 
by Nature. <>v(ns, says Aristotle, is the sum of existence 
regarded as containing its own rule and origin : it is the con 
stitution of the universe and of each thing in it, when that 
thing has attained the full completeness of its being: it is 
the normal and thoroughly adapted existence, that existence, 
as Plato says, which is not mere ovo-ia, or reality bare of 
organization, but the higher reality of the good which rises 
far beyond its phenomenal existence in power and glory. 
For Nature, to Aristotle and Plato, is not merely the 
sum of existence, but the organization and the organizing 
principle of existence, definable on the one hand as God and 
the good, doing nothing without purpose; on the other as 
the multitudinous realm of life and actuality in which all 
things work together. 

When the early philosophers spoke of tyvo-is, they regarded 
it, whatever might be their private diversities of interpreta 
tion, as a synthetic and organizing matter, principle, law 
a universal which transcended all the several particulars, 

v] HEDONISM 37 j 

though not itself another particular outside of them, but 
rather the centrality and unity of all principles and particular 
phases. It is the cardinal doctrine of Greek thought, as it 
is the inspiring principle of Greek practice that,, over and 
above the superficial differences and divisions which the con- 
ditionary forms of time and space force upon our appre 
hension, there is a unity out of which these differences can be 
explained, and by the gradual and fragmentary action of 
which they arise. Philosophy in fact consists in the effort 
to realize this unity to transcend these differences of detail, 
which to the impatient and non-persevering glance seem to 
be all. A partial philosophy, an imperfect culture, puts its 
own sense upon the cry, Back to nature/ It says, with 
Thrasymachus its mouthpiece, that the institutions of mankind 
are only the despotic devices of the few to avail themselves of 
the services of the many, or that moral rules are but arbitrary 
lines of demarcation breaking up and keeping asunder what 
nature has meant to be united. It infers that such institu 
tions and such rules will be discarded by the advanced 
thinker and the intelligent members of society/ If it is 
mildly sentimental in its love of unity and harmony, it may 
stop short at a half -mystical, half-sensuous absorption in the 
charm of undifferentiated and Adamic life, discarding the 
grosser forms of convention and bathing itself in an idyllic- 
complacency of natural sympathy. If it is more turbulently 
concupiscent, it seeks fiercer pleasures and more tyrannic- 
usurpations of the means of enjoyment. 

It may, indeed, be said that the exhortation to follow 
nature is for a moralist but a loose way of talk. The charge 
is one which may be equally brought against any of the 
general or abstract forms in which an ethical principle is 
couched. None of them in epitome are without similar dangers 
of misuse. And the abuse made by the Sophists of this phrase 
is only parallel to that which has been made by other 
moralists of other phrases. There is no one phrase, no one 

B b a 


idea, which is adequate to convey the content of morality, or 
ethics would have been settled long ago. As Plato remarked, 
the idea of good is at least composed of three distinct ideas : 
and Herbart has treated it as only completely constituted by 
the synthesis of five. 

But Plato and Aristotle with their Stoic followers, when 
they clung to the faith that good conduct consists in the 
life conformable to nature, explained what they meant by 
declaring that man s nature especially lay in KOIV&VLCL and 
Ao yos. According to Plato, human life is essentially com 
munity, because its economic needs cannot otherwise be 
satisfied. Without community none is secure of existence : 
only in a common organization can the individual life be 
guaranteed. Such a complete organization is the Kara (frvo-Lv 
OLKLa-Oflcra TTO AIS. But, as Plato goes on, he perceives that his 
principle changes its aspect, and what he began with as 0vo-ts 
reappears later as the idea TOV ayaOov. The difference in 
point of view is significant : it marks the stage at which 
Greek philosophy tends to emancipate itself from the con 
ditions of its time, and enters upon a line of thought where it 
comes into touch with the higher Christianity. That is, Plato 
was dissatisfied with the limitations of the conception Nature. 
Nature, he half feels, is blind, is neither this nor that, is all 
things at all times, is too much sunk in the immediate and 
fragmentary, and emerges too little as the ideal or spiritual 
principle; for this, though it appears in the visible and 
temporal organization, is yet never quite exhausted by the 
actual, but looks before and after, and is not merely the 
movement in time and space, but the eternal identity in which 
that movement is only a stage or phase. One can hardly say 
that in Plato this identity is a self-consciousness ; rather it is 
the permanent law or outline of movement which the several 
phenomena of the world partially reproduce, and which the 
philosopher after long preparatory study may learn to detect. 
It is the eternal ordinance and co-adaptation of things, which 



exists for those, says Plato, who can so train their vision that 
it no longer sees phenomena merely but penetrates to the 
truth of things, the ultimate and objective synthesis of the 
universe, the final laws, which determine man s problems in 
life and death. To us it would perhaps be otherwise con 
ceived. Some would hold it to be but a subjective synthesis, 
the mere effort made by the individual to put together for 
his aims and according to his preconceptions the elements of 
his experience. Others would rather note that the eternal 
ordinance must be conceived after the analogy of an eternal 
ordainer : as a self -consciousness which sees its own travail 
and is satisfied in the work, and which yet is also a -npovoia 
that transcends the actual and is the indwelling spirit of 
a continuous and intelligent self-adjustment. 



ONE great shortcoming of Utilitarianism was that, as 
K. Marx says 1 , it took the modern shopkeeper, especially the 
English shopkeeper, as the normal man/ But he that would 
criticize all human acts, movements, relations, &c., by the 
principle of Utility, must first deal with human nature in 
general, and then with human nature as modified in each 
historical epoch/ Bentham belonged to an unhistorical or 
rational age, it is said. Perhaps it would be truer to say that 
he represents a relative or comparative truth : the truth that no 
social institution, law, or ceremony can claim to be received or 
obeyed except in so far as it contributes to produce social wel 
fare. He is perpetually at hand therefore with his question 
Cui BOKO ? On his principles no rule can subsist in authority 
without being justified by its effects : all rules must be in 
harmony and co-operation with each and form a system. 
Hence his proposals for the reform of the law and its 

Secondly, Bentham taught that, when we say society or 
community, we mean only the individuals forming it, the 
community being otherwise a figment. Here also there was 
a truth ; but error, at the same time, had inserted the thin end 
of the wedge. The truth is, that the community has no 
universal or transcendent existence apart from its particulars 
(ra vor]Ta iv rots alaOrjTols). The error which insinuates itself 
is, that the community owes its existence to the conscious 
1 Capital, p. 622, Eng. tr. 


choice or option of these individuals : that they have made it 
of their own free will, and that at that will they can unmake 
it, and resume, if they can indeed ever be said to have surren 
dered, their independence. This, the common error of the 
century which culminated in the Revolution, is the error of 
Bentham, who inveighed against the rights of man. Hence 
the happiness of the community is only the sum of individual 
happinesses. And Bentham only avoids seeing the possible 
opposition between individual happinesses, and hence the im 
possibility of treating their relations in the state as expressed 
by a sum of addition, because he holds a .naive faith in 
the unforced accordance between public interest and rightly 
understood private interest. It is only in curious and excep 
tional cases, cases which wise precautions of legislature would 
render almost incapable of occurrence, that there will be any 
serious conflict between the claims of virtue or duty and the 
impulses craving self-satisfaction. 

But further, when Bentham is asked to explain the mean 
ing of Utility, or to what kind of human being certain acts 
or relations are useful, his answer is, To a being which can feel 
pleasure and pain. That is what man has been reduced to. 
The question which settles whether any thing is or is not 
a subject of ethics, is not, Has it reason ? but Can it suffer ? 
Can it feel pain and pleasure ? Thus all the reality of life, 
all its positive aims and occupations, sink out of sight and 
leave only the mere creature who can be managed through his 
two sovereign masters, pain and pleasure. But here Bentham 
is kept in company by more than one English writer, e. g. by 
Mr. Spencer. Pleasure is a necessary form of moral intuition/ 
Pleasure somewhere, at some time, to some being or beings, is 
1 an inexpugnable element of the ultimate moral aim/ Only 
that the later author is so far more careful, and means only 
that, had man not been a being subject to pleasurable and 
painful feelings, morality would have had no meaning. Thus 
instead of saying like Bentham that pleasure is all, we find 


him treating- it as a necessary form or inexpugnable 
element of: morality: a proposition which no school of 
moralists is concerned to deny, though there is great diversity 
of opinion as to the place where it conies in. 

We may perhaps better understand the position of Bentham 
if we compare him with Hobbes. Hobbes, too, begins with an 
assumed primitive normal man : but his eye is not so exclu 
sively bent on pleasure as that of Bentham s man. The 
great aim of the Hobbesian crude-man is power, predominancy, 
self-assertion. He is not content to suffer pleasure or pain : 
but would fain see the fruit of his soul s three great passions, 
desire of safety, of gain, and of glory. He is essentially 
a competitive, quarrelsome, active, and domineering being. 
Of course Hobbes got his man, as Bentham did, from the 
society round him : he stereotyped in an absolute and uni 
versal form the restless revolutionary man of the English 
revolution, as Bentham did the placid bourgeois type of the 
nation of shopkeepers, little anxious for glory, and watching 
only for comfortable ease. Neither type is fundamental man : 
and yet as on Bentham s man was built the conception of 
life which still lingers disconsolate in our Liberalism, so 
on Hobbes man was built the theory of sovereignty and 
authority which has been used at different dates to support 
the practice of absolute monarchy. 

Hobbes saw man in the stage of criticism, of transition 
from one system of life to another, in the agonies and 
struggle of a new birth. The feudal system of personal rule 
had been gradually centralized : instead of many feudal lord 
ships with separate subordinate jurisdictions there had been 
substituting itself, by a process which culminated in the Tudor 
monarchy, a concentration of all jurisdiction and power in one. 
But that one power had retained, as far as might be, the same 
characteristics which belonged to its divided and local prede 
cessors. It was essentially a personal monarchy : and the 
personal monarchy, though with many signs of coming 


disruption which the Queen was shrewd enough to note, cul 
minated in Elizabeth. With her two successors the prudent 
via media ceased almost everywhere to commend itself. The 
democracy, which had uplifted its kings to supreme authority 
over their nobles, became fully conscious of its sovereignty, 
and proceeded in a wild outburst of zeal to realize its ideas of 
right and impose them as a sacred duty on the recalcitrant 
world around. Each not merely did and thought what was 
right in his own eyes, but was bent on making others do like 
wise. But the prevailing element was the recrudescence of 
the religious spirit. During the whole of the Middle Ages 
the individual sense or spirit of religion had been dead, or 
had only burst out here and there in isolated and therefore 
heretical fits of personal devotion. The English nation, like 
the rest of modern Europe, had been converted to Christianity 
in the gross in battalions and counties according to the 
influence of the political power. Even when in Henry VIIFs 
time it became Protestant, political initiative had a great deal 
too much to do with the change. But in the latter part of 
the sixteenth century the reformation movement assumed 
a more personal subjective character. For the first time since 
the early days of Christianity religion becomes a real, living, 
and governing interest in men. But under the guise of 
religious, or even of Biblical enthusiasm, which made human 
ordinances ultimately rest for their sanction on divine models 
(these divine models being differently perceived by Puritan and 
Prelatist), there was another principle alive the principle of 
private judgement, of individualism, of anarchism. It is dis 
guised, because one party appeals to the written word, the 
plain witness of honest interpretation, the other to the tradi 
tional form, the sanctions of long authority. But both alike, 
the sacerdotal ritualist and the biblically minded Puritan, 
were departing from the via media of English tradition, and 
to each other they seemed respectively to be lapsing into 
superstition, or to be wandering into religious anarchy. 


It is such an individualistic man, in the stress of contest, 
casting 1 off allegiance to the old institutions, which yet, even 
without his will, control his action, that we meet with in the 
one-eyed and one-sided picture of human nature given by 
Hobbes. He is far from the primitive or normal man. He 
is rather a full-grown product of civilization an old civiliza 
tion who, not alone, but simultaneously with multitudes, 
throws off these integuments, and with full-grown faculties 
proceeds in a competitive spirit to construct a social habita 
tion de novo. Above all, he is a being in whom self-con 
sciousness, self-assertion is abnormally developed : a being 
who has realized his independence and is bent on carrying 
it to the uttermost. S.uch a man is far removed from the 
primitive being, whose life is largely under the bondage of 
environment, tradition, family, and social order. He has an 
individuality, exaggerated and conscious, which to the more 
primitive types is .unknown. 

In some respects the man of the Benthamite age is the 
very reverse. Jf in the sixteenth century the effect of 
renaissance and reformation, of inventions and discoveries, 
had been to stimulate individuality, to produce a burst of 
originative and creative genius, the effect of the scientific 
and philosophical movement from 1680 to 1780 was to 
generate a common average of convention, culture, and 
judgement, a well-informed, comfortable, and well-mannered 
society. The eighteenth century having laid up, as it 
thought, much capital for many years, was engaged in an 
effort to arrange the world, evenly, systematically, and agree 
ably for its future habitation. It was of opinion, indeed, 
that kings and priests had too much in their hands, and that 
they managed the affairs of the world neither wisely nor 
honestly. But the spread of enlightenment, it thought, 
would naturally put an end to these pretensions of the secular 
and the spiritual guides. Only let plenty of light in upon the 
dark chambers of the law, the civil administration, and the 


churches, and the melancholy spectres which haunted them 
would flee away, as in Diirer s picture, and leave the world 
to enjoy itself. What was the mistake that these worthy 
reformers laboured under ? It was what we may call a very 
inadequate conception of the structure of society. They sup 
posed that society consisted of a number of separate bits : and 
as some of these were inconveniently placed, and crowded 
others a little too much, they expected to make themselves 
easy by casting away the obnoxious and unnecessary appurte 
nances. This theory was a mistake. As the phrase goes, the 
social structure is a living organism, not a mechanism : which 
means that if some of its parts are removed, the others are 
seriously affected, and the whole organism may possibly perish. 
They tended to conceive the social organism after the fashion 
of animals which are acephalous, without thereby ceasing to 
live : or after the fashion of others, in which, if one member 
is cut off, the force of the total organism soon succeeds in 
throwing out a new member to take its place. In this last 
point, indeed, they were partly right : but it is necessary to 
add that such powers only appear in the very elementary forms 
of social union, and that the theory has not much application 
to the highly developed states of modern Europe, where after 
the head has once been cut off, it shows a persistent reluctance 
to bud out again. And there was another fault in their 
premises. Those theorists, who thought men would be happy 
if only governments ceased to trouble and priests to confound, 
had not realized that, invisible or dimly visible to them, 
there was a large multitude who looked upon themselves, 
much as they looked upon their stumbling-blocks. 

The Benthamite therefore imagined that, if the incon 
veniences of certain effete institutions were got rid of, man 
would be left in possession of certain eternal dwelling- 
houses, where his soul need only consider how for many years 
it might best eat, drink, and be otherwise merry. He had 
not realized that the social house in which he fancied himself 


secure for ever, as in a structure of nature, was the work of 
human minds and hands, that for mankind to live actively and 
energetically is the business of businesses, without which no 
pleasure permanently can be secured, and that this business 
must often be carried on, whether pleasure comes very directly 
in the work or not. A century of peace for the colonial 
conflicts with France and other transient brushes in con 
nexion with German affairs never seriously disturbed the 
insular tranquillity had led England to believe that the 
comfortable abodes, which each man of the dominant middle 
and upper class had carved for himself in the social system, 
were founded upon natural rock, and not on something which 
could only be held up by the same strenuous effort which 
had been originally necessary to found it. 

In short, both Hobbes and Bentham had been strictly 
bound down in their conclusions by the immediate data of 
their age. Their desire to be practically and at once effective 
made them forget to institute a further comparison, and base 
their conclusions on a wider experience. They have given us 
philosophies which are in many respects identical, with this 
important difference, that Hobbes heads a line which leads to 
collective and despotic socialism, while Bentham gave fresh 
impetus to a movement which can hardly stop short of anarchic 
individualism. Hobbes main idea is security, organization, 
power: Bentham s is comfort, convenience, pleasure.. 

As against theories like those of Hobbes and Bentham, 
the evolutionist and historical view of the ethical problem 
endeavours (i) to get over the confusion of the specimen of 
one historical period with the normal or natural man, and (2) 
to lay a deeper foundation for its investigations than they had 
laid, (i) As specially historical, it brings to our recollection 
that man and society are in a process of development, which 
to a large degree takes the shape of continuously growing 
complication, an increasing multiplicity of elements; and 
that, as organization grows and extends, there is a strong 


tendency for a large part of it to go out of sight, and 
leave in public view only certain portions, which portions 
thus, to careless observers, seem all that needs be noticed. 
As we compare civilization with civilization, we find certain 
general regularities or uniformities of succession and con 
nexion in each. Within certain limits, we may say that 
there is in Greece an age of feudalism and of chivalry; an 
age which reminds us of the revival of letters ; and an age to 
which we come so near that we should almost call it modern. 
We see that at analogous stages of development certain 
doctrines or ways of looking at life and conduct get pre 
dominant. Thus we are led to the idea of a law governing 
not merely the connexion of one stage of development as 
a w r hole with its successor, but also determining the various 
aspects of a state of society which are at a given moment 
in correlation with each other. We learn to analyze 
a given social group or organism into the various organisms 
which exist within it, and that in considerable independence 
of each other. We are forced to recognize differences of 
shading, often very deep, between institutions and virtues, 
which at a superficial examination looked of one homogeneous 
piece. Further, we find frequently that social structures in 
course of time tend to amalgamate into one forms which were 
originally separate : that e. g. when a number of institutions 
and ideas compete for existence, the victorious result is not 
without considerable admixture of elements and only gains its 
survival by conscious or unconscious adaptation or compromise. 
Thus, as we go back in history, the number of forms of social 
organism does not perhaps so much diminish, as their com 
plexity gives place to simpler structures. But we shall be 
disappointed if we suppose that among the primitive forms 
we can find the special form, historical or prehistoric, which 
may be regarded as the parent or ancestor of our modern 
systems of life, and our modern types of character. The 
biological attempts at reconstructing the genesis of man have 


led to the conclusion that we cannot trace the descent or 
filiation in any one historic line to definite ancestors. None 
of the quadrumana exactly fit the requirements for the 
ancestor of homo sapiens. The fish cannot be treated as the 
parent-form of the reptile. So, in sociology,, the form and 
institutions of savage life,, either as observable to-day, or as 
inferrible from the records and monuments of the past, cannot 
be taken as a historic starting-point for explaining our develop 
ment. There is no such continuity as thus implied. For, if 
this were accepted, then a social group, especially endowed in 
nature and circumstances, would have to be conceived as 
ultimately passing over into another organization which also 
has started from its peculiar faculty and conditions. We 
cannot suppose Greek civilization e.g. descended from the 
character and conditions of a non-Greek type : nor need we 
imagine how, for example, Japanese nature and conditions will 
show themselves under the guise of occidental modes and 
institutions. In such matters the lesson of the historical and 
evolutionist method is that uniformity and identity of develop 
ment is a fiction ; that each nation has a law and career of 
its own, similar in what we may call essentials, but unlike 
also in conspicuous features, to the law and career of other 
national types ; and that any national group, which puts 
on in a freak of admiring imitation the modes and institutions 
of another of widely different endowment and resources, is 
surely and rapidly preparing its own dissolution. 

But though our materials are and must for ever remain 
inadequate for constructing a genealogical tree of human 
society, they can serve, if cautiously used, to throw light on 
the mystery of our own development. We can learn from 
them what may be termed the laws of the structural growth 
of society, and of the formation of human faculty and 
character. Not indeed, as has been already explained, that 
we can directly transfer the law of one period, the causality 
of one group and age, to determine the law of another. The 


more we regard the problem of causation, the more we are 
led to see that the vulgar idea of a knowledge of causes 
enabling us to predict must be carefully guarded and denned. 
Popular usage no doubt justifies us in asserting that, once 
we have ascertained a true sequence of cause and effect, we 
can transfer our knowledge to any point in the universe 
we may wish to explain. More reflective habits suggest 
the practical difficulties in the way of such transference. 
A cause, instead of being one conspicuous mark or symptom, 
as it is to the uncultivated, becomes to the scientific or 
logical mind, a whole group of constituent conditions; and 
in like manner the effect, in place of being an obvious 
incident or change, is analyzed into a complex and fully 
defined group of modifications in some substance or thing. 
When this change of view has been made in the estimate 
of cause and effect, it is an easy step to the perception that 
two strictly identical cases can hardly or can only rarely 
occur, and that every inference therefore is more or less 
a mere analogy, to be carefully verified, like any other 
hypothesis, when it is made to a new and very different case. 
Thus we can learn in some measure the laws of social 
evolution : i. e. some general features, as illustrated in par 
ticular instances of social change and social interdependence. 
We may get better to understand the growth of society out of 
its elements, its general aspects of differentiation and integra 
tion; in other words, we may discover the way in which it 
buds forth into a variety of outward organs, and then receiving- 
and internalizing these in the individual consciousness, binds 
them together into a comparatively homogeneous principle, 
destined however in its turn to repeat the same process. 
We may even within limits endeavour to get a general view 
of the historical process over a considerable period, and so 
far as we can trace a fundamental identity of structure and 
ideas we may carry our philosophy of history. But such a 
philosophy has its obvious limits. There are great natural 


divisions in human history, as there are in natural history. 
Existing history may draw these lines of division somewhat 
prematurely, and may fix the boundaries at very ill-chosen 
epochs. The capture of Rome and of Constantinople, 
the Reformation and the Revolution, may not mark real 
dividing lines, any more than Salamis and the Catalaunian 
fields. But as our present knowledge goes and probably 
for a long time to come we must submit to accept the 
existence of ethnic and historic groups, which stand out 
in tolerably clear separation from each other, and of which 
it is at present impossible to detect any connecting or 
transition points of importance. It may not be exactly true 
for us still to say that European history began with the 
siege of Troy, and goes down from that date in one con 
tinuous stream : for (i) research carries us by gradual steps 
beyond the Trojan hosts to kindred predecessors, and (2) new 
streams of influence have since then profoundly modified 
the current of development, But still it remains true that 
for practical purposes there are streams of history and social 
life so virtually independent of our European career, that 
no philosophy of history can at present or for a long time 
hope to show that one continuous movement has been going 
on, with fresh tributaries, each bringing its quota, to supply 
the material of the main stream. 

