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Portrait of Carlyle Portrait of Carlyle
Etched by E. A. Fowle—From Painting by Samuel Lawrence

Illustrated Library Edition














PAGE LECTURE I. Work, 17 LECTURE II. Traffic, 44 LECTURE III. War, 66 MUNERA PULVERIS. Preface, 97 CHAP. I. Definitions, 111 II. Store-Keeping, 125 III. Coin-Keeping, 151 IV. Commerce, 170 V. Government, 181 VI. Mastership, 204 Appendices, 222 PRE-RAPHAELITISM. , 235 Pre-Raphaelitism, 237 ARATRA PENTELICI. , 283 LECTURE I. Of the Division of Arts, 287 II. Idolatry, 304 III. Imagination, 322 IV. Likeness, 350 V. Structure, 372 VI. The School of Athens, 395 The Future of England, 415 Notes on Political Economy of Prussia, 435



I. Porch of San Zenone. Verona, 300 II. The Arethusa of Syracuse, 302 III. The Warning to the Kings, IV. The Nativity of Athena, 308 V. Tomb of the Doges Jacopo and Lorenzo Tiepolo, 333 VI. Archaic Athena of Athens and Corinth, 334 VII. Archaic, Central and Declining Art of Greece, 355 VIII. The Apollo of Syracuse and the Self-made Man, 366 IX. Apollo Chrysocomes of Clazomenæ, 368 X. Marble Masonry in the Duomo of Verona, 381 XI. The First Elements of Sculpture, 382 XII. Branch of Phillyrea. Dark Purple, 390 XIII. Greek Flat Relief and Sculpture by Edged Incision, 392 XIV. Apollo and the Python. Heracles and the Nemean Lion, 400 XV. Hera of Argos. Zeus of Syracuse, 401 XVI. Demeter of Messene. Hera of Crossus, 402 XVII. Athena of Thurium. Sereie Ligeia of Terina, XVIII. Artemis of Syracuse. Hera of Lacinian Cape, 404 XIX. Zeus of Messene. Ajax of Opus, 405 XX. Greek and Barbarian Sculpture, 407 XXI. The Beginnings of Chivalry, 409 FIGURE PAGE 1. Specimen of Plate, 293 2. Woodcut, 323 3. Figure on Greek Type of Vases, 326 4. Early Drawing of the Myth, 330 5. Cut, "Give It To Me," 332 6. Engraving on Coin, 335 7. Drawing of Fish. By Turner, 362 8. Iron Bar, 379 9. Diagram of Leaf, 391



[Pg 5]


Twenty years ago, there was no lovelier piece of lowland scenery in South England, nor any more pathetic in the world, by its expression of sweet human character and life, than that immediately bordering on the sources of the Wandle, and including the lower moors of Addington, and the villages of Beddington and Carshalton, with all their pools and streams. No clearer or diviner waters ever sang with constant lips of the hand which 'giveth rain from heaven;' no pastures ever lightened in spring time with more passionate blossoming; no sweeter homes ever hallowed the heart of the passer-by with their pride of peaceful gladness—fain-hidden—yet full-confessed. The place remains, or, until a few months ago, remained, nearly unchanged in its larger features; but, with deliberate mind I say, that I have never seen anything so ghastly in its inner tragic meaning,—not in Pisan Maremma—not by Campagna tomb,—not by the sand-isles of the Torcellan shore,—as the slow stealing of aspects of reckless, indolent, animal neglect, over the delicate sweetness of that English scene: nor is any blasphemy or impiety—any frantic saying or godless thought—more appalling to me, using the best power of judgment I have to discern its sense and scope, than the insolent defilings of those springs by the human herds that drink of them. Just where the welling of stainless water, trembling and pure, like a body of light, enters the pool of Carshalton, cutting itself a radiant channel down to the gravel, through warp of feathery weeds, all waving, which it traverses with its deep threads of clearness, like the chalcedony in moss-agate, starred here and there with white grenouillette; just in the very rush and murmur of the first spreading currents, the human[Pg 6] wretches of the place cast their street and house foulness; heaps of dust and slime, and broken shreds of old metal, and rags of putrid clothes; they having neither energy to cart it away, nor decency enough to dig it into the ground, thus shed into the stream, to diffuse what venom of it will float and melt, far away, in all places where God meant those waters to bring joy and health. And, in a little pool, behind some houses farther in the village, where another spring rises, the shattered stones of the well, and of the little fretted channel which was long ago built and traced for it by gentler hands, lie scattered, each from each, under a ragged bank of mortar, and scoria; and brick-layers' refuse, on one side, which the clean water nevertheless chastises to purity; but it cannot conquer the dead earth beyond; and there, circled and coiled under festering scum, the stagnant edge of the pool effaces itself into a slope of black slime, the accumulation of indolent years. Half-a-dozen men, with one day's work, could cleanse those pools, and trim the flowers about their banks, and make every breath of summer air above them rich with cool balm; and every glittering wave medicinal, as if it ran, troubled of angels, from the porch of Bethesda. But that day's work is never given, nor will be; nor will any joy be possible to heart of man, for evermore, about those wells of English waters.

When I last left them, I walked up slowly through the back streets of Croydon, from the old church to the hospital; and, just on the left, before coming up to the crossing of the High Street, there was a new public-house built. And the front of it was built in so wise manner, that a recess of two feet was left below its front windows, between them and the street-pavement—a recess too narrow for any possible use (for even if it had been occupied by a seat, as in old time it might have been, everybody walking along the street would have fallen over the legs of the reposing wayfarers). But, by way of making this two feet depth of freehold land more expressive of the dignity of an establishment for the sale of spirituous liquors, it was fenced from the pavement by an imposing iron railing, having four or five spearheads to the yard of it, and six feet high; containing as much iron and iron-work, indeed[Pg 7] as could well be put into the space; and by this stately arrangement, the little piece of dead ground within, between wall and street, became a protective receptacle of refuse; cigar ends, and oyster shells, and the like, such as an open-handed English street-populace habitually scatters from its presence, and was thus left, unsweepable by any ordinary methods. Now the iron bars which, uselessly (or in great degree worse than uselessly), enclosed this bit of ground, and made it pestilent, represented a quantity of work which would have cleansed the Carshalton pools three times over;—of work, partly cramped and deadly, in the mine; partly fierce[1] and exhaustive, at the furnace; partly foolish and sedentary, of ill-taught students making bad designs: work from the beginning to the last fruits of it, and in all the branches of it, venomous, deathful, and miserable. Now, how did it come to pass that this work was done instead of the other; that the strength and life of the English operative were spent in defiling ground, instead of redeeming it; and in producing an entirely (in that place) valueless piece of metal, which can neither be eaten nor breathed, instead of medicinal fresh air, and pure water?

There is but one reason for it, and at present a conclusive one,—that the capitalist can charge per-centage on the work[Pg 8] in the one case, and cannot in the other. If, having certain funds for supporting labour at my disposal, I pay men merely to keep my ground in order, my money is, in that function, spent once for all; but if I pay them to dig iron out of my ground, and work it, and sell it, I can charge rent for the ground, and per-centage both on the manufacture and the sale, and make my capital profitable in these three bye-ways. The greater part of the profitable investment of capital, in the present day, is in operations of this kind, in which the public is persuaded to buy something of no use to it, on production, or sale, of which, the capitalist may charge per-centage; the said public remaining all the while under the persuasion that the per-centages thus obtained are real national gains, whereas, they are merely filchings out of partially light pockets, to swell heavy ones.

Thus, the Croydon publican buys the iron railing, to make himself more conspicuous to drunkards. The public-housekeeper on the other side of the way presently buys another railing, to out-rail him with. Both are, as to their relative attractiveness to customers of taste, just where they were before; but they have lost the price of the railings; which they must either themselves finally lose, or make their aforesaid customers of taste pay, by raising the price of their beer, or adulterating it. Either the publicans, or their customers, are thus poorer by precisely what the capitalist has gained; and the value of the work itself, meantime, has been lost to the nation; the iron bars in that form and place being wholly useless. It is this mode of taxation of the poor by the rich which is referred to in the text (page 31), in comparing the modern acquisitive power of capital with that of the lance and sword; the only difference being that the levy of black mail in old times was by force, and is now by cozening. The old rider and reiver frankly quartered himself on the publican for the night; the modern one merely makes his lance into an iron spike, and persuades his host to buy it. One comes as an open robber, the other as a cheating pedlar; but the result, to the injured person's pocket, is absolutely the same. Of course many useful industries mingle with, and disguise the useless ones; and[Pg 9] in the habits of energy aroused by the struggle, there is a certain direct good. It is far better to spend four thousand pounds in making a good gun, and then to blow it to pieces, than to pass life in idleness. Only do not let it be called 'political economy.' There is also a confused notion in the minds of many persons, that the gathering of the property of the poor into the hands of the rich does no ultimate harm; since, in whosesoever hands it may be, it must be spent at last, and thus, they think, return to the poor again. This fallacy has been again and again exposed; but grant the plea true, and the same apology may, of course, be made for black mail, or any other form of robbery. It might be (though practically it never is) as advantageous for the nation that the robber should have the spending of the money he extorts, as that the person robbed should have spent it. But this is no excuse for the theft. If I were to put a turnpike on the road where it passes my own gate, and endeavour to exact a shilling from every passenger, the public would soon do away with my gate, without listening to any plea on my part that 'it was as advantageous to them, in the end, that I should spend their shillings, as that they themselves should.' But if, instead of out-facing them with a turnpike, I can only persuade them to come in and buy stones, or old iron, or any other useless thing, out of my ground, I may rob them to the same extent, and be, moreover, thanked as a public benefactor, and promoter of commercial prosperity. And this main question for the poor of England—for the poor of all countries—is wholly omitted in every common treatise on the subject of wealth. Even by the labourers themselves, the operation of capital is regarded only in its effect on their immediate interests; never in the far more terrific power of its appointment of the kind and the object of labour. It matters little, ultimately, how much a labourer is paid for making anything; but it matters fearfully what the thing is, which he is compelled to make. If his labour is so ordered as to produce food, and fresh air, and fresh water, no matter that his wages are low;—the food and fresh air and water will be at last there; and he will at last get them. But if he is paid to destroy food and fresh air or[Pg 10] to produce iron bars instead of them,—the food and air will finally not be there, and he will get them, to his great and final inconvenience. So that, conclusively, in political as in household economy, the great question is, not so much what money you have in your pocket, as what you will buy with it, and do with it.

I have been long accustomed, as all men engaged in work of investigation must be, to hear my statements laughed at for years, before they are examined or believed; and I am generally content to wait the public's time. But it has not been without displeased surprise that I have found myself totally unable, as yet, by any repetition, or illustration, to force this plain thought into my readers' heads,—that the wealth of nations, as of men, consists in substance, not in ciphers; and that the real good of all work, and of all commerce, depends on the final worth of the thing you make, or get by it. This is a practical enough statement, one would think: but the English public has been so possessed by its modern school of economists with the notion that Business is always good, whether it be busy in mischief or in benefit; and that buying and selling are always salutary, whatever the intrinsic worth of what you buy or sell,—that it seems impossible to gain so much as a patient hearing for any inquiry respecting the substantial result of our eager modern labours. I have never felt more checked by the sense of this impossibility than in arranging the heads of the following three lectures, which, though delivered at considerable intervals of time, and in different places, were not prepared without reference to each other. Their connection would, however, have been made far more distinct, if I had not been prevented, by what I feel to be another great difficulty in addressing English audiences, from enforcing, with any decision, the common, and to me the most important, part of their subjects. I chiefly desired (as I have just said) to question my hearers—operatives, merchants, and soldiers, as to the ultimate meaning of the business they had in hand; and to know from them what they expected or intended their manufacture to come to, their selling to come to, and their[Pg 11] killing to come to. That appeared the first point needing determination before I could speak to them with any real utility or effect. 'You craftsmen—salesmen—swordsmen,—do but tell me clearly what you want, then, if I can say anything to help you, I will; and if not, I will account to you as I best may for my inability.' But in order to put this question into any terms, one had first of all to face the difficulty just spoken of—to me for the present insuperable,—the difficulty of knowing whether to address one's audience as believing, or not believing, in any other world than this. For if you address any average modern English company as believing in an Eternal life, and endeavour to draw any conclusions, from this assumed belief, as to their present business, they will forthwith tell you that what you say is very beautiful, but it is not practical. If, on the contrary, you frankly address them as unbelievers in Eternal life, and try to draw any consequences from that unbelief,—they immediately hold you for an accursed person, and shake off the dust from their feet at you. And the more I thought over what I had got to say, the less I found I could say it, without some reference to this intangible or intractable part of the subject. It made all the difference, in asserting any principle of war, whether one assumed that a discharge of artillery would merely knead down a certain quantity of red clay into a level line, as in a brick field; or whether, out of every separately Christian-named portion of the ruinous heap, there went out, into the smoke and dead-fallen air of battle, some astonished condition of soul, unwillingly released. It made all the difference, in speaking of the possible range of commerce, whether one assumed that all bargains related only to visible property—or whether property, for the present invisible, but nevertheless real, was elsewhere purchasable on other terms. It made all the difference, in addressing a body of men subject to considerable hardship, and having to find some way out of it—whether one could confidentially say to them, 'My friends,—you have only to die, and all will be right;' or whether one had any secret misgiving that such advice was more blessed to him that gave, than to him that took it. And therefore[Pg 12] the deliberate reader will find, throughout these lectures, a hesitation in driving points home, and a pausing short of conclusions which he will feel I would fain have come to; hesitation which arises wholly from this uncertainty of my hearers' temper. For I do not now speak, nor have I ever spoken, since the time of my first forward youth, in any proselyting temper, as desiring to persuade any one of what, in such matters, I thought myself; but, whomsoever I venture to address, I take for the time his creed as I find it; and endeavour to push it into such vital fruit as it seems capable of. Thus, it is a creed with a great part of the existing English people, that they are in possession of a book which tells them, straight from the lips of God all they ought to do, and need to know. I have read that book, with as much care as most of them, for some forty years; and am thankful that, on those who trust it, I can press its pleadings. My endeavour has been uniformly to make them trust it more deeply than they do; trust it, not in their own favourite verses only, but in the sum of all; trust it not as a fetish or talisman, which they are to be saved by daily repetitions of; but as a Captain's order, to be heard and obeyed at their peril. I was always encouraged by supposing my hearers to hold such belief. To these, if to any, I once had hope of addressing, with acceptance, words which insisted on the guilt of pride, and the futility of avarice; from these, if from any, I once expected ratification of a political economy, which asserted that the life was more than the meat, and the body than raiment; and these, it once seemed to me, I might ask without accusation or fanaticism, not merely in doctrine of the lips, but in the bestowal of their heart's treasure, to separate themselves from the crowd of whom it is written, 'After all these things do the Gentiles seek.'

It cannot, however, be assumed, with any semblance of reason, that a general audience is now wholly, or even in majority, composed of these religious persons. A large portion must always consist of men who admit no such creed; or who, at least, are inaccessible to appeals founded on it. And as, with the so-called Christian, I desired to plead for honest[Pg 13] declaration and fulfilment of his belief in life,—with the so-called Infidel, I desired to plead for an honest declaration and fulfilment of his belief in death. The dilemma is inevitable. Men must either hereafter live, or hereafter die; fate may be bravely met, and conduct wisely ordered, on either expectation; but never in hesitation between ungrasped hope, and unconfronted fear. We usually believe in immortality, so far as to avoid preparation for death; and in mortality, so far as to avoid preparation for anything after death. Whereas, a wise man will at least hold himself prepared for one or other of two events, of which one or other is inevitable; and will have all things in order, for his sleep, or in readiness, for his awakening.

Nor have we any right to call it an ignoble judgment, if he determine to put them in order, as for sleep. A brave belief in life is indeed an enviable state of mind, but, as far as I can discern, an unusual one. I know few Christians so convinced of the splendour of the rooms in their Father's house, as to be happier when their friends are called to those mansions, than they would have been if the Queen had sent for them to live at Court: nor has the Church's most ardent 'desire to depart, and be with Christ,' ever cured it of the singular habit of putting on mourning for every person summoned to such departure. On the contrary, a brave belief in death has been assuredly held by many not ignoble persons, and it is a sign of the last depravity in the Church itself, when it assumes that such a belief is inconsistent with either purity of character, or energy of hand. The shortness of life is not, to any rational person, a conclusive reason for wasting the space of it which may be granted him; nor does the anticipation of death to-morrow suggest, to any one but a drunkard, the expediency of drunkenness to-day. To teach that there is no device in the grave, may indeed make the deviceless person more contented in his dulness; but it will make the deviser only more earnest in devising, nor is human conduct likely, in every case, to be purer under the conviction that all its evil may in a moment be pardoned, and all its wrong-doing in a moment redeemed; and that the sigh of repentance, which[Pg 14] purges the guilt of the past, will waft the soul into a felicity which forgets its pain,—than it may be under the sterner, and to many not unwise minds, more probable, apprehension, that 'what a man soweth that shall he also reap'—or others reap,—when he, the living seed of pestilence, walketh no more in darkness, but lies down therein.

But to men whose feebleness of sight, or bitterness of soul, or the offence given by the conduct of those who claim higher hope, may have rendered this painful creed the only possible one, there is an appeal to be made, more secure in its ground than any which can be addressed to happier persons. I would fain, if I might offencelessly, have spoken to them as if none others heard; and have said thus: Hear me, you dying men, who will soon be deaf for ever. For these others, at your right hand and your left, who look forward to a state of infinite existence, in which all their errors will be overruled, and all their faults forgiven; for these, who, stained and blackened in the battle smoke of mortality, have but to dip themselves for an instant in the font of death, and to rise renewed of plumage, as a dove that is covered with silver, and her feathers like gold; for these, indeed, it may be permissible to waste their numbered moments, through faith in a future of innumerable hours; to these, in their weakness, it may be conceded that they should tamper with sin which can only bring forth fruit of righteousness, and profit by the iniquity which, one day, will be remembered no more. In them, it may be no sign of hardness of heart to neglect the poor, over whom they know their Master is watching; and to leave those to perish temporarily, who cannot perish eternally. But, for you, there is no such hope, and therefore no such excuse. This fate, which you ordain for the wretched, you believe to be all their inheritance; you may crush them, before the moth, and they will never rise to rebuke you;—their breath, which fails for lack of food, once expiring, will never be recalled to whisper against you a word of accusing;—they and you, as you think, shall lie down together in the dust, and the worms cover you;—and for them there shall be no consolation, and on you no vengeance,—only the question[Pg 15] murmured above your grave: 'Who shall repay him what he hath done?' Is it therefore easier for you in your heart to inflict the sorrow for which there is no remedy? Will you take, wantonly, this little all of his life from your poor brother, and make his brief hours long to him with pain? Will you be readier to the injustice which can never be redressed; and niggardly of mercy which you can bestow but once, and which, refusing, you refuse for ever? I think better of you, even of the most selfish, than that you would do this, well understood. And for yourselves, it seems to me, the question becomes not less grave, in these curt limits. If your life were but a fever fit,—the madness of a night, whose follies were all to be forgotten in the dawn, it might matter little how you fretted away the sickly hours,—what toys you snatched at, or let fall,—what visions you followed wistfully with the deceived eyes of sleepless phrenzy. Is the earth only an hospital? Play, if you care to play, on the floor of the hospital dens. Knit its straw into what crowns please you; gather the dust of it for treasure, and die rich in that, clutching at the black motes in the air with your dying hands;—and yet, it may be well with you. But if this life be no dream, and the world no hospital; if all the peace and power and joy you can ever win, must be won now; and all fruit of victory gathered here, or never;—will you still, throughout the puny totality of your life, weary yourselves in the fire for vanity? If there is no rest which remaineth for you, is there none you might presently take? was this grass of the earth made green for your shroud only, not for your bed? and can you never lie down upon it, but only under it? The heathen, to whose creed you have returned, thought not so. They knew that life brought its contest, but they expected from it also the crown of all contest: No proud one! no jewelled circlet flaming through Heaven above the height of the unmerited throne; only some few leaves of wild olive, cool to the tired brow, through a few years of peace. It should have been of gold, they thought; but Jupiter was poor; this was the best the god could give them. Seeking a greater than this, they had known it a mockery. Not in war, not in wealth, not in tyranny,[Pg 16] was there any happiness to be found for them—only in kindly peace, fruitful and free. The wreath was to be of wild olive, mark you:—the tree that grows carelessly, tufting the rocks with no vivid bloom, no verdure of branch; only with soft snow of blossom, and scarcely fulfilled fruit, mixed with grey leaf and thornset stem; no fastening of diadem for you but with such sharp embroidery! But this, such as it is, you may win while yet you live; type of grey honour and sweet rest.[2] Free-heartedness, and graciousness, and undisturbed trust, and requited love, and the sight of the peace of others, and the ministry to their pain;—these, and the blue sky above you, and the sweet waters and flowers of the earth beneath; and mysteries and presences, innumerable, of living things,—these may yet be here your riches; untormenting and divine: serviceable for the life that now is nor, it may be, without promise of that which is to come.


[1] 'A fearful occurrence took place a few days since, near Wolverhampton. Thomas Snape, aged nineteen, was on duty as the "keeper" of a blast furnace at Deepfield, assisted by John Gardner, aged eighteen, and Joseph Swift, aged thirty-seven. The furnace contained four tons of molten iron, and an equal amount of cinders, and ought to have been run out at 7.30 p.m. But Snape and his mates, engaged in talking and drinking, neglected their duty, and in the meantime, the iron rose in the furnace until it reached a pipe wherein water was contained. Just as the men had stripped, and were proceeding to tap the furnace, the water in the pipe, converted into steam, burst down its front and let loose on them the molten metal, which instantaneously consumed Gardner; Snape, terribly burnt, and mad with pain, leaped into the canal and then ran home and fell dead on the threshold, Swift survived to reach the hospital, where he died too.

In further illustration of this matter, I beg the reader to look at the article on the 'Decay of the English Race,' in the 'Pall-Mall Gazette' of April 17, of this year; and at the articles on the 'Report of the Thames Commission,' in any journals of the same date.

[2] μελιτεσσα, αεθλων γ' ενεκεν.


[Pg 17]



(Delivered before the Working Men's Institute, at Camberwell.)

My Friends,—I have not come among you to-night to endeavour to give you an entertaining lecture; but to tell you a few plain facts, and ask you some plain, but necessary questions. I have seen and known too much of the struggle for life among our labouring population, to feel at ease, even under any circumstances, in inviting them to dwell on the trivialities of my own studies; but, much more, as I meet to-night, for the first time, the members of a working Institute established in the district in which I have passed the greater part of my life, I am desirous that we should at once understand each other, on graver matters. I would fain tell you, with what feelings, and with what hope, I regard this Institution, as one of many such, now happily established throughout England, as well as in other countries;—Institutions which are preparing the way for a great change in all the circumstances of industrial life; but of which the success must wholly depend upon our clearly understanding the circumstances and necessary limits of this change. No teacher can truly promote the cause of education, until he knows the conditions of the life for which that education is to prepare his pupil. And the fact that he is called upon to address you nominally, as a 'Working Class,' must compel him, if he is in any wise earnest or thoughtful, to inquire in the outset,[Pg 18] on what you yourselves suppose this class distinction has been founded in the past, and must be founded in the future. The manner of the amusement, and the matter of the teaching, which any of us can offer you, must depend wholly on our first understanding from you, whether you think the distinction heretofore drawn between working men and others, is truly or falsely founded. Do you accept it as it stands? do you wish it to be modified? or do you think the object of education is to efface it, and make us forget it for ever?

Let me make myself more distinctly understood. We call this—you and I—a 'Working Men's' Institute, and our college in London, a 'Working Men's' College. Now, how do you consider that these several institutes differ, or ought to differ, from 'idle men's' institutes and 'idle men's' colleges? Or by what other word than 'idle' shall I distinguish those whom the happiest and wisest of working men do not object to call the 'Upper Classes?' Are there really upper classes,—are there lower? How much should they always be elevated, how much always depressed? And, gentlemen and ladies—I pray those of you who are here to forgive me the offence there may be in what I am going to say. It is not I who wish to say it. Bitter voices say it; voices of battle and of famine through all the world, which must be heard some day, whoever keeps silence. Neither is it to you specially that I say it. I am sure that most now present know their duties of kindness, and fulfil them, better perhaps than I do mine. But I speak to you as representing your whole class, which errs, I know, chiefly by thoughtlessness, but not therefore the less terribly. Wilful error is limited by the will, but what limit is there to that of which we are unconscious?

Bear with me, therefore, while I turn to these workmen, and ask them, also as representing a great multitude, what they think the 'upper classes' are, and ought to be, in relation to them. Answer, you workmen who are here, as you would among yourselves, frankly; and tell me how you would have me call those classes. Am I to call them—would you think me right in calling them—the idle classes? I think you would feel somewhat uneasy, and as if I were not treating[Pg 19] my subject honestly, or speaking from my heart, if I went on under the supposition that all rich people were idle. You would be both unjust and unwise if you allowed me to say that;—not less unjust than the rich people who say that all the poor are idle, and will never work if they can help it, or more than they can help.

For indeed the fact is, that there are idle poor and idle rich; and there are busy poor and busy rich. Many a beggar is as lazy as if he had ten thousand a year; and many a man of large fortune is busier than his errand-boy, and never would think of stopping in the street to play marbles. So that, in a large view, the distinction between workers and idlers, as between knaves and honest men, runs through the very heart and innermost economies of men of all ranks and in all positions. There is a working class—strong and happy—among both rich and poor; there is an idle class—weak, wicked, and miserable—among both rich and poor. And the worst of the misunderstandings arising between the two orders come of the unlucky fact that the wise of one class habitually contemplate the foolish of the other. If the busy rich people watched and rebuked the idle rich people, all would be right; and if the busy poor people watched and rebuked the idle poor people, all would be right. But each class has a tendency to look for the faults of the other. A hard-working man of property is particularly offended by an idle beggar; and an orderly, but poor, workman is naturally intolerant of the licentious luxury of the rich. And what is severe judgment in the minds of the just men of either class, becomes fierce enmity in the unjust—but among the unjust only. None but the dissolute among the poor look upon the rich as their natural enemies, or desire to pillage their houses and divide their property. None but the dissolute among the rich speak in opprobrious terms of the vices and follies of the poor.

There is, then, no class distinction between idle and industrious people; and I am going to-night to speak only of the industrious. The idle people we will put out of our thoughts at once—they are mere nuisances—what ought to be done with them, we'll talk of at another time. But there are class distinctions,[Pg 20] among the industrious themselves; tremendous distinctions, which rise and fall to every degree in the infinite thermometer of human pain and of human power—distinctions of high and low, of lost and won, to the whole reach of man's soul and body.

These separations we will study, and the laws of them, among energetic men only, who, whether they work or whether they play, put their strength into the work, and their strength into the game; being in the full sense of the word 'industrious,' one way or another—with a purpose, or without. And these distinctions are mainly four:

I. Between those who work, and those who play.

II. Between those who produce the means of life, and those who consume them.

III. Between those who work with the head, and those who work with the hand.

IV. Between those who work wisely, and who work foolishly.

For easier memory, let us say we are going to oppose, in our examination.—

I. Work to play;
II. Production to consumption;
III. Head to Hand; and,
IV. Sense to nonsense.

I. First, then, of the distinction between the classes who work and the classes who play. Of course we must agree upon a definition of these terms,—work and play,—before going farther. Now, roughly, not with vain subtlety of definition, but for plain use of the words, 'play' is an exertion of body or mind, made to please ourselves, and with no determined end; and work is a thing done because it ought to be done, and with a determined end. You play, as you call it, at cricket, for instance. That is as hard work as anything else; but it amuses you, and it has no result but the amusement. If it were done as an ordered form of exercise, for health's sake, it would become work directly. So, in like manner, whatever we do to please ourselves, and only for the sake of the pleasure, not for an ultimate object, is 'play,' the[Pg 21] 'pleasing thing,' not the useful thing. Play may be useful in a secondary sense (nothing is indeed more useful or necessary); but the use of it depends on its being spontaneous.

Let us, then, enquire together what sort of games the playing class in England spend their lives in playing at.

The first of all English games is making money. That is an all-absorbing game; and we knock each other down oftener in playing at that than at foot-ball, or any other roughest sport; and it is absolutely without purpose; no one who engages heartily in that game ever knows why. Ask a great money-maker what he wants to do with his money—he never knows. He doesn't make it to do anything with it. He gets it only that he may get it. 'What will you make of what you have got?' you ask. 'Well, I'll get more,' he says. Just as, at cricket, you get more runs. There's no use in the runs, but to get more of them than other people is the game. And there's no use in the money, but to have more of it than other people is the game. So all that great foul city of London there,—rattling, growling, smoking, stinking,—a ghastly heap of fermenting brick-work, pouring out poison at every pore,—you fancy it is a city of work? Not a street of it! It is a great city of play; very nasty play, and very hard play, but still play. It is only Lord's cricket ground without the turf,—a huge billiard table without the cloth, and with pockets as deep as the bottomless pit; but mainly a billiard table, after all.

Well, the first great English game is this playing at counters. It differs from the rest in that it appears always to be producing money, while every other game is expensive. But it does not always produce money. There's a great difference between 'winning' money and 'making' it; a great difference between getting it out of another man's pocket into ours, or filling both. Collecting money is by no means the same thing as making it; the tax-gatherer's house is not the Mint; and much of the apparent gain (so called), in commerce, is only a form of taxation on carriage or exchange.

Our next great English game, however, hunting and shooting, is costly altogether; and how much we are fined for it annually in land, horses, gamekeepers, and game laws, and all[Pg 22] else that accompanies that beautiful and special English game, I will not endeavour to count now: but note only that, except for exercise, this is not merely a useless game, but a deadly one, to all connected with it. For through horse-racing, you get every form of what the higher classes everywhere call 'Play,' in distinction from all other plays; that is—gambling; by no means a beneficial or recreative game: and, through game-preserving, you get also some curious laying out of ground; that beautiful arrangement of dwelling-house for man and beast, by which we have grouse and black-cock—so many brace to the acre, and men and women—so many brace to the garret. I often wonder what the angelic builders and surveyors—the angelic builders who build the 'many mansions' up above there; and the angelic surveyors, who measured that four-square city with their measuring reeds—I wonder what they think, or are supposed to think, of the laying out of ground by this nation, which has set itself, as it seems, literally to accomplish, word for word, or rather fact for word, in the persons of those poor whom its Master left to represent him, what that Master said of himself—that foxes and birds had homes, but He none.

Then, next to the gentlemen's game of hunting, we must put the ladies' game of dressing. It is not the cheapest of games. I saw a brooch at a jeweller's in Bond Street a fortnight ago, not an inch wide, and without any singular jewel in it, yet worth 3,000l. And I wish I could tell you what this 'play' costs, altogether, in England, France, and Russia annually. But it is a pretty game, and on certain terms, I like it; nay, I don't see it played quite as much as I would fain have it. You ladies like to lead the fashion:—by all means lead it—lead it thoroughly, lead it far enough. Dress yourselves nicely, and dress everybody else nicely. Lead the fashions for the poor first; make them look well, and you yourselves will look, in ways of which you have now no conception, all the better. The fashions you have set for some time among your peasantry are not pretty ones; their doublets are too irregularly slashed, and the wind blows too frankly through them.[Pg 23]

Then there are other games, wild enough, as I could show you if I had time.

There's playing at literature, and playing at art—very different, both, from working at literature, or working at art, but I've no time to speak of these. I pass to the greatest of all—the play of plays, the great gentlemen's game, which ladies like them best to play at,—the game of War. It is entrancingly pleasant to the imagination; the facts of it, not always so pleasant. We dress for it, however, more finely than for any other sport; and go out to it, not merely in scarlet, as to hunt, but in scarlet and gold, and all manner of fine colours: of course we could fight better in grey, and without feathers; but all nations have agreed that it is good to be well dressed at this play. Then the bats and balls are very costly; our English and French bats, with the balls and wickets, even those which we don't make any use of, costing, I suppose, now about fifteen millions of money annually to each nation; all of which, you know is paid for by hard labourer's work in the furrow and furnace. A costly game!—not to speak of its consequences; I will say at present nothing of these. The mere immediate cost of all these plays is what I want you to consider; they all cost deadly work somewhere, as many of us know too well. The jewel-cutter, whose sight fails over the diamonds; the weaver, whose arm fails over the web; the iron-forger, whose breath fails before the furnace—they know what work is—they, who have all the work, and none of the play, except a kind they have named for themselves down in the black north country, where 'play' means being laid up by sickness. It is a pretty example for philologists, of varying dialect, this change in the sense of the word 'play,' as used in the black country of Birmingham, and the red and black country of Baden Baden. Yes, gentlemen, and gentlewomen, of England, who think 'one moment unamused a misery, not made for feeble man,' this is what you have brought the word 'play' to mean, in the heart of merry England! You may have your fluting and piping; but there are sad children sitting in the market-place, who indeed cannot say to you, 'We have piped unto you, and ye[Pg 24] have not danced:' but eternally shall say to you, 'We have mourned unto you, and ye have not lamented.'

This, then, is the first distinction between the 'upper and lower' classes. And this is one which is by no means necessary; which indeed must, in process of good time, be by all honest men's consent abolished. Men will be taught that an existence of play, sustained by the blood of other creatures, is a good existence for gnats and sucking fish; but not for men: that neither days, nor lives, can be made holy by doing nothing in them: that the best prayer at the beginning of a day is that we may not lose its moments; and the best grace before meat, the consciousness that we have justly earned our dinner. And when we have this much of plain Christianity preached to us again, and enough respect for what we regard as inspiration, as not to think that 'Son, go work to-day in my vineyard,' means 'Fool, go play to-day in my vineyard,' we shall all be workers, in one way or another; and this much at least of the distinction between 'upper' and 'lower' forgotten.

II. I pass then to our second distinction; between the rich and poor, between Dives and Lazarus,—distinction which exists more sternly, I suppose, in this day, than ever in the world, Pagan or Christian, till now. I will put it sharply before you, to begin with, merely by reading two paragraphs which I cut from two papers that lay on my breakfast table on the same morning, the 25th of November, 1864. The piece about the rich Russian at Paris is commonplace enough, and stupid besides (for fifteen francs,—12s. 6d.,—is nothing for a rich man to give for a couple of peaches, out of season). Still, the two paragraphs printed on the same day are worth putting side by side.

'Such a man is now here. He is a Russian, and, with your permission, we will call him Count Teufelskine. In dress he is sublime; art is considered in that toilet, the harmony of colour respected, the chiar' oscuro evident in well-selected contrast. In manners he is dignified—nay, perhaps apathetic; nothing disturbs the placid serenity of that calm exterior. One day our friend breakfasted chez Bignon. When the bill came he read, "Two peaches, 15f." He paid.[Pg 25] "Peaches scarce, I presume?" was his sole remark. "No, sir," replied the waiter, "but Teufelskines are."' Telegraph, November 25, 1864.

'Yesterday morning, at eight o'clock, a woman, passing a dung heap in the stone yard near the recently-erected alms-houses in Shadwell Gap, High Street, Shadwell, called the attention of a Thames police-constable to a man in a sitting position on the dung heap, and said she was afraid he was dead. Her fears proved to be true. The wretched creature appeared to have been dead several hours. He had perished of cold and wet, and the rain had been beating down on him all night. The deceased was a bone-picker. He was in the lowest stage of poverty, poorly clad, and half-starved. The police had frequently driven him away from the stone yard, between sunset and sunrise, and told him to go home. He selected a most desolate spot for his wretched death. A penny and some bones were found in his pockets. The deceased was between fifty and sixty years of age. Inspector Roberts, of the K division, has given directions for inquiries to be made at the lodging-houses respecting the deceased, to ascertain his identity if possible.'—Morning Post, November 25, 1864.

You have the separation thus in brief compass; and I want you to take notice of the 'a penny and some bones were found in his pockets,' and to compare it with this third statement, from the Telegraph of January 16th of this year:—

'Again, the dietary scale for adult and juvenile paupers was drawn up by the most conspicuous political economists in England. It is low in quantity, but it is sufficient to support nature; yet within ten years of the passing of the Poor Law Act, we heard of the paupers in the Andover Union gnawing the scraps of putrid flesh and sucking the marrow from the bones of horses which they were employed to crush.'

You see my reason for thinking that our Lazarus of Christianity has some advantage over the Jewish one. Jewish Lazarus expected, or at least prayed, to be fed with crumbs from the rich man's table; but our Lazarus is fed with crumbs from the dog's table.[Pg 26]

Now this distinction between rich and poor rests on two bases. Within its proper limits, on a basis which is lawful and everlastingly necessary; beyond them, on a basis unlawful, and everlastingly corrupting the framework of society. The lawful basis of wealth is, that a man who works should be paid the fair value of his work; and that if he does not choose to spend it to-day, he should have free leave to keep it, and spend it to-morrow. Thus, an industrious man working daily, and laying by daily, attains at last the possession of an accumulated sum of wealth, to which he has absolute right. The idle person who will not work, and the wasteful person who lays nothing by, at the end of the same time will be doubly poor—poor in possession, and dissolute in moral habit; and he will then naturally covet the money which the other has saved. And if he is then allowed to attack the other, and rob him of his well-earned wealth, there is no more any motive for saving, or any reward for good conduct; and all society is thereupon dissolved, or exists only in systems of rapine. Therefore the first necessity of social life is the clearness of national conscience in enforcing the law—that he should keep who has justly earned.

That law, I say, is the proper basis of distinction between rich and poor. But there is also a false basis of distinction; namely, the power held over those who earn wealth by those who levy or exact it. There will be always a number of men who would fain set themselves to the accumulation of wealth as the sole object of their lives. Necessarily, that class of men is an uneducated class, inferior in intellect, and more or less cowardly. It is physically impossible for a well-educated, intellectual, or brave man to make money the chief object of his thoughts; as physically impossible as it is for him to make his dinner the principal object of them. All healthy people like their dinners, but their dinner is not the main object of their lives. So all healthily minded people like making money—ought to like it, and to enjoy the sensation of winning it; but the main object of their life is not money; it is something better than money. A good soldier, for instance, mainly wishes to do his fighting well. He is glad of his pay—very[Pg 27] properly so, and justly grumbles when you keep him ten years without it—still, his main notion of life is to win battles, not to be paid for winning them. So of clergymen. They like pew-rents, and baptismal fees, of course; but yet, if they are brave and well educated, the pew-rent is not the sole object of their lives, and the baptismal fee is not the sole purpose of the baptism; the clergyman's object is essentially to baptize and preach, not to be paid for preaching. So of doctors. They like fees no doubt,—ought to like them; yet if they are brave and well educated, the entire object of their lives is not fees. They, on the whole, desire to cure the sick; and,—if they are good doctors, and the choice were fairly put to them,—would rather cure their patient, and lose their fee, than kill him, and get it. And so with all other brave and rightly trained men; their work is first, their fee second—very important always, but still second. But in every nation, as I said, there are a vast class who are ill-educated, cowardly, and more or less stupid. And with these people, just as certainly the fee is first, and the work second, as with brave people the work is first and the fee second. And this is no small distinction. It is the whole distinction in a man; distinction between life and death in him, between heaven and hell for him. You cannot serve two masters;—you must serve one or other. If your work is first with you, and your fee second, work is your master, and the lord of work, who is God. But if your fee is first with you, and your work second, fee is your master, and the lord of fee, who is the Devil; and not only the Devil, but the lowest of devils—the 'least erected fiend that fell.' So there you have it in brief terms; Work first—you are God's servants; Fee first—you are the Fiend's. And it makes a difference, now and ever, believe me, whether you serve Him who has on His vesture and thigh written, 'King of Kings,' and whose service is perfect freedom; or him on whose vesture and thigh the name is written, 'Slave of Slaves,' and whose service is perfect slavery.

However, in every nation there are, and must always be, a certain number of these Fiend's servants, who have it principally for the object of their lives to make money. They are[Pg 28] always, as I said, more or less stupid, and cannot conceive of anything else so nice as money. Stupidity is always the basis of the Judas bargain. We do great injustice to Iscariot, in thinking him wicked above all common wickedness. He was only a common money-lover, and, like all money-lovers, didn't understand Christ;—couldn't make out the worth of Him, or meaning of Him. He didn't want Him to be killed. He was horror-struck when he found that Christ would be killed; threw his money away instantly, and hanged himself. How many of our present money-seekers, think you, would have the grace to hang themselves, whoever was killed? But Judas was a common, selfish, muddle-headed, pilfering fellow; his hand always in the bag of the poor, not caring for them. He didn't understand Christ;—yet believed in Him, much more than most of us do; had seen Him do miracles, thought He was quite strong enough to shift for Himself, and he, Judas, might as well make his own little bye-perquisites out of the affair. Christ would come out of it well enough, and he have his thirty pieces. Now, that is the money-seeker's idea, all over the world. He doesn't hate Christ, but can't understand Him—doesn't care for him—sees no good in that benevolent business; makes his own little job out of it at all events, come what will. And thus, out of every mass of men, you have a certain number of bag-men—your 'fee-first' men, whose main object is to make money. And they do make it—make it in all sorts of unfair ways, chiefly by the weight and force of money itself, or what is called the power of capital; that is to say, the power which money, once obtained, has over the labour of the poor, so that the capitalist can take all its produce to himself, except the labourer's food. That is the modern Judas's way of 'carrying the bag,' and 'bearing what is put therein.'

Nay, but (it is asked) how is that an unfair advantage? Has not the man who has worked for the money a right to use it as he best can? No; in this respect, money is now exactly what mountain promontories over public roads were in old times. The barons fought for them fairly:—the strongest and cunningest got them; then fortified them, and made[Pg 29] everyone who passed below pay toll. Well, capital now is exactly what crags were then. Men fight fairly (we will, at least, grant so much, though it is more than we ought) for their money; but, once having got it, the fortified millionaire can make everybody who passes below pay toll to his million, and build another tower of his money castle. And I can tell you, the poor vagrants by the roadside suffer now quite as much from the bag-baron, as ever they did from the crag-baron. Bags and crags have just the same result on rags. I have not time, however, to-night to show you in how many ways the power of capital is unjust; but this one great principle I have to assert—you will find it quite indisputably true—that whenever money is the principal object of life with either man or nation, it is both got ill, and spent ill; and does harm both in the getting and spending; but when it is not the principal object, it and all other things will be well got, and well spent. And here is the test, with every man, of whether money is the principal object with him, or not. If in mid-life he could pause and say, "Now I have enough to live upon, I'll live upon it; and having well earned it, I will also well spend it, and go out of the world poor, as I came into it," then money is not principal with him; but if, having enough to live upon in the manner befitting his character and rank, he still wants to make more, and to die rich, then money is the principal object with him, and it becomes a curse to himself, and generally to those who spend it after him. For you know it must be spent some day; the only question is whether the man who makes it shall spend it, or some one else. And generally it is better for the maker to spend it, for he will know best its value and use. This is the true law of life. And if a man does not choose thus to spend his money, he must either hoard it or lend it, and the worst thing he can generally do is to lend it; for borrowers are nearly always ill-spenders, and it is with lent money that all evil is mainly done, and all unjust war protracted.

For observe what the real fact is, respecting loans to foreign military governments, and how strange it is. If your little boy came to you to ask for money to spend in squibs[Pg 30] and crackers, you would think twice before you gave it him; and you would have some idea that it was wasted, when you saw it fly off in fireworks, even though he did no mischief with it. But the Russian children, and Austrian children, come to you, borrowing money, not to spend in innocent squibs, but in cartridges and bayonets to attack you in India with, and to keep down all noble life in Italy with, and to murder Polish women and children with; and that you will give at once, because they pay you interest for it. Now, in order to pay you that interest, they must tax every working peasant in their dominions; and on that work you live. You therefore at once rob the Austrian peasant, assassinate or banish the Polish peasant, and you live on the produce of the theft, and the bribe for the assassination! That is the broad fact—that is the practical meaning of your foreign loans, and of most large interest of money; and then you quarrel with Bishop Colenso, forsooth, as if he denied the Bible, and you believed it! though, wretches as you are, every deliberate act of your lives is a new defiance of its primary orders; and as if, for most of the rich men of England at this moment, it were not indeed to be desired, as the best thing at least for them, that the Bible should not be true, since against them these words are written in it: 'The rust of your gold and silver shall be a witness against you, and shall eat your flesh, as it were fire.'

III. I pass now to our third condition of separation, between the men who work with the hand, and those who work with the head.

And here we have at last an inevitable distinction. There must be work done by the arms, or none of us could live. There be work done by the brains, or the life we get would not be worth having. And the same men cannot do both. There is rough work to be done, and rough men must do it; there is gentle work to be done, and gentlemen must do it; and it is physically impossible that one class should do, or divide, the work of the other. And it is of no use to try to conceal this sorrowful fact by fine words, and to talk to the workman about the honourableness of manual labour[Pg 31] and the dignity of humanity. That is a grand old proverb of Sancho Panza's, 'Fine words butter no parsnips;' and I can tell you that, all over England just now, you workmen are buying a great deal too much butter at that dairy. Rough work, honourable or not, takes the life out of us; and the man who has been heaving clay out of a ditch all day, or driving an express train against the north wind all night, or holding a collier's helm in a gale on a lee-shore, or whirling white hot iron at a furnace mouth, that man is not the same at the end of his day, or night, as one who has been sitting in a quiet room, with everything comfortable about him, reading books, or classing butterflies, or painting pictures. If it is any comfort to you to be told that the rough work is the more honourable of the two, I should be sorry to take that much of consolation from you; and in some sense I need not. The rough work is at all events real, honest, and, generally, though not always, useful; while the fine work is, a great deal of it, foolish and false as well as fine, and therefore dishonourable; but when both kinds are equally well and worthily done, the head's is the noble work, and the hand's the ignoble; and of all hand work whatsoever, necessary for the maintenance of life, those old words, 'In the sweat of thy face thou shalt eat bread,' indicate that the inherent nature of it is one of calamity; and that the ground, cursed for our sake, casts also some shadow of degradation into our contest with its thorn and its thistle; so that all nations have held their days honourable, or 'holy,' and constituted them 'holydays' or 'holidays,' by making them days of rest; and the promise, which, among all our distant hopes, seems to cast the chief brightness over death, is that blessing of the dead who die in the Lord, that 'they rest from their labours, and their works do follow them.'

And thus the perpetual question and contest must arise, who is to do this rough work? and how is the worker of it to be comforted, redeemed, and rewarded? and what kind of play should he have, and what rest, in this world, sometimes, as well as in the next? Well, my good working friends, these questions will take a little time to answer yet. They[Pg 32] must be answered: all good men are occupied with them, and all honest thinkers. There's grand head work doing about them; but much must be discovered, and much attempted in vain, before anything decisive can be told you. Only note these few particulars, which are already sure.