But (2) the study of history as a process of evolution for 
human faculty, guided, we may almost say, by the pre 
suppositions 1 that all the natural capacities of a creature 
are destined some time or other to develop themselves com 
pletely and appropriately/ and that in man all those 
capacities which are directed to the use of his reason only 
develop themselves completely in the species, not in the 
individual gives a new view of the present intellectual and 
moral structure of man. The infinite complexity and diversity 
of human faculty presents itself from the point of view of 

Cf. Kant, Idcen zu einer allgemeinen Geschichte. 


this theory as acquired and transmitted not by natural 
generation, but by spiritual parentage, by the means of that 
social and intellectual and moral capital which is stored up 
by successive generations, but which, if it is not to become 
a purely dead thing, has to be revivified, or kept vivified by 
the vital energy of actual men. Such capital is simply the 
utterance or forth-putting of human energy and formative 
skill in material things appropriating and stamping them 
with man s mark : it is the extension of human personality, 
its realization in an outward or natural world, consisting 
of human bodies, animals, and other material objects. In 
such action man expands, differentiates, and realizes himself 
into a material organism, in literary, religious, artistic, 
economic and other forms. But man also concentrates, 
reflects, or redintegrates these material and separate elements 
he has acquired/ or in which he has lost himself and put 
part of his own life and force. The economic stock e. g. he 
redintegrates, partly by consuming or enjoying it (frui), 
partly by using (uti), i. e. energizing it. But always the 
passive expression, the lifeless acquisition, must be enlivened 
by the breath of life from the vital agent. The very spoken 
word, which otherwise disappears, has to be taken up, repro 
duced internally, and understood by the hearer. The written 
words are always only fyoovavra o-vveTola-iv. The arts need 
the same spirit which nurtured them originally to keep them 
away. And the outward ordinances, rites, creeds, holy places, 
sacred personages of religion need to be assimilated, and made 
an inner life and feeling by the worshipper, if they are to be 
more than stocks and stones and vain repetitions. 

Thus we come to throw a new light on the problems of 
psychology. Since the time of Locke it has become a settled 
maxim that the true method of philosophical study is the 
psychological. For the study of logic, aesthetics, ethics, 
and whatever else nray be held philosophy, it was said that 
the only safe and sure method was to examine our own 

c c 


ideas, arid see what was their original or primary stock : 
and that thus only we might learn what could be built 
upon them, how far they could be made to go, and what 
certainty we could have about their objective application. 
But by psychology we must be careful first of all to 
explain that we mean something more than the ultimate 
analysis of the mental structure. Up to a certain part or 
point, the study of psychology for man is similar or analo 
gous to what it is for the animals. Man, like them, is 
a being endowed with senses, with faculties of memory, 
imagination, and something of the nature of intelligence : he 
has various appetites or attractions towards objects, is sensi 
tive to pleasure and pain, subject to impulse and passion. 
These faculties are directly connected with his special endow 
ment of a nervous system, with its central organs in the 
brain. We are not entitled to say that even in these points 
he is identically constituted with them : he has what Aristotle 
called an ato-^ri/o) V/^XT/, but his sensitive soul, we may be 
sure, is characteristically his own, though its structure evinces 
a certain parallelism to that of the nearest animals, just as is 
the case with his general physical structure. It is further 
obvious that in this department of psychology, the psychology 
of the sensible nature in the widest sense, great help is to 
be had from physiology or that branch of it which is called 
psychophysics. Indeed it would hardly be going too far to 
say with Comte as Aristotle himself had hinted in anticipa 
tion of the spirit of the Baconian philosophy that unless 
we can reach the physical or physiological realities, i.e. the 
molecular movements which underlie and constitute the so- 
called elementary faculties, we shall get very little better than 
a verbal treatment, 5iaA.e/cn/cws- /cat KCV&S. In this branch 
then of psychology we are mainly referred to general bio 
logical problems, which here, as elsewhere, are ultimately 
soluble only by those molecular theories which apply to 
muscular and nervous movements. 


The psychology which Locke s Essay inaugurated is on 
a different level. It is more characteristically human. Not, 
of course, that we need maintain that any brand-new faculties 
emerge into view when we come to deal with human nature. 
The difference of grade is not definable in any such simple 
way as the intervention or addition of new faculties. It is 
much more subtle and complex. We may be able plausibly 
e.g. to show how one after another of the higher human 
endowments has its close parallel in some animal nature : and 
yet the total impression and effect may be altogether different. 
And in this characteristically human field the field, as 
Aristotle calls it, of the VOTJTLK^ or AoyiKr) tyvyj] ^ ne ne ^P ^ 
physiology fails us. We are now concerned with phenomena 
which cannot plausibly be connected with any peculiarities of 
nervous structure, any characters proper to the physical 
organism. And yet here as there introspection, which was 
the method mainly employed by Locke, leads to no valuable 
results issues in little better than verbal distinctions and 
what Bacon calls alstracta. In the literal sense introspection 
is vain. And this does not simply mean that we cannot 
observe ourselves, because (i) we cannot both be the agent 
and patient ; and (2) we alter the fact in resolving to observe 
it. For perhaps it might be said that we can note it the very 
instant after, and that instantaneous memory is as good as 
observation. There is of course a large amount of truth in 
the remark that we cannot easily observe ourselves : but it is 
a truth which is equally illustrated by the difficulty of taking 
our own pulse, or observing the phenomena of one s own 
physical system, and arises from what may be styled the 
explosive force of ideas, i.e. the involuntary transmission of 
vivid sensitive ideas into the motor system. The objection 
goes deeper. The I who observes a psychical fact is the same 
I that observes a physical fact. As observer it is distinct 
from what is observed in one case as well as in the other. It 
only observes well in so far as it is at once disinterested and 

C C 2 


interested : disinterested, because the object is not connected 
by any material interest; interested, because the object has 
become the centre of interest. That is, the object of observa 
tion is the resting-point round which observation circles : the 
object is not carried round at the pleasure of the observer. 
Hence the object, even if it originates in the current of our 
own mental life and interest, must be observed in virtue of an 
act of detachment or abstraction, which sets it apart from us 
in the ideal field of observation. But as Aristotle long ago 
remarked, Otutpelv p.a\\ov TOVS TreAas 6wa/xe0a ?} eavrovs. 
In other words, such self-survey, if it is to come to any 
good, must be a social survey, i.e. a sympathetic appre 
hension through our own feelings of other s acts, and of 
their feelings through our acts. It is in the mutual play 
of thought and fancy that light reveals the recesses of the 
mind: in what Plato sometimes calls SiaAe/m*?? and some 
times v E/xos, meaning by the former the more reflective 
unravelling of the common web of humanity, by the latter 
the more spontaneous and intimate sympathy which must 
underlie the intellectual discussion, if it is really to penetrate 
the barriers of self-conceit which keep man apart from man, 
and is to make the two dialectician fellow-devotees of the 
truth, counting nothing too dear or interesting if so be they 
may get at the inner vision of reality. 

If then by psychology we mean an attempt such as Locke 
made to get at the source and history of our ideas, we shall 
not learn much by groping in what we choose to call ourselves, 
and still less by consulting the physiologist as to the nature 
of our muscular, assimilative, vascular, or nervous system. 
These things have their place, but we have passed beyond it 
when we come to consider the characteristically human 
aspects, the ideas into which the bare natural endowment 
has blossomed forth. Physiology e. g. will have a good deal 
to say on the elements of language, on sounds, letters, 
syllables : but physiology has no say in the problem of words 


as such, of language. The problem of language only begins 
to trouble when other questions than those of the physical 
basis of speech emerge for consideration. 

And now, as we have said that psychology in its first grade 
will get her real illumination from physiology or psycho- 
physics, we might say that in this higher grade psychology 
must seek the help of sociology. But in saying so, we could 
not fail to note the immense difference of our position in the 
two cases. Nerve-physiology has not gone very far : but it 
has a certain amount of consistency, and a certain idea of its 
method of research. Sociology, on the other hand, is rather 
a word which denotes a great group of problems waiting for 
solution than any compact and systematic body of doctrine. 
Works with the title of Sociology are not unheard of, but 
they are essays to find the handle of a science, than real 
exhibitions of its systematic content. What then are the 
problems which sociology is an attempt to grapple with? 
Briefly they spring from the growing perception in the 
present century that all characteristically human phenomena 
such as religion, art, science, property, language are social 
and not individual functions, i. e. that they issue through 
and are the permanent form of the action of individuals, but 
of individuals co-operating with each other, forming necessary 
and natural groups, spontaneously as well as reflectively 
realizing their personality in that of others. 

But the peculiar function of sociology in this matter of our 
ideas may be best illustrated from Plato, who was the first, 
and for long the only one, distinctly to understand its principle. 
It is impossible to get a clear idea of what the characteristic 
forces of human nature are by looking within the breast, by 
introspection : a mere faculty for that matter can hardly be 
said to be an object of observation at all. Even if we turn 
to observe the actions of the individual, we are not much 
further advanced. By what means shall we discover the lines 
of demarcation between his actions, and how be led to refer 


these actions to principles or parts supposed to animate him ? 
Evidently our search is completely at sea. We see what 
human nature is by considering it in its actions (which, as we 
saw, are only the objectivation of inner motive and character), 
and considering not the actions of this or that individual, but 
the actions collectively of the mass of individuals. Such 
action, recurrent and universal, was, we saw, the real essence 
of an institution. And in the different social institutions, 
i. e. the habitual and organized modes of action, we have the 
revelation of the inner faculty or nature of man, or the 
realization in visible or perceptible shapes of that imper 
ceptible organization which is the germ of all development, 
the protoplasm which is differentiated and integrated into 
organs and system. Thus, according to Plato, we see what 
reason is by looking at the facts of guidance, government, 
initiative, legislative, executive, and judicial, in the common 
or political life. In the governmental organ the common 
function of intelligence, present in some degree in every 
human being, has concentrated itself : just as the clothes- 
forming faculty realizes itself first distinctly and obviously in 
the rise of a tailor class. The institutional form, the social 
class, is only the outward realization of one aspect, one 
comparatively independent member of the human organism, 
when it is, so to speak, written large, magnified, and made 
uniform, stereotyped. By such objectivation in an organism 
or institution of its own, the aspect of human nature first 
realizes its internal unity as also a substantial force. The 
inward faculty, be it of discernment or of passion, instead of 
being backed up now and then by some other force, in 
cidentally operative with it, receives back into itself the 
consciousness of its essential unity with the same faculty in 
a thousand others. 

In examining the way by which opinion is formed, says 
Mr. Bryce J , we cannot fail to note how small a part of the 

1 Bryce, iii. p. 6. 


view which the average man entertains when he goes to vote 
is really of his own making. - His original impression was 
faint and perhaps shapeless : its present definiteness and 
strength are mainly due to what he has heard and read. 
He has been told what to think, and why to think it. 
Arguments have been supplied to him from without , and 
controversy has imbedded them in his mind. Although he 
supposes his view to be his own, he holds it rather because 
his acquaintances, his newspapers, his party leaders hold it 
and his acquaintances do the like. Each man believes and 
repeats certain phrases, because he thinks that everybody else 
on his own side believes them, and of what each believes only 
a small part is his own original impression, the far larger 
part being the result of the commingling and mutual action 
and reaction of the impressions of a multitude of individuals, 
in which the element of pure personal emotion, based on 
individual conviction, is but small/ 

In this fashion what was originally a mere passing stage in 
the entire conduct of a human being gradually gains a quasi- 
independent position. Each nation acquires a psychology of 
its own : and that psychology locates or sets inwardly in each 
individual mind a division and hierarchy of faculties, which 
being at first in each only a mere sketch or potentiality, has 
come by sympathetic action and reaction to appear in a visible 
organization, and finally, when consciously reproduced in the 
individual, to take rank as a substantive agent in his system 
of mind. The individual has his possibility or germ, an 
invisible organization, but not yet differentiated into distinct 
faculty: as he works with others, plays with them, fights 
along with them, the points in each which are similar to 
those in others get, as it were, attracted together, associated, 
and through this associated body or organ which they produce, 
they are reflected into consciousness, become internalized, and 
constitute that second or reflective nature and constitution 
which is found in every social being after he has been 


subjected to social influences. Society cannot, it seems 
probable, put into the individual anything which was 
absolutely without germ or foundation in him before : cannot 
give him in the literal sense a new faculty. But in an 
intelligible sense of the words, society does and can give new 
faculties : that is, society can strengthen what was weak, can 
lend force from the super-endowed to the sparsely-endowed, 
can and does create a common capital or stock of language, 
literature, science, art, method, whereby, as Bacon said, the 
disparity between natural talents is largely diminished. This 
is in fact what society means : and a one-sided insistence on 
this duty or function of society is what is generally under 
stood by Socialism. But society, be it remembered, is only 
a short name to express the sum of the co-operation and 
mutual modification of influences issuing from individuals, 
who amid all diversities in detail are similarly constituted in 
the main. 

The psychology of an individual then is the resultant stage 
of a process, wherein the native or natural basis of faculty, 
issuing out and entering into combination with like tendencies 
or germs in others, is reflected back into the individual con 
sciousness with the distinct and definite quasi-independence 
which it has received in the associated life of the community. 
At each period of history, therefore, in each organization, or 
institution, new faculties are created in individuals. That is, 
possibilities in them, called forth in new measure, or in new 
combination, by each variety of circumstances, acquire through 
reflection and sympathy certain typical and comparatively 
permanent forms of association, which become so many new 
species. If it be asked what are the initial or native possi 
bilities out of which all this variety is generated, the only 
answer is that as yet we cannot completely tell. Human 
life is self-realization, and its law self-realization through 
society. Till the end of that process is reached, it would be 
rash to offer a complete list of the initial faculties, the 


rudimentary basis. Indeed,, it would not only be rash, it 
would be impracticable. We only see these faculties when 
they have ceased to be natural, spontaneous and rudimentary : 
when they have become reflective, formed, and magnified 
into specific organs. To use the latter aspect to describe 
the former would only lead to misconceptions. 

On this point the ancient philosophers were probably more 
cautious than some of the modern. They recognize that the 
human faculties, moral and intellectual, are so many efeis, 
or habits, acquired and formed powers, stereotyped abilities, 
which result from a (/>WIKI) Swa/xis. Of what that natural 
potentiality or germ is in special cases, they do not give any 
systematic explanation. Of one point they are sure, that the 
absolute presupposition of all moral and intellectual faculty, 
the o.px.r\, is reason or vovs : that originative and systema 
tizing faculty which, when it has become differentiated and 
organized by objective utterance into a reflective shape, is 
called Ao yo?. On this ultimate basis, a differentiation takes 
place by the division of two groups of organs what in 
modern language we call the sensory and motor nerves, 
what in Greek psychology are known as ato-^o-is and opefis-. 
As to (uo-0Tjo-i9, they follow the popular distinction into five 
organs : as to opefts-, they are less clear, till at any rate the 
Stoics lay down the fundamental op/x?? as the impulse TQ kavrov 
rripdv. The moderns, on the other hand, have till quite 
recently contented themselves with classification. But classifi 
cation is, in its commoner form, only the preliminary of science, 
and a preliminary which advancing science has to correct and 
sometimes to discard. The real science of psychology has the 
further business of explaining the diversity of faculties by 
showing how it has arisen. In that task it will probably 
derive some help, as we have seen, from those experimental 
researches which touch upon nerve physiology. But in dis 
tinctively human psychology it will gain much more light 
from the study of phenomena which are sociological, which 


consist, that is, in the action of human beings on each other 
in a social body. 

In attempting 1 to trace the process of mental evolution, 
then, care is required to prevent exclusive notice being 1 given 
to one side or factor in the process. We must get a clear 
view of social process, social action, social organism. Man 
forms himself, i. e. his mind, his speech, his manners, his 
law, his wealth, by his own action ; but that action is a social 
action. Nor again is society an agent supervening upon 
man, giving him by its organs what he had not before. 
Society and its organs and institutions are simply human 
beings in action, uttering their possibilities, but uttering 
them under the law of intelligence, sentience, or sympathy, 
which prevents the individual from being a mere individual, 
and forces him to act, at first with the bare sense or feeling, 
then with the clearer feeling, then with the more conscious 
intelligence of intuition, and lastly with the comprehension 
of the general principle, as consciously objectified rule or law 
(Ao yos). But it is man the individual, who is the vehicle of 
all that social sympathy and solidarity : and while the influ 
ence of the circumjacent multitude is continually reducing 
this to a common rule, a hard and fast law, there is 
a tendency in the individual to step further, to start on 
a fresh course. 

This view of the relation of man s ideal nature to his real 
social environment that environment being itself created 
under the influence of physical conditions by those who live 
under it leads us to say a word on differentiation and 
integration as factors or rather as stages of development. 
Differentiation and integration correspond respectively to 
what in the Hegelian system are called the stages of reality 
and ideality. Just as a seed may be said to integrate into 
a simple sum or expression what in the real plant has been 
differentiated into a multitude of organs and structures, so 
we may call the seed the vehicle, which contains idealiter 


all that the plant was realiter. But this description applies 
in a higher sense to social and human evolution. There, as 
we found, the germ of social life, which is present in all the 
members of a group just because of their common humanity, 
appears in the realization as an external structure, falling 
into parts and organs, liable to assume a certain independence 
of each other. In the consciousness of the members, at least 
of some of them, that organization is reflected, but reflected 
not in parts, but in its totality, or whole function : and thus 
is invested with a unity it did not to the outward sense so 
obviously possess. On all its members indeed the institution 
exercises a silent influence, moulding their thought and 
temper in definite ways, creating as it were new faculties, 
giving powers of apprehension and resolution not originally 
found by the individual in himself. It is so with language, 
religion, morality, economic fact. They deposit in the indi 
vidual mind habitual or customary modes of conception, 
forms of feeling, laws of thought, conditions of action, which, 
though not consciously perceived in their general or ideal 
form, still mould and constitute the whole scheme of life 
and conduct. 

But in almost every society a further circumstance and 
source of action has to be taken into account. The even level 
of the society and the uniform and unanimous course of 
development is interfered with by two influences. First, by 
contact with foreign societies. Plato and Aristotle sometimes 
talk of isolating their ideal community from all external 
influences. And this might possibly be a commendable plan, 
if we could accept the practicability of their hypothesis that 
an ideal state, perfectly planned and equipped, could be set on 
foot at once with all that is essential to it. But the evidence 
of history teaches too clearly that, although there are periods 
to which the epithet of degeneration and declension can be 
applied in a relative way, they do not subvert the general law 
of human history that acquired or permanent faculties are 


evolved out of the yet slumbering potentialities of nature to 
meet the requirements of a perpetually changing environment. 
Thus the ideal becomes a problem, not a fact : the summary, 
in a provisional way, of the future convergence and com 
pletion of tendencies, of needs and of powers, which are yet 
in their infancy: a preliminary anticipation of the path and 
the landscape to some distance beyond the range which is 
actually visible or has been actually surveyed. 

It is then in the contact between group and group that we 
find the first cause which breaks up the general level and 
monotony of life, and initiates what we call progress. The 
dweller on the borderland, less immersed in his social system 
as a natural ordinance, sees it more and more as a whole, and 
in contrast with surrounding ideas. One need only point to 
the rapid movement of ideas which characterizes colonial life, 
or to the anti-conservative tendencies of commerce. But also 
in the group itself there emerge differences. With all the 
sameness of humanity, which leads to identical institutions 
and manners, as it leads to a common language, there is also 
a radical individuality in each member of a group, which gives 
rise in each to a different combination of what we may call 
the fundamental impulses and powers of human nature. Thus 
each ultimately may be said to understand and appreciate the 
social institutions in a way of his own. Thirty millions e. g. 
are described as speaking the same language. But unless that 
group form literally as well as figuratively a single family, 
living together in identical circumstances a condition which 
the numbers render impossible and which could only be carried 
out with a small tribal union there will be all shades or 
degrees of difference embraced under that surface agreement. 
Possibly each individual, and in a clearer degree each family 
has an individualized language of its own. Every profession 
has its own technical phraseology. Things hardly change 
with us so rapidly as they are alleged to do in certain hunting 
tribes, where a new generation grows up with a language of 


its own. But unquestionably in any larger group, where 
pronounced habits of life and thought mark off some im 
portant section, dialects are formed which insensibly come 
to effect the main tongue. Where a large portion of society 
engages habitually in pursuits and is conversant with insti 
tutions which belong to the vicious and semi-vicious range, 
such as the criminal classes, the demi-monde, and the betting 
and sporting world, we find a large development of slang or 
argot, and its incursion into literature. 

So it is in every social organ and institution. The normal 
or average level is a conventional estimate which, as Hume 
remarks, we use for the purposes of social intercourse. When 
I speak to you, I assume that we use the same language and 
speak vocables which bear only one sense, else mutual under 
standing would be impossible. But experience obliges us 
to admit that our hypothesis is never perfectly realized, 
and that in many cases the fact very widely departs 
from the hypothesis. Psychically, no less than physically, 
each man hears a different language : because to hear it he 
must reproduce it by his own psychical organs, which are 
developed in each individual under influences more or less 
different. Nor is a perfect understanding to be secured by 
the discovery of what is termed a philosophical language. 
It is possible no doubt to mend matters. But the root 
of the evil lies in other causes than the mere words we use. 
And a nearer approach to a remedy lies for each in the effort 
to realize and recognize his limitations as well as those of 
others, and to accustom himself as early and persistently as 
possible to shun the habit of resting content with words as 

But it is in the existence of these differences and these 
mutual disabilities that the hope of progress for finite beings 
lies. If all merely and entirely agreed in everything, this 
would not go far to prove that their consensus was right and 
truth, unless we start with the assumption that their voice was 


the voice of God. The agreement which proves truth and 
right is not such a mere abstract agreement and nothing more : 
it is an agreement which admits of differences and even 
antitheses, but in which these differences tend to find, if they 
do not actually find, reconciliation. The vox populi, which 
is the vox Dei, is not the cry of the mob where ten thousand 
shout as one. It is the voice which, out of difference and 
disputes, tends more and more to display itself as the one in 
the many, the ultimate identity which issues out of difference, 
and which has embraced all that was worth keeping out 
of these antithetic sides. 