As to the distribution of the hard work. None of us, or very few of us, do either hard or soft work because we think we ought; but because we have chanced to fall into the way of it, and cannot help ourselves. Now, nobody does anything well that they cannot help doing: work is only done well when it is done with a will; and no man has a thoroughly sound will unless he knows he is doing what he should, and is in his place. And, depend upon it, all work must be done at last, not in a disorderly, scrambling, doggish way, but in an ordered, soldierly, human way—a lawful way. Men are enlisted for the labour that kills—the labour of war: they are counted, trained, fed, dressed, and praised for that. Let them be enlisted also for the labour that feeds: let them be counted, trained, fed, dressed, praised for that. Teach the plough exercise as carefully as you do the sword exercise, and let the officers of troops of life be held as much gentlemen as the officers of troops of death; and all is done: but neither this, nor any other right thing, can be accomplished—you can't even see your way to it—unless, first of all, both servant and master are resolved that, come what will of it, they will do each other justice. People are perpetually squabbling about what will be best to do, or easiest to do, or adviseablest to do, or profitablest to do; but they never, so far as I hear them talk, ever ask what it is just to do. And it is the law of heaven that you shall not be able to judge what is wise or easy, unless you are first resolved to judge what is just, and to do it. That is the one thing constantly reiterated by our Master—the order of all others that is given oftenest—'Do justice and judgment.' That's your Bible order; that's the 'Service of God,' not praying nor psalm-singing. You are told, indeed, to sing psalms when you are merry, and to pray when you need anything; and, by the perversion of the Evil Spirit, we get to think that praying and psalm-singing are[Pg 33] 'service.' If a child finds itself in want of anything, it runs in and asks its father for it—does it call that, doing its father a service? If it begs for a toy or a piece of cake—does it call that serving its father? That, with God, is prayer, and He likes to hear it: He likes you to ask Him for cake when you want it; but He doesn't call that 'serving Him.' Begging is not serving: God likes mere beggars as little as you do—He likes honest servants, not beggars. So when a child loves its father very much, and is very happy, it may sing little songs about him; but it doesn't call that serving its father; neither is singing songs about God, serving God. It is enjoying ourselves, if it's anything; most probably it is nothing; but if it's anything, it is serving ourselves, not God. And yet we are impudent enough to call our beggings and chauntings 'Divine Service:' we say 'Divine service will be "performed"' (that's our word—the form of it gone through) 'at eleven o'clock.' Alas!—unless we perform Divine service in every willing act of our life, we never perform it at all. The one Divine work—the one ordered sacrifice—is to do justice; and it is the last we are ever inclined to do. Anything rather than that! As much charity as you choose, but no justice. 'Nay,' you will say, 'charity is greater than justice.' Yes, it is greater; it is the summit of justice—it is the temple of which justice is the foundation. But you can't have the top without the bottom; you cannot build upon charity. You must build upon justice, for this main reason, that you have not, at first, charity to build with. It is the last reward of good work. Do justice to your brother (you can do that, whether you love him or not), and you will come to love him. But do injustice to him, because you don't love him; and you will come to hate him. It is all very fine to think you can build upon charity to begin with; but you will find all you have got to begin with, begins at home, and is essentially love of yourself. You well-to-do people, for instance, who are here to-night, will go to 'Divine service' next Sunday, all nice and tidy, and your little children will have their tight little Sunday boots on, and lovely little Sunday feathers in their hats; and you'll think, complacently and piously, how[Pg 34] lovely they look! So they do: and you love them heartily and you like sticking feathers in their hats. That's all right: that is charity; but it is charity beginning at home. Then you will come to the poor little crossing-sweeper, got up also,—it, in its Sunday dress,—the dirtiest rags it has,—that it may beg the better: we shall give it a penny, and think how good we are. That's charity going abroad. But what does Justice say, walking and watching near us? Christian Justice has been strangely mute, and seemingly blind; and, if not blind, decrepit, this many a day: she keeps her accounts still, however—quite steadily—doing them at nights, carefully, with her bandage off, and through acutest spectacles (the only modern scientific invention she cares about). You must put your ear down ever so close to her lips to hear her speak; and then you will start at what she first whispers, for it will certainly be, 'Why shouldn't that little crossing-sweeper have a feather on its head, as well as your own child?' Then you may ask Justice, in an amazed manner, 'How she can possibly be so foolish as to think children could sweep crossings with feathers on their heads?' Then you stoop again, and Justice says—still in her dull, stupid way—'Then, why don't you, every other Sunday, leave your child to sweep the crossing, and take the little sweeper to church in a hat and feather?' Mercy on us (you think), what will she say next? And you answer, of course, that 'you don't, because every body ought to remain content in the position in which Providence has placed them.' Ah, my friends, that's the gist of the whole question. Did Providence put them in that position, or did you? You knock a man into a ditch, and then you tell him to remain content in the 'position in which Providence has placed him.' That's modern Christianity. You say—'We did not knock him into the ditch.' How do you know what you have done, or are doing? That's just what we have all got to know, and what we shall never know, until the question with us every morning, is, not how to do the gainful thing, but how to do the just thing; nor until we are at least so far on the way to being Christian, as to have understood that maxim of the poor half-way Mahometan,[Pg 35] 'One hour in the execution of justice is worth seventy years of prayer.'

Supposing, then, we have it determined with appropriate justice, who is to do the hand work, the next questions must be how the hand-workers are to be paid, and how they are to be refreshed, and what play they are to have. Now, the possible quantity of play depends on the possible quantity of pay; and the quantity of pay is not a matter for consideration to hand-workers only, but to all workers. Generally, good, useful work, whether of the hand or head, is either ill-paid, or not paid at all. I don't say it should be so, but it always is so. People, as a rule, only pay for being amused or being cheated, not for being served. Five thousand a year to your talker, and a shilling a day to your fighter, digger, and thinker, is the rule. None of the best head work in art, literature, or science, is ever paid for. How much do you think Homer got for his Iliad? or Dante for his Paradise? only bitter bread and salt, and going up and down other people's stairs. In science, the man who discovered the telescope, and first saw heaven, was paid with a dungeon; the man who invented the microscope, and first saw earth, died of starvation, driven from his home: it is indeed very clear that God means all thoroughly good work and talk to be done for nothing. Baruch, the scribe, did not get a penny a line for writing Jeremiah's second roll for him, I fancy; and St. Stephen did not get bishop's pay for that long sermon of his to the Pharisees; nothing but stones. For indeed that is the world-father's proper payment. So surely as any of the world's children work for the world's good, honestly, with head and heart; and come to it, saying, 'Give us a little bread, just to keep the life in us,' the world-father answers them, 'No, my children, not bread; a stone, if you like, or as many as you need, to keep you quiet.' But the hand-workers are not so ill off as all this comes to. The worst that can happen to you is to break stones; not be broken by them. And for you there will come a time for better payment; some day, assuredly, more pence will be paid to Peter the Fisherman, and fewer to Peter the Pope; we shall pay people not quite[Pg 36] so much for talking in Parliament and doing nothing, as for holding their tongues out of it and doing something; we shall pay our ploughman a little more and our lawyer a little less, and so on: but, at least, we may even now take care that whatever work is done shall be fully paid for; and the man who does it paid for it, not somebody else; and that it shall be done in an orderly, soldierly, well-guided, wholesome way, under good captains and lieutenants of labour; and that it shall have its appointed times of rest, and enough of them; and that in those times the play shall be wholesome play, not in theatrical gardens, with tin flowers and gas sunshine, and girls dancing because of their misery; but in true gardens, with real flowers, and real sunshine, and children dancing because of their gladness; so that truly the streets shall be full (the 'streets,' mind you, not the gutters) of children, playing in the midst thereof. We may take care that working-men shall have at least as good books to read as anybody else, when they've time to read them; and as comfortable fire-sides to sit at as anybody else, when they've time to sit at them. This, I think, can be managed for you, my working friends, in the good time.

IV. I must go on, however, to our last head, concerning ourselves all, as workers. What is wise work, and what is foolish work? What the difference between sense and nonsense, in daily occupation?

Well, wise work is, briefly, work with God. Foolish work is work against God. And work done with God, which He will help, may be briefly described as 'Putting in Order'—that is, enforcing God's law of order, spiritual and material, over men and things. The first thing you have to do, essentially; the real 'good work' is, with respect to men, to enforce justice, and with respect to things, to enforce tidiness, and fruitfulness. And against these two great human deeds, justice and order, there are perpetually two great demons contending,—the devil of iniquity, or inequity, and the devil of disorder, or of death; for death is only consummation of disorder. You have to fight these two fiends daily. So far as you don't fight against the fiend of iniquity, you work for[Pg 37] him. You 'work iniquity,' and the judgment upon you, for all your 'Lord, Lord's,' will be 'Depart from me, ye that work iniquity.' And so far as you do not resist the fiend of disorder, you work disorder, and you yourself do the work of Death, which is sin, and has for its wages, Death himself.

Observe then, all wise work is mainly threefold in character. It is honest, useful, and cheerful.

I. It is honest. I hardly know anything more strange than that you recognise honesty in play, and you do not in work. In your lightest games, you have always some one to see what you call 'fair-play.' In boxing, you must hit fair; in racing, start fair. Your English watchword is fair-play, your English hatred, foul-play. Did it ever strike you that you wanted another watchword also, fair-work, and another hatred also, foul-work? Your prize-fighter has some honour in him yet; and so have the men in the ring round him: they will judge him to lose the match, by foul hitting. But your prize-merchant gains his match by foul selling, and no one cries out against that. You drive a gambler out of the gambling-room who loads dice, but you leave a tradesman in flourishing business, who loads scales! For observe, all dishonest dealing is loading scales. What does it matter whether I get short weight, adulterate substance, or dishonest fabric? The fault in the fabric is incomparably the worst of the two. Give me short measure of food, and I only lose by you; but give me adulterate food, and I die by you. Here, then, is your chief duty, you workmen and tradesmen—to be true to yourselves, and to us who would help you. We can do nothing for you, nor you for yourselves, without honesty. Get that, you get all; without that, your suffrages, your reforms, your free-trade measures, your institutions of science, are all in vain. It is useless to put your heads together, if you can't put your hearts together. Shoulder to shoulder, right hand to right hand, among yourselves, and no wrong hand to anybody else, and you'll win the world yet.

II. Then, secondly, wise work is useful. No man minds, or ought to mind, its being hard, if only it comes to something; but when it is hard, and comes to nothing; when all[Pg 38] our bees' business turns to spiders'; and for honeycomb we have only resultant cobweb, blown away by the next breeze—that is the cruel thing for the worker. Yet do we ever ask ourselves, personally, or even nationally, whether our work is coming to anything or not? We don't care to keep what has been nobly done; still less do we care to do nobly what others would keep; and, least of all, to make the work itself useful instead of deadly to the doer, so as to use his life indeed, but not to waste it. Of all wastes, the greatest waste that you can commit is the waste of labour. If you went down in the morning into your dairy, and you found that your youngest child had got down before you; and that he and the cat were at play together, and that he had poured out all the cream on the floor for the cat to lap up, you would scold the child, and be sorry the milk was wasted. But if, instead of wooden bowls with milk in them, there are golden bowls with human life in them, and instead of the cat to play with—the devil to play with; and you yourself the player; and instead of leaving that golden bowl to be broken by God at the fountain, you break it in the dust yourself, and pour the human blood out on the ground for the fiend to lick up—that is no waste! What! you perhaps think, 'to waste the labour of men is not to kill them.' Is it not? I should like to know how you could kill them more utterly—kill them with second deaths, seventh deaths, hundredfold deaths? It is the slightest way of killing to stop a man's breath. Nay, the hunger, and the cold, and the little whistling bullets—our love-messengers between nation and nation—have brought pleasant messages from us to many a man before now; orders of sweet release, and leave at last to go where he will be most welcome and most happy. At the worst you do but shorten his life, you do not corrupt his life. But if you put him to base labour, if you bind his thoughts, if you blind his eyes, if you blunt his hopes, if you steal his joys, if you stunt his body, and blast his soul, and at last leave him not so much as to reap the poor fruit of his degradation, but gather that for yourself, and dismiss him to the grave, when you have done with him, having, so far as in you lay, made the walls of that[Pg 39] grave everlasting (though, indeed, I fancy the goodly bricks of some of our family vaults will hold closer in the resurrection day than the sod over the labourer's head), this you think is no waste, and no sin!

III. Then, lastly, wise work is cheerful, as a child's work is. And now I want you to take one thought home with you, and let it stay with you.

Everybody in this room has been taught to pray daily, 'Thy kingdom come.' Now, if we hear a man swear in the streets, we think it very wrong, and say he 'takes God's name in vain.' But there's a twenty times worse way of taking His name in vain, than that. It is to ask God for what we don't want. He doesn't like that sort of prayer. If you don't want a thing, don't ask for it: such asking is the worst mockery of your King you can mock Him with; the soldiers striking Him on the head with the reed was nothing to that. If you do not wish for His kingdom, don't pray for it. But if you do, you must do more than pray for it; you must work for it. And, to work for it, you must know what it is: we have all prayed for it many a day without thinking. Observe, it is a kingdom that is to come to us; we are not to go to it. Also, it is not to be a kingdom of the dead, but of the living. Also, it is not to come all at once, but quietly; nobody knows how. 'The kingdom of God cometh not with observation.' Also, it is not to come outside of us, but in the hearts of us: 'the kingdom of God is within you.' And, being within us, it is not a thing to be seen, but to be felt; and though it brings all substance of good with it, it does not consist in that: 'the kingdom of God is not meat and drink, but righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost:' joy, that is to say, in the holy, healthful, and helpful Spirit. Now, if we want to work for this kingdom, and to bring it, and enter into it, there's just one condition to be first accepted. You must enter it as children, or not at all; 'Whosoever will not receive it as a little child shall not enter therein.' And again, 'Suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not, for of such is the kingdom of heaven.'

Of such, observe. Not of children themselves, but of such[Pg 40] as children. I believe most mothers who read that text think that all heaven is to be full of babies. But that's not so. There will be children there, but the hoary head is the crown. 'Length of days, and long life and peace,' that is the blessing, not to die in babyhood. Children die but for their parents sins; God means them to live, but He can't let them always; then they have their earlier place in heaven: and the little child of David, vainly prayed for;—the little child of Jeroboam, killed by its mother's step on its own threshold,—they will be there. But weary old David, and weary old Barzillai, having learned children's lessons at last, will be there too: and the one question for us all, young or old, is, have we learned our child's lesson? it is the character of children we want, and must gain at our peril; let us see, briefly, in what it consists.

The first character of right childhood is that it is Modest. A well-bred child does not think it can teach its parents, or that it knows everything. It may think its father and mother know everything,—perhaps that all grown-up people know everything; very certainly it is sure that it does not. And it is always asking questions, and wanting to know more. Well, that is the first character of a good and wise man at his work. To know that he knows very little;—to perceive that there are many above him wiser than he; and to be always asking questions, wanting to learn, not to teach. No one ever teaches well who wants to teach, or governs well who wants to govern; it is an old saying (Plato's, but I know not if his, first), and as wise as old.

Then, the second character of right childhood is to be Faithful. Perceiving that its father knows best what is good for it, and having found always, when it has tried its own way against his, that he was right and it was wrong, a noble child trusts him at last wholly, gives him its hand, and will walk blindfold with him, if he bids it. And that is the true character of all good men also, as obedient workers, or soldiers under captains. They must trust their captains;—they are bound for their lives to choose none but those whom they can trust. Then, they are not always to be thinking that what seems[Pg 41] strange to them, or wrong in what they are desired to do, is strange or wrong. They know their captain: where he leads they must follow, what he bids, they must do; and without this trust and faith, without this captainship and soldiership, no great deed, no great salvation, is possible to man. Among all the nations it is only when this faith is attained by them that they become great: the Jew, the Greek, and the Mahometan, agree at least in testifying to this. It was a deed of this absolute trust which made Abraham the father of the faithful; it was the declaration of the power of God as captain over all men, and the acceptance of a leader appointed by Him as commander of the faithful, which laid the foundation of whatever national power yet exists in the East; and the deed of the Greeks, which has become the type of unselfish and noble soldiership to all lands, and to all times, was commemorated, on the tomb of those who gave their lives to do it, in the most pathetic, so far as I know, or can feel, of all human utterances: 'Oh, stranger, go and tell our people that we are lying here, having obeyed their words.'

Then the third character of right childhood is to be Loving and Generous. Give a little love to a child, and you get a great deal back. It loves everything near it, when it is a right kind of child—would hurt nothing, would give the best it has away, always, if you need it—does not lay plans for getting everything in the house for itself, and delights in helping people; you cannot please it so much as by giving it a chance of being useful, in ever so little a way.

And because of all these characters, lastly, it is Cheerful. Putting its trust in its father, it is careful for nothing—being full of love to every creature, it is happy always, whether in its play or in its duty. Well, that's the great worker's character also. Taking no thought for the morrow; taking thought only for the duty of the day; trusting somebody else to take care of to-morrow; knowing indeed what labour is, but not what sorrow is; and always ready for play—beautiful play,—for lovely human play is like the play of the Sun. There's a worker for you. He, steady to his time, is set as a strong man to run his course, but also, he rejoiceth as a[Pg 42] strong man to run his course. See how he plays in the morning, with the mists below, and the clouds above, with a ray here and a flash there, and a shower of jewels everywhere; that's the Sun's play; and great human play is like his—all various—all full of light and life, and tender, as the dew of the morning.

So then, you have the child's character in these four things—Humility, Faith, Charity, and Cheerfulness. That's what you have got to be converted to. 'Except ye be converted and become as little children'—You hear much of conversion now-a-days; but people always seem to think they have got to be made wretched by conversion,—to be converted to long faces. No, friends, you have got to be converted to short ones; you have to repent into childhood, to repent into delight, and delightsomeness. You can't go into a conventicle but you'll hear plenty of talk of backsliding. Backsliding, indeed! I can tell you, on the ways most of us go, the faster we slide back the better. Slide back into the cradle, if going on is into the grave—back, I tell you; back—out of your long faces, and into your long clothes. It is among children only, and as children only, that you will find medicine for your healing and true wisdom for your teaching. There is poison in the counsels of the men of this world; the words they speak are all bitterness, 'the poison of asps is under their lips,' but, 'the sucking child shall play by the hole of the asp.' There is death in the looks of men. 'Their eyes are privily set against the poor;' they are as the uncharmable serpent, the cockatrice, which slew by seeing. But 'the weaned child shall lay his hand on the cockatrice den.' There is death in the steps of men: 'their feet are swift to shed blood; they have compassed us in our steps like the lion that is greedy of his prey, and the young lion lurking in secret places,' but, in that kingdom, the wolf shall lie down with the lamb, and the fatling with the lion, and 'a little child shall lead them.' There is death in the thoughts of men: the world is one wide riddle to them, darker and darker as it draws to a close; but the secret of it is known to the child, and the Lord of heaven and earth is most to be thanked in[Pg 43] that 'He has hidden these things from the wise and prudent, and has revealed them unto babes.' Yes, and there is death—infinitude of death in the principalities and powers of men. As far as the east is from the west, so far our sins are—not set from us, but multiplied around us: the Sun himself, think you he now 'rejoices' to run his course, when he plunges westward to the horizon, so widely red, not with clouds, but blood? And it will be red more widely yet. Whatever drought of the early and latter rain may be, there will be none of that red rain. You fortify yourselves, you arm yourselves against it in vain; the enemy and avenger will be upon you also, unless you learn that it is not out of the mouths of the knitted gun, or the smoothed rifle, but 'out of the mouths of babes and sucklings' that the strength is ordained which shall 'still the enemy and avenger.'

[Pg 44]



(Delivered in the Town Hall, Bradford.)

My good Yorkshire friends, you asked me down here among your hills that I might talk to you about this Exchange you are going to build: but earnestly and seriously asking you to pardon me, I am going to do nothing of the kind. I cannot talk, or at least can say very little, about this same Exchange. I must talk of quite other things, though not willingly;—I could not deserve your pardon, if when you invited me to speak on one subject, I wilfully spoke on another. But I cannot speak, to purpose, of anything about which I do not care; and most simply and sorrowfully I have to tell you, in the outset, that I do not care about this Exchange of yours.

If, however, when you sent me your invitation, I had answered, 'I won't come, I don't care about the Exchange of Bradford,' you would have been justly offended with me, not knowing the reasons of so blunt a carelessness. So I have come down, hoping that you will patiently let me tell you why, on this, and many other such occasions, I now remain silent, when formerly I should have caught at the opportunity of speaking to a gracious audience.

In a word, then, I do not care about this Exchange,—because you don't; and because you know perfectly well I cannot make you. Look at the essential circumstances of the case, which you, as business men, know perfectly well, though perhaps you think I forget them. You are going to spend 30,000l., which to you, collectively, is nothing; the buying a new coat is, as to the cost of it, a much more important matter of consideration to me than building a new Exchange[Pg 45] is to you. But you think you may as well have the right thing for your money. You know there are a great many odd styles of architecture about; you don't want to do anything ridiculous; you hear of me, among others, as a respectable architectural man-milliner: and you send for me, that I may tell you the leading fashion; and what is, in our shops, for the moment, the newest and sweetest thing in pinnacles.

Now, pardon me for telling you frankly, you cannot have good architecture merely by asking people's advice on occasion. All good architecture is the expression of national life and character; and it is produced by a prevalent and eager national taste, or desire for beauty. And I want you to think a little of the deep significance of this word 'taste;' for no statement of mine has been more earnestly or oftener controverted than that good taste is essentially a moral quality. 'No,' say many of my antagonists, 'taste is one thing, morality is another. Tell us what is pretty; we shall be glad to know that; but preach no sermons to us.'

Permit me, therefore, to fortify this old dogma of mine somewhat. Taste is not only a part and an index of morality—it is the only morality. The first, and last, and closest trial question to any living creature is, 'What do you like?' Tell me what you like, and I'll tell you what you are. Go out into the street, and ask the first man or woman you meet, what their 'taste' is, and if they answer candidly, you know them, body and soul. 'You, my friend in the rags, with the unsteady gait, what do you like?' 'A pipe and a quartern of gin.' I know you. 'You, good woman, with the quick step and tidy bonnet, what do you like?' 'A swept hearth and a clean tea-table, and my husband opposite me, and a baby at my breast.' Good, I know you also. 'You, little girl with the golden hair and the soft eyes, what do you like?' 'My canary, and a run among the wood hyacinths.' 'You, little boy with the dirty hands and the low forehead, what do you like?' 'A shy at the sparrows, and a game at pitch-farthing.' Good; we know them all now. What more need we ask?

'Nay,' perhaps you answer: 'we need rather to ask what these people and children do, than what they like. If they do[Pg 46] right, it is no matter that they like what is wrong; and if they wrong, it is no matter that they like what is right. Doing is the great thing; and it does not matter that the man likes drinking, so that he does not drink; nor that the little girl likes to be kind to her canary, if she will not learn her lessons; nor that the little boy likes throwing stones at the sparrows, if he goes to the Sunday school.' Indeed, for a short time, and in a provisional sense, this is true. For if, resolutely, people do what is right, in time they come to like doing it. But they only are in a right moral state when they have come to like doing it; and as long as they don't like it, they are still in a vicious state. The man is not in health of body who is always thirsting for the bottle in the cupboard, though he bravely bears his thirst; but the man who heartily enjoys water in the morning and wine in the evening, each in its proper quantity and time. And the entire object of true education is to make people not merely the right things, but enjoy the right things—not merely industrious, but to love industry—not merely learned, but to love knowledge—not merely pure, but to love purity—not merely just, but to hunger and thirst after justice.

But you may answer or think, 'Is the liking for outside ornaments,—for pictures, or statues, or furniture, or architecture,—a moral quality?' Yes, most surely, if a rightly set liking. Taste for any pictures or statues is not a moral quality, but taste for good ones is. Only here again we have to define the word 'good.' I don't mean by 'good,' clever—or learned—or difficult in the doing. Take a picture by Teniers, of sots quarrelling over their dice: it is an entirely clever picture; so clever that nothing in its kind has ever been done equal to it; but it is also an entirely base and evil picture. It is an expression of delight in the prolonged contemplation of a vile thing, and delight in that is an 'unmannered,' or 'immoral' quality. It is 'bad taste' in the profoundest sense—it is the taste of the devils. On the other hand, a picture of Titian's, or a Greek statue, or a Greek coin, or a Turner landscape, expresses delight in the perpetual contemplation of a good and perfect thing. That is[Pg 47] an entirely moral quality—it is the taste of the angels. And all delight in art, and all love of it, resolve themselves into simple love of that which deserves love. That deserving is the quality which we call 'loveliness'—(we ought to have an opposite word, hateliness, to be said of the things which deserve to be hated); and it is not an indifferent nor optional thing whether we love this or that; but it is just the vital function of all our being. What we like determines what we are, and is the sign of what we are; and to teach taste is inevitably to form character. As I was thinking over this, in walking up Fleet Street the other day, my eye caught the title of a book standing open in a bookseller's window. It was—'On the necessity of the diffusion of taste among all classes.' 'Ah,' I thought to myself, 'my classifying friend, when you have diffused your taste, where will your classes be? The man who likes what you like, belongs to the same class with you, I think. Inevitably so. You may put him to other work if you choose; but, by the condition you have brought him into, he will dislike the other work as much as you would yourself. You get hold of a scavenger, or a costermonger, who enjoyed the Newgate Calendar for literature, and "Pop goes the Weasel" for music. You think you can make him like Dante and Beethoven? I wish you joy of your lessons; but if you do, you have made a gentleman of him:—he won't like to go back to his costermongering.'

And so completely and unexceptionally is this so, that, if I had time to-night, I could show you that a nation cannot be affected by any vice, or weakness, without expressing it, legibly, and for ever, either in bad art, or by want of art; and that there is no national virtue, small or great, which is not manifestly expressed in all the art which circumstances enable the people possessing that virtue to produce. Take, for instance, your great English virtue of enduring and patient courage. You have at present in England only one art of any consequence—that is, iron-working. You know thoroughly well how to cast and hammer iron. Now, do you think in those masses of lava which you build volcanic cones to melt, and which you forge at the mouths of the Infernos[Pg 48] you have created; do you think, on those iron plates, your courage and endurance are not written for ever—not merely with an iron pen, but on iron parchment? And take also your great English vice—European vice—vice of all the world—vice of all other worlds that roll or shine in heaven, bearing with them yet the atmosphere of hell—the vice of jealousy, which brings competition into your commerce, treachery into your councils, and dishonour into your wars—that vice which has rendered for you, and for your next neighbouring nation, the daily occupations of existence no longer possible, but with the mail upon your breasts and the sword loose in its sheath; so that, at last, you have realised for all the multitudes of the two great peoples who lead the so-called civilisation of the earth,—you have realised for them all, I say, in person and in policy, what was once true only of the rough Border riders of your Cheviot hills—

'They carved at the meal
With gloves of steel,
And they drank the red wine through the helmet barr'd;—

do you think that this national shame and dastardliness of heart are not written as legibly on every rivet of your iron armour as the strength of the right hands that forged it? Friends, I know not whether this thing be the more ludicrous or the more melancholy. It is quite unspeakably both. Suppose, instead of being now sent for by you, I had been sent for by some private gentleman, living in a suburban house, with his garden separated only by a fruit-wall from his next door neighbour's; and he had called me to consult with him on the furnishing of his drawing room. I begin looking about me, and find the walls rather bare; I think such and such a paper might be desirable—perhaps a little fresco here and there on the ceiling—a damask curtain or so at the windows. 'Ah,' says my employer, 'damask curtains, indeed! That's all very fine, but you know I can't afford that kind of thing just now!' 'Yet the world credits you with a splendid income!' 'Ah, yes,' says my friend, 'but do you know, at[Pg 49] present, I am obliged to spend it nearly all in steel-traps?' 'Steel-traps! for whom?' 'Why, for that fellow on the other side the wall, you know: we're very good friends, capital friends; but we are obliged to keep our traps set on both sides of the wall; we could not possibly keep on friendly terms without them, and our spring guns. The worst of it is, we are both clever fellows enough; and there's never a day passes that we don't find out a new trap, or a new gun-barrel, or something; we spend about fifteen millions a year each in our traps, take it all together; and I don't see how we're to do with less.' A highly comic state of life for two private gentlemen! but for two nations, it seems to me, not wholly comic? Bedlam would be comic, perhaps, if there were only one madman in it; and your Christmas pantomime is comic, when there is only one clown in it; but when the whole world turns clown, and paints itself red with its own heart's blood instead of vermilion, it is something else than comic, I think.

Mind, I know a great deal of this is play, and willingly allow for that. You don't know what to do with yourselves for a sensation: fox-hunting and cricketing will not carry you through the whole of this unendurably long mortal life: you liked pop-guns when you were schoolboys, and rifles and Armstrongs are only the same things better made: but then the worst of it is, that what was play to you when boys, was not play to the sparrows; and what is play to you now, is not play to the small birds of State neither; and for the black eagles, you are somewhat shy of taking shots at them, if I mistake not.

I must get back to the matter in hand, however. Believe me, without farther instance, I could show you, in all time, that every nation's vice, or virtue, was written in its art: the soldiership of early Greece; the sensuality of late Italy; the visionary religion of Tuscany; the splendid human energy and beauty of Venice. I have no time to do this to-night (I have done it elsewhere before now); but I proceed to apply the principle to ourselves in a more searching manner.

I notice that among all the new buildings that cover your[Pg 50] once wild hills, churches and schools are mixed in due, that is to say, in large proportion, with your mills and mansions and I notice also that the churches and schools are almost always Gothic, and the mansions and mills are never Gothic. Will you allow me to ask precisely the meaning of this? For, remember, it is peculiarly a modern phenomenon. When Gothic was invented, houses were Gothic as well as churches; and when the Italian style superseded the Gothic, churches were Italian as well as houses. If there is a Gothic spire to the cathedral of Antwerp, there is a Gothic belfry to the Hôtel de Ville at Brussels; if Inigo Jones builds an Italian Whitehall, Sir Christopher Wren builds an Italian St. Paul's. But now you live under one school of architecture, and worship under another. What do you mean by doing this? Am I to understand that you are thinking of changing your architecture back to Gothic; and that you treat your churches experimentally, because it does not matter what mistakes you make in a church? Or am I to understand that you consider Gothic a pre-eminently sacred and beautiful mode of building, which you think, like the fine frankincense, should be mixed for the tabernacle only, and reserved for your religious services? For if this be the feeling, though it may seem at first as if it were graceful and reverent, you will find that, at the root of the matter, it signifies neither more nor less than that you have separated your religion from your life.

For consider what a wide significance this fact has; and remember that it is not you only, but all the people of England, who are behaving thus just now.

You have all got into the habit of calling the church 'the house of God.' I have seen, over the doors of many churches, the legend actually carved, 'This is the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.' Now, note where that legend comes from, and of what place it was first spoken. A boy leaves his father's house to go on a long journey on foot, to visit his uncle; he has to cross a wild hill-desert; just as if one of your own boys had to cross the wolds of Westmoreland, to visit an uncle at Carlisle. The second or third day[Pg 51] your boy finds himself somewhere between Hawes and Brough, in the midst of the moors, at sunset. It is stony ground, and boggy; he cannot go one foot farther that night. Down he lies, to sleep, on Wharnside, where best he may, gathering a few of the stones together to put under his head;—so wild the place is, he cannot get anything but stones. And there, lying under the broad night, he has a dream; and he sees a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reaches to heaven, and the angels of God are ascending and descending upon it. And when he wakes out of his sleep, he says, 'How dreadful is this place; surely, this is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.' This place, observe; not this church; not this city; not this stone, even, which he puts up for a memorial—the piece of flint on which his head has lain. But this place; this windy slope of Wharnside; this moorland hollow, torrent-bitten, snow-blighted; this any place where God lets down the ladder. And how are you to know where that will be? or how are you to determine where it may be, but by being ready for it always? Do you know where the lightning is to fall next? You do know that, partly; you can guide the lightning; but you cannot guide the going forth of the Spirit, which is that lightning when it shines from the east to the west.

But the perpetual and insolent warping of that strong verse to serve a merely ecclesiastical purpose, is only one of the thousand instances in which we sink back into gross Judaism. We call our churches 'temples.' Now, you know, or ought to know, they are not temples. They have never had, never can have, anything whatever to do with temples. They are 'synagogues'—'gathering places'—where you gather yourselves together as an assembly; and by not calling them so, you again miss the force of another mighty text—'Thou, when thou prayest, shalt not be as the hypocrites are; for they love to pray standing in the churches' [we should translate it], 'that they may be seen of men. But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father,'—which is, not in chancel nor in aisle, but 'in secret.'[Pg 52]

Now, you feel, as I say this to you—I know you feel—as if I were trying to take away the honour of your churches. Not so; I am trying to prove to you the honour of your houses and your hills; I am trying to show you—not that the Church is not sacred—but that the whole Earth is. I would have you feel, what careless, what constant, what infectious sin there is in all modes of thought, whereby, in calling your churches only 'holy,' you call your hearths and homes profane; and have separated yourselves from the heathen by casting all your household gods to the ground, instead of recognising, in the place of their many and feeble Lares, the presence of your One and Mighty Lord and Lar.

'But what has all this to do with our Exchange?' you ask me, impatiently. My dear friends, it has just everything to do with it; on these inner and great questions depend all the outer and little ones; and if you have asked me down here to speak to you, because you had before been interested in anything I have written, you must know that all I have yet said about architecture was to show this. The book I called 'The Seven Lamps' was to show that certain right states of temper and moral feeling were the magic powers by which all good architecture, without exception, had been produced. 'The Stones of Venice,' had, from beginning to end, no other aim than to show that the Gothic architecture of Venice had arisen out of, and indicated in all its features, a state of pure national faith, and of domestic virtue; and that its Renaissance architecture had arisen out of, and in all its features indicated, a state of concealed national infidelity, and of domestic corruption. And now, you ask me what style is best to build in; and how can I answer, knowing the meaning of the two styles, but by another question—do you mean to build as Christians or as Infidels? And still more—do you mean to build as honest Christians or as honest Infidels? as thoroughly and confessedly either one or the other? You don't like to be asked such rude questions. I cannot help it; they are of much more importance than this Exchange business; and if they can be at once answered, the Exchange business settles itself in a moment. But, before I press them farther,[Pg 53] I must ask leave to explain one point clearly. In all my past work, my endeavour has been to show that good architecture is essentially religious—the production of a faithful and virtuous, not of an infidel and corrupted people. But in the course of doing this, I have had also to show that good architecture is not ecclesiastical. People are so apt to look upon religion as the business of the clergy, not their own, that the moment they hear of anything depending on 'religion,' they think it must also have depended on the priesthood; and I have had to take what place was to be occupied between these two errors, and fight both, often with seeming contradiction. Good architecture is the work of good and believing men; therefore, you say, at least some people say, 'Good architecture must essentially have been the work of the clergy, not of the laity.' No—a thousand times no; good architecture has always been the work of the commonalty, not of the clergy. What, you say, those glorious cathedrals—the pride of Europe—did their builders not form Gothic architecture? No; they corrupted Gothic architecture. Gothic was formed in the baron's castle, and the burgher's street. It was formed by the thoughts, and hands, and powers of free citizens and soldier kings. By the monk it was used as an instrument for the aid of his superstition; when that superstition became a beautiful madness, and the best hearts of Europe vainly dreamed and pined in the cloister, and vainly raged and perished in the crusade—through that fury of perverted faith and wasted war, the Gothic rose also to its loveliest, most fantastic, and, finally, most foolish dreams; and, in those dreams, was lost.

I hope, now, that there is no risk of your misunderstanding me when I come to the gist of what I want to say to-night—when I repeat, that every great national architecture has been the result and exponent of a great national religion. You can't have bits of it here, bits there—you must have it everywhere, or nowhere. It is not the monopoly of a clerical company—it is not the exponent of a theological dogma—it is not the hieroglyphic writing of an initiated priesthood; it is the manly language of a people inspired by resolute and common[Pg 54] purpose, and rendering resolute and common fidelity to the legible laws of an undoubted God.

Now, there have as yet been three distinct schools of European architecture. I say, European, because Asiatic and African architectures belong so entirely to other races and climates, that there is no question of them here; only, in passing, I will simply assure you that whatever is good or great in Egypt, and Syria, and India, is just good or great for the same reasons as the buildings on our side of the Bosphorus. We Europeans, then, have had three great religions: the Greek, which was the worship of the God of Wisdom and Power; the Mediæval, which was the Worship of the God of Judgment and Consolation; the Renaissance, which was the worship of the God of Pride and Beauty; these three we have had—they are past,—and now, at last, we English have got a fourth religion, and a God of our own, about which I want to ask you. But I must explain these three old ones first.

I repeat, first, the Greeks essentially worshipped the God of Wisdom; so that whatever contended against their religion,—to the Jews a stumbling block,—was, to the Greeks—Foolishness.

The first Greek idea of Deity was that expressed in the word, of which we keep the remnant in our words 'Di-urnal' and '-vine'—the god of Day, Jupiter the revealer. Athena is his daughter, but especially daughter of the Intellect, springing armed from the head. We are only with the help of recent investigation beginning to penetrate the depth of meaning couched under the Athenaic symbols: but I may note rapidly, that her ægis, the mantle with the serpent fringes, in which she often, in the best statues, is represented as folding up her left hand for better guard, and the Gorgon on her shield, are both representative mainly of the chilling horror and sadness (turning men to stone, as it were,) of the outmost and superficial spheres of knowledge—that knowledge which separates, in bitterness, hardness, and sorrow, the heart of the full-grown man from the heart of the child. For out of imperfect knowledge spring terror, dissension,[Pg 55] danger, and disdain; but from perfect knowledge, given by the full-revealed Athena, strength and peace, in sign of which she is crowned with the olive spray, and bears the resistless spear.

This, then, was the Greek conception of purest Deity, and every habit of life, and every form of his art developed themselves from the seeking this bright, serene, resistless wisdom; and setting himself, as a man, to do things evermore rightly and strongly;[3] not with any ardent affection or ultimate hope; but with a resolute and continent energy of will, as knowing that for failure there was no consolation, and for sin there was no remission. And the Greek architecture rose unerring, bright, clearly defined, and self-contained.

Next followed in Europe the great Christian faith, which was essentially the religion of Comfort. Its great doctrine is the remission of sins; for which cause it happens, too often, in certain phases of Christianity, that sin and sickness themselves are partly glorified, as if, the more you had to be healed of, the more divine was the healing. The practical result of this doctrine, in art, is a continual contemplation of sin and disease, and of imaginary states of purification from them; thus we have an architecture conceived in a mingled sentiment of melancholy and aspiration, partly severe, partly luxuriant, which will bend itself to every one of our needs, and every one of our fancies, and be strong or weak with us, as we are strong or weak ourselves. It is, of all architecture, the basest, when base people build it—of all, the noblest, when built by the noble.

And now note that both these religions—Greek and Mediæval—perished[Pg 56] by falsehood in their own main purpose. The Greek religion of Wisdom perished in a false philosophy—'Oppositions of science, falsely so called.' The Mediæval religion of Consolation perished in false comfort; in remission of sins given lyingly. It was the selling of absolution that ended the Mediæval faith; and I can tell you more, it is the selling of absolution which, to the end of time, will mark false Christianity. Pure Christianity gives her remission of sins only by ending them; but false Christianity gets her remission of sins by compounding for them. And there are many ways of compounding for them. We English have beautiful little quiet ways of buying absolution, whether in low Church or high, far more cunning than any of Tetzel's trading.

Then, thirdly, there followed the religion of Pleasure, in which all Europe gave itself to luxury, ending in death. First, bals masqués in every saloon, and then guillotines in every square. And all these three worships issue in vast temple building. Your Greek worshipped Wisdom, and built you the Parthenon—the Virgin's temple. The Mediæval worshipped Consolation, and built you Virgin temples also—but to our Lady of Salvation. Then the Revivalist worshipped beauty, of a sort, and built you Versailles, and the Vatican. Now, lastly, will you tell me what we worship, and what build?

You know we are speaking always of the real, active, continual, national worship; that by which men act while they live; not that which they talk of when they die. Now, we have, indeed, a nominal religion, to which we pay tithes of property, and sevenths of time; but we have also a practical and earnest religion, to which we devote nine-tenths of our property and six-sevenths of our time. And we dispute a great deal about the nominal religion; but we are all unanimous about this practical one, of which I think you will admit that the ruling goddess may be best generally described as the 'Goddess of Getting-on,' or 'Britannia of the Market.' The Athenians had an 'Athena Agoraia,' or Minerva of the Market: but she was a subordinate type of their goddess,[Pg 57] while our Britannia Agoraia is the principal type of ours. And all your great architectural works, are, of course, built to her. It is long since you built a great cathedral; and how you would laugh at me, if I proposed building a cathedral on the top of one of these hills of yours, taking it for an Acropolis! But your railroad mounds, prolonged masses of Acropolis; your railroad stations, vaster than the Parthenon, and innumerable; your chimneys, how much more mighty and costly than cathedral spires! your harbour-piers; your warehouses; your exchanges!—all these are built to your great Goddess of 'Getting-on;' and she has formed, and will continue to form, your architecture, as long as you worship her; and it is quite vain to ask me to tell you how to build to her; you know far better than I.

There might indeed, on some theories, be a conceivably good architecture for Exchanges—that is to say if there were any heroism in the fact or deed of exchange, which might be typically carved on the outside of your building. For, you know, all beautiful architecture must be adorned with sculpture or painting; and for sculpture or painting, you must have a subject. And hitherto it has been a received opinion among the nations of the world that the only right subjects for either, were heroisms of some sort. Even on his pots and his flagons, the Greek put a Hercules slaying lions, or an Apollo slaying serpents, or Bacchus slaying melancholy giants, and earth-born despondencies. On his temples, the Greek put contests of great warriors in founding states, or of gods with evil spirits. On his houses and temples alike, the Christian put carvings of angels conquering devils; or of hero-martyrs exchanging this world for another; subject inappropriate, I think, to our manner of exchange here. And the Master of Christians not only left his followers without any orders as to the sculpture of affairs of exchange on the outside of buildings, but gave some strong evidence of his dislike of affairs of exchange within them. And yet there might surely be a heroism in such affairs; and all commerce become a kind of selling of doves, not impious. The wonder has always been great to me, that heroism has never been[Pg 58] supposed to be in anywise consistent with the practice of supplying people with food, or clothes; but rather with that of quartering oneself upon them for food, and stripping them of their clothes. Spoiling of armour is an heroic deed in all ages; but the selling of clothes, old, or new, has never taken any colour of magnanimity. Yet one does not see why feeding the hungry and clothing the naked should ever become base businesses, even when engaged in on a large scale. If one could contrive to attach the notion of conquest to them anyhow? so that, supposing there were anywhere an obstinate race, who refused to be comforted, one might take some pride in giving them compulsory comfort; and as it were, 'occupying a country' with one's gifts, instead of one's armies? If one could only consider it as much a victory to get a barren field sown, as to get an eared field stripped; and contend who should build villages, instead of who should 'carry' them. Are not all forms of heroism, conceivable in doing these serviceable deeds? You doubt who is strongest? It might be ascertained by push of spade, as well as push of sword. Who is wisest? There are witty things to be thought of in planning other business than campaigns. Who is bravest? There are always the elements to fight with, stronger than men; and nearly as merciless. The only absolutely and unapproachably heroic element in the soldier's work seems to be—that he is paid little for it—and regularly: while you traffickers, and exchangers, and others occupied in presumably benevolent business, like to be paid much for it—and by chance. I never can make out how it is that a knight-errant does not expect to be paid for his trouble, but a pedlar-errant always does;—that people are willing to take hard knocks for nothing, but never to sell ribands cheap;—that they are ready to go on fervent crusades to recover the tomb of a buried God, never on any travels to fulfil the orders of a living God;—that they will go anywhere barefoot to preach their faith, but must be well bribed to practise it, and are perfectly ready to give the Gospel gratis, but never the loaves and fishes. If you chose to take the matter up on any such soldierly principle, to do your commerce, and your[Pg 59] feeding of nations, for fixed salaries; and to be as particular about giving people the best food, and the best cloth, as soldiers are about giving them the best gunpowder, I could carve something for you on your exchange worth looking at. But I can only at present suggest decorating its frieze with pendant purses; and making its pillars broad at the base for the sticking of bills. And in the innermost chambers of it there might be a statue of Britannia of the Market, who may have, perhaps advisably, a partridge for her crest, typical at once of her courage in fighting for noble ideas; and of her interest in game; and round its neck the inscription in golden letters, 'Perdix fovit quæ non peperit.'[4] Then, for her spear, she might have a weaver's beam; and on her shield, instead of her Cross, the Milanese boar, semi-fleeced, with the town of Gennesaret proper, in the field and the legend 'In the best market,' and her corslet, of leather, folded over her heart in the shape of a purse, with thirty slits in it for a piece of money to go in at, on each day of the month. And I doubt not but that people would come to see your exchange, and its goddess, with applause.

Nevertheless, I want to point out to you certain strange characters in this goddess of yours. She differs from the great Greek and Mediæval deities essentially in two things—first, as to the continuance of her presumed power; secondly, as to the extent of it.

1st, as to the Continuance.

The Greek Goddess of Wisdom gave continual increase of wisdom, as the Christian Spirit of Comfort (or Comforter) continual increase of comfort. There was no question, with these, of any limit or cessation of function. But with your Agora Goddess, that is just the most important question. Getting on—but where to? Gathering together—but how much? Do you mean to gather always—never to spend? If so, I wish you joy of your goddess, for I am just as well[Pg 60] off as you, without the trouble of worshipping her at all. But if you do not spend, somebody else will—somebody else must. And it is because of this (among many other such errors) that I have fearlessly declared your so-called science of Political Economy to be no science; because, namely, it has omitted the study of exactly the most important branch of the business—the study of spending. For spend you must, and as much as you make, ultimately. You gather corn:—will you bury England under a heap of grain; or will you, when you have gathered, finally eat? You gather gold:—will you make your house-roofs of it, or pave your streets with it? That is still one way of spending it. But if you keep it, that you may get more, I'll give you more; I'll give you all the gold you want—all you can imagine—if you can tell me what you'll do with it. You shall have thousands of gold pieces;—thousands of thousands—millions—mountains, of gold: where will you keep them? Will you put an Olympus of silver upon a golden Pelion—make Ossa like a wart? Do you think the rain and dew would then come down to you, in the streams from such mountains, more blessedly than they will down the mountains which God has made for you, of moss and whinstone? But it is not gold that you want to gather! What is it? greenbacks? No; not those neither. What is it then—is it ciphers after a capital I? Cannot you practise writing ciphers, and write as many as you want? Write ciphers for an hour every morning, in a big book, and say every evening, I am worth all those noughts more than I was yesterday. Won't that do? Well, what in the name of Plutus is it you want? Not gold, not greenbacks, not ciphers after a capital I? You will have to answer, after all, 'No; we want, somehow or other, money's worth.' Well, what is that? Let your Goddess of Getting-on discover it, and let her learn to stay therein.

II. But there is yet another question to be asked respecting this Goddess of Getting-on. The first was of the continuance of her power; the second is of its extent.

Pallas and the Madonna were supposed to be all the world's Pallas, and all the world's Madonna. They could teach all[Pg 61] men, and they could comfort all men. But, look strictly into the nature of the power of your Goddess of Getting-on; and you will find she is the Goddess—not of everybody's getting on—but only of somebody's getting on. This is a vital, or rather deathful, distinction. Examine it in your own ideal of the state of national life which this Goddess is to evoke and maintain. I asked you what it was, when I was last here;[5]—you have never told me. Now, shall I try to tell you?

Your ideal of human life then is, I think, that it should be passed in a pleasant undulating world, with iron and coal everywhere underneath it. On each pleasant bank of this world is to be a beautiful mansion, with two wings; and stables, and coach-houses; a moderately sized park; a large garden and hot houses; and pleasant carriage drives through the shrubberies. In this mansion are to live the favoured votaries of the Goddess; the English gentleman, with his gracious wife, and his beautiful family; always able to have the boudoir and the jewels for the wife, and the beautiful ball dresses for the daughters, and hunters for the sons, and a shooting in the Highlands for himself. At the bottom of the bank, is to be the mill; not less than a quarter of a mile long, with a steam engine at each end, and two in the middle, and a chimney three hundred feet high. In this mill are to be in constant employment from eight hundred to a thousand workers, who never drink, never strike, always go to church on Sunday, and always express themselves in respectful language.

Is not that, broadly, and in the main features, the kind of thing you propose to yourselves? It is very pretty indeed seen from above; not at all so pretty, seen from below. For, observe, while to one family this deity is indeed the Goddess of Getting on, to a thousand families she is the Goddess of not Getting on. 'Nay,' you say, 'they have all their chance.' Yes, so has every one in a lottery, but there must always be the same number of blanks. 'Ah! but in a lottery it is not skill and intelligence which take the lead, but blind chance.' What then! do you think the old practice, that 'they should[Pg 62] take who have the power, and they should keep who can,' is less iniquitous, when the power has become power of brains instead of fist? and that, though we may not take advantage of a child's or a woman's weakness, we may of a man's foolishness? 'Nay, but finally, work must be done, and some one must be at the top, some one at the bottom.' Granted, my friends. Work must always be, and captains of work must always be; and if you in the least remember the tone of any of my writings, you must know that they are thought unfit for this age, because they are always insisting on need of government, and speaking with scorn of liberty. But I beg you to observe that there is a wide difference between being captains or governors of work, and taking the profits of it. It does not follow, because you are general of an army, that you are to take all the treasure, or land, it wins (if it fight for treasure or land); neither, because you are king of a nation, that you are to consume all the profits of the nation's work. Real kings, on the contrary, are known invariably by their doing quite the reverse of this,—by their taking the least possible quantity of the nation's work for themselves. There is no test of real kinghood so infallible as that. Does the crowned creature live simply, bravely, unostentatiously? probably he is a King. Does he cover his body with jewels, and his table with delicates? in all probability he is a King. It is possible he may be, as Solomon was; but that is when the nation shares his splendour with him. Solomon made gold, not only to be in his own palace as stones, but to be in Jerusalem as stones. But even so, for the most part, these splendid kinghoods expire in ruin, and only the true kinghoods live, which are of royal labourers governing loyal labourers; who, both leading rough lives, establish the true dynasties. Conclusively you will find that because you are king of a nation, it does not follow that you are to gather for yourself all the wealth of that nation; neither, because you are king of a small part of the nation, and lord over the means of its maintenance—over field, or mill, or mine, are you to take all the produce of that piece of the foundation of national existence for yourself.[Pg 63]

You will tell me I need not preach against these things, for I cannot mend them. No, good friends, I cannot; but you can, and you will; or something else can and will. Do you think these phenomena are to stay always in their present power or aspect? All history shows, on the contrary, that to be the exact thing they never can do. Change must come; but it is ours to determine whether change of growth, or change of death. Shall the Parthenon be in ruins on its rock, and Bolton priory in its meadow, but these mills of yours be the consummation of the buildings of the earth, and their wheels be as the wheels of eternity? Think you that 'men may come, and men may go,' but—mills—go on forever? Not so; out of these, better or worse shall come; and it is for you to choose which.