Thus progress is achieved through the formation of new 
and divergent institutions. In the larger group a smaller is 
inserted and this grows as did the other. A new factor 
germinates in an individual mind, i. e. through some variation 
which arises fortuitously or spontaneously (so far as our know 
ledge goes) in the general endowment of some group of the 
human species. But such an original, though unique, is not 
altogether alone. The same ideas which have forced them 
selves upon him will force themselves by degrees on a smaller 
or larger number who in the particular point feel and see 
like him. Feeling and acting with considerable uniformity, 
they mark themselves out as an association, and create for 
themselves an institution. But the process does not stop 
here. If, as it may happen, the ideas and aspirations are 
local, personal, and of temporary interest, the institution 
will gradually disappear. But in proportion as they are 
universal, essential, and permanent, they pass into even wider 
and wider circles, until finally they become an institution of 
the whole group, and mould the character of every member 
in certain forms of thought, feeling, and action. 



SOCIALISM is one of the Isms/ It indicates a tendency 
and a propaganda in some direction,, rather than an accom 
plished fact or a definite doctrine. Our humanity has been 
compared to the weary Titan/ As he tosses on his uneasy 
bed or struggles along his toilsome way, one ache or pressure 
or stumbling-block seems abnormally hard to bear. And as 
this particular Titan has many heads and many hands, there 
may be simultaneously more than one misery to shrink from, 
more than one trial to encounter. But in each age there are 
some wants that are felt in many breasts at once, and 
a common cry rises more or less clearly from a multitude 
of throats. The age feels its wants, but it does not always 
clearly understand what they are, and still less has it clear or 
distinct ideas of how they are to be relieved. 

Socialism is the evidence of such a felt defect the 
symptom of an unquestioned evil. But it is far on that 
account from being a definite conception either of the evil, 
and of its causes, or of the mode by which these evils may 
be eradicated. More than that : two further considerations 
serve to complicate the question. First, it is no easy problem 
to probe the mysterious paths of social operation, and only too 
easy or probable that the inquirer, unless endowed with grave 
judgement and practised skill, may rashly lay hands on 
agencies that are not to blame. Second, in the concatenation 
of human life, it is barely ever possible to keep the many 
strands asunder, which as left to themselves cross and recross 


each other s path and actually unite for considerable lengths 
into a single thread. We label these strands by various 
names : religious,, political, artistic, economic,, legal,, industrial, 
scientific, and whatever others there may be. But, as it 
has been said, the subtilty of nature is too much for the 
subtilty of our dialectical distinctions. The real world does 
not conform to our academic precision. 

So it is always with Isms/ They are a battle-cry, a watch 
word, a catchword : but they are not the names of any 
definite idea. Their force even depends on a certain necessary 
vagueness, and their ill-defined forms stand out provocative 
of curiosity and interest as they loom through the mist. 
They are none the less real or vital on that account. But 
they are the more dangerous to meddle with, alike for their 
admiring followers and for their critics and foes. They are 
never phantoms and fancies, however blurred their outlines 
may be in the darkness. And they are seldom as fair or as 
foul as they are dreamed to be. Each of them in its turn 
gathers under its name hopes and aspirations, hates and 
horrors, from the other quarters of the souls of those who 
adopt this battle-cry. The best ideals and the foulest 
desires may and do come to shelter themselves under the 
cover of the dominant idol of man s devotion. 

It has not been long since the word Socialism with its 
companion Communism was first heard, just about half a 
century. In a way the thing, i. e. the feeling or craving 
which the word implies, is much older. And whence comes 
that feeling or craving? From the beginnings of recorded 
time man has been a social being, has lived in and formed 
what has been called society. He has been linked to his 
fellow-humanity by sympathy, by language, by reasoning, by 
common endowments, by natural dependences and artificial 
ties, by war and by peace, by arts and industries, by religion 
and by science. This social solidarity remains, as it was, 
a natural fact, which cannot be altered, though it may be in 


part ignored. But on a grand scale the history of our race, 
and in miniature the history of each individual, shows another 
process going on. The child who began as almost a part 
of the parental group, and in childlike unity with his brothers 
and sisters, gradually passes out into independent life, and in 
many cases becomes a stranger to those who were once near 
and dear to him. In the greater world the cares of daily life 
and the self-preserving effort which has been painted as 
a struggle for existence/ make each individual more or less 
become a self-centred and self-seeking unit, who in his 
habitual mood is apt to forget his common humanity. Each 
finds his own narrow groove, and inhabits his own peculiar 
den, whence he comes forth only as duties and pleasures 
require his temporary exit. Or, if we modify this too strict 
picture to commoner fact, the individual is by the effect of 
circumstance, of momentary passions, of partial interests, 
bound up with a few others in some local, petty, particular 
league, serving only immediate, limited, accidental ends. 
It is still self-seeking which governs him : but it is the self- 
seeking of a clique, a party, a section. 

Against such a fractional existence, such a surrender of the 
human birthright which in early life seemed so indefeasibly 
ours, there keeps rising up, from time to time, a protest in 
every heart that has not altogether lost its humanity. We 
may sink the man under the office, the title, the shop, the 
costume, the civic and social badge, but though he is silent 
and even the eyes bear no sign, it would be rash to infer that 
nothing has been left but a form of clothes and of ceremonial. 
And even if there be those whose soul is dead within them, it 
remains true that there are others in all ages of history and 
of human life who revolt against the worship of temporary 
idols and local divinities, and bid man again remember that 
Allah alone, the living, the self-subsisting 1 , is one God, that he 
has made of one blood all upon the earth, and that a man s 
a man for a that/ The sense of human brotherhood revives 



in them : they feel the cords of sympathy drawing hard 
through all the entanglements of selfishness. 

But here a divergence makes its appearance between these 
aspiring souls who seek to rise above divisions and partisan 
littleness. Some of them, content in a kind of hopelessness 
or careless because the object of conflict seems so unimportant, 
would leave the real divisions alone and seek refuge in the 
life of the spirit, the inward peace, the ideal calm. They 
see or seem to see through the contentions, the separations, 
the hollow relationships of the visible life into the ever 
lasting repose, the beatitude of that indwelling of the spirit 
with itself, which is at the same time its intimacy with the 
world of all human souls and with God. And when we say 
spirit, we mean no more or less than that human, central 
unity of being which is the deep source of all noble, simple, 
honest life, and of all the warmth of real human love and 
heart. Such is the Mysticism, such the Quietism, in which 
men of purer natures and more limpid founts of life have 
dwelt in the company of others like themselves, and, seeing 
events sub specie aeternitatis, have recreated, were it only in 
a gorgeous vision of faith, that heaven which is the true 
home of the soul. 

But such men were ever a select few, and the ages grow 
less and less favourable to their ecstasy. The eye of faith no 
longer penetrates the distance so boldly to find its home in 
God. Man has become more and more convinced that the 
divine must dwell among us, that it must be realized on 
earth as in heaven, and realized not in the heart merely, 
but in tangible and visible forms. Or, to put it more 
definitely, the enthusiast, whose glance passes through the 
dividing shams to the underlying unity, is not content to 
build that long-lost heritage of humanity in the spirit only ; 
he will not tamely submit to the actual fragmentariness of 
life, content, if so be he can still enjoy the comforting sense 
of its ideal wholeness. He protests against the breaking-up 



into fractions of human unity and demands its restitution. 
He criticizes the casual, unsystematic, inharmonious character 
of the minor groupings which actually prevail ; he shows how 
they are not duly dovetailed into each other, and that they do 
not tend to converge and form any collective universe of life : 
he condemns the inequalities which by slow accumulations 
have shut many men out of the common sunlight of humanity, 
and forced them either to cower despairingly under falling 
hovels, or to entrench themselves defiantly in palatial prisons. 
He demands that the social basis of human life and action 
shall be realized, not as a mere general supervision and police 
of occasional interference, not as a system of laws which, 
when definite acts against the common weal have been traced 
to their author, shall restore the balance and the status quo 
ante, but realized as a reasonable organization, which watches 
so carefully, so closely, so wisely, that every part of the social 
machine shall never fail to keep in mind its social duty, that 
no part shall be other than an individualized organ or 
missionary of the whole, that no stagnation, no block, no 
purely special or local movement shall arise to mar the 
uniformity of action. Natural laws, he will admit, tend after 
all to compensate all divergences, to bring all selfishness to 
become in the end the servant of the common good : a law 
other than the conscious motive of their actions and business 
constrains individuals and parties to further the general 
organism. But the process, he complains, is slow and costly : 
and meanwhile many a sigh, many a death, many a torture 
has to be endured, which a reasonable method of organization 
might have prevented. The world must band itself together 
to enforce on each by the instrumentality of all that he is 
nothing, and has nothing, except his moment s life and work : 
that all else, which through the gift of nature, through the 
process of history, is gathered and kept around him, is 
a common stock, which, as the poet says, 

Nulli manciple datur, omnibus usu. 
D d 2, 


Such ideas, like all ideas, are not first heard from those 
who are deepest in the social slough, who are in the greatest 
measure disinherited of the common goods of social life. It 
is from observers, not utterly merged in the social whirl, nor 
yet quite untouched by its revolutions, that come the first 
words demanding a renovation of the order of human life. 
Such voices, indeed, had been heard, ( rari nautes in gurgite 
vasto/ here and there from age to age. But it is only 
in the present century that the catena of the witnesses of 
socialism becomes continuous. First comes Henri, Comte de 
Saint Simon, a survival of the old chivalry, but in a new 
medium of finance, a knight errant of the industrial age. 
His life and it is that which fits him to interpret his 
generation runs on from the time of Louis XV through the 
Revolution to the Empire and the Restoration of the Bourbons. 
The Revolution had hurled the old system from its founda 
tions and broken it to fragments : but it had founded 
nothing, and left nothing permanent, except a code. But 
a code is but scanty furnishing for an empty house l . And 
Saint Simon, already past his prime in the days of the 
Empire, a broken-down but indomitable hearted man, gave 
utterance to a dream, which drew around his declining years 
some of the finest youth of intellectual promise in France. 
And that dream? That the industrial chiefs, the great 
bankers, financiers, capitalists, who really ruled the world 
from their quiet bank -parlours, should assume the real duties 
of their function, should become true captains of industry, 
leaders of men s movements, because concerned with that 
aspect of life, the economical, which is the basis of all else. 
And beside and behind these magnates, whose practical skill 
and mastery in the art of manipulating men pointed them out 

1 The important question, according to St. Simon, is not about remodel 
ling the powers and forms of government, but the law which constitue Us 
proprietes et qui en regie fexercise. The natural means of reaching liberty is 
reconstituer la propriete. St. Simon emphasizes bonheur instead of justice et 


as fit to take the place of an effete feudalism, stood the men 
of science and art, the disciples of Newton and Raphael, 
throwing 1 rays of sweetness and light into the harder and 
darker money-souls, intermediaries as it were between the 
practical agent and the celestial source of wisdom and 
kindness. The disciples who drank up these suggestions, 
and who remembered their master s dying words, that 
Nothing great is ever done without passion/ rushed with 
the headstrong and fantastic eagerness of converted youth to 
carry out their mission. Youthful extravagance, and the 
friction between warring ambitions, soon burnt out their 
flame, and many of the inspired apostles of the Saint 
Simonian Church cooled down into sober citizens and practical 
utilitarians. But, even though the propaganda failed in 
immediate reformation, it left everlasting seeds, and began 
a permanent ferment. It created the dream of an organiza 
tion of social life on a single, and that a real basis, not 
a fiction legitimated only by its antiquity. It maintained 
for natural capacity the rights of free development, and of 
just retribution for service done. And besides justice, it 
preached fraternity as its new Christianity a Christianity 
of this world, which holds true religion to consist in all 
work aiming at ameliorating the condition of human kind. 

These were the ideal aims of this Aristocratic Socialism, 
which creates a new feudalism, an industrial feudalism of 
light and leading, binding the capitalist to be the bene 
factor and the guide of his workman. It was a dream, but 
a dream of that glorious age of French Romance when 
Balzac, Victor Hugo, and George Sand saw like high visions 
of the possibilities for human nature, if only it lived freely 
and openly by its self-appointed ideals. 

The next step in the march of Socialism is on a humbler 
level. A little younger than Saint Simon, but of far other 
origin : a petty shopkeeper s son, himself a shopman and 
commercial traveller, Charles Fourier was especially impressed 


by the unnecessary frictions, the senseless competition,, the 
commercial struggle for life, which went on around him, and 
which were due, he thought, entirely to the present absurd 
arrangements which broke men and women up into separate 
families, and forced each person throughout life, not merely to 
retain the partners of their original choice, but to follow one 
trade and one only from year to year thus sinking deeper 
into an isolation from all other human beings, finding life 
more and more monotonous in his narrow routine, and fretting 
his soul in a base endeavour to overreach his neighbours. The 
ideal of Fourier is Harmony, in which competition is trans 
formed into emulation, friction into co-operation, and work 
becomes veritably play. This magic change follows attention 
to the fundamental laws of human nature the law of 
passional attraction. The ordinary life proceeds on the 
assumption that man is a monotone a being of a single and 
consistent wish. In truth, says Fourier, he is a twelve- 
stringed instrument in his normal fullness, and admits of all 
possible variations in the strength of the various impulses, 
the combinations or groupings of these impulses, and the 
dominant moods which regulate their play. Hence to let 
these aspects of a many-sided human nature have free course 
and realization, a new social order must appear, in which vice 
will disappear because only due to natural bent which man s 
misplacement has turned into a curse. To that end the mono 
gamous family must go, and in its place must arise a social 
unity of larger numbers, some 2,000 souls, old and young, 
who shall form a phalanx of the new social army. In 
each such group where likings, varying from hour to hour, 
determine each man s work and his companions, and where 
ingenious arrangements take its sting from the primitive 
curse of labour, a combined organization, freely built up by 
natural impulse, aims at the production of some species of 
product : and as the whole world will one day be covered 
with similar phalanxes, each engaged with zest and skill on 


a special product, the adjustment of one canton s product to 
another will flow from spontaneous harmony of passions, and 
hardly need any interference from the titular omniarch, who 
sits ruling 1 the nations from Constantinople. When the loss 
due to war, friction, and irregular production is thus removed, 
the wealth of the world will fabulously mount. But let us 
do Fourier the justice to say that, if he had these gallant 
visions of future weal and wealth, he was consistent enough, 
at least in his earliest work, to dream that, as a glorious 
aurora rose triumphant in the northern sky, the harmonious 
world would find nature s fauna equally ready in the service 
of peace and increase. 

A fantastic dreamer, doubtless. But the fantastic element 
may in part be easily discounted, and was so by his early 
followers. What remains? A first systematic attempt to 
show the mechanism of the appetites and propensipns of 
human nature, and to claim for man s senses their right 
to a beautiful, fit, and harmonious environment, instead of 
the present hideousness which stares upon us from a dress, 
manners, and habitation which have no living relation to the 
beings they enclose. A protest against the selfishness of life, 
and a plan, capable no doubt of much amendment, for making 
freedom of social intercourse and expression of public spirit 
a possibility. And thirdly, a plan for giving to talent, to 
capital, and to labour, a proportionate share in the social 
product: a plan which puts labour decidedly first, capital 
second, and leaves talent largely to that self -approbation 
which must always be its main reward. 

Out of these two prophets of socialism comes all that is 
pictorial in its literature, distinct in its conception of the 
future society, attractive to the needs of the human heart, 
and inspiring to the souls who here and there aspired to an 
ampler life, a less selfish companionship. But as yet the 
mission had only touched these higher souls, in France, in 
England, in America, and in Germany, who felt dissatisfied 


with the chaos and coldness of life, and with the wayward 
ignorance and hopelessness of the masses. The next step 
required therefore was to popularize the ideas, to give them 
a more artistic grouping, and to bring them into closer 
contact with the ordinary needs and conceptions of common 
men. That was done by the social Romance of Cabet. Here 
a communistic state was portrayed in its supposed actual 
working in some as yet undiscovered land beyond the 
Atlantic. It is a nation entirely composed of working men 
and women, but where the working-day never extends beyond 
seven hours, where each worker feels that he or she is a public 
functionary, no less than if he or she is invested, as may any 
day happen, with the official titles and duties of authority. 
It is a land in which all that comfort and care, all that 
co-operation can accomplish, has been attained. Woman, the 
ouvriere and there are no ladies who are not oumieres is 
acknowledged in every family to be the social queen : and 
family life runs on sweet and pleasant throughout, as it does 
in our present world only in its halcyon days. Strict but 
gracious decorum prevails in every province of life, maintained 
by an imperious order, which, like a predestined fate, fears no 
obstruction and is strong with the strength of the universal 
will. A wise directory sees that everything is done as reason 
and justice demand, and as secures the common good. Every 
step in life from beginning to end is taken under the direction 
and by the measures of the public authority. The child is, if 
possible, ushered into the world in a hospital : and early 
education, uniform for all, and the same for both sexes at 
first, is traced out by comprehensive orders of council. The 
choice of professions is conducted under official supervision, 
and, if need be, determined by examination. Every branch 
of industry is fixed as regards its extent and conduct by 
regulation from above, and the whole social capital is the 
property of the community, which must directly command its 
administration. The dress, the food, the hours of meals, are 


all the subject of regulation lists, which are the fruit of the 
best consideration which science and experience can give to 
these problems. Courtship is by no means conducted in 
a corner,, and celibacy is the subject of severe reproach. Art 
and letters are under a moral and political censorship, which 
forbids e. g. the exhibition of the nude, and allows only an 
official press, suppressing the firebrands of journalism. 
Government is conducted in the fullest light of public 
criticism, and no excuse of need of diplomatic secrecy or 
reasons of state tolerated for an instant. And as for religion, 
why, though heaven and hell are convenient beliefs for the 
wretched who look onward to compensation for themselves 
and their oppressors, they are meaningless in this Icarian 
community, where religion is replaced by an ethical system, 
f sans ceremonie ni pratique qui sente la superstition. At 
last comes the end of life, and the deceased Icarian, after 
finally serving his country by being submitted to dis 
section and having the report, nameless, entered in the public 
register, is dissolved by cremation into his elements. 

Such was the work which its author, a Frenchman, who 
had lived some years in England, and read Sir Thomas More, 
put forward to give the imagination of the masses. And, 
ever since, the pictures of that romance in spite, be it 
added, of the poor little homesteads which were all that came 
visibly out of the attempts to realize the Icarian community 
in Illinois and Iowa these pictures, modified here and there, 
even illuminated more brightly in parts by later hands, 
have served as the basis of the portraitures of the Socialist 
millennium. But if Cabet and his imitators furnish the 
doctrine of the latter-day things, his apocalypse of the New 
Jerusalem, we must go elsewhere for the Gospels and the 
Epistles of Socialism : and pass from the prophets to the 
evangelists and teachers. 

In the latter half of the reign of Louis Philippe, the social 
restlessness which had brought him to the crown had 


continued to penetrate deeper and deeper, as his own bourgeois 
selfishness and stolidity, the prudish pedantry of his ministers, 
and the general stagnation of political life, made the heart 
sicker and sicker with hopes deferred. The rose water 
landscapes of Cabet might please inexperienced milliners 
or poetical enthusiasts. The real workman in his times of 
misery, the thinker considering the false and selfish ends 
of social ambition, and the agitator, anxious to see his ideas 
of liberty and justice victorious over the old powers of 
legitimate monarchy, took a sterner view of the needs of the 
time of the Condition-of- Europe question. In England, 
France, and Germany the irritation is at a height. Theo 
logians, poets, essayists, politicians, all in various tones 
discuss the evil, and examine or propose remedies. In 
England perhaps there is least talking, just because there 
is most acting. In the early years of the post-Napoleonic 
period Robert Owen had come forward with proposals for 
moulding men into happy and productive citizens by a more 
real, practical, and all-embracing education, physical, moral, 
and intellectual, and by a co-operative system of labour com 
munities. But Owen s work was in the main a personal, 
practical work, done at New Lanark j done, it may be added, 
before his theory had been definitely dogmatized. His 
theoretical contribution is in quality and real content incon 
siderable : and that for two reasons. The first is his own 
organizing personality, which was everything and every 
where : bent, as his phrase was, on forming men s character 
for them by the circumstances and influences he could bring 
to bear on them, treating them in short as passively plastic to 
his wise master-hand. The other reason was his conflict with 
the instincts and prepossessions nearest to the heart of 
England: his mechanical system, his calm declaration of 
favour of a purely reasonable religion, and his proposals 
towards loosening the traditional securities of the family or 
domestic relationship. Yet, as has been pointed out more 


than once, while other nations have developed socialistic 
theory, England during the second quarter of the present 
century entered by the Factory Laws on that long series of 
socialist measures, by which the free will or caprice of indi 
vidual owners to do what they liked with their own, even if 
that own were but the labour-power which they had to sell, 
was subjected to regulation, inspection, and positive require 
ment of beneficial service, in the interest, so far as that 
interest was understood, of all those immediately concerned, 
and, in consequence, of the community at large. 

Elsewhere the fires, which corn-law abolition and factory 
inspection had calmed at least for a time in England, burned 
vigorously enough, if largely in secret. In the manufacturing 
towns of Western and Northern Switzerland, in the plains of 
the lower Rhine, and sporadically in other parts, the working 
classes were being drawn into associations when they learned 
their strength and began to realize their wants. Many 
motives worked together in founding these clubs and secret 
societies. The most prominent and at first probably the 
most efficient was the spirit of republican freedom, which had 
been fostered and nattered in the Great War of Liberation, 
but which, in the twenty years after Waterloo, had been, by 
exasperation from within and unwise repression from above, 
gradually turned into a bitter hatred of the Prussian 
monarchy, and an ardent desire to see the three-and-thirty 
princedoms of Germany absorbed in one great free Father 
land. Next to this motive was an ideal tendency, to foster 
a higher public spirit in the federations of the labouring class, 
to raise their standard of education, and give them a taste 
for nobler pleasures, social interests of permanent value. And 
lastly and more potently there was a communistic motive : 
a desire to level all ranks down to one standard, to eliminate 
all special authorities and orders from society, and to band 
the labourers together into the one all-embracing class, which 
is really no class but the generality. 


The centre of this system of fiery agitation was for a long 
time Paris. As early as 1836 a Communist League had been 
founded there by Germans. Four years later it emigrated to 
London, where it has since remained, connected with the 
associations of similar aims throughout Europe and America. 
In 1846 the League offered a place in its councils to one 
who according to common report had at length succeeded 
in founding socialism on strictly scientific views of the 
development of the social state. Karl Marx, the most 
notable and original advocate of these germs of economico- 
social theory, was then in his twenty-eighth year. In 1847 
he and his friend Engels issued the Manifesto of the Com 
munist Party an appeal to the proletarians of all nations 
to combine to overthrow the capitalist party by the attain 
ment of political power. But the cry was heard in a desert : 
and the sanguine anticipations which Marx and other leaders 
entertained of a favouring juncture in German policy were 
signally disappointed. The London Exhibition of 1 862 gave 
an occasion to a renewal of the attempt to federate the 
revolutionary elements among European workmen : and in 
1864 the International Working Men s Association was 
founded with a somewhat similar aim. But this associa 
tion was a conglomerate of many elements some, like the 
followers of Mazzini, being quite opposed to Socialism. But 
the Socialistic element carried the day, and Marx remained 
practically supreme in the Association till about 1872, when 
the growing strength of the Anarchist elements at the Hague 
Congress led to its lapse and the transference of these 
elements to America. Since that date the strength of the 
Socialist party has lain in Germany. When Karl Marx died in 
1883, the socialist parties of Germany who in 1871 had polled 
only about i in 40, and in 1877 nearly i in 10 votes, suc 
ceeded, notwithstanding the Socialist Law of 1878, in slightly 
increasing their votes even beyond that proportion. 

But, leaving these statistics which are more pretentious 


than edifying, and throw almost no light on the real numbers 
o believers in Socialism, and still less as to what their belief 
involves, let us return and try to understand the scientific 
basis on which Marx based Socialism. His chief work, Das 
Kapital, of which the first volume was originally published 
in 1867, is the sacred book of Socialism. The work is 
incomplete: but, as it stands, it forms the text to which 
almost socialistic literature of later times is but the com 
mentary. In form the work is no treatise on Socialism : it 
is a criticism of the current political economy and of the 
capitalist mode of production. 

To understand the position of Marx we must remember 
that he began life in an intellectual atmosphere thoroughly 
pervaded by the spirit of German philosophy. Fichte had 
shown his view of public rights by such utterances as that 
the State is bound to see that every one is able to live by his 
labour, and that the blameless poor has an absolute com 
pulsory right to support by the State : that mines and forests 
are properly state property ; and that the first aim of 
hunting is the protection of agriculture and by no means the 
possession of game/ Fichte had even planned an economic 
state, where everything was organized for the general good, 
and not by the individual profit. Hegel in his Philosophy of 
Law had been equally decided. The trader is virtually a public 
functionary and servant, and the community ought to see 
that he fulfils his part. Free-trade requires a general super 
vision to mitigate and shorten the periods of violent con 
vulsion which arise in the course of natural adjustments of 
supply and demand. Society has taken the place of the 
parents and is bound to fulfil their duties to its members, 
especially the poor, and that not merely by relieving their 
distress, but by taking steps to save them from the vices 
which their position, with its sense of wrong, naturally 
generates. When society is left to its own unregulated 
activity, the growing interdependence of men upon each 


other leads to the generation, and the more and more rapid 
generation, of a small class of immensely rich, and a numerous 
class, depressed in its resources below the normal level of sub 
sistence, lost consequently to all sense of law and honesty 
and honour a rabble, or, as it was afterwards called, a Pro 
letariat. In this way it appears that with all its excessive 
wealth, economic society is not rich enough to suppress such 
a proletariat. The immediate remedy which Hegel sees is 
in the revival of the mediaeval guilds and corporations in 
a form appropriate to modern circumstances. The corporation 
or guild gives its members a wider family home, a common 
stock of repute, character, capital, on which he is saved from 
the oscillations of individual competition, and is trained in 
a school of at least comparative devotion to a common cause. 
Isolation of the individual worker leads to a race for riches : 
and the advantage of belonging to a chartered guild in the 
light of publicity is to check the tendency to individual 
prodigality on one hand, or individual lagging behind in the 
work of industry and commerce on the other. The corpora 
tion, limiting what is called the natural right to dispose of his 
skill as he pleases, really elevates him to be a conscious 
contributor to a common end. And above the corporation 
is the State, which keeps the highest common good alive in 
the several minor or particular associations, where particu 
larities are only too likely to harden and ossify. 

It can hardly be wondered at that words like these were 
as wormwood to the German liberals, as similar doctrines 
were and are to the extremer free-traders among ourselves. 
But Karl Marx was not likely to suppose that such functions 
could be entrusted to the Prussian Government. The real, 
i. e. the ideal, state, of which Hegel had thus spoken, he saw 
in quite another direction, and he approached the considera 
tion of it from quite another level. All the socialists from 
Saint Simon and Fourier downwards had poured out con 
tempt on the moralist, the philosopher, and the metaphysician. 


To them these were the word-mongers of idealism dealers in 
some distillation or other from that spiritualist theory which 
finds its best-known shape in religion. All alike attempted 
to rule the world by unrealities, by figments. Duties, says 
Fourier, are only the caprices of philosophers : they are 
human and variable : but the passions are the voice of nature 
and God, and the end of all desire, the fullness of happiness, 
is that graduated opulence which puts one above want/ and, 
through and in it, the satisfaction of all one s passions. 
Marx does not deal with the basis of life in this popular and 
grossly materialist way. And yet his materialism is in its 
own way equally decided. 

The true basis on which all the phenomena of human 
life, and therefore of history, find their explanation is the 
economic. Economic needs and the mode of satisfying them 
are the ultimate factors which in slightly concealed or com 
pletely disguised aspects meet us under the names of politics, 
morals, and religion. The phenomena may seem to hover 
about celestial regions, to centre on ideas, and to consist in 
questions of just or unjust policy. But these are illusions, 
which have been fostered by certain malformations in the 
economic structure, and which will disappear when once 
economic phenomena have, returned to their normal limpidity, 
and permit every one to see clearly that man s activity to 
supply his needs of life is the only permanent fact behind 
all the phantasmagoria of metaphysics and theology. The 
relations of labour and its reward are therefore at the basis 
of all history are the only reality in all history. Behind 
the history of creeds, dogmas, and philosophies, behind the 
struggles of constitutional and religious history, behind wars 
and diplomacy, behind the organization of family and state, 
behind democracy and oligarchy, behind the developments 
of art and science, there is the great record of the gradual 
stages in that process whereby labour became divorced from 
enjoyment, the means of life from the labourer, and the free 


man in direct appropriation of nature is replaced by a society 
in which the vast majority are disinherited of the right of 
direct approach to the means of subsistence,, and those who 
are their reputed possessors are only holders of a bond 
endorsed by the society of the period. 

There was once a time, perhaps, in primitive ages and 
backward civilizations, when the members of a little com 
munity were all comparatively on a level, and each had his 
traditional place assigned him in the commonwealth, directly 
serving it and serving himself, but not dependent on indi 
viduals, and so in a modicum of comfort enjoying the sense 
of independent work. But at the beginning of our European 
history in the classical period a change had been nearly con 
summated, which ended in breaking up mankind into two 
groups, the slave-holding proprietors on one hand, and their 
slaves on the other. The few independent members of society 
hardly count when that form of society reached its climax. 
This is succeeded in due course by the mediaeval society, with 
its contrasts between feudal lords and their serfs, and the 
master with his assistants in the trade guilds. The workman 
in that period has not acquired his general or abstract 
character of labourer : and the master is not a mere employer 
for wages. The relation between the two parties is a personal 
and human one : the serf does a definite and particular labour 
in kind, and receives a definite and particular protection : the 
subordinates in the guild-relation are bound to their master 
by ties almost domestic. The social character of labour 
is not veiled in its exchangeability for a money price, 
and the social relation of the producers not disposed of by 
a commercial transaction. But these relations are inflexible 
and narrow, and tend to sink into a mere dependence on 
particular individuals, where the only gain is that one 
has a definite master, a definite attachment, and is not 
a miserable 3 cut off even from the privilege of being ruled. 
Where Karl Marx really enters fully and with zeal into 


the history of economic movement, however, is when he traces 
the stages which have led to the capitalist production of 
modern times. The rise of the commercial and mercantile 
class, the progress of industrial undertakings on a large 
scale, the character given to manufacture by the introduction 
of machinery, are all described with force and abundant 
illustration. We hurry on to the denouement. Self -wrought 
private property, resting so to speak on the coalescence 
of the isolated and independent individual labourer with 
the conditions or means of his labour, is displaced by the 
private property of the capitalist, which rests on the exploita 
tion of the labour of others, yet labour which in form is 
free. ... As soon as this transformation-process has dis 
integrated the old society deeply and widely enough, i. e. as 
soon as the labourer is thoroughly divorced from the means 
of existence, then the further step in socializing labour, and 
in transforming the earth and other means of production 
into instruments worked by the organized effort of the com 
munity in short, the next step in expropriating the private 
proprietors is taken. What is now to disinherit is no longer 
the labourer working on his own stock of goods, but the 
capitalist who gets the work out of many labourers. This 
expropriation is carried out through the law inherent in the 
very nature of capitalist production, through the concentra 
tion of capitals. Every one capitalist is the death of many. 
Hand in hand with this concentration or the expropriation 
of many capitalists by a few, the co-operative form of the 
labour process grows more and more extensive. Then the 
monopolizing of capital grows a fetter on the mode of pro 
duction, which has sprung up with it and under it. At 
last the centralization of the means of production and the 
associative mode of labour reach a point where they become 
incompatible with their capitalist integument. The integu 
ment is burst up. The hour of capitalist private property 
has struck. The expropriators are expropriated/ 

E e 


The main work of Marx may thus be said to fall into two 
parts, a theoretical and a practical. The general purport of 
the theory is a refutation of the claims of the current economics 
to be considered a science of the general group of phenomena 
with which it deals. In this, he on the whole may be said to 
join sides with the critics who point out that political economy 
has not risen to the scientific height of surveying its facts 
from a universal or comprehensive point of view, but has 
remained immersed in local and temporary aspects of the 
phenomena in question, treating the present order of things 
as an absolute or eternal truth, instead of one stage in a 
process, the whole laws of which form the only adequate 
object of economic science. In the practical tendency of his 
argument, however, Marx stands on a somewhat different 
ground. The pure and abstract historian, if such a creature 
there be, is content with pointing out sequences, and is 
cautious in presuming he can detect causes, still more un 
willing to profess to foresee tendencies and immanent laws. 
The human being, who has not so learned to mutilate his 
mind, is forced to look at things otherwise. To him the 
past is big with the future. However uncertain may be his 
footing, he must use it to jump, or at least to step, into the 
problems that wait for him. They cannot be put off till 
uncertainty be annihilated. And so, as we saw, Marx, doing 
his best to gather the drift or normal tendency of social- 
economic movement, proclaims it as the only light we can 
have to guide our path and fix in some way the goal. He 
doubtless erred, as all prophets have inclined to err, in 
supposing that the end was close at hand, that the process 
of socializing capital was all but complete. But a little 
error in calculation does not seriously interfere with the 
truth of the general principle. And that principle is that 
the present line of movement is tending in what may briefly 
be called a socialist direction. To us, imitating him, the true 
attitude towards this movement is neither to ban nor to 


bless it. If we hesitate, as we should, to term it a natural 
law, a necessity of social evolution, we cannot deny that it 
is one, a prominent, perhaps the dominant tendency of our 
modern civilization. Those who fight against it are by the 
inner dialectic of antagonism compelled to use its own weapons, 
and undertake its work. They fight in fact not against it, 
but against the men who advocate it. Just as the heathen 
sages and kings sought to stay Christian progress by evincing 
the inner Christianity of the Pagan theology, just as the 
conservative defeats the radicals by showing that, on occa 
sion and in his heart of hearts, he is more reforming than 
they, so Prince Bismarck outbids the socialist by a series 
of laws enforcing the very duties which the workmen s unions 
have been aiming at. The good landlord and the bad, almost 
equally, though by different modes of motion, support the 
socialist argument. Every syndicate formed to regulate the 
price of a commodity, in a particular interest, shows the 
imminence of socialization. The more our individual and our 
collective welfare hangs upon vast congeries of machinery, 
partially dependent of each other, and beyond individual super 
vision and control except for selfish and, it may be, sinister 
ends the more a collective, i.e. a centralized administration, 
is necessary. Since the first railroads were carried across 
private property for the common good by coercive law, barely 
half a century has elapsed, and not so much since the factory 
acts really exercised any considerable influence : yet how 
much has already been done in the same direction. And if 
we look nearer home, it is plain that university legislation and 
university practice have alike tended towards consolidation, 
subordination to common ends, the socialization of intellectual 
capital, and the recognition by the individual labourer of his 
social or communitarian function. 

Are we then to conclude that by a quiet and easy transition, 
society, as it now is, will be so internally transformed by the 
many molecular changes going on slowly and imperceptibly 

E e 2 


within it, that one fine morning the world will awake and find 
itself socialist in name, as it has long been tending to become 
in fact ? Or, will the change from the old order to the new 
be a violent one, the pang of a revolution, abruptly and sharply 
rending the continuity of life ? No man will wisely attempt 
the task of prophet, save in decorous generalities. Of old 
time one said, the kingdom of heaven cometh even as a thief 
in the night ; and yet again, Heed not them who say Lo here 
or Lo there, for the kingdom of heaven is within you. So 
perhaps will it be with this generation. It must be that 
stumbling-blocks bar the way, and there will be some rough 
jolting, perhaps even some deadlier accidents in the movement. 
But, on the other hand, the end is not yet. Prophetic socialism 
lifts up its eyes to the hills ; but it hardly realizes how far off 
they are ; how, indeed, to the thinker they are already ascer 
tained to be the hills of heaven, though more cynical observers 
might be inclined to call them the fabled mountains of the 
moon. Philosophy does not much sympathize with the popular 
conceptions or misconceptions of what is meant by progress. 
To the vulgar rhetorician the word, uttered too often in 
Pharisaic self-commendation, suggests the image of a long 
straight road, which, goes on, becomes wider and fuller, 
and filled with a wiser, a merrier, a richer assemblage a 
continuous accumulation of good things, with perhaps just 
a few movements of malaise, an occasional time of trial, but 
not more than enough to season and enhance the general sense 
of getting on. And another view, held by those who fancy 
they give accuracy to their conceptions by a mixture of 
exact science, regards progress as taking place along some 
complicated curve, where, like the traveller through the 
Saint Gothard following his way gradually through a succes 
sion of circles which land him at each outlet on higher and 
higher planes, we seem alternately to recede from and approach 
the end in view. Perhaps a sober philosophy, not too con 
temptuous of the past, nor too sanguine of the future, will 


hesitate to assess the difference of culture-level : and will be 
inclined to say that it is sufficient faith in God and nature to 
think that all is for good, without venturing to transcend our 
data and say it is all either for the better or the best, much less 
that all is for the worst. To that frame of mind it will be 
suitable to suppose that each age has its own problem : and that 
as its day is, so will its strength be. If the problem is more 
complex,, we may fairly hold that the powers of solving the 
problem are multiplied in proportion, but we shall not therefore 
conclude that the result is of a higher value. We may shrink 
from assuming that anything beyond a transference of energy 
can take place, and hesitate to commit ourselves to theories 
and they are those of our current philosophy that the 
world goes on accumulating virtue, able at once to eat its 
cake and store it up. 

And what is the bearing of these generalities on human 
progress on the present question ? This : that socialism is no 
solution of the human problem, but that in its general outline 
it is rather an indication of its nature, and an attempt to 
formulate how it has arisen, and in what it consists. That 
problem is the perennial problem of human association : a 
problem which at intervals becomes more aggravating and 
threatening, and therefore calls forth by natural and normal 
response new efforts to comprehend the difficulty and to find 
the way out of it. In such an accentuated phase now stands 
the problem of freeing man s life from its recurrent tendency 
to become as Hobbes said, solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and 
short/ It is easier in such a case either to minimize or to 
magnify the evil : but there is safety in saying that socialism, 
whatever its aberrations, has the credit of keeping people alive 
to the fact that the social compact is always making and 
never made, and that it has now become like an ill-fitting 
dress, which is displacing the assimilative system of society, 
causing irregular excitation of the heart, and clogging the 
organs of breathing. 


Not merely does it indicate that there is a problem : it 
diagnoses fairly well the central seat of the disease, or, 
perhaps we should say perturbation. The old Saint-Simonian 
society talked about the rehabilitation of the flesh. The word, 
it is urged, has a dangerous sound. Why, that s certain ; 
we reply with Hotspur : tis dangerous to take a cold, to 
sleep, to drink ! but out of this nettle, danger, we pluck this 
flower, safety. Socialism is part of the general protest 
which has been raised in the realistic interest against a 
fantastic and unsubstantial idealism, or spiritualism, or intel- 
lectualism. When mediaeval Christendom said in its early 
artists, teste Browning, 

To bring the invisible full into play, 
Let the visible go to the dogs, what matters? 

it spoke a very aspiring and, let us retort, a very dangerous 
dogma. The modern socialist might and perhaps does demand 
the whole charter of man : but he naturally begins by re- 
demanding what was last taken from him. That the physical 
life of the body is the basis of everything else, bright with the 
promise of all life, in art, morals, science and religion, is the one 
conviction that emerges more and more definitely and palpably 
in all modern ethics. The soul, indeed, is highest : but we cannot 
now believe that the soul may be saved without the body, or 
that physical health and vigour are other than absolutely indis 
pensable to enable the higher life, the real life, to become all 
that it was meant to be. And this rehabilitation of the 
flesh/ if properly understood, is not contradictory of the pre 
cept which bids us deny the flesh. If for one moment I may 
borrow a Hegelian formula, I should say that our proper 
attitude in this matter is a negation of a negation. If the 
denial of the flesh means discipline and culture, means self- 
control, means the consecration of natural powers to ideal 
ends, then is such denial praiseworthy. But a mere rejection, 
ignoring, soaring above the flesh, is vain and false. And the 
rehabilitation of the flesh means only that the passionate nature, 


at first silenced as an intruder into the life of the spirit, must 
cease that silence and learn a new language. 

The movement is part of that tendency of the modern 
world to put the state and secular functions supreme. In the 
Middle Ages the Church stood foremost. Mediaeval life 
seemed to centre in the Church, as the mediaeval town 
clustered round the towers and buttresses of its cathedrals. 
But it needs not much acquaintance with mediaeval life to say 
that the semblance must not here, more than elsewhere, be 
taken for the reality. As you examine more carefully, you 
see that the sacred place is the home of art and science, and 
that in the carvings on its walls you can trace the evidence o 
the same jovial and not over sanctimonious mirth which laughs 
out in the farces and fabliaux of the period. Round the 
consecrated altar-slab, the nave and aisles of the church, 
were ground in which plays and marketing were neither 
vulgar nor unclean : and I need not tell a Cambridge audience 
that as late as the reign of Elizabeth a play of Plautus was 
performed in King s College Chapel. There came afterwards 
a period of differentiation. It was a result, fostered by the 
Reformation, and still more by the counter-Reformation, to 
make broad and stern the distinction between the secular and 
the sacred : and out of this there issued in the sixteenth and 
seventeenth century the real struggle between the sacerdotal 
and religious element on the one hand, and the secular and 
scientific on the other. By the close of the seventeenth 
century the Church and religion seemed on the whole vic 
torious. But the eighteenth century reversed the process, and 
by the close of it the triumph of this world and the secular 
commonwealth seemed secure. Further experience has shown 
the delusion of those who thought so. The secularistic move 
ment of the present century has had to go deeper and to 
embrace a wider range. To go deeper : instead of the mere 
light, intellectual enlightenment, which the eighteenth century 
held to be the highest gift, it has had to seek for a more 


adequate basis of knowledge, to penetrate beneath the surface 
of civilization into the workman s lodging-, the factory, and 
the peasant s hut to realize the existence of what has been 
called a fourth class behind the tiers etat which emancipated 
itself a century ago. But at the same time the enlightenment 
of the nineteenth century, as it has found a profounder basis 
of fact and knowledge, so it has taken up into itself an ideal 
spirit, an influence of poetry, art, and religion, which formerly 
seemed to it absurd and intelligible. The same society which 
bade put on the flesh the new robe of honour, also declared that 
all its energies were to be enlisted in the service of humanity. 

Thus socialism has done well, if it has succeeded in producing 
any conviction in the general mind that political party, religious 
service, and scientific study, all derive their permanent value 
from the direct service they render in eliminating the eliminable 
causes of human wretchedness. If it can break in pieces any 
of our political, religious, or educational fetiches, and bring 
the priest, the politician and the schoolmaster and bookman to 
realize that the question of questions ultimately is, Whom have 
thy labours made better, what hungry and thirsty and stranger 
and sick hast thou endowed and helped with thy sympathy 
and aid, socialism will not have been fruitless of good. 

Socialism, as was pointed out, is an acute phase of the 
general social question. It contains in itself, and raised to 
the highest pitch, the two opposite tendencies which govern 
the whole process of history. These tendencies appear in 
socialism in an aggravated, an almost inconceivable antago 
nism. They are individualism, the proclamation of freedom 
and equality : and communism, the principle of fraternity or 
of something to which fraternity is only an approach. On 
one hand, the demand for absolute independence, for suppres 
sion of all authoritative interference from without, for the 
right to free development from without. On the other, 
the cry for organization, for socialization, for intensifying 
the solidarity of all social action and life. 