I know that none of this wrong is done with deliberate purpose. I know, on the contrary, that you wish your workmen well; that you do much for them, and that you desire to do more for them, if you saw your way to it safely. I know that many of you have done, and are every day doing, whatever you feel to be in your power; and that even all this wrong and misery are brought about by a warped sense of duty, each of you striving to do his best, without noticing that this best is essentially and centrally the best for himself, not for others. And all this has come of the spreading of that thrice accursed, thrice impious doctrine of the modern economist, that 'To do the best for yourself, is finally to do the best for others.' Friends, our great Master said not so; and most absolutely we shall find this world is not made so. Indeed, to do the best for others, is finally to do the best for ourselves; but it will not do to have our eyes fixed on that issue. The Pagans had got beyond that. Hear what a Pagan says of this matter; hear what were, perhaps, the last written words of Plato,—if not the last actually written (for this we cannot know), yet assuredly in fact and power his parting words—in which, endeavouring to give full crowning and harmonious close to all his thoughts, and to speak the sum of them by the imagined sentence of the Great Spirit, his strength and his heart fail him, and the words cease, broken off for ever. It is the close[Pg 64] of the dialogue called 'Critias,' in which he describes, partly from real tradition, partly in ideal dream, the early state of Athens; and the genesis, and order, and religion, of the fabled isle of Atlantis; in which genesis he conceives the same first perfection and final degeneracy of man, which in our own Scriptural tradition is expressed by saying that the Sons of God intermarried with the daughters of men, for he supposes the earliest race to have been indeed the children of God; and to have corrupted themselves, until 'their spot was not the spot of his children.' And this, he says, was the end; that indeed 'through many generations, so long as the God's nature in them yet was full, they were submissive to the sacred laws, and carried themselves lovingly to all that had kindred with them in divineness; for their uttermost spirit was faithful and true, and in every wise great; so that, in all meekness of wisdom, they dealt with each other, and took all the chances of life; and despising all things except virtue, they cared little what happened day by day, and bore lightly the burden of gold and of possessions; for they saw that, if only their common love and virtue increased, all these things would be increased together with them; but to set their esteem and ardent pursuit upon material possession would be to lose that first, and their virtue and affection together with it. And by such reasoning, and what of the divine nature remained in them, they gained all this greatness of which we have already told, but when the God's part of them faded and became extinct, being mixed again and again, and effaced by the prevalent mortality; and the human nature at last exceeded, they then became unable to endure the courses of fortune; and fell into shapelessness of life, and baseness in the sight of him who could see, having lost everything that was fairest of their honour; while to the blind hearts which could not discern the true life, tending to happiness, it seemed that they were then chiefly noble and happy, being filled with all iniquity of inordinate possession and power. Whereupon, the God of God's, whose Kinghood is in laws, beholding a once just nation thus cast into misery, and desiring to lay such punishment upon them as might make them repent into restraining, gathered[Pg 65] together all the gods into his dwelling-place, which from heaven's centre overlooks whatever has part in creation; and having assembled them, he said'——

The rest is silence. So ended are the last words of the chief wisdom of the heathen, spoken of this idol of riches; this idol of yours; this golden image high by measureless cubits, set up where your green fields of England are furnace-burnt into the likeness of the plain of Dura: this idol, forbidden to us, first of all idols, by our own Master and faith; forbidden to us also by every human lip that has ever, in any age or people, been accounted of as able to speak according to the purposes of God. Continue to make that forbidden deity your principal one, and soon no more art, no more science, no more pleasure will be possible. Catastrophe will come; or worse than catastrophe, slow mouldering and withering into Hades. But if you can fix some conception of a true human state of life to be striven for—life for all men as for yourselves—if you can determine some honest and simple order of existence; following those trodden ways of wisdom, which are pleasantness, and seeking her quiet and withdrawn paths, which are peace;—then, and so sanctifying wealth into 'commonwealth,' all your art, your literature, your daily labours, your domestic affection, and citizen's duty, will join and increase into one magnificent harmony. You will know then how to build, well enough; you will build with stone well, but with flesh better; temples not made with hands, but riveted of hearts; and that kind of marble, crimson-veined, is indeed eternal.


[3] It is an error to suppose that the Greek worship, or seeking, was chiefly of Beauty. It was essentially of Rightness and Strength, founded on Forethought: the principal character of Greek art is not Beauty, but Design: and the Dorian Apollo-worship and Athenian Virgin-worship are both expressions of adoration of divine Wisdom and Purity. Next to these great deities rank, in power over the national mind, Dionysus and Ceres, the givers of human strength and life: then, for heroic example, Hercules. There is no Venus-worship among the Greek in the great times: and the Muses are essentially teachers of Truth, and of its harmonies.

[4] Jerem. xvii. 11 (best in Septuagint and Vulgate). 'As the partridge, fostering what she brought not forth, so he that getteth riches, not by right shall leave them in the midst of his days, and at his end shall be a fool.'

[5] Two Paths, p. 98.

[Pg 66]



(Delivered at the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich.)

Young soldiers, I do not doubt but that many of you came unwillingly to-night, and many in merely contemptuous curiosity, to hear what a writer on painting could possibly say, or would venture to say, respecting your great art of war. You may well think within yourselves, that a painter might, perhaps without immodesty, lecture younger painters upon painting, but not young lawyers upon law, nor young physicians upon medicine—least of all, it may seem to you, young warriors upon war. And, indeed, when I was asked to address you, I declined at first, and declined long; for I felt that you would not be interested in my special business, and would certainly think there was small need for me to come to teach you yours. Nay, I knew that there ought to be no such need, for the great veteran soldiers of England are now men every way so thoughtful, so noble, and so good, that no other teaching than their knightly example, and their few words of grave and tried counsel should be either necessary for you, or even, without assurance of due modesty in the offerer, endured by you.

But being asked, not once nor twice, I have not ventured persistently to refuse; and I will try, in very few words, to lay before you some reason why you should accept my excuse, and hear me patiently. You may imagine that your work is wholly foreign to, and separate from mine. So far from that, all the pure and noble arts of peace are founded on war; no great art ever yet rose on earth, but among a nation of soldiers. There is no art among a shepherd people, if it remains[Pg 67] at peace. There is no art among an agricultural people, if it remains at peace. Commerce is barely consistent with fine art; but cannot produce it. Manufacture not only is unable to produce it, but invariably destroys whatever seeds of it exist. There is no great art possible to a nation but that which is based on battle.

Now, though I hope you love fighting for its own sake, you must, I imagine, be surprised at my assertion that there is any such good fruit of fighting. You supposed, probably, that your office was to defend the works of peace, but certainly not to found them: nay, the common course of war, you may have thought, was only to destroy them. And truly, I who tell you this of the use of war, should have been the last of men to tell you so, had I trusted my own experience only. Hear why: I have given a considerable part of my life to the investigation of Venetian painting and the result of that enquiry was my fixing upon one man as the greatest of all Venetians, and therefore, as I believed, of all painters whatsoever. I formed this faith, (whether right or wrong matters at present nothing,) in the supremacy of the painter Tintoret, under a roof covered with his pictures; and of those pictures, three of the noblest were then in the form of shreds of ragged canvas, mixed up with the laths of the roof, rent through by three Austrian shells. Now it is not every lecturer who could tell you that he had seen three of his favourite pictures torn to rags by bombshells. And after such a sight, it is not every lecturer who would tell you that, nevertheless, war was the foundation of all great art.

Yet the conclusion is inevitable, from any careful comparison of the states of great historic races at different periods. Merely to show you what I mean, I will sketch for you, very briefly, the broad steps of the advance of the best art of the world. The first dawn of it is in Egypt; and the power of it is founded on the perpetual contemplation of death, and of future judgment, by the mind of a nation of which the ruling caste were priests, and the second, soldiers. The greatest works produced by them are sculptures of their kings going out to battle, or receiving the homage of conquered armies.[Pg 68] And you must remember also, as one of the great keys to the splendour of the Egyptian nation, that the priests were not occupied in theology only. Their theology was the basis of practical government and law, so that they were not so much priests as religious judges, the office of Samuel, among the Jews, being as nearly as possible correspondent to theirs.

All the rudiments of art then, and much more than the rudiments of all science, are laid first by this great warrior-nation, which held in contempt all mechanical trades, and in absolute hatred the peaceful life of shepherds. From Egypt art passes directly into Greece, where all poetry, and all painting, are nothing else than the description, praise, or dramatic representation of war, or of the exercises which prepare for it, in their connection with offices of religion. All Greek institutions had first respect to war; and their conception of it, as one necessary office of all human and divine life, is expressed simply by the images of their guiding gods. Apollo is the god of all wisdom of the intellect; he bears the arrow and the bow, before he bears the lyre. Again, Athena is the goddess of all wisdom in conduct. It is by the helmet and the shield, oftener than by the shuttle, that she is distinguished from other deities.

There were, however, two great differences in principle between the Greek and the Egyptian theories of policy. In Greece there was no soldier caste; every citizen was necessarily a soldier. And, again, while the Greeks rightly despised mechanical arts as much as the Egyptians, they did not make the fatal mistake of despising agricultural and pastoral life; but perfectly honoured both. These two conditions of truer thought raise them quite into the highest rank of wise manhood that has yet been reached; for all our great arts, and nearly all our great thoughts, have been borrowed or derived from them. Take away from us what they have given; and I hardly can imagine how low the modern European would stand.

Now, you are to remember, in passing to the next phase of history, that though you must have war to produce art—you must also have much more than war; namely, an art-instinct[Pg 69] or genius in the people; and that, though all the talent for painting in the world won't make painters of you, unless you have a gift for fighting as well, you may have the gift for fighting, and none for painting. Now, in the next great dynasty of soldiers, the art-instinct is wholly wanting. I have not yet investigated the Roman character enough to tell you the causes of this; but I believe, paradoxical as it may seem to you, that, however truly the Roman might say of himself that he was born of Mars, and suckled by the wolf, he was nevertheless, at heart, more of a farmer than a soldier. The exercises of war were with him practical, not poetical; his poetry was in domestic life only, and the object of battle, 'pacis imponere morem.' And the arts are extinguished in his hands, and do not rise again, until, with Gothic chivalry, there comes back into the mind of Europe a passionate delight in war itself, for the sake of war. And then, with the romantic knighthood which can imagine no other noble employment,—under the fighting kings of France, England, and Spain; and under the fighting dukeships and citizenships of Italy, art is born again, and rises to her height in the great valleys of Lombardy and Tuscany, through which there flows not a single stream, from all their Alps or Apennines, that did not once run dark red from battle: and it reaches its culminating glory in the city which gave to history the most intense type of soldiership yet seen among men;—the city whose armies were led in their assault by their king, led through it to victory by their king, and so led, though that king of theirs was blind, and in the extremity of his age.

And from this time forward, as peace is established or extended in Europe, the arts decline. They reach an unparalleled pitch of costliness, but lose their life, enlist themselves at last on the side of luxury and various corruption, and, among wholly tranquil nations, wither utterly away; remaining only in partial practice among races who, like the French and us, have still the minds, though we cannot all live the lives, of soldiers.

'It may be so,' I can suppose that a philanthropist might exclaim. 'Perish then the arts, if they can flourish only at[Pg 70] such a cost. What worth is there in toys of canvas and stone if compared to the joy and peace of artless domestic life?' And the answer is—truly, in themselves, none. But as expressions of the highest state of the human spirit, their worth is infinite. As results they may be worthless, but, as signs, they are above price. For it is an assured truth that, whenever the faculties of men are at their fulness, they must express themselves by art; and to say that a state is without such expression, is to say that it is sunk from its proper level of manly nature. So that, when I tell you that war is the foundation of all the arts, I mean also that it is the foundation of all the high virtues and faculties of men.

It was very strange to me to discover this; and very dreadful—but I saw it to be quite an undeniable fact. The common notion that peace and the virtues of civil life flourished together, I found, to be wholly untenable. Peace and the vices of civil life only flourish together. We talk of peace and learning, and of peace and plenty, and of peace and civilisation; but I found that those were not the words which the Muse of History coupled together: that on her lips, the words were—peace and sensuality, peace and selfishness, peace and corruption, peace and death. I found, in brief, that all great nations learned their truth of word, and strength of thought, in war; that they were nourished in war, and wasted by peace; taught by war, and deceived by peace; trained by war, and betrayed by peace;—in a word, that they were born in war, and expired in peace.

Yet now note carefully, in the second place, it is not all war of which this can be said—nor all dragon's teeth, which, sown, will start up into men. It is not the ravage of a barbarian wolf-flock, as under Genseric or Suwarrow; nor the habitual restlessness and rapine of mountaineers, as on the old borders of Scotland; nor the occasional struggle of a strong peaceful nation for its life, as in the wars of the Swiss with Austria; nor the contest of merely ambitious nations for extent of power, as in the wars of France under Napoleon, or the just terminated war in America. None of these forms of war build anything but tombs. But the creative or foundational[Pg 71] war is that in which the natural restlessness and love of contest among men are disciplined, by consent, into modes of beautiful—though it may be fatal—play: in which the natural ambition and love of power of men are disciplined into the aggressive conquest of surrounding evil: and in which the natural instincts of self-defence are sanctified by the nobleness of the institutions, and purity of the households, which they are appointed to defend. To such war as this all men are born; in such war as this any man may happily die; and forth from such war as this have arisen throughout the extent of past ages, all the highest sanctities and virtues of humanity.

I shall therefore divide the war of which I would speak to you into three heads. War for exercise or play; war for dominion; and, war for defence.

I. And first, of war for exercise or play. I speak of it primarily in this light, because, through all past history, manly war has been more an exercise than anything else, among the classes who cause, and proclaim it. It is not a game to the conscript, or the pressed sailor; but neither of these are the causers of it. To the governor who determines that war shall be, and to the youths who voluntarily adopt it as their profession, it has always been a grand pastime; and chiefly pursued because they had nothing else to do. And this is true without any exception. No king whose mind was fully occupied with the development of the inner resources of his kingdom, or with any other sufficing subject of thought, ever entered into war but on compulsion. No youth who was earnestly busy with any peaceful subject of study, or set on any serviceable course of action, ever voluntarily became a soldier. Occupy him early, and wisely, in agriculture or business, in science or in literature, and he will never think of war otherwise than as a calamity. But leave him idle; and, the more brave and active and capable he is by nature, the more he will thirst for some appointed field for action; and find, in the passion and peril of battle, the only satisfying fulfilment of his unoccupied being. And from the earliest incipient civilisation until now, the population of the earth divides itself, when you look at it widely, into two races; one[Pg 72] of workers, and the other of players—one tilling the ground, manufacturing, building, and otherwise providing for the necessities of life;—the other part proudly idle, and continually therefore needing recreation, in which they use the productive and laborious orders partly as their cattle, and partly as their puppets or pieces in the game of death.

Now, remember, whatever virtue or goodliness there may be in this game of war, rightly played, there is none when you thus play it with a multitude of small human pawns.

If you, the gentlemen of this or any other kingdom, choose to make your pastime of contest, do so, and welcome; but set not up these unhappy peasant-pieces upon the green fielded board. If the wager is to be of death, lay it on your own heads, not theirs. A goodly struggle in the Olympic dust, though it be the dust of the grave, the gods will look upon, and be with you in; but they will not be with you, if you sit on the sides of the amphitheatre, whose steps are the mountains of earth, whose arena its valleys, to urge your peasant millions into gladiatorial war. You also, you tender and delicate women, for whom, and by whose command, all true battle has been, and must ever be; you would perhaps shrink now, though you need not, from the thought of sitting as queens above set lists where the jousting game might be mortal. How much more, then, ought you to shrink from the thought of sitting above a theatre pit in which even a few condemned slaves were slaying each other only for your delight! And do you not shrink from the fact of sitting above a theatre pit, where,—not condemned slaves,—but the best and bravest of the poor sons of your people, slay each other,—not man to man,—as the coupled gladiators; but race to race, in duel of generations? You would tell me, perhaps, that you do not sit to see this; and it is indeed true, that the women of Europe—those who have no heart-interests of their own at peril in the contest—draw the curtains of their boxes, and muffle the openings; so that from the pit of the circus of slaughter there may reach them only at intervals a half-heard cry and a murmur as of the wind's sighing, when myriads of souls expire. They shut out the[Pg 73] death-cries; and are happy, and talk wittily among themselves. That is the utter literal fact of what our ladies do in their pleasant lives.

Nay, you might answer, speaking for them—'We do not let these wars come to pass for our play, nor by our carelessness; we cannot help them. How can any final quarrel of nations be settled otherwise than by war?' I cannot now delay, to tell you how political quarrels might be otherwise settled. But grant that they cannot. Grant that no law of reason can be understood by nations; no law of justice submitted to by them: and that, while questions of a few acres, and of petty cash, can be determined by truth and equity, the questions which are to issue in the perishing or saving of kingdoms can be determined only by the truth of the sword, and the equity of the rifle. Grant this, and even then, judge if it will always be necessary for you to put your quarrel into the hearts of your poor, and sign your treaties with peasants' blood. You would be ashamed to do this in your own private position and power. Why should you not be ashamed also to do it in public place and power? If you quarrel with your neighbour, and the quarrel be indeterminable by law, and mortal, you and he do not send your footmen to Battersea fields to fight it out; nor do you set fire to his tenants' cottages, nor spoil their goods. You fight out your quarrel yourselves, and at your own danger, if at all. And you do not think it materially affects the arbitrement that one of you has a larger household than the other; so that, if the servants or tenants were brought into the field with their masters, the issue of the contest could not be doubtful? You either refuse the private duel, or you practise it under laws of honour, not of physical force; that so it may be, in a manner, justly concluded. Now the just or unjust conclusion of the private feud is of little moment, while the just or unjust conclusion of the public feud is of eternal moment: and yet, in this public quarrel, you take your servants' sons from their arms to fight for it, and your servants' food from their lips to support it; and the black seals on the parchment of your treaties of peace are the deserted hearth and the fruitless field.[Pg 74] There is a ghastly ludicrousness in this, as there is mostly in these wide and universal crimes. Hear the statement of the very fact of it in the most literal words of the greatest of our English thinkers:—

'What, speaking in quite unofficial language, is the net-purport and upshot of war? To my own knowledge, for example, there dwell and toil, in the British village of Dumdrudge, usually some five hundred souls. From these, by certain "natural enemies" of the French, there are successively selected, during the French war, say thirty able-bodied men. Dumdrudge, at her own expense, has suckled and nursed them; she has, not without difficulty and sorrow, fed them up to manhood, and even trained them to crafts, so that one can weave, another build, another hammer, and the weakest can stand under thirty stone avoirdupois. Nevertheless, amid much weeping and swearing, they are selected; all dressed in red; and shipped away, at the public charges, some two thousand miles, or say only to the south of Spain; and fed there till wanted.

'And now to that same spot in the south of Spain are thirty similar French artisans, from a French Dumdrudge, in like manner wending; till at length, after infinite effort, the two parties come into actual juxtaposition; and Thirty stands fronting Thirty, each with a gun in his hand.

'Straightway the word "Fire!" is given, and they blow the souls out of one another, and in place of sixty brisk useful craftsmen, the world has sixty dead carcases, which it must bury, and anon shed tears for. Had these men any quarrel? Busy as the devil is, not the smallest! They lived far enough apart; were the entirest strangers; nay, in so wide a universe, there was even, unconsciously, by commerce, some mutual helpfulness between them. How then? Simpleton! their governors had fallen out; and instead of shooting one another, had the cunning to make these poor blockheads shoot.' (Sartor Resartus.)

Positively, then, gentlemen, the game of battle must not, and shall not, ultimately be played this way. But should it be played any way? Should it, if not by your servants, be practised by yourselves? I think, yes. Both history and human instinct seem alike to say, yes. All healthy men like fighting, and like the sense of danger; all brave women like to hear of their fighting, and of their facing danger. This is a fixed instinct in the fine race of them; and I cannot help[Pg 75] fancying that fair fight is the best play for them, and that a tournament was a better game than a steeple-chase. The time may perhaps come in France as well as here, for universal hurdle-races and cricketing: but I do not think universal 'crickets' will bring out the best qualities of the nobles of either country. I use, in such question, the test which I have adopted, of the connection of war with other arts; and I reflect how, as a sculptor, I should feel, if I were asked to design a monument for a dead knight, in Westminster abbey, with a carving of a bat at one end, and a ball at the other. It may be the remains in me only of savage Gothic prejudice; but I had rather carve it with a shield at one end, and a sword at the other. And this, observe, with no reference whatever to any story of duty done, or cause defended. Assume the knight merely to have ridden out occasionally to fight his neighbour for exercise; assume him even a soldier of fortune, and to have gained his bread, and filled his purse, at the sword's point. Still, I feel as if it were, somehow, grander and worthier in him to have made his bread by sword play than any other play; had rather he had made it by thrusting than by batting;—much more, than by betting. Much rather that he should ride war horses, than back race horses; and—I say it sternly and deliberately—much rather would I have him slay his neighbour, than cheat him.

But remember, so far as this may be true, the game of war is only that in which the full personal power of the human creature is brought out in management of its weapons. And this for three reasons:—

First, the great justification of this game is that it truly, when well played, determines who is the best man;—who is the highest bred, the most self-denying, the most fearless, the coolest of nerve, the swiftest of eye and hand. You cannot test these qualities wholly, unless there is a clear possibility of the struggle's ending in death. It is only in the fronting of that condition that the full trial of the man, soul and body, comes out. You may go to your game of wickets, or of hurdles, or of cards, and any knavery that is in you may stay unchallenged all the while. But if the play may be[Pg 76] ended at any moment by a lance-thrust, a man will probably make up his accounts a little before he enters it. Whatever is rotten and evil in him will weaken his hand more in holding a sword hilt, than in balancing a billiard cue; and on the whole, the habit of living lightly hearted, in daily presence of death, always has had, and must have, a tendency both to the making and testing of honest men. But for the final testing, observe, you must make the issue of battle strictly dependent on fineness of frame, and firmness of hand. You must not make it the question, which of the combatants has the longest gun, or which has got behind the biggest tree, or which has the wind in his face, or which has gunpowder made by the best chemist, or iron smelted with the best coal, or the angriest mob at his back. Decide your battle, whether of nations, or individuals, on those terms;—and you have only multiplied confusion, and added slaughter to iniquity. But decide your battle by pure trial which has the strongest arm, and steadiest heart,—and you have gone far to decide a great many matters besides, and to decide them rightly.

And the other reasons for this mode of decision of cause, are the diminution both of the material destructiveness, or cost, and of the physical distress of war. For you must not think that in speaking to you in this (as you may imagine), fantastic praise of battle, I have overlooked the conditions weighing against me. I pray all of you, who have not read, to read with the most earnest attention, Mr. Helps's two essays on War and Government, in the first volume of the last series of 'Friends in Council.' Everything that can be urged against war is there simply, exhaustively, and most graphically stated. And all, there urged, is true. But the two great counts of evil alleged against war by that most thoughtful writer, hold only against modern war. If you have to take away masses of men from all industrial employment,—to feed them by the labour of others,—to move them and provide them with destructive machines, varied daily in national rivalship of inventive cost; if you have to ravage the country which you attack,—to destroy for a score of future years, its roads, its woods, its cities, and its harbours;—and if, finally, having brought masses[Pg 77] of men, counted by hundreds of thousands, face to face, you tear those masses to pieces with jagged shot, and leave the fragments of living creatures countlessly beyond all help of surgery, to starve and parch, through days of torture, down into clots of clay—what book of accounts shall record the cost of your work;—What book of judgment sentence the guilt of it?