It is sometimes said, and there is a superficial truth in the 
saying, that there are two sets of socialists, the collectivists 
and the anarchists. But it is nearer the fact to say that 
there are two warring- tendencies inherent in socialism 
which, to repeat it again, is only conscious and intensified 
society two tendencies, of which one is more prominent in 
certain minds, or at certain times, and in certain circum 
stances, or more specially adapted to the conditions of certain 

A word on Anarchism/ It is an ugly word, and, if 
associated with bombshells or dynamite, it becomes uglier still. 
But listen to two of the anarchists who were put to death at 
Chicago in 1886. Anarchism/ says one, f does not mean 
bloodshed : does not mean robbery, arson, &c. Anarchism 
means the reorganization of society upon scientific principles. 
Anarchism is a free society without kings or classes, a society 
of sovereigns in which the liberty and economic equality of all 
would furnish an unshakable equilibrium as a foundation and 
condition of social order/ Anarchy/ says another, f is the 
natural law, instead of the man-made statute. Laws, natural 
laws, just laws, are not made, they are discovered. Every 
human ill is produced by the denial of man^s natural rights/ It 
is clear that such anarchism as this is a deduction, an applica 
tion of a very respectable doctrine, the doctrine to which 
John Milton and John Locke have lent their names. It is also 
fair to remember that anarchism, as it arose in minds like 
those of the Russian Bakunin, is the normal reaction from 
despotism and autocracy, the sovereignty of a despotic church 
or state. And lastly, when men like Mr. William Morris 
take an analogous position and cover it with the name of 
Communism, while expressing their doubts of the permanent 
value of the socialistically-organized state, it is clea.r that the 
doctrine is only an exaggeration of a truth. Anarchism, then, 
is an unfortunate name, a distorted expression of the view 
that, the more human action proceeds from internal motives 


and the less it is vitiated by f all the paraphernalia of official 
authority, which is after all a burden/ the better will be the 
results for human welfare and individual development. If 
thus conceived as an ideal of the state where each is a law to 
himself, because his basal principle is a faith of solidarity with 
others, and where free play is given to faculty in all its 
individuality of growth, because it draws its force from a 
common soil, anarchy is transformed into an angel of light. 
And if it adopt the name of Communism, it is a communism 
which all true theories of the State have maintained, when 
they conceived it not as a hindrance but as a help to develop 
ment, as the common foster-mother, out of whom proceed 
all useful and precious functions, differentiating into endless 
forms of individual and class performance, but never losing 
allegiance to the central idea of a common life in which they 
live, from which they issue, and to enrich and diversify which 
they contribute. If Mr. Morris thinks that our modern states 
are too large to give a real home, and that lesser social unities 
or communes should gather together under the shelter of 
the State as the mighty mother of communes/ that is 
a form of home wile to which no objection can be taken, 
provided you can be sure that the members of your petty 
groups are worthy citizens, who can keep their local patriotism 
in subordination to, or rather in essential harmony with their 
general partnership in the community 1 . 

1 This lecture seems to have been the introduction to a fuller discussion 
of the subject, of which there remains only a few notes, and the section 
which follows dealing with the views of Fichte and Hegel. 



IT is urged by writers like Schaffle that Hegelianism is the 
true parent of Socialism. Hegel, they say, as the anti-refor 
mation said of Erasmus Hegel laid the egg, if the Socialists 
hatched it. Yet it used to be maintained by writers of the 
extreme Liberalist School in Germany that Hegel s work 
on the Philosophy of Law, published in 1821, was, a philosophy 
in the interests of Prussian absolutism. The facts of such 
opposing accusations seem to indicate that that philosophy 
was, as it claimed to be, superior to the disturbing influences 
of partisanship or political bias. From the days of Socrates 
and Plato downwards no eminent philosopher has escaped 
this assault from partisans, who, finding their theories were 
not entirely accepted and .defended by him, concluded he had 
gone over to the side of the enemy. The vulgar and the 
common politician is always vulgar parts all mankind by an 
Either, Or/ Either he is with us, or he is against us/ His 
little mind cannot see that a larger intelligence may embrace 
what he cannot jnay put his shibboleth and its antagonist 
cry alongside of each other, and show they only need a little 
mutual explanation in order to attain the common aim they 
pursue by opposing means. Against the impatient cry c He 
that is not with us is against us/ Hegel set the calmer He 
that is not against us is on our side/ 

Fichte, as we have seen, had attempted a sort of a priori 
construction of the State. In his usual method of step by 


step deduction lie had shown that human beings, if they are 
to live together in the same sphere or range, must inevitably 
arrange their community of life on general and all-embracing 
principles. A common and uniformly accepted organization 
must grow up. For Fichte is not looking at what happens 
with human beings as they are. As they are, they are, most 
of them, figuratively half -asleep : they let life drift on, and 
get into new situations and relations almost at haphazard. 
One person, and one group of persons organizes life a little 
here, and another organizes it a little there. But, even in 
what is called one State, two conterminous often live largely 
in unconcern of each other. In such a community, visibly 
and outwardly one, there are a million centres of organization, 
sometimes indifferent to each other, sometimes crossing and 
thwarting each other, but never going on in any direction 
more than a little way. So the world has grown up by 
patches here and there: each province, it may be each 
parish, with a way and system of its own, and in none 
very thoroughly carried out. And individuals do likewise : 
their minds are like cupboards, each drawer of which has 
been filled from a separate source : they keep their thoughts 
in isolated compartments. 

Fichte, on the contrary, was the Son of the Revolution, 
full of its Titanic spirit of radical reconstruction. He sets 
before his mind the process of a state-formation in which 
every individual would be wide-awake, would be fully alive 
to his own interests, would take no step without seriously 
considering all its bearings, and Avould stop nowhere short 
of the ultimate conclusion. He is the prince of doctrinaires, 
the undaunted and somewhat impatient champion of freedom 
and of reason. In his constructions we assist at the work 
of a people of dialecticians who, when they have said A, 
know that they must say B, and will not shrink from the 
resolute development of every element till they have come 
to their Z. This is what is meant by the State of Reason, 


the Reasonable State. In a sense every state which people live 
under is a reasonable state : it has its meaning, its justifica 
tion, its historic value and truth. But reasonable in Fichte s 
sense it is not. To be literally reasonable in that sense, 
it must be a transparent system of deductions, one stage 
emerging from another, one condition implicating another, 
in the reasoning vision of a single intelligence. Fichte s 
idealism will be content with nothing short of constructing 
the state by a logical process from its first wide outlines to 
its closely compacted organization. 

We need only note a few points in which Fichte s 
rationalizing spirit brings him somewhat on the lines of the 
Socialists. Not that Fichte was of the general metal of 
which Socialists are made. But the poor weaver s son of 
Rammenau in Lusatia had seen the bitterness of the peasant s 
lot : he had observed the social disorder of his age : and his 
heart rose against those who seemed to claim that man was 
made to obey the laws, whereas laws are only sanctified by 
their constituting a well-doing community. He had not before 
him, like the Socialists of 1840 and onwards, the degrada 
tion of the industrial population of large towns : but the 
German peasantry were sufficient instance to give point 
and meaning to his general principles. And he resolves at 
one bound as it were to put himself in the heart of the 
situation. He, Fichte, becomes the multitudinous nation : 
he in his own reflection relives their gathering into social 
and national unity : he brings under the focus of his powerful 
mind all the movements that were really transacted in a 
million brains, and which for that reason were loosely and 
incoherently transacted : he, strongly grasping his discordant 
elements together, constructs the organized State, so that 
it is a perfect mechanism, with not a joint loose or cranky, 
and with a thorough system of telegraphy and communica 
tion making- it all advance and move as one man. It is 


a splendid machine a little too perfect perhaps in theory 


but that will do no great harm in a philosophical specula 
tion, which has a long 1 way before it till it works down into 

In such a state there will be no privileged classes none 
entitled to an exemption from the common burden. There 
will of course be distinctions, and each individual will have 
his special work : but none will be excused work altogether. 
The State cannot in its issue deny the ends which were fore 
most in the less compacted aggregate of human lives out of 
which it arose. And so each must claim his original right 
to the means of subsistence : in other words, society is con 
demned, if it has become so organized that any part of the 
population is against his will prevented from earning his 
living. This is the assertion of the droit au travail. For 
had the development of the social order been carried out with 
clairvoyant eye, men would have protested against the first 
step which locked up the means of subsistence in private 
hands, inaccessible to the common administration. Property 
and its rights, he remarks, are not strictly speaking in the 
land and its natural powers : these remain common ground : 
what is property, is the definite use of these materials, the 
right to transform them or their products into means of 
human subsistence and enjoyment. Accordingly wherever 
the proper utilization of natural products does not require 
their being put for a period into private hands, there it is 
desirable to retain the control and working directly in the 
administration of the whole community. Private property in 
land and natural agents is only valid under these limitations, 
and only justified by the argument that it is the method of 
getting the utmost product from nature, and so providing the 
largest amount for general consumption. But the proprietor s 
rights do not extend to leaving a natural product unused at 
his will and pleasure, nor do they include the liberty of de 
stroying the peasant s crops in the pursuit of his lordly sport. 

Fichte has thus realized that the anarchy of industry and 


commerce could not possibly be willed, if one intelligent con 
sciousness had continuously guided the evolution of society. 
The antagonism between the landed or agricultural interest, 
the manufacturing or craftsman interest, and the commercial 
or shopkeeper and merchant interest, seemed to him a scandal 
and an absurdity. Each class, as it appeared to him, and 
each individual of that class or profession, pursued his 
business, on that tacit understanding or latent compact 
which Plato called justice that the other was in his turn 
performing his part of a great national work, realizing 
a common national stock or capital, out of which the wants 
of all its members were to be supplied. Each would have 
refused to enter upon a specialized work, to tie himself to 
a limited range of labour, had he seen reason to suppose that 
he would thereby be putting himself at a permanent dis 
advantage. Hence, concludes Fichte, the organization of the 
trades and professions must be the business of the State : 
the State must see what is the balance of farmer, artisan and 
merchant, needed to maintain the whole social fabric in 
a wholesome condition : and it mu st so arrange the details 
that none shall be damnified by having undertaken (on State 
authority) a labour which does not bring in immediate and 
material reward. Fichte lived in an age which was eagerly 
uprooting the old restrictions on industry imposed by the 
gilds and corporations originating in the Middle Ages. He 
saw that the rage for rejecting all organization was overreach 
ing itself : and foreseeing the rapid approach of a day when 
the corporationless artisans would feel the need of associa 
tion to help them to attain a worthy life, he declared that the 
gilds which were abolished nevertheless are bound to exist. 

A few passages may illustrate Fichte s view. He supposes 
a complete free- trade throughout Europe, and this he says 
is the result ] : In the trading public there arises an endless 
war of all against all, a war between buyers and sellers : and 

1 Fichte s Werke, vol. iii. p. 457. 


this war grows more violent, unjust, and dangerous in its 
consequences, in proportion as the world grows more populous, 
as the commercial state grows larger by additional acquisi 
tions, as production and arts rise higher, and as the com 
modities in circulation thus become more numerous, and the 
general demand increases and multiplies. What in simple 
conditions of national life passed off without great injustice 
and oppression, is transformed after the intensification of 
demand into the most crying wrong and a source of great 
misery. The buyer seeks to squeeze out commodities from 
the seller : and so he calls for free-trade, i. e. liberty for the 
seller to glut his markets, to find no sale, and from necessity 
to sell his commodities far below their value. In like 
manner he calls for strong competition of manufacturers and 
merchants, in order that from the difficulties thrown in the 
way of a sale, because ready money is indispensable they 
may be compelled to give him the commodities at any price 
which he in his magnanimity may offer. Should he succeed, 
the labourer is impoverished, and industrious families sink in 
want and misery, or emigrate from an unjust nation. Against 
this oppression the seller defends himself, or assails the stock 
and supply of goods by the most diverse means, by buying 
them up, by artificial dearth, &c. He thus places the buyers 
in peril of being suddenly cut off from their habitual wants, 
or of paying unusually dear for them, and having to pinch 
in some other quarter. Or he reduces the excellence of 
his goods, after he has been forced to reduce their price. 
The buyer accordingly does not get what he expected to 
get : he is cheated : and for the most part there arises with 
bad, careless work, a further sheer loss in public energy and 
time and in the products which are so badly manufactured. 
In short, no man has the slightest guarantee that if he 
continue to work he will continue to subsist : for men are 
resolved to be completely free, mutually to bring each other 
to ruin/ 


The first and original property, the ground of all property, 
is an exclusive right to a specific free activity. This free 
activity may either be named and defined by the object to 
which it refers, or by its form and manner only ; of the first 
kind is property or possession in a thing, e. g. property in the 
soil, of which however Fichte remarks: "the earth is the 
Lord s, man has only the power of cultivating and using it 
for good ends/ Of the second kind of property is the right 
to practise a certain craft, and to prevent all other men from 
the exercise of the same art. But in both cases the basis 
of all right of property is to be placed in the right to 
exclude others from a certain free activity reserved for us 
alone, by no means in an exclusive possession of objects V It 
is clear, therefore, that not merely the agriculturist, but every 
inhabitant in the State must have an exclusive property of 
his own, because otherwise he cannot be bound to recognize 
the agriculturist s right of property, cannot be legitimately 
prevented from ousting the latter from his field, and robbing 
him of its fruits. And what would be the exclusive property 
of the non-agriculturist, the manufacturer, the merchant, in 
return for which he would have surrendered to the agri 
culturist the exclusive right of property to the soil ? His 
art and trade-skill he owes to nature and himself, not to the 
State. In respect of these he is not bound to the State, 
as the agriculturist to his piece of land. Thrown naked on 
any shore he can say, c Omnia mea mecum porto/ What 
then can the State still give him? Evidently only the 
guarantee that he shall constantly find work or sale for his 
commodities, and that for them he shall receive the share 
that falls to him of the goods of the land. It is through 
this security that the State attaches him to itself. But this 
guarantee the State cannot discharge unless it closes the 
number of those who pursue the same branch of industry, 
and undertakes to care for the necessary subsistence of all. 

1 P. 444. 


It is by this closing- that the branch of work becomes property 
of the class which pursues it : it is by this provision for 
subsistence that it becomes a property from which they 
can live : and it is only in return for this their property 
that they can resign their claims to the property of the 
agricultural class. 

National wealth/ says Fichte, has many meanings. To 
me the inner essential prosperity consists in being able to 
procure the most specially human enjoyments with the least 
labour of a severe and persistent kind. And this must be the 
prosperity of a nation not of a few individuals, whose highest 
prosperity is often the most striking symptom and true ground 
of the supreme ill-condition of the nation V It is not a mere 
pious wish for humanity, but it is the indispensable require 
ment of its right and of its destiny that it should live so 
freely, so easily, so commandingly over nature, so genuinely 
humanly on the earth, as nature at all permits. Man has to 
work : but not like a beast of burden that sinks to sleep under 
its load, and after the minimum refreshment of its exhausted 
forces is again stirred up to carry the same load. Man ought 
to labour, without anxious fright, with pleasure and joy, and 
have time left to raise his mind and eye to heaven, for whose 
gaze he was formed. He ought not precisely to eat with his 
beast of burden : his food should be distinguished from its 
fodder, his dwelling from its stall, just as in his corporeal 
structure he is different from it. This is his right, just because 
he is a man V 

e Here we have reached 3 the source of the greatest part of 
the still subsisting abuses. In modern Europe there were for 
a long period no States. At present we are in face of attempts 
to form some. Further, the task of the State has been hitherto 
conceived in a partial and half-hearted way, as if it were 
an institute to maintain by law the citizen in that estate of 
possession in which he is found. The deeper lying duty^f 
1 P. 423- 2 P. 422. 3 P. 453- 


the State to invest each with the possession that is his due,, 
has been left out of sight/ Conceive a definite sum of 
possible activity in a certain sphere of action as the one 
magnitude. The comfort of life which ensues from this 
activity is the value of this magnitude. Conceive a definite 
number of individuals as the second magnitude. Divide the 
value of the first magnitude in equal parts among the indi 
viduals, and you find what each should receive under the 
given conditions. . . . The part which each gets is his own by 
right : he should get it if it is not already promised him. In 
the State of reason he gets it : in the division which was 
made by chance and force before the awakening and the rule 
of reason, each of course did not get it, because some appro 
priated more than fell to their share. Thus for the actual 
State which by art approximates to reason the wish must 
be to help each to his own, in the sense of the word just 
explained 1 . The source of all evil in our make-shift States 
is solely and singly anarchy, and the impossibility of creating 
order 2 / 

The method of Hegel has a decidedly more conservative 
look, but it is not less scathing in its criticisms or less 
progressive in its results. Fichte resembles an advocate 
who, by a bold effort of sustained construction, displays 
step by step the hidden process of some crime, showing how 
motive arose out of action and consequences trammelled the 
will until the final issue burst out as it stands before us : and 
who at the close of his demonstration exclaims, So must it 
have been. Hegel is rather like the judicious cross-examiner 
who, by experienced suggestion of topics and by manipulation 
of data, forces the criminal to tell his own story, to reveal the 
hidden movements, hopes and fears, weaknesses and troubles 
of his inner life and intimate circumstances, to be the crowning 
witness against himself, and the real expounder of those by 
ways and windings of motive which the wiliest outward 
1 P. 402. 2 P. 302. 

Ff 2 


interpreter is never quite sure of not missing- or mistaking-. 
Observers indeed will be inclined to suggest that the perform 
ance is a cleverly laid trick, and that the advocate has suborned 
his patient to make out his own case as he has prepared it. 
They may allege, in other words, that Hegel has the historical 
puppets secretly under his control : that he can make the 
history say what he wants. In reply, it may be said, that no 
defender of this method will readily pledge himself to main 
tain that the cross-examiner may not occasionally be unjust, 
and may not now and then, by putting things together, cause 
the professedly independent witness of his victim to bear out 
the colour of his own presuppositions : but no one who has 
carefully studied the method will believe that even a master 
of thought like Hegel could produce marionettes which looked 
so surprisingly alive and intelligent, or will allow an occasional 
arbitrary interference to thwart the general conclusion of a 
trustworthy and decisive self -revelation. 

The Hegelian method professes to show in the real history, 
prepared, as the experimenters say, by discarding unessentials 
and trivialities, the very law of growth and construction of 
our moral, religious, economic, and political world. The 
world in its history, i. e. in the revelation of its own real 
time-movement, sits in judgement upon itself, and betrays 
its own secret. But if it displays how far in each effort or 
stage it has departed from the normal path, it also shows how 
in each age and epoch there was a larger principle, a fuller 
heart at work, and that, though the actual performance was 
one-sided, it was always accompanied by a compensating and 
alternative principle which so far mended the mischief the 
other had caused. Beneath the superficial order of move 
ment the alternate dominance of one-sided motives, and 
the appearance of a mere see-saw of principles, a chaos in 
which brilliant performance is suddenly swallowed up in 
blank collapse there is disclosed a real, and much slower, 
because much more complex and encumbered, process of 


social life. This underlying process is the movement of the 
infinite behind the finite : the march of God in history as 
opposed to the march of man. Yet they are not two move 
ments, the phenomenal distinct from the noumenal: the 
former seen in fragments, in seeming- regression, in involved 
curves, and general disorder : the latter a uniform, systematic- 
series a total and harmonious idea. The appearance is one 
with the reality for those who can see it from that com 
manding position in which its inequalities and discontinuity 
are reduced to their proper place where, in short, they cease 
to disturb the total view. 

The PlnlosopJiy of Law and Outlines of the State follow this 
method. They show us first* of all that the State has a 
development from simpler stages, and that in all its stages 
it is the product of two elements, two principles, law the 
principle of an objective order, and conscience the principle 
of a subjective freedom. In the State we have the meeting, 
the synthesis, of the legal and the moral : the union of all out 
ward form of order or organization with the inward spirit of 
self-realization. The republican idea had tended to reduce the 
State to a purely secular and outward institute for the main 
tenance of rights, for the security of property, and for fencing 
round a sphere in which human life might develop individually 
at its own will and pleasure. On this view the State was but 
the protecting shell, the restricting framework, of peculiarly 
human life to be carried on" by individual agents within for 
their several interests. Opposed to this was a conception 
which ignored the value of such mere organization, and 
which laid down that the good will is everything, that 
the conviction and persuasion of being in the right is what 
defines the moral nature of an action. Here the aspect of self- 
determination becomes supreme. Thus there had grown up 
an antithesis between order, which is the fruit of law, and 
liberty or self -initiation which is guaranteed by conscience. 

The State is the full and final reconciliation of order and 


liberty, o law and conscience, of manners and morals, but it 
only appears in its character of reconciler if we look at the 
two phrases or aspects which constitute it, and each of which 
has some claim to be identified with the State. The one of 
these phases is the family, the true State of nature or 
natural State, if we consider it, not in any peculiar form it 
has taken or may now take, but in its general features and 
type in all ages. With this natural aggregation human beings 
have both liberty and order; but so mixed up and packed 
together, that neither of these ends is duly secured, till by later 
expansions (in the developed State) the family, freed from 
duties and burdens with which it could not well cope, is better 
able to perform its appropriate functions. 

The other phase of the State is what Hegel calls Society 
Citizen Society c bourgeois or tradesmen society the 
society of industry and commerce. This bourgeois society 
is the make-shift state of Fichte (Nolhstaaf). It is a system 
generated in the first instance by the dependence of each 
for his welfare and subsistence on the welfare and subsisten 
of all. The narrow range of family life soon proves its-la 
inadequate to the growing multitude of wants and neef 3 
which emerge in the course of experience. Human nature 
soon develops its capacities of multiplying, subdividing, 
and varying its wants as well as the means for satisfying 
them. Division and co-operation of the labours needed to pro 
duce the means of subsistence and enjoyment know no limit 
to their extension. This partition of the sum-total of labours 
required to bring forth the materials of subsistence goes on 
according to natural accidents, following the lines laid down 
by the natural endowment of individuals, the advantages 
of situation, and all the variety of fortuitous circumstance. 
It is, in short, a process of natural selection which settles 
what varieties of industry and commerce flourish, and what 
persons devote themselves to each. The only general laws 
that can be laid down are the general tendency of the 


systematic groups which deal with the modes of procuring 
the common subsistence to fall into three main bodies. 
These are (i) the class which is engaged in appropriating 
for human use the more immediate products of nature; 
(2) the class which transmutes these natural products into 
more and more artificial forms (including the labour of 
artisan and manufacturer), and which finally secures the 
entrance of its several products into the general field of con 
sumption (including the work of commerce) ; (3) the class 
to which are entrusted the more general interests of the whole 
society. Such estates and orders of society are the final form 
which its somewhat imperfect unity can present. 

In such a society each has a chance afforded him of 
securing a certain capital of his own. But not more than 
a chance : circumstances may be too hard on him. Still 
the accidental and unequal development by which individuals 
variously take their place in such and such an estate, such 
and such a profession or trade, is on the whole a natural and 
mforced process; and it gives rise in course of time, as it 
.^peats itself again and again, to certain fixities, uniformities, 
or regularities of social arrangement. Laws to protect such 
personal property as has grown up in this natural and 
unequal way are only the expression in verbal formulae of 
that precipitate, in the mind, of customs which are the- 
subjective reflex of habitual occurrence. Laws, therefore, are I 
only the consecration of the existent order : they follow the 1 
lines laid down by the natural, which is far from being thej, 
pre-eminently or strictly just, method of human socialization. 
But when law is enforced in public courts and by public officials, 
it means that the community as a whole is resolved to stand 
by and keep up the status quo, to protect the infringement of 
those individual appropriations which have grown up by ways 
and means of which it has no direct cognizance, but to which 
it gives a right, by its general resolution to hold those in 
possession as presumably the rightful proprietors. 


But society has other duties than merely to protect rights 
by punishing- those who infringe them. It must further 
seek to prevent the occurrence of such infringements by 
maintaining a system of police, which shall maintain indi 
viduals in a continuous security, and by anticipating and 
thwarting crime shall guarantee the welfare of individuals 
as well as uphold the majesty of the law. And this 
anticipatory action of the police is soon found to have 
a wide range. 

As the wants of the day are indefinitely multiplied and 
intertwined, says Hegel l , there emerge points of view 
which are equally the interest of all, and where one man s 
business is also a common concern. Every one relies on there 
being no obstacles to make it impossible to procure and 
exchange the means for satisfying these wants : and every 
one is concerned in shortening, as far as may be, the 
investigations and transactions called for to that end. Hence 
also various methods and arrangements come to be employed 
in the common interest ; and these general concerns and 
arrangements for the common good call for the inspection and 
supervision of the public authority. Again ( 236) the several 
interests of the producer and the consumer may come into 
collision with each other. It is true that on the whole the 
proper equilibrium will be spontaneously established. Still 
the adjustment requires regulation, and that regulation must 
be supplied by an intelligent power which stands above both 
sides. Whence then the right to regulate such details, as e. g. 
the assizes or fixing the price of the commonest articles of con 
sumption? It arises from the fact that the public show of 
goods for sale, when these are of quite general and everyday 
use, is not so much put before the individual as such, as before 
him in his general capacity, i. e. before the public. If the 
public then has a right not to be cheated, the inspection 
of the quality of commodities may, as an affair of common 

1 235- 


concern, be undertaken and cared for by a public authority. 
But a general supervision and direction is above all things 
entailed by the dependence of great branches of industry 
on the state of foreign nations, and on remote combinations,, 
of which the persons specially assigned and attached to 
these departments are unable to get a complete and compre 
hensive view. 

Free trade and free industry is one extreme in economic 
life. The opposite extreme is seen when a public organiza 
tion both supplies the needs of all and fixes their work. 
Thus in the case of the ancient work on the pyramids and 
other monstrous works of Egypt and Asia, they were pro 
duced for public ends, but without the private option or 
private interest of the individual labourers having any 
influence on the direction of his labour. It is this private 
interest to which free trade appeals against regulation from 
above. But the fact is that, just because such private 
interest is blindly engrossed on selfish ends, it requires a public 
supervision, if it is to be made conformable to the universal 
good, and if it is desired to mitigate the dangerous con 
vulsions and to cut short the duration of the interval, wherein 
the collisions would have to adjust themselves by the methods 
of mechanical necessity. There exists ( 237) indeed for the 
individual a possibility of taking his part in the common 
stock, and that possibility is guaranteed by public authority. 
But it is not only that this guarantee must remain imperfect. 
It is further, on the side of the individual himself, liable to 
all sorts of accidents, and the more so the more it presumes 
him possessed of the pre-conditions of skill, health, capital, 
&c. Originally ( 238) the family was the basis of unity, 
out of which the individual sprung, and in which he grew. 
The family had the duty of seeing to this private aspect 
of the individual : to see that he had the means and the 
skill so as to acquire a stock of his own out of the social 
stock, and that he was cared for and supported in case of his 


being rendered incapable. But economic society has torn the 
single human being out of the family unity : has made 
the members of the family strangers to each other, and 
treated them as independent persons. Instead of inorganic 
nature without and the paternal soil, in which the individual 
found his subsistence, society has substituted its own soil ; 
and the stability of the whole family thus undermined is 
made dependent on society and subject to the chapter of 
accidents. The individual has thus become a son (not of his 
natural parents, but of) society : society has claims on him, 
and he has rights against it. Society thus ( 239) becomes 
the universal family : and in this capacity it has the duty 
and the right, as against the wilful and casual behaviour 
of the parents, to supervise and influence the children s 
education. It does so, so far as education has bearings on 
the capacity of becoming a member of society, especially if 
that education is to be finished by others than the parents 
themselves. Further, so far as a common mechanism can be 
provided for that purpose, it has to take the necessary steps. 
In like manner ( 240), where the extravagance of a person 
renders his own and his family s subsistence insecure, society 
has the duty and the right to assume the guardianship, and 
to carry out in their stead the purposes of society and their 
own. Such a state ( 241) of dependence, indeed, may not 
be due to personal wilfulness. Accidental circumstances, 
depending on nature or on outward conditions of life, may 
bring individuals down to poverty. And what poverty does is 
to leave them all the wants of society, while it deprives them 
more or less of all its advantages, such as the facility of 
acquiring technical skill and education, even of the protection 
of law, sanitary precautions, and even the consolations of 
religion. For society has withdrawn from them the natural 
means of acquiring wealth (by its recognition of private rights 
of property), and it destroys the clan or tribe that form which 
the expanded family assumes. Thus for the poor, the general 


authority takes on itself the duty of the family, not only in 
reference to relieving- their immediate distress, but also with 
a view to reforming their disposition to laziness, their 
malignity, and the other vices which spring from such 
a situation and the sense of the wrong done them. 

But poverty ( 242) and all forms of distress to which the 
individual in his natural sphere of action is exposed, has an 
inner or subjective aspect as well : and it thus requires 
a subjective or personal assistance to deal with its special 
circumstances of every case, as well as to satisfy the claims 
of the heart and love. This is the point where, whatever 
general scheme of action be adopted, personal and individual 
morality will find enough to do. But this ^ assistance is liable 
to fortuitous influences, both for its own awakening, and^n 
its effects : and society accordingly does all it can towards 
eliciting the permanent features of the distress and the 
general principles governing, so as to reduce it to a regular 
system, and to dispense in some degree with individual 

The fortuitousness of alms-giving, of charitable institutions 
(and of the burning of lamps at the images of saints, &c.), 
is supplemented by public poor-houses, hospitals (public 
lighting of the streets, &c.). Private benevolence has still 
enough left to do, and it is a mistake to claim this relief 
of distress as solely belonging to the moods of individuals, 
and the casual character of their temper and knowledge, and 
to feel injured and annoyed by obligatory general regulations 
and orders. The state of the public is, on the contrary, 
to be regarded as more perfect, the less is left for the 
individual s own personal and particular fancy, in comparison 
with what is reduced to a general organization. 

Where society ( 243) is left to its own unchecked action, 
its course is marked by a progressive advance in population 
and industry. As the interdependence of men upon each 
other through their wants (demands) becomes more and more 


general and comprehensive, and as the modes of preparing 
and supplying the means of gratifying these wants become 
also more general, so does the accumulation of wealth 
increase, just because from this multiplied generality there 
is drawn the greater profit. But this accumulation of wealth 
on one side is met on the other by the narrow and highly 
special character of the special labours, and by the dependence 
and distress of the classes which are bound down to these 
labours : a dependence which entails an incapacity to feel 
and enjoy wider liberties, and in especial the intellectual 
advantages of society. 

A large body of men ( 244) is thus depressed beneath the 
standard of subsistence, which naturally fixes itself as neces- 
sajy for the members of any given society. It loses the sense 
that it is right, and honest, and honourable to support itself 
by its own activity and labour. The result is the production of 
a rabble (Pobel = proletariate), which in its turn involves an 
increased facility of concentrating a disproportionate amount 
of wealth in a few hands. 

Supposing ( 245) the burden of maintaining in a decent 
state of subsistence this mass which gravitates towards 
pauperism is imposed upon the wealthier class, or supposing 
direct means for this purpose are found in other public 
property (rich hospitals, charitable foundations, monasteries), 
the result would be to guarantee the subsistence of the 
needy, without their being obliged to labour for it. Such 
a result would run counter to the principle of society and 
to the sense of personal independence and honour. If, on 
the other hand, the subsistence of the needy is made to 
depend on labour (by supplying work to do), then the stock 
of products would be increased. But the evil lies in surplus 
production, and in the absence of the proportionate number 
of consumers, who were themselves productive. In both 
ways then the evil is only magnified. In this way it 
becomes obvious that with all its excess of wealth, economic 


society is not rich enough, i. e. does not possess in the 
capital that is peculiar to it enough to keep clear of the 
excess of poverty and the generation of the proletariate. 

These phenomena may be studied on a grand scale in the 
example of England, as well as the consequences that flow 
from the poor-rate, boundless charitable foundations, and no 
less unlimited private beneficence, and above all from the 
abolition of the corporations. In that country it has been 
found (especially in Scotland) that the directest means against 
pauperism, as well as and especially against throwing off 
all shame and honour, the subjective basis of society, and 
against the laziness and profligacy, &c., from which the 
proletariate issues, is to leave the poor to their fate, and to 
refer them to public begging. 

In this way, it is shown, colonization becomes necessary, 
and commerce with lands at a more backward stage of 

But when ( 249), instead of realizing the permanent and 
general elements of society as a mere external order and 
machinery for the protection of masses of personal aims 
and interests, the several branches of the social body try 
to make these permanent elements, implicit in their class 
interests, the object of their will and activity, society assumes 
a moral character in itself, and presents itself in corporations. 
It is in the industrial order, and especially among the artisan 
class, that the corporation flourishes. Such a corporation 
takes the place of a second family a position which general 
society, in its greater remoteness from individuals and their 
special distress, could only perform in a vague and general way. 

In the corporation ( 253) the family gets a solid basis, 
a guarantee of subsistence which is conditioned by capacity, a 
solid basis of capital. But it not merely has such a guarantee : 
the fact is invested with open recognition, so that the member 
of a corporation does not require to exhibit any further external 
certificates to prove that he is something, to evidence his 


qualifications, his competence and ability to make his way in 
the world. In this way too it is recognized that he belongs 
to a group, which is in its turn a member of general society, 
and that he is interested in, and takes trouble for, the more 
unselfish aim of this group. Thus in his order or estate he 
has his honour. 

The institution of corporations, securing to the individual 
his craft and skill as capital or source of revenue, corresponds 
to the introduction of agriculture and private property (in 
land, &c.) at another stage. If complaints are made about 
the luxury and prodigality of the industrial classes, and the 
consequent production of a proletariate or rabble, we must 
not forget, over and above the other causes (e. g. the tendency 
of labour to become more and more mechanical), the moral 
reason which has just been given. Without becoming a 
member of an authorized (chartered) corporation and it is 
only as authorized that the association is a corporation the 
individual has no class honour; by his isolation he is reduced 
to the selfish side of industry, and his subsistence and enjoy 
ment want stability. In such a case he will seek to get himself 
acknowledged, by external exhibitions of his proficiency in his 
trade exhibitions which are lawless because, as his class or 
order has no existence (for no association has existence and 
place in society, except such as are legally constituted and 
acknowledged), there is no possibility of living according to 
his class-requirements. Thus he is without any more general 
mode of life appropriate to him. In the corporation the aid 
which poverty receives loses its fortuitous character and its 
unjustly humiliating aspect: wealth again, in its duty towards 
the fraternity, loses the arrogance which it stimulates in its 
possessor, and the envy it excites in others : and honest worth 
receives its rightful acknowledgement and honour. 

The corporation ( 254) involves a certain limitation of 
what is called the natural right to exercise one s skill, and 
thus to make what profit can be made. But this limitation 


amounts only to rendering that right reasonable: i.e. it is 
freed from its self-conceit and fortuitousness, risks to itself as 
well as for others : it is acknowledged, guaranteed, and thus 
elevated to conscious activity for a common end. 

After the family ( 255) the corporation constitutes the 
second of the moral roots of the state a root founded in civil 
economic society. The family, or first root, holds in undiffe- 
rentiated unity the two principles of subjective personal life, 
and objective life for the community. These same two principles 
appear in economic society as the principle of particularization 
of wants and enjoyment on the one hand, and the principle of 
abstract legal generality on the other. The corporation, or 
second root of the state, brings them together in an inward 
way, and in this combination the welfare of individuals is 
realized and in a legal institution. 

Thus sanctity of marriage, and honour in the corporation, 
are the two points at which the disorganization of society 
makes itself felt. 

But the corporation ( 256) is restricted and finite. And 
thus it, no less than that separation of aspects and their 
comparative identity which is found in the external order of 
social regulations, finds its full truth in a purpose which is 
and is known to be universal, and in the absolute actuality of 
that purpose. Thus the sphere of civic society passes over 
into the State. 

In the State the inequalities of economic society are corrected. 
In days of peace, when all the departments of social life go 
on side by side as if independent, people lose sight of the fact 
that they and all they possess repose on the State. But in 
war what Hegel calls the ( ideality of all private interests is 
made manifest, and devotion to the State is presented as 
universal duty and the very basis of all life. 



ETHICAL writing in England, as befits the supposed character 
of the nation, has had a predominantly practical aim. The 
more eminent of the authors who have touched upon or who 
have treated the subject have had their eyes mainly turned to 
the interests of moral training and social discipline. So it 
was with the great thinker of the Elizabethan age, when he 
noted with censure the too exclusively speculative and abstract 
inquiries of the Greek philosophers, and indicated the new 
needs and purposes of the modern spirit, which from his pro 
phetic soul already received the expression of its under-current 
tendencies. The moral philosopher of the future, said Francis 
Bacon, instead of wasting his time and talent in a minute 
delineation of a superhumanly grand ideal or Exemplar of 
Good, ought rather to lay down the methods and means by 
which this ideal might be realized, by tracing the roots and 
fibres of good in the physical order, and showing how natural 
conditions might be manipulated by superinducing habits and 
so framing and subduing the will of man to become true and 
conformable to the pre-established pattern. 

In Bacon s footsteps his successors have largely continued 
to travel. Hobbes is hampered by no suspicions. of the quick 
sands which beset the voyager who would carefully thread the 
channels of investigation into moral principles. A few simple 
calculations from maxims that lay claim to an axiomatic self- 


evidency, a few deductions from the great natural law of 
equality and proportion,, which reason, being the same in all 
men, enunciates and commands,, are enough, in his opinion, 
to construct the outlines of a sufficient moral philosophy, to 
establish, in other words, a science of the means of peaceable, 
social, and comfortable living/ To discover the law of nature 
and of reason that moral law, whereof he is as careful as any 
of his opponents to affirm the eternal and immutable obliga 
tion is a problem which does not require profound meditation, 
but may be solved with comparative ease. What is to him 
the problem of problems is to find how this ideal authority, 
which only obliges in the inner man, may become a power in 
the actual world, a ruler over the deeds and lives of men. And 
to get this real power, to secure the practical force of uniformity 
and order, which is of the very essence of law, no price seems 
to him too high, no sacrifice too costly. 

Even Locke, with all his love of moderation, does not 
hesitate to state his conviction that, if people were only honest 
and plain with themselves, morals might with the greatest 
ease be reduced to the certainty of a mathematical science. 
But it is in Bentham that this aversion to speculative theory 
in ethics reaches its maximum. He tosses aside, with con 
tempt, and perhaps a mutter of impatience, the subtleties of 
discussion on the origin of moral distinctions, or on the bases 
of moral obligation. To him such questions so prolonged into 
unending dialectics seem to betray a stupid and perverse habit 
of mind, a mind overgrown by prejudices. Any open mind, 
he asserts, can see at a glance that nothing can claim moral 
approval except what tends to the greatest happiness of the 
greatest number, and when you have seen that, you have 
grasped the one principle necessary. Such a principle is 
rather more vague than it at first seems, and is not quite free 
from the double edge of confusion that lies in wait for the 
believer in platitudes. But Bentham, strong in possessing 
at least an apparent standard for adjusting measures of 



action, turns his entire energies on the problem of moral 
education, and, in particular, on the methods of discipline. 
The principles of social paedagogics, the rationale of rewards 
and punishments, the modes of adapting 1 his stimuli of pleasure 
and pain, our two sovereign taskmasters, to the almost endless 
variety in human natures these are the points towards which 
Bentham devotes his powers of analysis, and on which he is 
anxious to effect a thorough reformation. 

The facts as alleged are as follows. First, you have each 
human being, by an instinctive impulse we may call a law, 
doing what gives him pleasure and refusing to do whatever 
causes him pain. Then you have the great fact that there is 
a moral law, in the sense that each man is expected in case of 
conflict of pleasures to surrender his particular share, if by so 
doing the greater pleasure of the majority or entire body is 
gained or secured. A state of things may perhaps be imagined 
in which this conflict would be reduced to a minimum. In 
such a state so clear would be the mutual sympathy, so 
complete the identity and harmony of airn, so inextricably 
interwoven the aims and desires of all members, that each 
would see that his own best interest was secured by serving 
the community, and that in serving others he was serving 
himself. But the solidarity and the intelligence involved in 
such a supposed state, though possibly not so entirely absent 
as the satirist would insinuate, is not to be assumed without 
many drawbacks and shortcomings. Passion and prejudice 
distort or blind the judgement, inferior and partial ties between 
individuals clash with others equally partial, and with the 
general aims of the collective community ; abnormal tempera 
ments and unusual experiences disturb the harmony of taste 
and purpose. In the shortness of life it is found impossible 
to get the long time needed for the generation of that sound 
knowledge and steadfast conviction, which is the only sure 
means of maintaining the social harmony and realizing the 
social end. We must, therefore, fall back upon a lower 


range : we must fight pleasure-seeking by pleasure-seeking, 
or pain by pain. We cannot wait till the right thing be 
done in the right way and in the right spirit. It has to 
be done: that from the outside social point of view is the 
one thing needful ; and if it only can be got done,, we shall 
not be very curious to ask how. 

Such pleasures and such pains, having for their effect 
(and possibly for their object) to minim zie the conflict so 
prone to arise in ill-regulated souls between their immediate 
impulses, appetites, and instincts which they would fain 
gratify, and the commandments of social welfare, the felicific 
order of the moral law, are what have been called the sanctions 
of morality. The term most properly refers only to punish 
ments, or threats of punishments, to the law-breaker : but it 
is perhaps no unwarrantable stretch of application to make 
it cover also rewards for the law-keeper. Sanctions, then, 
refer to a law : and it must be understood that morality is 
thus paralleled fo } what it is so often contrasted with, a law. 
The phrase, the Moral Law/ is indeed a commonplace. It 
is perhaps not so much of a commonplace that the name in its 
origin denoted a portion of the positive code of the Jews, 
distinguished from other enactments bearing less directly 
on everyday social welfare : whereas the use of the word, 
especially since the days of Kant, has carried it into regions 
where law positive is altogether unmeaning. But, again, if 
morality be taken as a sort of law, the sanctions which help 
to enforce it bear reference solely to actual performances. The 
morality that is secured by sanctions is the morality of outward 
behaviour : it is what has sometimes been called legality. And 
to those who speak thus of the sanctions of morality, morality 
means partly the acts required by the public law or law of the 
land, but partly, and perhaps even more especially (in virtue 
of contrast with law positive), it means the acts or forbearances 
called for, or in various ways enforced, by the customs and 
fashions of society in its various groups, as well as by the law 

G g 2 


of God or the law sacred, ceremonial and religious. Should 
morality mean something- more than this, or something different 
from this, something that lies within the heart and will, between 
the man and himself, between the soul and God, then, it may 
be asserted, with such a sphere the sanctions cannot directly 

Bentham, with his fondness for classifications, has drawn 
up a brief list of the chief sources whence pains and pleasure 
may flow to corroborate the general tendency, which we may 
assume to exist in the human being, to subordinate his 
wishes to the dominant condition of subserving the common 
welfare. They fall into two great groups, according as the 
rewards and penalties are directly or indirectly introduced 
into the facts by the agency of rational beings, or are 
spontaneous operations of the natural forces, enforcing the 
ethical requirements, and tending to show that the moral 
order is in harmony with the general physical laws. The 
latter of these is the so-called physical sanction. There 
are obviously cases in which an act, called forth by an 
immediate stimulus of pleasure, is followed by a greater 
balance of pain and loss : and there may even be acts in 
which the performances required by law and custom are 
directly pleasant. In such cases an ordinarily intelligent 
person will by mere prudence be led to conduct in accordance 
with moral laws. For practical purposes, perhaps, we should 
limit the applications of the physical sanction to those results 
or effects which are obvious and undisputed, even, we may 
say, visible and tangible ; to cases where the causality is 
unmistakeable, or traceable with a kind of arithmetical 
accuracy. And such experience is perhaps most accessible 
in the case of many of the virtues and vices which directly 
regard our own persons, our full selves, corporeal as well as 
spiritual. And beyond this personal morality with its 
discipline of the appetites, where prudence manifests itself 
as temperance and self-control, it is undesirable, at least in 



the first instance, to extend the range of the physical 
sanction. It is by such considerations of retributory pain 
following 1 on excess, that the sobriety and moderation which 
society requires are commended to the reason, which, if at 
first it seems only the ministering servant of the several 
appetites, soon becomes, like a wise servant,, the master 
who rules them, were it only by playing off one against 

It is possible indeed to go beyond this narrow limit, and 
to lay down that the moral law coincides with the law of 
nature, and that morality and physical well-being tend in the 
long-run always to go together. But if we thus assert that 
the very stars in their courses fight against evil and make 
for righteousness, that all things work together for good for 
those who follow the right in scorn of consequence, we are, 
in the first place, running the risk of destroying the practical 
efficiency of the sanction, by boldly assuming it to extend 
to a region where the warrant of verification is hardly 
possible. And that is not all. Even if the doctrine of the 
identity of goodness and happiness be true, its truth is 
reached only by giving to the words an interpretation other 
than what they usually bear. In that high sphere where 
moral goodness is its own reward and happiness ultimately 
implies virtue, it does so because happiness and virtue have 
alike been raised above their ordinary meaning into something 
which it has not entered into the ordinary heart of man to 
conceive. The natural order of which we spoke must be 
transformed into a nature which would better be styled 
supernatural. The nature which the moralist assumes as 
his sanction, that supernatural nature which is the final 
moral order of the world, is a law which he could only read 
in the apparent chaos of the sense-world, because he had 
more or less clearly seen it with the inward and intellectual 
eye in the world of his own spirit. If moral philosophy 
may, as Bacon said, save itself much futile inquiry by 


carefully gathering- up the hints afforded by the unity in 
difference, by the attractions and proportions, the gradation 
and centralizing organization of the material universe, it 
must begin by spiritualizing nature, before it can extract 
from nature the law of the spiritual world. It is, on the 
other hand, just because the physical sanction goes but a little 
way, that its work has to be taken up and continued by 
sanctions derived from spirit and intelligence. 