That, I say, is modern war,—scientific war,—chemical and mechanic war, worse even than the savage's poisoned arrow. And yet you will tell me, perhaps, that any other war than this is impossible now. It may be so; the progress of science cannot, perhaps, be otherwise registered than by new facilities of destruction; and the brotherly love of our enlarging Christianity be only proved by multiplication of murder. Yet hear, for a moment, what war was, in Pagan and ignorant days;—what war might yet be, if we could extinguish our science in darkness, and join the heathen's practice to the Christian's theory. I read you this from a book which probably most of you know well, and all ought to know—Muller's 'Dorians;'—but I have put the points I wish you to remember in closer connection than in his text.

'The chief characteristic of the warriors of Sparta was great composure and subdued strength; the violence λυσσα of Aristodemus and Isadas being considered as deserving rather of blame than praise; and these qualities in general distinguished the Greeks from the northern Barbarians, whose boldness always consisted in noise and tumult. For the same reason the Spartans sacrificed to the Muses before an action; these goddesses being expected to produce regularity and order in battle; as they sacrificed on the same occasion in Crete to the god of love, as the confirmer of mutual esteem and shame. Every man put on a crown, when the band of flute-players gave the signal for attack; all the shields of the line glittered with their high polish, and mingled their splendour with the dark red of the purple mantles, which were meant both to adorn the combatant, and to conceal the blood of the wounded; to fall well and decorously being an incentive the more to the most heroic valour. The conduct of the Spartans in battle denotes a high and noble disposition, which rejected all the[Pg 78] extremes of brutal rage. The pursuit of the enemy ceased when the victory was completed; and after the signal for retreat had been given, all hostilities ceased. The spoiling of arms, at least during the battle, was also interdicted; and the consecration of the spoils of slain enemies to the gods, as, in general, all rejoicings for victory, were considered as ill-omened.

Such was the war of the greatest soldiers who prayed to heathen gods. What Christian war is, preached by Christian ministers, let any one tell you, who saw the sacred crowning, and heard the sacred flute-playing, and was inspired and sanctified by the divinely-measured and musical language, of any North American regiment preparing for its charge. And what is the relative cost of life in pagan and Christian wars, let this one fact tell you:—the Spartans won the decisive battle of Corinth with the loss of eight men; the victors at indecisive Gettysburg confess to the loss of 30,000.

II. I pass now to our second order of war, the commonest among men, that undertaken in desire of dominion. And let me ask you to think for a few moments what the real meaning of this desire of dominion is—first in the minds of kings—then in that of nations.

Now, mind you this first,—that I speak either about kings, or masses of men, with a fixed conviction that human nature is a noble and beautiful thing; not a foul nor a base thing. All the sin of men I esteem as their disease, not their nature; as a folly which may be prevented, not a necessity which must be accepted. And my wonder, even when things are at their worst, is always at the height which this human nature can attain. Thinking it high, I find it always a higher thing than I thought it; while those who think it low, find it, and will find it, always lower than they thought it: the fact being, that it is infinite, and capable of infinite height and infinite fall; but the nature of it—and here is the faith which I would have you hold with me—the nature of it is in the nobleness, not in the catastrophe.

Take the faith in its utmost terms. When the captain of the 'London' shook hands with his mate, saying 'God speed you! I will go down with my passengers,' that I believe to be[Pg 79] 'human nature.' He does not do it from any religious motive—from any hope of reward, or any fear of punishment; he does it because he is a man. But when a mother, living among the fair fields of merry England, gives her two-year-old child to be suffocated under a mattress in her inner room, while the said mother waits and talks outside; I believe to be not human nature. You have the two extremes there, shortly. And you, men, and mothers, who are here face to face with me to-night, I call upon you to say which of these is human, and which inhuman—which 'natural' and which 'unnatural?' Choose your creed at once, I beseech you:—choose it with unshaken choice—choose it forever. Will you take, for foundation of act and hope, the faith that this man was such as God made him, or that this woman was such as God made her? Which of them has failed from their nature—from their present, possible, actual nature;—not their nature of long ago, but their nature of now? Which has betrayed it—falsified it? Did the guardian who died in his trust, die inhumanly, and as a fool; and did the murderess of her child fulfil the law of her being? Choose, I say; infinitude of choices hang upon this. You have had false prophets among you—for centuries you have had them—solemnly warned against them though you were; false prophets, who have told you that all men are nothing but fiends or wolves, half beast, half devil. Believe that and indeed you may sink to that. But refuse that, and have faith that God 'made you upright,' though you have sought out many inventions; so, you will strive daily to become more what your Maker meant and means you to be, and daily gives you also the power to be—and you will cling more and more to the nobleness and virtue that is in you, saying, 'My righteousness I hold fast, and will not let it go.'

I have put this to you as a choice, as if you might hold either of these creeds you liked best. But there is in reality no choice for you; the facts being quite easily ascertainable. You have no business to think about this matter, or to choose in it. The broad fact is, that a human creature of the highest race, and most perfect as a human thing, is invariably both[Pg 80] kind and true; and that as you lower the race, you get cruelty and falseness, as you get deformity: and this so steadily and assuredly, that the two great words which, in their first use, meant only perfection of race, have come, by consequence of the invariable connection of virtue with the fine human nature, both to signify benevolence of disposition. The word generous, and the word gentle, both, in their origin, meant only 'of pure race,' but because charity and tenderness are inseparable from this purity of blood, the words which once stood only for pride, now stand as synonyms for virtue.

Now, this being the true power of our inherent humanity, and seeing that all the aim of education should be to develop this;—and seeing also what magnificent self sacrifice the higher classes of men are capable of, for any cause that they understand or feel,—it is wholly inconceivable to me how well-educated princes, who ought to be of all gentlemen the gentlest, and of all nobles the most generous, and whose title of royalty means only their function of doing every man 'right'—how these, I say, throughout history, should so rarely pronounce themselves on the side of the poor and of justice, but continually maintain themselves and their own interests by oppression of the poor, and by wresting of justice; and how this should be accepted as so natural, that the word loyalty, which means faithfulness to law, is used as if it were only the duty of a people to be loyal to their king, and not the duty of a king to be infinitely more loyal to his people. How comes it to pass that a captain will die with his passengers, and lean over the gunwale to give the parting boat its course; but that a king will not usually die with, much less for, his passengers,—thinks it rather incumbent on his passengers, in any number, to die for him? Think, I beseech you, of the wonder of this. The sea captain, not captain by divine right, but only by company's appointment;—not a man of royal descent, but only a plebeian who can steer;—not with the eyes of the world upon him, but with feeble chance, depending on one poor boat, of his name being ever heard above the wash of the fatal waves;—not with the cause of a nation resting on his act, but helpless to save so much as a child from among the lost crowd[Pg 81] with whom he resolves to be lost,—yet goes down quietly to his grave, rather than break his faith to these few emigrants. But your captain by divine right,—your captain with the hues of a hundred shields of kings upon his breast,—your captain whose every deed, brave or base, will be illuminated or branded for ever before unescapable eyes of men,—your captain whose every thought and act are beneficent, or fatal, from sunrising to setting, blessing as the sunshine, or shadowing as the night,—this captain, as you find him in history, for the most part thinks only how he may tax his passengers, and sit at most ease in his state cabin!

For observe, if there had been indeed in the hearts of the rulers of great multitudes of men any such conception of work for the good of those under their command, as there is in the good and thoughtful masters of any small company of men, not only wars for the sake of mere increase of power could never take place, but our idea of power itself would be entirely altered. Do you suppose that to think and act even for a million of men, to hear their complaints, watch their weaknesses, restrain their vices, make laws for them, lead them, day by day, to purer life, is not enough for one man's work? If any of us were absolute lord only of a district of a hundred miles square, and were resolved on doing our utmost for it; making it feed as large a number of people as possible; making every clod productive, and every rock defensive, and every human being happy; should we not have enough on our hands think you? But if the ruler has any other aim than this; if, careless of the result of his interference, he desire only the authority to interfere; and, regardless of what is ill-done or well-done, cares only that it shall be done at his bidding,—if he would rather do two hundred miles' space of mischief, than one hundred miles' space of good, of course he will try to add to his territory; and to add inimitably. But does he add to his power? Do you call it power in a child, if he is allowed to play with the wheels and bands of some vast engine, pleased with their murmur and whirl, till his unwise touch, wandering where it ought not, scatters beam and wheel into ruin? Yet what machine is so[Pg 82] vast, so incognisable, as the working of the mind of a nation what child's touch so wanton, as the word of a selfish king? And yet, how long have we allowed the historian to speak of the extent of the calamity a man causes, as a just ground for his pride; and to extol him as the greatest prince, who is only the centre of the widest error. Follow out this thought by yourselves; and you will find that all power, properly so called, is wise and benevolent. There may be capacity in a drifting fire-ship to destroy a fleet; there may be venom enough in a dead body to infect a nation:—but which of you, the most ambitious, would desire a drifting kinghood, robed in consuming fire, or a poison-dipped sceptre whose touch was mortal? There is no true potency, remember, but that of help; nor true ambition, but ambition to save.

And then, observe farther, this true power, the power of saving, depends neither on multitude of men, nor on extent of territory. We are continually assuming that nations become strong according to their numbers. They indeed become so, if those numbers can be made of one mind; but how are you sure you can stay them in one mind, and keep them from having north and south minds? Grant them unanimous, how know you they will be unanimous in right? If they are unanimous in wrong, the more they are, essentially the weaker they are. Or, suppose that they can neither be of one mind, nor of two minds, but can only be of no mind? Suppose they are a more helpless mob; tottering into precipitant catastrophe, like a waggon load of stones when the wheel comes off. Dangerous enough for their neighbours, certainly, but not 'powerful.'

Neither does strength depend on extent of territory, any more than upon number of population. Take up your maps when you go home this evening,—put the cluster of British Isles beside the mass of South America; and then consider whether any race of men need care how much ground they stand upon. The strength is in the men, and in their unity and virtue, not in their standing room: a little group of wise hearts is better than a wilderness full of fools; and only that nation gains true territory, which gains itself.[Pg 83]

And now for the brief practical outcome of all this. Remember, no government is ultimately strong, but in proportion to its kindness and justice; and that a nation does not strengthen, by merely multiplying and diffusing itself. We have not strengthened as yet, by multiplying into America. Nay, even when it has not to encounter the separating conditions of emigration, a nation need not boast itself of multiplying on its own ground, if it multiplies only as flies or locusts do, with the god of flies for its god. It multiplies its strength only by increasing as one great family, in perfect fellowship and brotherhood. And lastly, it does not strengthen itself by seizing dominion over races whom it cannot benefit. Austria is not strengthened, but weakened, by her grasp of Lombardy; and whatever apparent increase of majesty and of wealth may have accrued to us from the possession of India, whether these prove to us ultimately power or weakness, depends wholly on the degree in which our influence on the native race shall be benevolent and exalting. But, as it is at their own peril that any race extends their dominion in mere desire of power, so it is at their own still greater peril, that they refuse to undertake aggressive war, according to their force, whenever they are assured that their authority would be helpful and protective. Nor need you listen to any sophistical objection of the impossibility of knowing when a people's help is needed, or when not. Make your national conscience clean, and your national eyes will soon be clear. No man who is truly ready to take part in a noble quarrel will ever stand long in doubt by whom, or in what cause, his aid is needed. I hold it my duty to make no political statement of any special bearing in this presence; but I tell you broadly and boldly, that, within these last ten years, we English have, as a knightly nation, lost our spurs: we have fought where we should not have fought, for gain; and we have been passive where we should not have been passive, for fear. I tell you that the principle of non-intervention, as now preached among us, is as selfish and cruel as the worst frenzy of conquest, and differs from it only by being not only malignant, but dastardly.[Pg 84]

I know, however, that my opinions on this subject differ too widely from those ordinarily held, to be any farther intruded upon you; and therefore I pass lastly to examine the conditions of the third kind of noble war;—war waged simply for defence of the country in which we were born, and for the maintenance and execution of her laws, by whomsoever threatened or defied. It is to this duty that I suppose most men entering the army consider themselves in reality to be bound, and I want you now to reflect what the laws of mere defence are; and what the soldier's duty, as now understood, or supposed to be understood. You have solemnly devoted yourselves to be English soldiers, for the guardianship of England. I want you to feel what this vow of yours indeed means, or is gradually coming to mean. You take it upon you, first, while you are sentimental schoolboys; you go into your military convent, or barracks, just as a girl goes into her convent while she is a sentimental schoolgirl; neither of you then know what you are about, though both the good soldiers and good nuns make the best of it afterwards. You don't understand perhaps why I call you 'sentimental' schoolboys, when you go into the army? Because, on the whole, it is love of adventure, of excitement, of fine dress and of the pride of fame, all which are sentimental motives, which chiefly make a boy like going into the Guards better than into a counting-house. You fancy, perhaps, that there is a severe sense of duty mixed with these peacocky motives? And in the best of you, there is; but do not think that it is principal. If you cared to do your duty to your country in a prosaic and unsentimental way, depend upon it, there is now truer duty to be done in raising harvests than in burning them; more in building houses, than in shelling them—more in winning money by your own work, wherewith to help men, than in taxing other people's work, for money wherewith to slay men; more duty finally, in honest and unselfish living than in honest and unselfish dying, though that seems to your boys' eyes the bravest. So far then, as for your own honour, and the honour of your families, you choose brave death in a red coat before brave life in a black one, you are sentimental; and now see[Pg 85] what this passionate vow of yours comes to. For a little while you ride, and you hunt tigers or savages, you shoot, and are shot; you are happy, and proud, always, and honoured and wept if you die; and you are satisfied with your life, and with the end of it; believing, on the whole, that good rather than harm of it comes to others, and much pleasure to you. But as the sense of duty enters into your forming minds, the vow takes another aspect. You find that you have put yourselves into the hand of your country as a weapon. You have vowed to strike, when she bids you, and to stay scabbarded when she bids you; all that you need answer for is, that you fail not in her grasp. And there is goodness in this, and greatness, if you can trust the hand and heart of the Britomart who has braced you to her side, and are assured that when she leaves you sheathed in darkness, there is no need for your flash to the sun. But remember, good and noble as this state may be, it is a state of slavery. There are different kinds of slaves and different masters. Some slaves are scourged to their work by whips, others are scourged to it by restlessness or ambition. It does not matter what the whip is; it is none the less a whip, because you have cut thongs for it out of your own souls: the fact, so far, of slavery, is in being driven to your work without thought, at another's bidding. Again, some slaves are bought with money, and others with praise. It matters not what the purchase-money is. The distinguishing sign of slavery is to have a price, and be bought for it. Again, it matters not what kind of work you are set on; some slaves are set to forced diggings, others to forced marches; some dig furrows, others field-works, and others graves. Some press the juice of reeds, and some the juice of vines, and some the blood of men. The fact of the captivity is the same whatever work we are set upon, though the fruits of the toil may be different. But, remember, in thus vowing ourselves to be the slaves of any master, it ought to be some subject of forethought with us, what work he is likely to put us upon. You may think that the whole duty of a soldier is to be passive, that it is the country you have left behind who is to command, and you have only to obey. But[Pg 86] are you sure that you have left all your country behind, or that the part of it you have so left is indeed the best part of it? Suppose—and, remember, it is quite conceivable—that you yourselves are indeed the best part of England; that you who have become the slaves, ought to have been the masters; and that those who are the masters, ought to have been the slaves! If it is a noble and whole-hearted England, whose bidding you are bound to do, it is well; but if you are yourselves the best of her heart, and the England you have left be but a half-hearted England, how say you of your obedience? You were too proud to become shopkeepers: are you satisfied then to become the servants of shopkeepers? You were too proud to become merchants or farmers yourselves: will you have merchants or farmers then for your field marshals? You had no gifts of special grace for Exeter Hall: will you have some gifted person thereat for your commander-in-chief, to judge of your work, and reward it? You imagine yourselves to be the army of England: how if you should find yourselves, at last, only the police of her manufacturing towns, and the beadles of her little Bethels?

It is not so yet, nor will be so, I trust, for ever; but what I want you to see, and to be assured of, is, that the ideal of soldiership is not mere passive obedience and bravery; that, so far from this, no country is in a healthy state which has separated, even in a small degree, her civil from her military power. All states of the world, however great, fall at once when they use mercenary armies; and although it is a less instant form of error (because involving no national taint of cowardice), it is yet an error no less ultimately fatal—it is the error especially of modern times, of which we cannot yet know all the calamitous consequences—to take away the best blood and strength of the nation, all the soul-substance of it that is brave, and careless of reward, and scornful of pain, and faithful in trust; and to cast that into steel, and make a mere sword of it; taking away its voice and will; but to keep the worst part of the nation—whatever is cowardly, avaricious, sensual, and faithless—and to give to this the voice, to this the authority, to this the chief privilege, where there is least[Pg 87] capacity, of thought. The fulfilment of your vow for the defence of England will by no means consist in carrying out such a system. You are not true soldiers, if you only mean to stand at a shop door, to protect shop-boys who are cheating inside. A soldier's vow to his country is that he will die for the guardianship of her domestic virtue, of her righteous laws, and of her anyway challenged or endangered honour. A state without virtue, without laws, and without honour, he is bound not to defend; nay, bound to redress by his own right hand that which he sees to be base in her. So sternly is this the law of Nature and life, that a nation once utterly corrupt can only be redeemed by a military despotism—never by talking, nor by its free effort. And the health of any state consists simply in this: that in it, those who are wisest shall also be strongest; its rulers should be also its soldiers; or, rather, by force of intellect more than of sword, its soldiers its rulers. Whatever the hold which the aristocracy of England has on the heart of England, in that they are still always in front of her battles, this hold will not be enough, unless they are also in front of her thoughts. And truly her thoughts need good captain's leading now, if ever! Do you know what, by this beautiful division of labour (her brave men fighting, and her cowards thinking), she has come at last to think? Here is a bit of paper in my hand,[6] a good one too, and an honest one; quite representative of the best common public thought of England at this moment; and it is holding forth[Pg 88] in one of its leaders upon our 'social welfare,'—upon our 'vivid life'—upon the 'political supremacy of Great Britain.' And what do you think all these are owing to? To what our English sires have done for us, and taught us, age after age? No: not to that. To our honesty of heart, or coolness of head, or steadiness of will? No: not to these. To our thinkers, or our statesmen, or our poets, or our captains, or our martyrs, or the patient labour of our poor? No: not to these; or at least not to these in any chief measure. Nay, says the journal, 'more than any agency, it is the cheapness and abundance of our coal which have made us what we are.' If it be so, then 'ashes to ashes' be our epitaph! and the sooner the better. I tell you, gentlemen of England, if ever you would have your country breathe the pure breath of heaven again, and receive again a soul into her body, instead of rotting into a carcase, blown up in the belly with carbonic acid (and great that way), you must think, and feel, for your England, as well as fight for her: you must teach her that all the true greatness she ever had, or ever can have, she won while her fields were green and her faces ruddy;—that greatness is still possible for Englishmen, even though the ground be not hollow under their feet, nor the sky black over their heads;—and that, when the day comes for their country to lay her honours in the dust, her crest will not rise from it more loftily because it is dust of coal. Gentlemen, I tell you, solemnly, that the day is coming when the soldiers of England must be her tutors and the captains of her army, captains also of her mind.

And now, remember, you soldier youths, who are thus in all ways the hope of your country; or must be, if she have any hope: remember that your fitness for all future trust depends upon what you are now. No good soldier in his old age was ever careless or indolent in his youth. Many a giddy and thoughtless boy has become a good bishop, or a good lawyer, or a good merchant; but no such an one ever became a good general. I challenge you, in all history, to find a record of a good soldier who was not grave and earnest in his youth. And, in general, I have no patience with people who talk about 'the thoughtlessness of youth' indulgently,[Pg 89] I had infinitely rather hear of thoughtless old age, and the indulgence due to that. When a man has done his work, and nothing can any way be materially altered in his fate, let him forget his toil, and jest with his fate, if he will; but what excuse can you find for wilfulness of thought, at the very time when every crisis of future fortune hangs on your decisions? A youth thoughtless! when all the happiness of his home for ever depends on the chances, or the passions, of an hour! A youth thoughtless! when the career of all his days depends on the opportunity of a moment! A youth thoughtless! when his every act is a foundation-stone of future conduct, and every imagination a fountain of life or death! Be thoughtless in any after years, rather than now—though, indeed, there is only one place where a man may be nobly thoughtless,—his deathbed. No thinking should ever be left to be done there.

Having, then, resolved that you will not waste recklessly, but earnestly use, these early days of yours, remember that all the duties of her children to England may be summed in two words—industry, and honour. I say first, industry, for it is in this that soldier youth are especially tempted to fail. Yet surely, there is no reason because your life may possibly or probably be shorter than other men's, that you should therefore waste more recklessly the portion of it that is granted you; neither do the duties of your profession, which require you to keep your bodies strong, in any wise involve the keeping of your minds weak. So far from that, the experience, the hardship, and the activity of a soldier's life render his powers of thought more accurate than those of other men; and while, for others, all knowledge is often little more than a means of amusement, there is no form of science which a soldier may not at some time or other find bearing on business of life and death. A young mathematician may be excused for langour in studying curves to be described only with a pencil; but not in tracing those which are to be described with a rocket. Your knowledge of a wholesome herb may involve the feeding of an army; and acquaintance with an obscure point of geography, the success of a campaign.[Pg 90] Never waste an instant's time, therefore; the sin of idleness is a thousandfold greater in you than in other youths; for the fates of those who will one day be under your command hang upon your knowledge; lost moments now will be lost lives then, and every instant which you carelessly take for play, you buy with blood. But there is one way of wasting time, of all the vilest, because it wastes, not time only, but the interest and energy of your minds. Of all the ungentlemanly habits into which you can fall, the vilest is betting, or interesting yourselves in the issues of betting. It unites nearly every condition of folly and vice; you concentrate your interest upon a matter of chance, instead of upon a subject of true knowledge; and you back opinions which you have no grounds for forming, merely because they are your own. All the insolence of egotism is in this; and so far as the love of excitement is complicated with the hope of winning money, you turn yourselves into the basest sort of tradesmen—those who live by speculation. Were there no other ground for industry, this would be a sufficient one; that it protected you from the temptation to so scandalous a vice. Work faithfully, and you will put yourselves in possession of a glorious and enlarging happiness: not such as can be won by the speed of a horse, or marred by the obliquity of a ball.

First, then, by industry you must fulfil your vow to your country; but all industry and earnestness will be useless unless they are consecrated by your resolution to be in all things men of honour; not honour in the common sense only, but in the highest. Rest on the force of the two main words in the great verse, integer vitæ, scelerisque purus. You have vowed your life to England; give it her wholly—a bright, stainless, perfect life—a knightly life. Because you have to fight with machines instead of lances, there may be a necessity for more ghastly danger, but there is none for less worthiness of character, than in olden time. You may be true knights yet, though perhaps not equites; you may have to call yourselves 'cannonry' instead of 'chivalry,' but that is no reason why you should not call yourselves true men. So the first thing you have to see to in becoming soldiers is that you make yourselves[Pg 91] wholly true. Courage is a mere matter of course among any ordinarily well-born youths; but neither truth nor gentleness is matter of course. You must bind them like shields about your necks; you must write them on the tables of your hearts. Though it be not exacted of you, yet exact it of yourselves, this vow of stainless truth. Your hearts are, if you leave them unstirred, as tombs in which a god lies buried. Vow yourselves crusaders to redeem that sacred sepulchre. And remember, before all things—for no other memory will be so protective of you—that the highest law of this knightly truth is that under which it is vowed to women. Whomsoever else you deceive, whomsoever you injure, whomsoever you leave unaided, you must not deceive, nor injure, nor leave unaided according to your power, any woman of whatever rank. Believe me, every virtue of the higher phases of manly character begins in this;—in truth and modesty before the face of all maidens; in truth and pity, or truth and reverence, to all womanhood.

And now let me turn for a moment to you,—wives and maidens, who are the souls of soldiers; to you,—mothers, who have devoted your children to the great hierarchy of war. Let me ask you to consider what part you have to take for the aid of those who love you; for if you fail in your part they cannot fulfil theirs; such absolute helpmates you are that mo man can stand without that help, nor labour in his own strength.

I know your hearts, and that the truth of them never fails when an hour of trial comes which you recognise for such. But you know not when the hour of trial first finds you, nor when it verily finds you. You imagine that you are only called upon to wait and to suffer; to surrender and to mourn. You know that you must not weaken the hearts of your husbands and lovers, even by the one fear of which those hearts are capable,—the fear of parting from you, or of causing you grief. Through weary years of separation, through fearful expectancies of unknown fate; through the tenfold bitterness of the sorrow which might so easily have been joy, and the tenfold yearning for glorious life struck down in its prime—through[Pg 92] all these agonies you fail not, and never will fail. But your trial is not in these. To be heroic in danger is little;—you are Englishwomen. To be heroic in change and sway of fortune is little;—for do you not love? To be patient through the great chasm and pause of loss is little;—for do you not still love in heaven? But to be heroic in happiness; to bear yourselves gravely and righteously in the dazzling of the sunshine of morning; not to forget the God in whom you trust, when He gives you most; not to fail those who trust you, when they seem to need you least; this is the difficult fortitude. It is not in the pining of absence, not in the peril of battle, not in the wasting of sickness, that your prayer should be most passionate, or your guardianship most tender. Pray, mothers and maidens, for your young soldiers in the bloom of their pride; pray for them, while the only dangers round them are in their own wayward wills; watch you, and pray, when they have to face, not death, but temptation. But it is this fortitude also for which there is the crowning reward. Believe me, the whole course and character of your lovers' lives is in your hands; what you would have them be, they shall be, if you not only desire to have them so, but deserve to have them so; for they are but mirrors in which you will see yourselves imaged. If you are frivolous, they will be so also; if you have no understanding of the scope of their duty, they also will forget it; they will listen,—they can listen,—to no other interpretation of it than that uttered from your lips. Bid them be brave;—they will be brave for you; bid them be cowards; and how noble soever they be;—they will quail for you. Bid them be wise, and they will be wise for you; mock at their counsel, they will be fools for you: such and so absolute is your rule over them. You fancy, perhaps, as you have been told so often, that a wife's rule should only be over her husband's house, not over his mind. Ah, no! the true rule is just the reverse of that; a true wife, in her husband's house, is his servant; it is in his heart that she is queen. Whatever of the best he can conceive, it is her part to be; whatever of highest he can hope, it is hers to promise; all that is dark in him she must purge into purity; all that is failing[Pg 93] in him she must strengthen into truth: from her, through all the world's clamour, he must win his praise; in her, through all the world's warfare, he must find his peace.

And, now, but one word more. You may wonder, perhaps, that I have spoken all this night in praise of war. Yet, truly, if it might be, I, for one, would fain join in the cadence of hammer-strokes that should beat swords into ploughshares: and that this cannot be, is not the fault of us men. It is your fault. Wholly yours. Only by your command, or by your permission, can any contest take place among us. And the real, final, reason for all the poverty, misery, and rage of battle, throughout Europe, is simply that you women, however good, however religious, however self-sacrificing for those whom you love, are too selfish and too thoughtless to take pains for any creature out of your own immediate circles. You fancy that you are sorry for the pain of others. Now I just tell you this, that if the usual course of war, instead of unroofing peasants' houses, and ravaging peasants' fields, merely broke the china upon your own drawing-room tables, no war in civilised countries would last a week. I tell you more, that at whatever moment you chose to put a period to war, you could do it with less trouble than you take any day to go out to dinner. You know, or at least you might know if you would think, that every battle you hear of has made many widows and orphans. We have, none of us, heart enough truly to mourn with these. But at least we might put on the outer symbols of mourning with them. Let but every Christian lady who has conscience toward God, vow that she will mourn, at least outwardly, for His killed creatures. Your praying is useless, and your churchgoing mere mockery of God, if you have not plain obedience in you enough for this. Let every lady in the upper classes of civilised Europe simply vow that, while any cruel war proceeds, she will wear black;—a mute's black,—with no jewel, no ornament, no excuse for, or evasion into, prettiness.—I tell you again, no war would last a week.

And lastly. You women of England are all now shrieking with one voice,—you and your clergymen together,—because[Pg 94] you hear of your Bibles being attacked. If you choose to obey your Bibles, you will never care who attacks them. It is just because you never fulfil a single downright precept of the Book, that you are so careful for its credit: and just because you don't care to obey its whole words, that you are so particular about the letters of them. The Bible tells you to dress plainly,—and you are mad for finery; the Bible tells you to have pity on the poor,—and you crush them under your carriage-wheels; the Bible tells you to do judgment and justice,—and you do not know, nor care to know, so much as what the Bible word 'justice means.' Do but learn so much of God's truth as that comes to; know what He means when He tells you to be just: and teach your sons, that their bravery is but a fool's boast, and their deeds but a firebrand's tossing, unless they are indeed Just men, and Perfect in the Fear of God;—and you will soon have no more war, unless it be indeed such as is willed by Him, of whom, though Prince of Peace, it is also written, 'In Righteousness He doth judge, and make war.'


[6] I do not care to refer to the journal quoted, because the article was unworthy of its general tone, though in order to enable the audience to verify the quoted sentence, I left the number containing it on the table, when I delivered this lecture. But a saying of Baron Liebig's, quoted at the head of a leader on the same subject in the 'Daily Telegraph' of January 11, 1866, summarily digests and presents the maximum folly of modern thought in this respect. 'Civilization,' says the Baron, 'is the economy of power, and English power is coal.' Not altogether so, my chemical friend. Civilization is the making of civil persons, which is a kind of distillation of which alembics are incapable, and does not at all imply the turning of a small company of gentlemen into a large company of ironmongers. And English power (what little of it may be left), is by no means coal, but, indeed, of that which, 'when the whole world turns to coal, then chiefly lives.'

[Pg 95]



[Pg 97]

The following pages contain, I believe, the first accurate analysis of the laws of Political Economy which has been published in England. Many treatises, within their scope, correct, have appeared in contradiction of the views popularly received; but no exhaustive examination of the subject was possible to any person unacquainted with the value of the products of the highest industries, commonly called the "Fine Arts;" and no one acquainted with the nature of those industries has, so far as I know, attempted, or even approached, the task.

So that, to the date (1863) when these Essays were published, not only the chief conditions of the production of wealth had remained unstated, but the nature of wealth itself had never been defined. "Every one has a notion, sufficiently correct for common purposes, of what is meant by wealth," wrote Mr. Mill, in the outset of his treatise; and contentedly proceeded, as if a chemist should proceed to investigate the laws of chemistry without endeavouring to ascertain the nature of fire or water, because every one had a notion of them, "sufficiently correct for common purposes."

But even that apparently indisputable statement was untrue. There is not one person in ten thousand who has a notion sufficiently correct, even for the commonest purposes, of "what is meant" by wealth; still less of what wealth everlastingly is, whether we mean it or not; which it is the business of every student of economy to ascertain. We, indeed, know (either by experience or in imagination) what it is to be able to provide ourselves with luxurious food, and handsome clothes; and if Mr. Mill had thought that wealth consisted[Pg 98] only in these, or in the means of obtaining these, it would have been easy for him to have so defined it with perfect scientific accuracy. But he knew better: he knew that some kinds of wealth consisted in the possession, or power of obtaining, other things than these; but, having, in the studies of his life, no clue to the principles of essential value, he was compelled to take public opinion as the ground of his science; and the public, of course, willingly accepted the notion of a science founded on their opinions.

I had, on the contrary, a singular advantage, not only in the greater extent of the field of investigation opened to me by my daily pursuits, but in the severity of some lessons I accidentally received in the course of them.

When, in the winter of 1851, I was collecting materials for my work on Venetian architecture, three of the pictures of Tintoret on the roof of the School of St. Roch were hanging down in ragged fragments, mixed with lath and plaster, round the apertures made by the fall of three Austrian heavy shot. The city of Venice was not, it appeared, rich enough to repair the damage that winter; and buckets were set on the floor of the upper room of the school to catch the rain, which not only fell directly through the shot holes, but found its way, owing to the generally pervious state of the roof, through many of the canvases of Tintoret's in other parts of the ceiling.

It was a lesson to me, as I have just said, no less direct than severe; for I knew already at that time (though I have not ventured to assert, until recently at Oxford,) that the pictures of Tintoret in Venice were accurately the most precious articles of wealth in Europe, being the best existing productions of human industry. Now at the time that three of them were thus fluttering in moist rags from the roof they had adorned, the shops of the Rue Rivoli at Paris were, in obedience to a steadily-increasing public Demand, beginning to show a steadily-increasing Supply of elaborately-finished and coloured lithographs, representing the modern dances of delight, among which the cancan has since taken a distinguished place.[Pg 99]

The labour employed on the stone of one of these lithographs is very much more than Tintoret was in the habit of giving to a picture of average size. Considering labour as the origin of value, therefore, the stone so highly wrought would be of greater value than the picture; and since also it is capable of producing a large number of immediately saleable or exchangeable impressions, for which the "demand" is constant, the city of Paris naturally supposed itself, and on all hitherto believed or stated principles of political economy, was, infinitely richer in the possession of a large number of these lithographic stones, (not to speak of countless oil pictures and marble carvings of similar character), than Venice in the possession of those rags of mildewed canvas, flaunting in the south wind and its salt rain. And, accordingly, Paris provided (without thought of the expense) lofty arcades of shops, and rich recesses of innumerable private apartments, for the protection of these better treasures of hers from the weather.

Yet, all the while, Paris was not the richer for these possessions. Intrinsically, the delightful lithographs were not wealth, but polar contraries of wealth. She was, by the exact quantity of labour she had given to produce these, sunk below, instead of above, absolute Poverty. They not only were false Riches—they were true Debt, which had to be paid at last—and the present aspect of the Rue Rivoli shows in what manner.

And the faded stains of the Venetian ceiling, all the while, were absolute and inestimable wealth. Useless to their possessors as forgotten treasure in a buried city, they had in them, nevertheless, the intrinsic and eternal nature of wealth; and Venice, still possessing the ruins of them, was a rich city; only, the Venetians had not a notion sufficiently correct even for the very common purpose of inducing them to put slates on a roof, of what was "meant by wealth."

The vulgar economist would reply that his science had nothing to do with the qualities of pictures, but with their exchange-value only; and that his business was, exclusively, to consider whether the remains of Tintoret were worth as[Pg 100] many ten-and-sixpences as the impressions which might be taken from the lithographic stones.

But he would not venture, without reserve, to make such an answer, if the example be taken in horses, instead of pictures. The most dull economist would perceive, and admit, that a gentleman who had a fine stud of horses was absolutely richer than one who had only ill-bred and broken-winded ones. He would instinctively feel, though his pseudo-science had never taught him, that the price paid for the animals, in either case, did not alter the fact of their worth: that the good horse, though it might have been bought by chance for a few guineas, was not therefore less valuable, nor the owner of the galled jade any the richer, because he had given a hundred for it.

So that the economist, in saying that his science takes no account of the qualities of pictures, merely signifies that he cannot conceive of any quality of essential badness or goodness existing in pictures; and that he is incapable of investigating the laws of wealth in such articles. Which is the fact. But, being incapable of defining intrinsic value in pictures, it follows that he must be equally helpless to define the nature of intrinsic value in painted glass, or in painted pottery, or in patterned stuffs, or in any other national produce requiring true human ingenuity. Nay, though capable of conceiving the idea of intrinsic value with respect to beasts of burden, no economist has endeavoured to state the general principles of National Economy, even with regard to the horse or the ass. And, in fine, the modern political economists have been, without exception, incapable of apprehending the nature of intrinsic value at all.

And the first specialty of the following treatise consists in its giving at the outset, and maintaining as the foundation of all subsequent reasoning, a definition of Intrinsic Value, and Intrinsic Contrary-of-Value; the negative power having been left by former writers entirely out of account, and the positive power left entirely undefined.

But, secondly: the modern economist, ignoring intrinsic value, and accepting the popular estimate of things as the[Pg 101] only ground of his science, has imagined himself to have ascertained the constant laws regulating the relation of this popular demand to its supply; or, at least, to have proved that demand and supply were connected by heavenly balance, over which human foresight had no power. I chanced, by singular coincidence, lately to see this theory of the law of demand and supply brought to as sharp practical issue in another great siege, as I had seen the theories of intrinsic value brought, in the siege of Venice.

I had the honour of being on the committee under the presidentship of the Lord Mayor of London, for the victualling of Paris after her surrender. It became, at one period of our sittings, a question of vital importance at what moment the law of demand and supply would come into operation, and what the operation of it would exactly be: the demand, on this occasion, being very urgent indeed; that of several millions of people within a few hours of utter starvation, for any kind of food whatsoever. Nevertheless, it was admitted, in the course of debate, to be probable that the divine principle of demand and supply might find itself at the eleventh hour, and some minutes over, in want of carts and horses; and we ventured so far to interfere with the divine principle as to provide carts and horses, with haste which proved, happily, in time for the need; but not a moment in advance of it. It was farther recognized by the committee that the divine principle of demand and supply would commence its operations by charging the poor of Paris twelve-pence for a penny's worth of whatever they wanted; and would end its operations by offering them twelve-pence worth for a penny, of whatever they didn't want. Whereupon it was concluded by the committee that the tiny knot, on this special occasion, was scarcely "dignus vindice," by the divine principle of demand and supply: and that we would venture, for once, in a profane manner, to provide for the poor of Paris what they wanted, when they wanted it. Which, to the value of the sums entrusted to us, it will be remembered we succeeded in doing.

But the fact is that the so-called "law," which was felt to be false in this case of extreme exigence, is alike false in cases[Pg 102] of less exigence. It is false always, and everywhere. Nay to such an extent is its existence imaginary, that the vulgar economists are not even agreed in their account of it; for some of them mean by it, only that prices are regulated by the relation between demand and supply, which is partly true; and others mean that the relation itself is one with the process of which it is unwise to interfere; a statement which is not only, as in the above instance, untrue; but accurately the reverse of the truth: for all wise economy, political or domestic, consists in the resolved maintenance of a given relation between supply and demand, other than the instinctive, or (directly) natural, one.

Similarly, vulgar political economy asserts for a "law" that wages are determined by competition.

Now I pay my servants exactly what wages I think necessary to make them comfortable. The sum is not determined at all by competition; but sometimes by my notions of their comfort and deserving, and sometimes by theirs. If I were to become penniless to-morrow, several of them would certainly still serve me for nothing.

In both the real and supposed cases the so-called "law" of vulgar political economy is absolutely set at defiance. But I cannot set the law of gravitation at defiance, nor determine that in my house I will not allow ice to melt, when the temperature is above thirty-two degrees. A true law outside of my house, will remain a true one inside of it. It is not, therefore, a law of Nature that wages are determined by competition. Still less is it a law of State, or we should not now be disputing about it publicly, to the loss of many millions of pounds to the country. The fact which vulgar economists have been weak enough to imagine a law, is only that, for the last twenty years a number of very senseless persons have attempted to determine wages in that manner; and have, in a measure, succeeded in occasionally doing so.

Both in definition of the elements of wealth, and in statement of the laws which govern its distribution, modern political economy has been thus absolutely incompetent, or absolutely false. And the following treatise is not, as it has been[Pg 103] asserted with dull pertinacity, an endeavour to put sentiment in the place of science; but it contains the exposure of what insolently pretended to be a science; and the definition, hitherto unassailed—and I do not fear to assert, unassailable—of the material elements with which political economy has to deal, and the moral principles in which it consists; being not itself a science, but "a system of conduct founded on the sciences, and impossible, except under certain conditions of moral culture." Which is only to say, that industry, frugality, and discretion, the three foundations of economy, are moral qualities, and cannot be attained without moral discipline: a flat truism, the reader may think, thus stated, yet a truism which is denied both vociferously, and in all endeavour, by the entire populace of Europe; who are at present hopeful of obtaining wealth by tricks of trade, without industry; who, possessing wealth, have lost in the use of it even the conception,—how much more the habit?—of frugality; and who, in the choice of the elements of wealth, cannot so much as lose—since they have never hitherto at any time possessed,—the faculty of discretion.

Now if the teachers of the pseudo-science of economy had ventured to state distinctly even the poor conclusions they had reached on the subjects respecting which it is most dangerous for a populace to be indiscreet, they would have soon found, by the use made of them, which were true, and which false.

But on main and vital questions, no political economist has hitherto ventured to state one guiding principle. I will instance three subjects of universal importance. National Dress. National Rent. National Debt.

Now if we are to look in any quarter for a systematic and exhaustive statement of the principles of a given science, it must certainly be from its Professor at Cambridge.

Take the last edition of Professor Fawcett's Manual of Political Economy, and forming, first clearly in your mind these three following questions, see if you can find an answer to them.

I. Does expenditure of capital on the production of luxurious[Pg 104] dress and furniture tend to make a nation rich or poor?

II. Does the payment, by the nation, of a tax on its land, or on the produce of it, to a certain number of private persons, to be expended by them as they please, tend to make the nation rich or poor?

III. Does the payment, by the nation, for an indefinite period, of interest on money borrowed from private persons, tend to make the nation rich or poor?

These three questions are, all of them, perfectly simple, and primarily vital. Determine these, and you have at once a basis for national conduct in all important particulars. Leave them undetermined, and there is no limit to the distress which may be brought upon the people by the cunning of its knaves, and the folly of its multitudes.

I will take the three in their order.

I. Dress. The general impression on the public mind at this day is, that the luxury of the rich in dress and furniture is a benefit to the poor. Probably not even the blindest of our political economists would venture to assert this in so many words. But where do they assert the contrary? During the entire period of the reign of the late Emperor it was assumed in France, as the first principle of fiscal government, that a large portion of the funds received as rent from the provincial labourer should be expended in the manufacture of ladies' dresses in Paris. Where is the political economist in France, or England, who ventured to assert the conclusions of his science as adverse to this system? As early as the year 1857 I had done my best to show the nature of the error, and to give warning of its danger;[7] but not one of the men who had the foolish ears of the people intent on their words, dared to follow me in speaking what would have been an offence to the powers of trade; and the powers of trade in Paris had their full way for fourteen years more,—with this result, to-day,—as told us in precise and curt terms by the Minister of Public Instruction,—[8][Pg 105]

"We have replaced glory by gold, work by speculation, faith and honour by scepticism. To absolve or glorify immorality; to make much of loose women; to gratify our eyes with luxury, our ears with the tales of orgies; to aid in the manœuvres of public robbers, or to applaud them; to laugh at morality, and only believe in success; to love nothing but pleasure, adore nothing but force; to replace work with a fecundity of fancies; to speak without thinking; to prefer noise to glory; to erect sneering into a system, and lying into an institution—is this the spectacle that we have seen?—is this the society that we have been?"

Of course, other causes, besides the desire of luxury in furniture and dress, have been at work to produce such consequences; but the most active cause of all has been the passion for these; passion unrebuked by the clergy, and, for the most part, provoked by economists, as advantageous to commerce; nor need we think that such results have been arrived at in France only; we are ourselves following rapidly on the same road. France, in her old wars with us, never was so fatally our enemy as she has been in the fellowship of fashion, and the freedom of trade: nor, to my mind, is any fact recorded of Assyrian or Roman luxury more ominous, or ghastly, than one which came to my knowledge a few weeks ago, in England; a respectable and well-to-do father and mother, in a quiet north country town, being turned into the streets in their old age, at the suit of their only daughter's milliner.

II. Rent. The following account of the real nature of rent is given, quite accurately, by Professor Fawcett, at page 112 of the last edition of his Political Economy:—

"Every country has probably been subjugated, and grants of vanquished territory were the ordinary rewards which the conquering chief bestowed upon his more distinguished followers. Lands obtained by force had to be defended by force; and before law had asserted her supremacy, and property was made secure, no baron was able to retain his possessions, unless those who lived on his estates were prepared to[Pg 106] defend them....[9] As property became secure, and landlords felt that the power of the State would protect them in all the rights of property, every vestige of these feudal tenures was abolished, and the relation between landlord and tenant has thus become purely commercial. A landlord offers his land to any one who is willing to take it; he is anxious to receive the highest rent he can obtain. What are the principles which regulate the rent which may thus be paid?"

These principles the Professor goes on contentedly to investigate, never appearing to contemplate for an instant the possibility of the first principle in the whole business—the maintenance, by force, of the possession of land obtained by force, being ever called in question by any human mind. It is, nevertheless, the nearest task of our day to discover how far original theft may be justly encountered by reactionary theft, or whether reactionary theft be indeed theft at all; and farther, what, excluding either original or corrective theft, are the just conditions of the possession of land.

III. Debt. Long since, when, a mere boy, I used to sit silently listening to the conversation of the London merchants who, all of them good and sound men of business, were wont occasionally to meet round my father's dining-table; nothing used to surprise me more than the conviction openly expressed by some of the soundest and most cautious of them, that "if there were no National debt they would not know what to do with their money, or where to place it safely." At the 399th page of his Manual, you will find Professor Fawcett giving exactly the same statement.

"In our own country, this certainty against risk of loss is provided by the public funds;"

and again, as on the question of rent, the Professor proceeds, without appearing for an instant to be troubled by any misgiving that there may be an essential difference between the effects on national prosperity of a Government paying interest[Pg 107] on money which it spent in fire works fifty years ago, and of a Government paying interest on money to be employed to-day on productive labour.

That difference, which the reader will find stated and examined at length, in §§ 127-129 of this volume, it is the business of economists, before approaching any other question relating to government, fully to explain. And the paragraphs to which I refer, contain, I believe, the only definite statement of it hitherto made.

The practical result of the absence of any such statement is, that capitalists, when they do not know what to do with their money, persuade the peasants, in various countries, that the said peasants want guns to shoot each other with. The peasants accordingly borrow guns, out of the manufacture of which the capitalists get a per-centage, and men of science much amusement and credit. Then the peasants shoot a certain number of each other, until they get tired; and burn each other's homes down in various places. Then they put the guns back into towers, arsenals, &c., in ornamental patterns; (and the victorious party put also some ragged flags in churches). And then the capitalists tax both, annually, ever afterwards, to pay interest on the loan of the guns and gunpowder. And that is what capitalists call "knowing what to do with their money;" and what commercial men in general call "practical" as opposed to "sentimental" Political Economy.

Eleven years ago, in the summer of 1860, perceiving then fully, (as Carlyle had done long before), what distress was about to come on the said populace of Europe through these errors of their teachers, I began to do the best I might, to combat them, in the series of papers for the Cornhill Magazine, since published under the title of Unto this Last. The editor of the Magazine was my friend, and ventured the insertion of the three first essays; but the outcry against them became then too strong for any editor to endure, and he wrote to me, with great discomfort to himself, and many apologies to me, that the Magazine must only admit one Economical Essay more.[Pg 108]

I made, with his permission, the last one longer than the rest, and gave it blunt conclusion as well as I could—and so the book now stands; but, as I had taken not a little pains with the Essays, and knew that they contained better work than most of my former writings, and more important truths than all of them put together, this violent reprobation of them by the Cornhill public set me still more gravely thinking; and, after turning the matter hither and thither in my mind for two years more, I resolved to make it the central work of my life to write an exhaustive treatise on Political Economy. It would not have been begun, at that time, however, had not the editor of Fraser's Magazine written to me, saying that he believed there was something in my theories, and would risk the admission of what I chose to write on this dangerous subject; whereupon, cautiously, and at intervals, during the winter of 1862-63, I sent him, and he ventured to print, the preface of the intended work, divided into four chapters. Then, though the Editor had not wholly lost courage, the Publisher indignantly interfered; and the readers of Fraser, as those of the , were protected, for that time, from farther disturbance on my part. Subsequently, loss of health, family distress, and various untoward chances, prevented my proceeding with the body of the book;—seven years have passed ineffectually; and I am now fain to reprint the Preface by itself, under the title which I intended for the whole.

Not discontentedly; being, at this time of life, resigned to the sense of failure; and also, because the preface is complete in itself as a body of definitions, which I now require for reference in the course of my Letters to Workmen; by which also, in time, I trust less formally to accomplish the chief purpose of Munera Pulveris, practically summed in the two paragraphs 27 and 28: namely, to examine the moral results and possible rectifications of the laws of distribution of wealth, which have prevailed hitherto without debate among men. Laws which ordinary economists assume to be inviolable, and which ordinary socialists imagine to be on the eve of total abrogation. But they are both alike deceived.[Pg 109] The laws which at present regulate the possession of wealth are unjust, because the motives which provoke to its attainment are impure; but no socialism can effect their abrogation, unless it can abrogate also covetousness and pride, which it is by no means yet in the way of doing. Nor can the change be, in any case, to the extent that has been imagined. Extremes of luxury may be forbidden, and agony of penury relieved; but nature intends, and the utmost efforts of socialism will not hinder the fulfilment of her intention, that a provident person shall always be richer than a spendthrift; and an ingenious one more comfortable than a fool. But, indeed, the adjustment of the possession of the products of industry depends more on their nature than their quantity, and on wise determination therefore of the aims of industry.