For man is not merely a part of nature, a sentient 
organism affected by the material structures of the universe ; 
he is also a social being, a member of what has been called 
the social organism. The term serves to emphasize the 
dependence of individual on individual through the totality 
of the group to which he by nature or choice belongs. It 
recognizes the essential teleological relationship of each to 
all and of all to each : but it falls short of giving expression 
to the fact that this relationship in ever-increasing measure 
works through ideas and not by mere mechanical impacts or 
material pressure. It forgets that here the unity, which had 
erewhile been immersed in matter and only manifested in 
systematic and harmonious movements, has now assumed 
independence and a being of its own : that it has an existence 
not merely in, but also above its envelope : that it rises, in 
short, above itself so as to survey itself, and even to 
reorganize itself in further forms. It is at once immanent 
and transcendent : the organizing principle embodied in the 
mass, and the spirit detaching itself from its absorption, yet 
not from its connexion, rising into ever more controlling and 
commanding phases of activity, creating a social organization, 
a special order of superintendent agency, a literature and 
art, a religion and a philosophy. 

But for the present we need only consider the agency 
of this social structure as it surveys itself and guides its 
organization in the light of its double disciplinary function : 
first, as an organized total, and, secondly, in its looser and 


more particular groups, as yet but imperfectly cohering with 
the spirit of the total body. These give the so-called legal 
or political sanction, embodied in the laws of the country, 
and the social or popular sanction, lying in the censures 
of class opinion, of general opinion, scandal, reputation, fame ; 
in some cases, not going beyond a mental judgement telling 
through sympathy in the minds of those who feel it, but 
in other cases accompanied, in the lesser groups where it 
prevails, with more or less of material loss and pain in those 
who are subjected to it. In early times and small unde 
veloped societies there was no hard and fast line of distinc 
tion between these, any more than between law and custom. 
Yet even there, there are fundamental conditions of social 
life felt to be essential and common, and others on which 
opinion still fluctuates and varies from person to person and 
from group to group, which refer more to the sentimental 
and ideal side of life. There are things and acts which by 
a palpable and visible effect injure the community, at least 
its members, and there are others which indicate divergencies 
of taste and aim, differences of judgement, annoyances which 
can be felt, though it is not so easy to define their precise 
causes or modes of operation. 

To discuss the legal and the social sanction is to ask 
what is the influence of laws and of social observances upon 
morals. Or, we may even say, it is to ask a more com 
prehensive question : what are the actions and reactions on 
each other of law and custom on one hand, and of morality 
on the other? Probably a little reflection will show that, 
although it is for some purposes convenient to oppose law 
and custom to morality, and even to set law against custom, 
these distinctions should never make us lose sight of the 
interdependence of the outward and the inward, of the 
general and the particular, in one comprehensive idea. In 
plainer words, it has to be remembered that in the average 
community the conduct required by the laws and by social 


opinion is what in a way is done or supposed to be done by 
the predominant majority of the population, and that the 
conduct to which legal penalty or social stigma is attached 
is the sort of behaviour only likely to be exhibited by 
a comparatively insignificant minority. What the society 
believes itself to do, what each recognizes in the case of every 
other to be right (however he may in practice except himself 
from the obligation), is what it requires by law and custom. 
The law states what is done by the vast mass of the com 
munity, and not merely what ought to be done : or it 
presents what is done by the majority as what ought to be 
done by the small minority. 

Law and custom thus represent the result of a process 
by which, out of the fluctuating mass of what is actually 
done, there emerges a solid nucleus which serves as a rule 
or standard, when conscious reflection upon conduct seizes 
upon the common element, the dense central mean of conduct, 
around which the divergencies tone off on either side. Just 
as, in the individual human being, the experience of life 
enables him to fix on a more or less definite pivot of belief 
and thought within him, on which his various opinions and 
tendencies turn and which he regards as a permanent higher 
self, so the intelligence of a community gradually detects, 
and at length fixes in independent outlines the broad middle 
way on which its movement tends more and more to 
accumulate itself. In apprehending this, the community, 
like the individual, has as it were come to itself, has reached 
the unity and essential principle of its existence, the universal 
of its particularity. 

But with the separation of the common and universal 
nucleus from its variations and outrunners, there arises an 
antagonism and a danger. An antagonism : the average 
presents itself as a normal : what i* as what ought to be : 
what all in a rough sort of way do as what each definitely 
and precisely has to do. Compulsion and constraint and 


coercion are in the air : the individual sees the law as an 
external force, an alien control. The law confronts him 
embodied in a judge, an officer,, a government; personality 
is set against personality, will against will : organic inter 
dependence is replaced by a more mechanical relationship: 
the sense of free agency, of autonomy, is replaced by require 
ment ab extra. The state and the community may in their 
essence and theory be an organic unity : as they appear in 
the practice of government, they sink into a machinery, which 
involves a good deal of friction. 

So far as the laws proper are concerned, we have to note 
a difference in their operation. The older codes of laws 
content themselves in the main by noting the injuries to the 
members of the community or to its peace and security in 
general, which they deem desirable to punish by various 
inflictions and sufferings. What these are, will of course 
depend on the social and political system which has become 
established. But the punishment is in each case directed 
against an actual violation or outrage on the social order as 
it exists. In course of time legislation embraces a secondary 
order of crimes, which are crimes only as it were constructively 
and ex liypotkesi. Penalties are imposed upon acts which 
lead, or which are for good reasons believed to lead, to results 
which will be injurious to the common welfare. Here we 
have the prophylactic action of the state. Trusting to the 
lessons of experience and the inferences of science, it attempts 
to catch an evil before it has assumed actuality, while it is 
yet in embryo and possibility. In these cases to omit 
a precaution, which experience has shown to be a valuable 
safeguard against the emergence of notable calamities, 
renders the culpable negligence liable to a penalty. Here 
the State no doubt uses the knowledge gained of the physical 
sanctions waiting on certain forms of imprudence : but its 
action is not so much in the interest of the agent, as of 
the other members of the community, who may probably 


suffer through his neglect. Here,, where unassisted nature 
may be supposed to let the children suffer for the fathers, 
or the neighbour for the neighbour s sin, the State en 
deavours to bring home the remote result to the original 
offender by replacing the ultimate result by an immediate 

Thus, as a rule,, while the earlier laws do not require a 
performance, but only punish the commission an act they 
forbid, the later punish the omission of a prophylactic act 
they require. In this department of law it is evident that 
we come close to the kind of observances required by society 
in its non-political and private aspect. It insists upon 
uniformity : it lays down a particular way of action or 
behaviour and insists upon conformity. Thus grow up 
manners and customs, rites and observances, usages and 
fashions, ritual and ceremonial. While the laws are directed 
at special performance or non-performance, the social sanction 
is jealous of any departure from its one course, it craves 
an unvarying obedience and will hardly permit even 
a divergence in thought and opinion. This is the vopos 
Seo"7ro r?7s : the custom which pries into and seeks to direct 
the heart, which persecutes every non-conformant, which 
would impress on all the stamp of a single model. 

But it may be well to point out the source of the tyranny. 
In its origin custom is wholesome : it is to a large extent 
the unforced product of common insight and common need 
in common circumstances. As such, it is no tyrant, but the 
spontaneous sympathetic action of individuals. Yet as a 
matter of fact this coincidence is often unreal and super 
ficial. The natural differences of originality and creative or 
perceptive power, the tendency to imitate in one part of 
a population which supplements the claim of leadership in 
the other part, the habit of accepting what is asserted and 
of imagining that one believes what one has not force enough 
to discuss all these proclivities make custom and fashion 


dictatorial and arbitrary, make them represent the verdict 
of a dominant clique rather than the result of a common 
effort and a consensus of original opinion. In its ideal the 
vox populi may be the vox del : but in its actual appearance 
it is often the accidentally predominant opinion of a minority 
which has put on the semblance of a majority. In such 
a case, we speak of the tyranny of public opinion, and 
of the obedience of a multitude to a fancied authority which 
only a little courage is needed to reject. 

The common law is a realm of liberty compared with the 
iron bond which these social requirements cast around the 
members of a society. But in either case it has to be 
remembered that these sanctions operate as moral or quasi- 
moral agents ; not as external forces, but as inward con 
straints. Neither the law nor the custom has its force from 
its mere mechanical weight. Its strength resides in the inner 
confession of the sufferer from its penalties that he deserves 
his doom. As mere brute force, they are on a level with the 
forces of nature : they may smite the defaulter down, but 
when they do so, they rather stimulate and corroborate his 
will than subdue it. They are felt to be mere accidents from 
the force of an alien world, a world for which he has no 
respect, which lies utterly outside him, and outside the world 
in which he lives. It is otherwise when they are felt as the 
objectified utterance of his own substance, of his permanent 
and underlying self, of the world and the life with which 
his momentary self and life are bound up. To the criminal, 
in whom the sense of his own partnership in the system to 
which these laws give expression is utterly absent or dead, 
the law and its penalty have the same deterrent force as the 
terror of man s vengeance has on the bloodthirsty or mis 
chievous animal. But wherever the sense of social solidarity 
still exercises its force, wherever the culprit realizes his own 
fundamental unity with the authority which made the laws, 
there the sanction of law and social observance exerts its 


potent psychological force. It is the esprit fie corps, the 
social conscience (and conscience is essentially social, essen 
tially the voice of a common reason), which makes the 
mere loss, suffering-, and injury a punishment. The sanction 
after all does not operate from without : but by its identifica 
tion with what is within. It becomes a punishment only 
when, or in so far as, it is recognized by the sufferer as the 
necessary sequel of his own act, its inevitable consequence 
in a world so constituted, and that world as the framework 
and substantial reality on which his own life is founded. 
Punishment as an ethical force only emerges when this 
sense of social solidarity is awake and active : and it was 
this condition to which Becearia gave such absurd expression 
when he based the right of the community to punish its 
members on their actual or implied agreement to accept the 
penalty of their deeds. 

There is, however, a question that falls to be considered 
here. How far are the acts and observances demanded by 
these sanctions moral in their essential quality ? How far 
do law and custom encourage or forbid in accord with the 
requirements of the moral sense ? Of the law it may be 
said that what it insists upon is rather the sine qua nou 
of morality than morality itself. And of a great deal of 
social ethics it may be said that they are prophylactic 
of morality, but not themselves moral. They are the sign 
and symptom indicating with greater or less accuracy an 
essential and underlying frame of mind and direction of the 
will. This, moreover, is not the whole. The social form and 
legal enactment remains unchanged even when it is no 
longer in harmony with the inner state of affairs. It comes 
to possess an authority of its own, independent of what it 
represents : it asserts itself as a separate structure, with 
a life and interests of its own. Such an organ of the 
common life, thus invested with a separate vitality and with 
a standing of its own, is a morbid growth : 


Es erben sich Gesetz und Rechte 

Wie eine ew ge Krankheit fort : 
Sie schleppen von Geschlecht sich zum Geschlechte 

Und riicken sacht von Ort zu Ort : 
Vernunft wird Unsinn, Wohlthat Plage. 

But this is a disease and a discord not confined to laws. 
Art and science, literature and religion, also, in the objective 
institutions and quasi-materialized shapes which they assume, 
and must assume if they are to be powers in the real world, 
tend to become stereotyped in a traditional form and to be 
transmitted from age to age, as if they had a value of 
their own, and were not essentially valuable as factors only 
and elements in the total life and action of humanity. 
The inward spirit of morality, in itself inclined to antinomi- 
anism and autonomy, inclined, in other words, to claim an 
abstract and one-sided right of self-determination, is the 
natural and legitimate enemy of mere conformity, uniformity, 
and obedience to traditional restraints ; but they both are 
elements in the social life, where moral order unites witli 
moral liberty, and the conservative impulse is in conjunction 
with the progressive. The moral life, the idea of the social 
organism, is only maintained in vigorous antagonism, where 
resolute adhesion to all that is worthy in the past is matched 
with resolute endeavour to reach the fruition of a worthier 

It is in the consideration of this antagonism at the root 
of social life that we find the ground of the tragic character 
of the ethical process. The human being who is to reach 
true happiness, who is, in other words, to attain the full 
fruition of his being, to compass high ends and rejoice in his 
performance, must, as Plato says, have a suitable and pro 
portionate community ; he must, as Aristotle says, have 
a complete life and fortunate environment. But such duly 
graduated and harmonious development between man and 
man, between group and group not to mention between man 
and nature is far from universal, or even very common. 


Every part, like every man, has the defects of its qualities : 
it is the nature of finite things that they can only win some 
thing by ignoring or letting slip something else. No one 
party has a monopoly of social virtue. In the tangled skein 
of human affairs, to draw out one strand clean and clear 
requires you to cut or maltreat others. The one view, more 
over, in its extremer form inevitably calls forth an opponent 
with equal one-sidedness but in an opposite direction: yet 
the two antagonists only come by their antagonism because 
in their imperfection they yet have a latent sense of their 
totality and turn angrily against the side which reminds 
them most keenly of what they have missed. The persecutor 
when he tortures a dissident belief is angriest because in his 
heart of hearts he feels that he is fighting against an enemy 
that is of his own house and has an echo in his own breast ; 
and the sufferer partly undergoes vicarious punishment for 
this inner foe. Just as, in a very different sphere, one, who 
has already felt the power of love but unwillingly, struggles 
hard against its chain, and in blind passion vexes the loved 
one as the source and object of his or her own weakness ; so 
the violence of party strife is often an involuntary and uncon 
scious recognition of the, at least partial, Tightness of the 
other side. Thus when Saul is loudest in breathing slaughter 
against those of the Christian way, he is already in the mood 
that may at any moment break out into conversion to the 
faith he denounces. 

So it is also that the essential sanction or rather impulse 
given by law and custom is that they embody our own will 
and mind : the will which, though permanent, we had 
forgotten. They are the image of our true selves, of sides 
and depths in our nature which the pressure and distraction 
of life had obliterated. They speak, as Plato says, with 
the voice of aged parents and once-esteemed friends whom 
we would rather not meet, but whose monitions, whether 
we will or not, haunt us with the power of an insuperable 


necessity. They are the face of his country as it presents 
itself to the deserter and exile. 

If it be the failure of the sanction-aspect of political and 
social laws that they are looked at solely as external forces,, 
and not as deriving their efficacy from their kindred with the 
forces within the soul, this is still more apparent in the 
ordinary way of looking at the religious sanctions of which it 
is now time to speak. In one sense of the term where 
however it would be better to speak of the ecclesiastical 
sanction it only denotes a peculiar variety of the social 
sanction in general. The church, e. g. as forming a special 
organization in the State and in society, may exert an 
influence by separate ecclesiastical penalties on its members, 
and even create within its bounds a moral standard of its 
own; or a theocracy, a sacerdotal order, claiming to govern 
as the vicegerents of a divine inspiration, may produce a type 
of conduct and character unlike that of the ordinary commu 
nity. In a community where the power of the civil state 
is ill-established and its functions of social regulation ill- 
performed, the ecclesiastical organization especially when it 
wields the influence of a more than national union, as it did 
in the case of the mediaeval church may assume the post of 
a judge and regulator, and thus do the work which the secular 
government is unequal to perform. It is true that, in so far 
as the religious creed adopts to the secular life an opposition 
of ideal and aim, such enforcement of morality through the 
consecrated order may err on the side of asceticism. But 
these are tendencies not necessarily connected with religious 

In any case, indeed, the sanctions of religion form part 
of the established social and political order : sometimes as 
one of the many social influences, sometimes in close alliance 
with the secular arm of the state. But ordinarily the 
sanction of religion means either the occasional direct inter 
ference of God in human affairs, punishing acts and omissions 


that escape the meshes of human justice, whether legal or 
social, or the inevitable final penalty and reward attached 
to these and other acts in the future world. The former is 
the belief in a divine power, outside nature, yet supreme 
over it, which punishes great criminals whom human justice 
fails to overtake, and secret evil-doers of whose acts the 
ordinary sanctions have no cognizance. The latter is the 
belief that all conduct, besides its obvious effects, and its 
obvious accompaniments in reward and punishment in this 
world, has future effects and infinite issues : or, in vulgar 
language, that the good done in this world is rewarded here 
after, and the evil done in this world is hereafter punished. 
The beliefs, we have said : for here also it is not the outward 
force of an angry deity, but the faith of the religious mind 
that creates or contains the sanction. It is the belief in the 
validity of a sanction which for moral purposes constitutes 
its force. 

It is here that we are often introduced to the super 
natural/ But this term, with its antithesis the natural/ 
are words to which we should not much pin our faith. What 
nature is in all the actuality of its detail, is what none of us 
know. Nature is simply a way we look at the world, a law, 
condition or conception, under which our mind compels us 
to look at all facts or supposed facts : it is the statement that 
whatever exists, exists in complete interdependence ; that 
there is nothing irregular, nothing chaotic, nothing absolutely 
isolated and unconnected in the natural world. Of this 
we are absolutely sure: or rather it is the fundamental 
condition of all certainty and knowledge. But it is a very 
different thing to assert that the particular uniformities 
of event which we have ascertained, the particular sequences 
which have actually been observed, are all the uniformities 
which exist, and that they exhaust the possibilities of 
sequence which may be observed. On this sure foundation 
rests the fabric of our life and knowledge ; and therefore if 


we speak of the supernatural we cannot mean another 
province of our lives and knowledge, which lies in a sort 
of local juxtaposition, and occasionally, as it were, forms 
a sort of enclave in the territories of the natural. We can 
only mean that the forms and terms, under which we 
ordinarily grasp the unity of nature, are not the only forms 
in which that unity may reveal itself : we can only mean, in 
particular, that the forms of time and place are forms beyond 
which our thought is sometimes compelled to range. If 
nature be restricted, as it legitimately enough may, to denote 
a time and space world, a world in which there is always 
externality, where the unity of the idea is only as it were 
interpreted into it from some further source ; then by the 
supernatural, we mean the inward and abiding unity which 
refuses to disappear from the multiplicity, and yet which 
cannot find adequate expression in the multiplicity : the 
natura naturans, as opposed to the natura naturata. 

If we ask then how far the religious belief that whatever 
men s sanctions may do or fail to do, and whatever the 
ordinary course of nature may do, there is still a Providence 
that controls the operations of nature so as to realize his 
moral will, and punishes where man and nature fail, if we 
ask how far this belief is agreeable with the uniformity 
of nature/ it will be necessary to note the meaning we 
assign to our statements. And, first, the words may be 
taken in an obviously pictorial sense. They may mean that 
occasionally God does directly and personally interfere with 
the phenomena of the world, that he appears as an agent 
upon the scene, and takes a place among second causes, 
instead of remaining as the great first cause, i. e. not, strictly 
speaking, as a cause at all, but as the life and thought and 
spirit of all causes. At momentous issues in individual, 
national, or universal human life, at peculiar places where the 
world-drama has for the time concentrated its interest for 
the observer, God, as it were, rends asunder the veil which 



is ordinarily supposed to cover him, and an almighty right 
hand is stretched out to make itself felt in human affairs. 
Such a view is one into which the observer readily falls, who 
sees events from his limited standpoint and with his limited 
and particular interests. He views things, as the philosopher 
would say, from the ground of his senses and his imagina 
tion, not from the standpoint of reason. Absorbed in his 
own, or his nations aims, he see things from a false point 
of view, and can only explain the marvellous in his survey 
by the hypothesis of extraordinary forces. If he is right 
in his general assumption that no event happens without 
God, he is wrong by the partial way in which he confines the 
divine action to a special interference in his affairs. Such 
a belief may be and often is pictorially effective; and for 
those to whom pictorial effect is as it were the last word 
of thought, there is probably some good in even this partial 
realization of the dependence of all that we are and do on the 
great source of life. 

Yet perhaps the truer meaning of the phrase is that the 
ways of the world are not all explained and classified in our 
philosophy or science, and are not all in subordination to 
the detailed structure of causes and effects we have actually 
ascertained ; that the uniformities we know are only parts, 
and the order of nature extends far beyond those details of 
that order of which we are actually aware. It is, however, 
to the believer in the moral order of the world more than 
this. It is a far-reaching faith that whatever is, is right. 
Such a faith does not imply that an adequate and sufficient 
good has been attained and that we should rest and be 
thankful. It is rather the full acceptance of the system 
of nature and of science, as involving that there is reason in 
the world, and that it is only a partial or defective view that 
can speak of absolute unreason. This does not mean that 
every stage in the process of individual or of cosmic life is in 
its isolation admirable : it means only that what appears dark 


or dismal in the details becomes bright and cheering in the 
totality. It is the confident anticipation of the ultimate 
identity of spirit and nature : a monistic faith in the unity of 
man s permanent purposes with the cosmic order and move 
ment : a doctrine which is perhaps Spinozist in its emphasis 
on the essential identity of the ordo rerum and the orclo 
idearum, though hardly Spinozist in its tendency to regard 
the latter as the superior phase of the former. 

With regard, again, to the belief in future rewards and 
punishments, here also we have a statement in the pictorial 
language of imagination, whereby the timeless truth of 
necessary law is translated into the successive events of 
a history. What cannot be conveniently discharged at the 
time, is to be wiped, off at some coming day, with a massive 
weight of penalty and reward which should not fail to 
impress the observant mind. God, as it were, stands aside, 
and leaves the human agent free-play for a season : only to 
step in with awful rigour when the day of reckoning comes 
round in the end of all things. But what these pictures 
tear asunder into scenes is the truth that, beyond the utmost 
consequences of acts as they reveal themselves to us, there 
are further and further consequences ; that, though for us 
it is forbidden to trace bej ond a slight range the effects of 
acts upon ourselves and our neighbours and the world at 
large, such effects do not stop where their influence becomes 
inaccessible to palpable tests. It is a statement that the 
temporal is only a part of the Eternal, and that, when 
the thread of life and conduct disappears to the sensuous 
vision, it has only entered on a new phase, with issues 
infinite and indestructible. 

And if we ask what are the effects of such beliefs on 
morality, we must reply that the religious sanction operates 
in one way, when it forms an integral part of the social 
system, intricately allied with general ideals, observances, and 
requirements, and when it has a real hold on the life and 

H h 2, 


thought of the individual soul in short, when it is in 
harmony with the whole other aims and beliefs, the environ 
ment and organization. And it operates in another way, when 
it exercises an influence alien to the general tone and temper, 
when it owes its place to a traditional reverence, and the 
power of a narrow organization with its impermm in imperio. 
There is a living religion, and there is a mere skeleton of 
organization. The religious organism, the objective form in 
which it is embodied, may like other organizations become 
self-engrossed, detached from the general life, and drawing 
into itself, like a morbid structure, the materials which ought 
to go to maintain the general well-being. 

But what is a religion ? It has apparently several elements 
and grows up from several sources. But as we consider 
them, it behoves us first of all and above all to remember 
that it grows and lives in the heart and soul of man, and 
that it exists there in intimate and perpetual interaction 
with all other human agencies. It varies with the con 
ditions of the individual and of the community. We must 
think of it as in touch with the other factors and agencies 
in human life, receiving and transmitting, as well as 
exerting influences. To treat it as if it existed and acted 
by itself is to make an abstraction, which for certain 
purposes may be just or necessary, but which is none the less 
likely to be misleading and dangerous. To say that it does 
this or that, is to attribute to one prominent quality of 
an agent the effect which the whole agent produces. In the 
first place, it is the religious man, the religious community 
which is the real agent. And, secondly, in that agent 
religion never acts alone. Its operation is conditioned, is 
stimulated and checked by other interests, other pursuits, and 
ideals. It is in equal correlation too with the manners and 
customs, the organization or, it may be, the disorganization 
of the community. 

Man, it is sometimes said, is par excellence the religious 


animal. So too man has been defined or specified as 
a cooking-, or as a visible, animal. But this far from 
implying that man always cooks or laughs : and it need 
not be inconsistent with the statement that certain savages 
are unacquainted with the use of fire, and have never been 
known to relax in a smile. Nor is it inconsistent with the 
further fact that the style of cookery varies from country 
to country, and that the taste for the ridiculous is no less 
uncertain. By the assertion that man has these qualities 
we mean that the experience of history can only be explained 
on the assumption of certain uniform tendencies or form- 
principles of human intelligence, which lead, when sub 
mitted to appropriate stimuli, to certain tolerably uniform 
developments. A religion then will be the response of 
certain tendencies in the human organization to certain con 
ditions in the world around. But there may be all sorts 
of irregularities and what seem anomalies in the general 
development. The conditions which promote one line of 
development may be unfavourable to another. It is equally 
true that a human being- is an artistic, or that he is a com 
mercial being : but the mode in which his artistic or com 
mercial activity may issue admits of all shades and degrees. 
The circumstances which call out one of these activities may 
dwarf another. Though art e. g. may be justly called the 
natural and normal result of certain tendencies in mankind, it 
is quite true that there are many races and many individuals 
who would be baldly pronounced inartistic. But the term, 
like so many of the kind, expresses only a comparative 
defect, not an absolute want. It means that the art is bad, 
and does not come up to its ideal. So also there are 
individuals and races in whom the religious instinct appears 
dormant, if not dead : others in which science and philosophy 
are practically non-existent: others in which commerce is 
nearly unknown. And yet as we survey the history of 
our race we have a conviction that what man has done, man 


may do : and we credit him always with potentialities which 
are only occasionally realized. This is perhaps a conviction 
that expresses rather the postulate of a complete and all- 
round development, than a belief which can be actually 
substantiated by experience. It is the ideal of the perfect 
man, of a perfect humanity, in which the several excellencies 
of individuals form a social nucleus, a spiritual substance, 
in which each partly acquires a faculty he would never have 
acquired by himself, and yet each gives to the total a some 
thing none could render but himself. It is the normal social 
man who is essentially religious and artistic, not always in 
his obvious individuality any single man we meet in the 
street, though even in his case we hold the faith that some 
where within him, however hard to get at and however deeply 
buried, there is an element which, under the proper stimulus 
of education, will respond to the call from the art and 
religion without. Sometimes, indeed, it seems so difficult to 
find the fulcrum on which to rest our motor, that we incline 
to deny the susceptibility altogether, and are ready to believe 
that there are human beings bereft by nature of a moral, 
a religious, or an artistic sense, just as there are some born 
blind and others deaf. And yet, perhaps, the homonymy of 
the term sense here misleads us, and makes us forget that, 
while the senses strictly so-called presuppose a very definite 
physical organ, the other so-called senses rest upon a much 
broader basis, and can arise in a great variety of methods, 
by very various solicitations; and that they represent to 
a large extent the individualized form of a faculty which 
is essentially social, and lives in the conjunct organization 
of the community, largely independent of accidental and 
particular variations in the single members of such a body. 

The essence of religion seems to lie in the sense that this 
life and this world, this visible and temporal scene, is only 
a part, or only an appearance, of a greater life, a grander 
world, which is out of sense and is eternal : a sense that the 


motors of this changing scene are in a world beyond and 
behind them ; that the meaning of existence is not contained 
in the facts and phenomena patent to observation, but 
postulate for their explanation agencies and forces unacces- 
sible to the mere eyes and ears. But under this common 
tendency there may be distinguished more than one shade of 
motive. There is an aesthetic demand for a completeness 
and symmetry such as the isolated fragments of existence do 
not always supply : there is a need of explanation, which 
primitive ignorance and inexperience call for at a very early 
stage, but which advancing knowledge pushes further and 
further off : there is a moral need, which would seek some 
reconciliation of the unfinished and discordant struggles seen 
in actual life. Yet this sense of dependence of the seen upon 
the unseen has in all cases been accompanied by the sense 
that man, who is, on one hand, a part of the visible and 
temporary, and so subordinate, is, on the other hand, a part 
of the invisible and the eternal : so that in him there is 
a meeting place, as at a point, of the finite and the infinite. 
While, therefore, he feels his kindred with the things 
that perish and pass away, he feels also his kindred 
with the abiding and the invariable, with the gods who 
live for ever. 

Thus if, on the one hand, religion is the feeling of all- 
entwining dependence, the utterness of subjection of the part 
to the total, of the imperfect finite to the complete and limit 
less, it implies no less, on the other hand, the anthropopathic 
conviction that the universe is not without a being or beings 
who throb with sympathy or antipathy to man, who, at any 
rate, are not indifferent to him, and who, if occasionally they 
may be his enemies, can by various methods be made friendly 
and kind. How far in a given case either of these aspects may 
be prominent will, as already noted, depend upon the grade 
of development of the other functions of human energy. 
A rich, full, active life, unchecked in its activity and 

47 2 55,4 yS IN MORAL PHILOSOPHY [ix 

achieving the self-satisfaction of its aims, will feel, no doubt, 
the grandeur and majesty of the great powers who envelop 
human existence, but it will not anxiously crave their help or 
fear their enmity : it will see in their nature and existence 
a reflex of its own avrapKeia , it will worship, but with the 
calm, self-satisfied jubilation of those who glory in their 
kindred with the immortals, and cheerfully own the vast 
superiority of those who after all are indissolubly linked with 
the national life. If, on the contrary, the bond of national 
life has no outward symbol, if individuals have to find, as 
best they can, a refuge from the storm of life and a fortress 
against its perturbations, then the powers of the other world 
will rise supreme and dominant over the present : they will 
grow turbid with awful grandeur, and demand the offering 
of complete surrender. Such are the gods of nations rejoicing 
in their strength and supremacy projections into the infinite 
of the national vigour in its finite forms of achievement : 
and such, on the other hand, are the gods of the needy and 
down-pressed individuals, seeking in some strange new 
divinity from lands remote the help that the national gods 
do not give. Till finally, out of the latter, there emerge 
religions which tend to supplant the local divinities as well 
as the gods created to supply a special need, or to be the 
partial solution of a difficulty religions which in varying 
measure are an expression of the need and satisfaction of 
man as man, in his fullest individuality and in his widest 

Still, not at all times, nor in all circumstances will the 
religious instinct awake ; or if we must say that it is always 
there, it takes sometimes forms which prevent us recognizing 
it for religion. It is not for nought that it is sometimes 
said that to many people wealth is a god, or art, or beauty. 
All things, said an ancient philosopher, are full of gods. By 
their actions, at least, such people seem to credit the objects 
of their devotion with a permanence, a fundamentally, 


a central and all-supporting nature. The eye of the devotee, 
like that of the poet, sees things in their ideal completeness, 
in a brilliancy and power they never have to ordinary 
mortals. It gathers round the finite object the wealth of its 
infinite forebodings, and under the veil of the visible it 
worships an invisible glory. But for religion in its more 
specific phase, some greater detachment is necessary: we 
must rise above practice to contemplation, from engrossment 
in business to calm abstraction from ourselves and our 
pursuits. If the world is too much with us, we cannot hope 
to see God : distracted by its various pursuits, our eye only 
fixes upon one temporal object after another, and has neither 
the concentration nor the power to rise to the totality, or to 
penetrate to the unity and inner meaning. 

We may perhaps note three ways in which this power of the 
One and All touches. First, there is the sense of loneliness 
in nature, the feeling of the primitive stranger in a natural 
environment which in ways many and mysterious comes as 
a disturbing, or favouring, a controlling influence into his 
life : a feeling which in the intoxicating attractions of our 
artificial surroundings is reduced to a minimum, but which 
may be aroused in one who for longer or shorter time feels 
himself an outcast and solitary in a great multitude, or who 
suddenly finds himself in the vast loneliness of nature- 
possessed by that peculiar sense of the haunting mystery 
of the outer wilds, so well depicted by the modern French 
romancer, as speaking to the sailor on dim and distant seas 
of the misty north, or to the sojourner amid the environing 
forests of some island in southern seas. But as is the 
individual, in his feelings and training, so is the articulation 
of the voice that speaks to him from the circumambient world. 
Whereas a Wordsworth sees behind the light of setting suns 
a motion and a spirit that impels all things, the primitive 
savage finds a deity in more prosaic and proximate objects ; 
yet always perhaps, not so much in them, as behind them, be 


they but stock or stone. It seems somehow as if by many 
an incident our eyes and hearts, otherwise given away to petty 
and partial objects and aims, had the veil suddenly taken 
away from them ; as if for a moment they were enabled to see 
the "outlying- provinces of life, and to feel the vaster issues 
of that roar of worlds, which in daily routine we contrive to 
forget, and which for many purposes we must, if not 
absolutely forget, at least hear only as a distant and subdued 
accompaniment to the melody of life. 

But if the variety of human fortunes and experiences is 
felt to be only a department in the great all-embracing 
universe, if acts and their issues are believed to depend on 
the unaccountable influences of external forces, or to be 
a consequence and a detail of the one great cosmic unity ; 
if a dimly seen but intensely felt destiny or overruling 
influence of fate carries along with it in its train and sweep 
the lives and works of men, there is also a closer and 
a kindlier tie which binds the generations each to each, which 
gives the individual a permanent abiding-place and a sub 
stantial immortality. This is the solidarity of human life 
as first realized in the family and its extensions. But, here 
too, the full awareness of the bond only comes when the 
visible unity of the family passes away at death. It is the 
family deserted of its head which learns to look on that unity 
as subsisting on and on, yet subsisting in a certain ghostly 
wise, hardly real, only embalmed in memory ; existing in the 
subjective devotion of those who abide, but supposed to exist 
quasi-objectively in the ghostly realm of the dead. If the 
former source of religion consists in the presupposition of 
a unity in all the incidents of life in the endless range of 
universal space, the latter welds together present, past, and 
future in one continuous line of being, and beholds a per 
sistent life running throughout. The infinitesimally short 
lapse of the momentary and present sojourn of man is felt to 
be rooted in the past and to have its meaning in onlook to 


the future. It is here that we find what in some ways may 
be regarded as an equivalent to the modern hypothesis of the 
continuity of the germ-plasm. 

Yet the dead, who have become thus the object of worship, 
are also changed. If they have lost some of the attributes 
of humanity, and are thus in worse estate than before their 
decease, they are also freed from certain of its limitations. 
They are superior to the ordinary restrictions of time and 
space: they gain an ampler, less defined, more universal 
being. Still belonging to our general kindred, they have 
a wider and less determinate range of operation, a subtler 
power of penetration. Through them the code of family 
ethics acquires a consistency and authority such as it had not, 
while they lived : their personality, with all its peculiarities 
and interfering accidents, disappears, and leaves only the 
vague, but more emphatic spirit of their general function. 
Gradually, even, they lose the limits of humanity altogether, 
and become great spirits of influence : they breathe an 
ampler ether, a diviner air. They become one with the great 
forces of nature, with the lordly spirits of the natural world. 
The father of men becomes also the ruler and principle of the 

The fusion is accomplished under the influence of the 
rise of civilized communities. In such a community man 
gradually arrives at a new sense of his position in nature 
and of his relation to his fellows. He ceases to be so 
directly dependent on the mere grace and bounty of nature : 
directly, i. e. at the mercy of the accidents of a single 
place and time. Between the individual and the gratification 
of his wants is now interposed the whole instrumental 
machinery of the social union. The concentration and 
unification of the dependence has in the religious sphere 
a tendency to substitute monotheism for polytheism, or at 
least to raise certain deities to a prominence and a per 
manence unknown before. But the political society is not 


merely an economic organism : it also comes to discharge, and 
on an ampler scale, the functions of the family and its head. 
The unity of social life, which under the sway of family 
ideas was mainly felt as a ghostly influence, inhabiting the 
realm of the departed, is now realized as a present and active 
force, distinguishable even from the actual persons in whom 
it is visibly embodied, Occasionally, indeed, the living 
monarch, the actual state, may be actually treated as divine, 
as representing for the time being the eternal majesty of the 
social force. And in this social force, be it noted, we have 
a sort of synthesis of man and nature. The culture of the 
state represents, as Bacon would say, the wedlock of mens 
with natura : of the human mind with the physical world. 
Yet even the organized state leads the mind beyond itself : 
it too is dependent dependent, so to speak, at its circum 
ference only but along that circumference the dependence is 
now seen to be more complete and all-embracing than ever. 
Yet something further has been gained in the process. The 
union of man and nature which has been actually accom 
plished in the arts and sciences of civilization, suggests a far- 
reaching unity in the principles underlying the two sides. 
God now becomes in a higher degree than before the ultimate 
purport and therefore the very basis of the social union, of 
its moral code as well as its material conquests. He has 
given man the arts of life, has promulgated the law of 
conduct. That is, here again, the actual sees its warrant and 
sanction in an exalted ideal, a reasoned-out perfection which 
is more everlasting and determinate than itself : but that 
exalted perfection is more than ever in harmony with the 
actual. Heaven, at this stage, recalls for us the prototype 
the moralized and organized world of this earth. 

But is heaven only the glorified image, the abiding source 
and sanction, of the actual moral world, the world of social 
institutions, the social politico-economical organism ? No : 
religion is more than the sanction of morality ; and when 


it is dragged down to this position it is ill both for 
religion and for morality. The ethical world is but a step, 
though an all-important step, on the path that leads to 
God. The social organism, the state, is after all essentially 
a human and secular mechanism : perhaps, as Hobbes says, 
the mortal God, but not wholly adequate to the invisible 
and infinite type. Religion loses its freshness and power 
when it is treated as no broader and deeper than a moral 
sanction : and morality is deprived of its human freedom 
and self-developing growth when it is abruptly described 
as a command from a celestial sovereign possessing unlimited 
power and wisdom, or even (after the example of Kant) 
as the law of a realm of intelligent agents, whereof God 
is the lord. It would be a strange thing, said Aristotle, 
to consider God as a moral agent. There is a something 
higher than the life of conduct and practice ; and that higher 
is the life which is essentially self-realization, and not merely 
a process to something higher than itself. The moral sphere, 
as we may otherwise put it, has about it a certain unrest ; 
it is an effort to obey an alien law, to work out a problem 
imposed, to attain an end outside itself. And the problem is 
by the nature of it insoluble, in the terms in which it is 
stated. For the very aim of moral action could only be 
reached by making moral action henceforth impossible. If 
the world were what it ought to be, what need of further 
endeavour to make it better. Good itself can only be, on the 
assumption that evil is there to be overcome : such is the 
doctrine of many a Theodicee. 

It has been remarked that more than one philosophy has 
endeavoured to base its moral doctrine on its metaphysical 
theory, which in the last resort is an article of faith. Thus 
to one who holds that the end of the cosmic process is the 
evolution of intellect till it completely subdues will, the 
ethical rule will take the form of asceticism and quietism. 
The duty of the microcosm, man, is represented as the normal 


tendency of the macrocosm or universe. So the Stoic taught 
that the wise man would but cheerfully fall in with a destiny 
which, even should he refuse, would infallibly carry him 
with it. It is implied in all this that the moral and social 
order and progress is from one point of view a part in 
the great cosmic evolution. In the phases and fortunes 
of human society there is a great law operative which over 
rules all individual perturbations and renders impossible all 
that seems arbitrary or artificial. 



NEARLY four years have elapsed since Hermann Lotze died l . 
His removal from the scene left a sense of real loss, both 
personal and public, in a large body of friendly readers who 
hoped that he had yet in store for them a fuller revelation of 
that subtle spirit of wisdom which had often helped them in 
the doubts and confusions of modern controversy. It could 
not be said indeed that one of the great lights of the philosophic 
sky had gone out; yet at least a bright star had set and left 
the eye without one of its familiar means of orientation. 
There was more than the common ground for the trite words 
uttered over the closing grave that the world was a poorer 
place since he had gone, and that if he had lived longer, he 
might have taught us something more. And therefore it 
hardly needs the appearance of an English translation of his 
two last volumes, done by a group of Oxford scholars, to 
suggest a motive for trying to give in English some outline 
of Lotze s place in the history of philosophy, of his method 
and his ruling ideas. 

For some years back an ill-defined mixture of fascination 
and repulsion has kept curiosity alive in the neighbourhood 
of that all but inaccessible peak of adamant, the Hegelian 
philosophy. Latterly it has been suggested that the sure 
way to reach its summit, or possibly to attain a more 
commanding altitude, is to wend along the critical path 
which Kant made. But that path seems to lead else 
where : and the wanderers who have gone out by it, are 
1 Written in 1885. 

I i 


still struggling through endless hills of difficulty, no nearer 
the mountain top. It can do little harm to suggest a 
study of Lotze as an alternative approach to Hegel. The 
age in which Lotze first shaped the ideas which characterize 
him was an age saturated in the conceptions of aim and 
method of the great German idealists,, and yet keenly sensitive 
to the flaws and failures of their systems. Even if this 
suggestion turn out abortive, and the access to Hegelianism 
remain doubly barred, the study of Lotze will not have 
been fruitless. Apart from his dogmatic burthen of ideas 
and metaphysic, the example of his method his patient 
unravelling of tangled arguments, his delicate refusal to 
precipitate a conclusion till every appeal has been heard 
will remain a classic standard for the philosophical critic. 
Lotze has besides a special claim on our attention. A student 
of medicine before he turned to the study of philosophy, he 
had familiarized his mind with the methodological principles 
of physical science, and carried into the discussion of meta 
physical questions a lively conscience of the requirements of 
analysis and explanation^ which is rare among professional 
philosophers. Thus if, on the one hand, he may afford a line 
of regress to idealism, on the other he is not without points 
of attachment, progressively, to those realistic researches of 
modern German experimental psychology, which M. Ribot 
and Mr. Sully have chronicled for their countrymen. 

Captious censors may pronounce Lotze to be only common 
sense in philosophy. Even so, the faculty is not so common 
that it need be disparaged. Others may allege that he lacks 
the direct decision of a great teacher, that he guards himself 
in every dictum by reservations and conditions, and that, 
though dogmatic in abstract principles, he hesitates and gives 
forth an uncertain sound when he comes to settle an individual 
problem or make a concrete application. The latter charge 
cannot be rebutted. But, it may be added, it is not the 
highest virtue of a philosopher to solve the Gordian knot by 


a blow of the sword. That is the way of practical men. 
And < practical in that sense Lotze was not. One can under 
stand the worry it must have cost him Saturday after Saturday 
to sit on the board for testing candidates for the higher educa 
tional posts; and undoubtedly it could only have been the 
effect of the diminution in the numbers at his lectures during 
the period he was out of the Schools (1875-9) that he 
returned to the distasteful task. In his voluminous works 
there is scarcely a page which touches upon the topics 
currently agitated in the social, political and religious worlds. 
He does not, it is true, write wholly for the school, but he is 
academic in tone and theme, and the world for which he 
thinks is the world of cultivated reflection and scholarly taste. 
A solitary chapter of his Logic discusses the methods for 
getting a true vote, when it is needful to pronounce between 
a number of measures or of men. Yet in a time which 
swarms with doctrinaires ready for action, it is absurd to give 
a grudging welcome to the voice of one who neither bans 
unreservedly nor blesses altogether, but with calm yet sympa 
thetic judgment weighs good and evil, careful to shun the 
fallacies of words and the pronounced bias of a transient 
majority. No doubt to the practical man such a position 
looks like scepticism. Such a sceptic, too, unsatisfied with 
the certainty and solidity of much that the specialist looks 
upon as proved and discovered, Lotze appeared from the 
first, in his work on the principles of medicine. But when 
philosophy shall cease to be so sceptical, shall leave the post 
of criticism to become finally dogmatic, philosophy will be on 
the eve of euthanasia, with the sciences now made perfect 
waiting to carry their elder sister to her tomb. It is just 
because Lotze throughout his teaching never sunk criticism 
in mere exposition, but worked up to results by the recurrent 
correction of successive guesses at truth in a way that 
simulates the movement of a living Logos leading him 
whithersoever it would that he did knightly service, not 

I i 2, 


only as a writer o some repute and populari