A nation which desires true wealth, desires it moderately, and can therefore distribute it with kindness, and possess it with pleasure; but one which desires false wealth, desires it immoderately, and can neither dispense it with justice, nor enjoy it in peace.

Therefore, needing, constantly in my present work, to refer to the definitions of true and false wealth given in the following Essays, I republish them with careful revisal. They were written abroad; partly at Milan, partly during a winter residence on the south-eastern slope of the Mont Saléve, near Geneva; and sent to London in as legible MS. as I could write; but I never revised the press sheets, and have been obliged, accordingly, now to amend the text here and there, or correct it in unimportant particulars. Wherever any modification has involved change in the sense, it is enclosed in square brackets; and what few explanatory comments I have felt it necessary to add, have been indicated in the same manner. No explanatory comments, I regret to perceive, will suffice to remedy the mischief of my affected concentration of language, into the habit of which I fell by thinking too long over particular passages, in many and many a solitary walk towards the mountains of Bonneville or Annecy. But I never intended the book for anything else than a dictionary of reference, and that for earnest readers; who will, I have good[Pg 110] hope, if they find what they want in it, forgive the affectedly curt expressions.

The Essays, as originally published, were, as I have just stated, four in number. I have now, more conveniently, divided the whole into six chapters; and (as I purpose throughout this edition of my works) numbered the paragraphs.

I inscribed the first volume of this series to the friend who aided me in chief sorrow. Let me inscribe the second to the friend and guide who has urged me to all chief labour, Thomas Carlyle.

I would that some better means were in my power of showing reverence to the man who alone, of all our masters of literature, has written, without thought of himself, what he knew it to be needful for the people of his time to hear, if the will to hear were in them: whom, therefore, as the time draws near when his task must be ended, Republican and Free-thoughted England assaults with impatient reproach; and out of the abyss of her cowardice in policy and dishonour in trade, sets the hacks of her literature to speak evil, grateful to her ears, of the Solitary Teacher who has asked her to be brave for the help of Man, and just, for the love of God.

Denmark Hill,
25th November, 1871.


[7] Political Economy of Art. (Smith and Elder, 1857, pp. 65-76.)

[8] See report of speech of M. Jules Simon, in Pall Mall Gazette of October 27, 1871.

[9] The omitted sentences merely amplify the statement; they in no wise modify it.

[Pg 111]


"Te maris et terræ numeroque carentis arenæ
Mensorem cohibent, Archyta,
Pulveris exigui prope litus parva Matinum



1. As domestic economy regulates the acts and habits of a household, Political economy regulates those of a society or State, with reference to the means of its maintenance.

Political economy is neither an art nor a science; but a system of conduct and legislature, founded on the sciences, directing the arts, and impossible, except under certain conditions of moral culture.

2. The study which lately in England has been called Political Economy is in reality nothing more than the investigation of some accidental phenomena of modern commercial operations, nor has it been true in its investigation even of these. It has no connection whatever with political economy, as understood and treated of by the great thinkers of past ages; and as long as its unscholarly and undefined statements are allowed to pass under the same name, every word written on the subject by those thinkers—and chiefly the words of Plato, Xenophon, Cicero and Bacon—must be nearly useless to mankind. The reader must not, therefore, be surprised at the care and insistance with which I have retained the literal and earliest sense of all important terms used in these papers;[Pg 112] for a word is usually well made at the time it is first wanted; its youngest meaning has in it the full strength of its youth: subsequent senses are commonly warped or weakened; and as all careful thinkers are sure to have used their words accurately, the first condition, in order to be able to avail our selves of their sayings at all, is firm definition of terms.

3. By the "maintenance" of a State is to be understood the support of its population in healthy and happy life; and the increase of their numbers, so far as that increase is consistent with their happiness. It is not the object of political economy to increase the numbers of a nation at the cost of common health or comfort; nor to increase indefinitely the comfort of individuals, by sacrifice of surrounding lives, or possibilities of life.

4. The assumption which lies at the root of nearly all erroneous reasoning on political economy,—namely, that its object is to accumulate money or exchangeable property,—may be shown in a few words to be without foundation. For no economist would admit national economy to be legitimate which proposed to itself only the building of a pyramid of gold. He would declare the gold to be wasted, were it to remain in the monumental form, and would say it ought to be employed. But to what end? Either it must be used only to gain more gold, and build a larger pyramid, or for some purpose other than the gaining of gold. And this other purpose, however at first apprehended, will be found to resolve itself finally into the service of man;—that is to say, the extension, defence, or comfort of his life. The golden pyramid may perhaps be providently built, perhaps improvidently; but the wisdom or folly of the accumulation can only be determined by our having first clearly stated the aim of all economy, namely, the extension of life.

If the accumulation of money, or of exchangeable property, were a certain means of extending existence, it would be useless, in discussing economical questions, to fix our attention upon the more distant object—life—instead of the immediate one—money. But it is not so. Money may sometimes be accumulated at the cost of life, or by limitations of it; that is[Pg 113] to say, either by hastening the deaths of men, or preventing their births. It is therefore necessary to keep clearly in view the ultimate object of economy; and to determine the expediency of minor operations with reference to that ulterior end.

5. It has been just stated that the object of political economy is the continuance not only of life, but of healthy and happy life. But all true happiness is both a consequence and cause of life: it is a sign of its vigor, and source of its continuance. All true suffering is in like manner a consequence and cause of death. I shall therefore, in future, use the word "Life" singly: but let it be understood to include in its signification the happiness and power of the entire human nature, body and soul.

6. That human nature, as its Creator made it, and maintains it wherever His laws are observed, is entirely harmonious. No physical error can be more profound, no moral error more dangerous, than that involved in the monkish doctrine of the opposition of body to soul. No soul can be perfect in an imperfect body: no body perfect without perfect soul. Every right action and true thought sets the seal of its beauty on person and face; every wrong action and foul thought its seal of distortion; and the various aspects of humanity might be read as plainly as a printed history, were it not that the impressions are so complex that it must always in some cases (and, in the present state of our knowledge, in all cases) be impossible to decipher them completely. Nevertheless, the face of a consistently just, and of a consistently unjust person, may always be rightly distinguished at a glance; and if the qualities are continued by descent through a generation or two, there arises a complete distinction of race. Both moral and physical qualities are communicated by descent, far more than they can be developed by education; (though both may be destroyed by want of education), and there is as yet no ascertained limit to the nobleness of person and mind which the human creature may attain, by persevering observance of the laws of God respecting its birth and training.

7. We must therefore yet farther define the aim of political economy to be "The multiplication of human life at the highest[Pg 114] standard." It might at first seem questionable whether we should endeavour to maintain a small number of persons of the highest type of beauty and intelligence, or a larger number of an inferior class. But I shall be able to show in the sequel, that the way to maintain the largest number is first to aim at the highest standard. Determine the noblest type of man, and aim simply at maintaining the largest possible number of persons of that class, and it will be found that the largest possible number of every healthy subordinate class must necessarily be produced also.

8. The perfect type of manhood, as just stated, involves the perfections (whatever we may hereafter determine these to be) of his body, affections, and intelligence. The material things, therefore, which it is the object of political economy to produce and use, (or accumulate for use,) are things which serve either to sustain and comfort the body, or exercise rightly the affections and form the intelligence.[10] Whatever truly serves either of these purposes is "useful" to man, wholesome, healthful, helpful, or holy. By seeking such things, man prolongs and increases his life upon the earth.

On the other hand, whatever does not serve either of these purposes,—much more whatever counteracts them,—is in like manner useless to man, unwholesome, unhelpful, or unholy; and by seeking such things man shortens and diminishes his life upon the earth.

9. And neither with respect to things useful or useless can man's estimate of them alter their nature. Certain substances being good for his food, and others noxious to him, what he thinks or wishes respecting them can neither change, nor prevent, their power. If he eats corn, he will live; if nightshade, he will die. If he produce or make good and beautiful things, they will Re-Create him; (note the solemnity and weight of the word); if bad and ugly things, they will "corrupt" or "break in pieces"—that is, in the exact degree of their power, Kill him. For every hour of labour, however enthusiastic or well intended, which he spends for that which is not bread, so much possibility of life is lost to him. His[Pg 115] fancies, likings, beliefs, however brilliant, eager, or obstinate, are of no avail if they are set on a false object. Of all that he has laboured for, the eternal law of heaven and earth measures out to him for reward, to the utmost atom, that part which he ought to have laboured for, and withdraws from him (or enforces on him, it may be) inexorably, that part which he ought not to have laboured for until, on his summer threshing-floor, stands his heap of corn; little or much, not according to his labour, but to his discretion. No "commercial arrangements," no painting of surfaces, nor alloying of substances, will avail him a pennyweight. Nature asks of him calmly and inevitably, What have you found, or formed—the right thing or the wrong? By the right thing you shall live; by the wrong you shall die.

10. To thoughtless persons it seems otherwise. The world looks to them as if they could cozen it out of some ways and means of life. But they cannot cozen it: they can only cozen their neighbours. The world is not to be cheated of a grain; not so much as a breath of its air can be drawn surreptitiously. For every piece of wise work done, so much life is granted; for every piece of foolish work, nothing; for every piece of wicked work, so much death is allotted. This is as sure as the courses of day and night. But when the means of life are once produced, men, by their various struggles and industries of accumulation or exchange, may variously gather, waste, restrain, or distribute them; necessitating, in proportion to the waste or restraint, accurately, so much more death. The rate and range of additional death are measured by the rate and range of waste; and are inevitable;—the only question (determined mostly by fraud in peace, and force in war) is, Who is to die, and how?

11. Such being the everlasting law of human existence, the essential work of the political economist is to determine what are in reality useful or life-giving things, and by what degrees and kinds of labour they are attainable and distributable. This investigation divides itself under three great heads;—the studies, namely, of the phenomena, first, of Wealth; secondly, of Money; and thirdly, of Riches.[Pg 116]

These terms are often used as synonymous, but they signify entirely different things. "Wealth" consists of things in themselves valuable; "Money," of documentary claims to the possession of such things; and "Riches" is a relative term, expressing the magnitude of the possessions of one person or society as compared with those of other persons or societies.

The study of Wealth is a province of natural science:—it deals with the essential properties of things.

The study of Money is a province of commercial science:—it deals with conditions of engagement and exchange.

The study of Riches is a province of moral science:—it deals with the due relations of men to each other in regard of material possessions; and with the just laws of their association for purposes of labour.

I shall in this first chapter shortly sketch out the range of subjects which will come before us as we follow these three branches of inquiry.

12. And first of Wealth, which, it has been said, consists of things essentially valuable. We now, therefore, need a definition of "value."

"Value" signifies the strength, or "availing" of anything towards the sustaining of life, and is always twofold; that is to say, primarily, intrinsic, and secondarily, effectual.

The reader must, by anticipation, be warned against confusing value with cost, or with price. Value is the life-giving power of anything; cost, the quantity of labour required to produce it; price, the quantity of labour which its possessor will take in exchange for it.[11] Cost and price are commercial conditions, to be studied under the head of money.

13. Intrinsic value is the absolute power of anything to support life. A sheaf of wheat of given quality and weight has in it a measurable power of sustaining the substance of the body; a cubic foot of pure air, a fixed power of sustaining its warmth; and a cluster of flowers of given beauty a fixed power of enlivening or animating the senses and heart.[Pg 117]

It does not in the least affect the intrinsic value of the wheat, the air, or the flowers, that men refuse or despise them. Used or not, their own power is in them, and that particular power is in nothing else.

14. But in order that this value of theirs may become effectual, a certain state is necessary in the recipient of it. The digesting, breathing, and perceiving functions must be perfect in the human creature before the food, air, or flowers can become of their full value to it. The production of effectual value, therefore, always involves two needs: first, the production of a thing essentially useful; then the production of the capacity to use it. Where the intrinsic value and acceptant capacity come together there is Effectual value, or wealth; where there is either no intrinsic value, or no acceptant capacity, there is no effectual value; that is to say, no wealth. A horse is no wealth to us if we cannot ride, nor a picture if we cannot see, nor can any noble thing be wealth, except to a noble person. As the aptness of the user increases, the effectual value of the thing used increases; and in its entirety can co-exist only with perfect skill of use, and fitness of nature.

15. Valuable material things may be conveniently referred to five heads:

(i.) Land, with its associated air, water, and organisms.

(ii.) Houses, furniture, and instruments.

(iii.) Stored or prepared food, medicine, and articles of bodily luxury, including clothing.

(iv.) Books.

(v.) Works of art.

The conditions of value in these things are briefly as follows:—

16. (i.) Land. Its value is twofold; first, as producing food and mechanical power; secondly, as an object of sight and thought, producing intellectual power.

Its value, as a means of producing food and mechanical power, varies with its form (as mountain or plain), with its substance (in soil or mineral contents), and with its climate. All these conditions of intrinsic value must be known and complied with by the men who have to deal with it, in order to[Pg 118] give effectual value; but at any given time and place, the intrinsic value is fixed: such and such a piece of land, with its associated lakes and seas, rightly treated in surface and substance, can produce precisely so much food and power, and no more.

The second element of value in land being its beauty, united with such conditions of space and form as are necessary for exercise, and for fullness of animal life, land of the highest value in these respects will be that lying in temperate climates, and boldly varied in form; removed from unhealthy or dangerous influences (as of miasm or volcano); and capable of sustaining a rich fauna and flora. Such land, carefully tended by the hand of man, so far as to remove from it unsightlinesses and evidences of decay, guarded from violence, and inhabited, under man's affectionate protection, by every kind of living creature that can occupy it in peace, is the most precious "property" that human beings can possess.

17. (ii.) Buildings, furniture, and instruments.

The value of buildings consists, first, in permanent strength, with convenience of form, of size, and of position; so as to render employment peaceful, social intercourse easy, temperature and air healthy. The advisable or possible magnitude of cities and mode of their distribution in squares, streets, courts, &c.; the relative value of sites of land, and the modes of structure which are healthiest and most permanent, have to be studied under this head.

The value of buildings consists secondly in historical association, and architectural beauty, of which we have to examine the influence on manners and life.

The value of instruments consists, first, in their power of shortening labour, or otherwise accomplishing what human strength unaided could not. The kinds of work which are severally best accomplished by hand or by machine;—the effect of machinery in gathering and multiplying population, and its influence on the minds and bodies of such population; together with the conceivable uses of machinery on a colossal scale in accomplishing mighty and useful works, hitherto unthought[Pg 119] of, such as the deepening of large river channels;—changing the surface of mountainous districts;—irrigating tracts of desert in the torrid zone;—breaking up, and thus rendering capable of quicker fusion, edges of ice in the northern and southern Arctic seas, &c., so rendering parts of the earth habitable which hitherto have been lifeless, are to be studied under this head.

The value of instruments is, secondarily, in their aid to abstract sciences. The degree in which the multiplication of such instruments should be encouraged, so as to make them, if large, easy of access to numbers (as costly telescopes), or so cheap as that they might, in a serviceable form, become a common part of the furniture of households, is to be considered under this head.[12]

18. (iii.) Food, medicine, and articles of luxury. Under this head we shall have to examine the possible methods of obtaining pure food in such security and equality of supply as to avoid both waste and famine: then the economy of medicine and just range of sanitary law: finally the economy of luxury, partly an æsthetic and partly an ethical question.

19. (iv.) Books. The value of these consists,

First, in their power of preserving and communicating the knowledge of facts.

Secondly, in their power of exciting vital or noble emotion and intellectual action. They have also their corresponding negative powers of disguising and effacing the memory of facts, and killing the noble emotions, or exciting base ones. Under these two heads we have to consider the economical and educational value, positive and negative, of literature;—the means of producing and educating good authors, and the means and advisability of rendering good books generally accessible, and directing the reader's choice to them.

[Pg 120]

20. (v.) Works of art. The value of these is of the same nature as that of books; but the laws of their production and possible modes of distribution are very different, and require separate examination.

21. II.—Money. Under this head, we shall have to examine the laws of currency and exchange; of which I will note here the first principles.

Money has been inaccurately spoken of as merely a means of exchange. But it is far more than this. It is a documentary expression of legal claim. It is not wealth, but a documentary claim to wealth, being the sign of the relative quantities of it, or of the labour producing it, to which, at a given time, persons, or societies, are entitled.

If all the money in the world, notes and gold, were destroyed in an instant, it would leave the world neither richer nor poorer than it was. But it would leave the individual inhabitants of it in different relations.

Money is, therefore, correspondent in its nature to the title-deed of an estate. Though the deed be burned, the estate still exists, but the right to it has become disputable.

22. The real worth of money remains unchanged, as long as the proportion of the quantity of existing money to the quantity of existing wealth or available labour remains unchanged.

If the wealth increases, but not the money, the worth of the money increases; if the money increases, but not the wealth, the worth of the money diminishes.

23. Money, therefore, cannot be arbitrarily multiplied, any more than title-deeds can. So long as the existing wealth or available labour is not fully represented by the currency, the currency may be increased without diminution of the assigned worth of its pieces. But when the existing wealth, or available labour is once fully represented, every piece of money thrown into circulation diminishes the worth of every other existing piece, in the proportion it bears to the number of them, provided the new piece be received with equal credit;[Pg 121] if not, the depreciation of worth takes place, according to the degree of its credit.

24. When, however, new money, composed of some substance of supposed intrinsic value (as of gold), is brought into the market, or when new notes are issued which are supposed to be deserving of credit, the desire to obtain the money will, under certain circumstances, stimulate industry: an additional quantity of wealth is immediately produced, and if this be in proportion to the new claims advanced, the value of the existing currency is undepreciated. If the stimulus given be so great as to produce more goods than are proportioned to the additional coinage, the worth of the existing currency will be raised.

Arbitrary control and issues of currency affect the production of wealth, by acting on the hopes and fears of men, and are, under certain circumstances, wise. But the issue of additional currency to meet the exigencies of immediate expense, is merely one of the disguised forms of borrowing or taxing. It is, however, in the present low state of economical knowledge, often possible for governments to venture on an issue of currency, when they could not venture on an additional loan or tax, because the real operation of such issue is not understood by the people, and the pressure of it is irregularly distributed, and with an unperceived gradation.

25. The use of substances of intrinsic value as the materials of a currency, is a barbarism;—a remnant of the conditions of barter, which alone render commerce possible among savage nations. It is, however, still necessary, partly as a mechanical check on arbitrary issues; partly as a means of exchanges with foreign nations. In proportion to the extension of civilization, and increase of trustworthiness in Governments, it will cease. So long as it exists, the phenomena of the cost and price of the articles used for currency are mingled with those proper to currency itself, in an almost inextricable manner: and the market worth of bullion is affected by multitudinous accidental circumstances, which have been traced, with more or less success, by writers on commercial operations: but with these variations the true political economist has no more[Pg 122] to do than an engineer, fortifying a harbour of refuge against Atlantic tide, has to concern himself with the cries or quarrels of children who dig pools with their fingers for its streams among the sand.

26. III.—Riches. According to the various industry, capacity, good fortune, and desires of men, they obtain greater or smaller share of, and claim upon, the wealth of the world.

The inequalities between these shares, always in some degree just and necessary, may be either restrained by law or circumstance within certain limits; or may increase indefinitely.

Where no moral or legal restraint is put upon the exercise of the will and intellect of the stronger, shrewder, or more covetous men, these differences become ultimately enormous. But as soon as they become so distinct in their extremes as that, on one side, there shall be manifest redundance of possession, and on the other manifest pressure of need,—the terms "riches" and "poverty" are used to express the opposite states; being contrary only as the terms "warmth" and "cold" are contraries, of which neither implies an actual degree, but only a relation to other degrees, of temperature.

27. Respecting riches, the economist has to inquire, first, into the advisable modes of their collection; secondly, into the advisable modes of their administration.

Respecting the collection of national riches, he has to inquire, first, whether he is justified in calling the nation rich, if the quantity of wealth it possesses relatively to the wealth of other nations, be large; irrespectively of the manner of its distribution. Or does the mode of distribution in any wise affect the nature of the riches? Thus, if the king alone be rich—suppose Croesus or Mausolus—are the Lydians or Carians therefore a rich nation? Or if a few slave-masters are rich, and the nation is otherwise composed of slaves, is it to be called a rich nation? For if not, and the ideas of a certain mode of distribution or operation in the riches, and of a certain degree of freedom in the people, enter into our idea of riches as attributed to a people, we shall have to define the degree of fluency, or circulative character which is essential to[Pg 123] the nature of common wealth; and the degree of independence of action required in its possessors. Questions which look as if they would take time in answering.[13]

28. And farther. Since the inequality, which is the condition of riches, may be established in two opposite modes—namely, by increase of possession on the one side, and by decrease of it on the other—we have to inquire, with respect to any given state of riches, precisely in what manner the correlative poverty was produced: that is to say, whether by being surpassed only, or being depressed also; and if by being depressed, what are the advantages, or the contrary, conceivable in the depression. For instance, it being one of the commonest advantages of being rich to entertain a number of servants, we have to inquire, on the one side, what economical process produced the riches of the master; and on the other, what economical process produced the poverty of the persons who serve him; and what advantages each, on his own side, derives from the result.

29. These being the main questions touching the collection of riches, the next, or last, part of the inquiry is into their administration.

Their possession involves three great economical powers which require separate examination: namely, the powers of selection, direction, and provision.

The power of Selection relates to things of which the supply is limited (as the supply of best things is always). When it becomes matter of question to whom such things are to belong, the richest person has necessarily the first choice, unless some arbitrary mode of distribution be otherwise determined upon. The business of the economist is to show how this choice may be a wise one.

The power of Direction arises out of the necessary relation of rich men to poor, which ultimately, in one way or another,[Pg 124] involves the direction of, or authority over, the labour of the poor; and this nearly as much over their mental as their bodily labour. The business of the economist is to show how this direction may be a Just one.

The power of Provision is dependent upon the redundance of wealth, which may of course by active persons be made available in preparation for future work or future profit; in which function riches have generally received the name of capital; that is to say, of head-, or source-material. The business of the economist is to show how this provision may be a Distant one.

30. The examination of these three functions of riches will embrace every final problem of political economy;—and, above, or before all, this curious and vital problem,—whether, since the wholesome action of riches in these three functions will depend (it appears), on the Wisdom, Justice, and Farsightedness of the holders; and it is by no means to be assumed that persons primarily rich, must therefore be just and wise,—it may not be ultimately possible so, or somewhat so, to arrange matters, as that persons primarily just and wise, should therefore be rich?

Such being the general plan of the inquiry before us, I shall not limit myself to any consecutive following of it, having hardly any good hope of being able to complete so laborious a work as it must prove to me; but from time to time, as I have leisure, shall endeavour to carry forward this part or that, as may be immediately possible; indicating always with accuracy the place which the particular essay will or should take in the completed system.


[10] See Appendix I.

[11] Observe these definitions,—they are of much importance,—and connect with them the sentences in italics on this and the next page.

[12] [I cannot now recast these sentences, pedantic in their generalization, and intended more for index than statement, but I must guard the reader from thinking that I ever wish for cheapness by bad quality. A poor boy need not always learn mathematics; but, if you set him to do so, have the farther kindness to give him good compasses, not cheap ones, whose points bend like lead.]

[13] [I regret the ironical manner in which this passage, one of great importance in the matter of it, was written. The gist of it is, that the first of all inquiries respecting the wealth of any nation is not, how much it has; but whether it is in a form that can be used, and in the possession of persons who can use it.]

[Pg 125]



31. The first chapter having consisted of little more than definition of terms, I purpose, in this, to expand and illustrate the given definitions.

The view which has here been taken of the nature of wealth, namely, that it consists in an intrinsic value developed by a vital power, is directly opposed to two nearly universal conceptions of wealth. In the assertion that value is primarily intrinsic, it opposes the idea that anything which is an object of desire to numbers, and is limited in quantity, so as to have rated worth in exchange, may be called, or virtually become, wealth. And in the assertion that value is, secondarily, dependent upon power in the possessor, it opposes the idea that the worth of things depends on the demand for them, instead of on the use of them. Before going farther, we will make these two positions clearer.

32. I. First. All wealth is intrinsic, and is not constituted by the judgment of men. This is easily seen in the case of things affecting the body; we know, that no force of fantasy will make stones nourishing, or poison innocent; but it is less apparent in things affecting the mind. We are easily—perhaps willingly—misled by the appearance of beneficial results obtained by industries addressed wholly to the gratification of fanciful desire; and apt to suppose that whatever is widely coveted, dearly bought, and pleasurable in possession, must be included in our definition of wealth. It is the more difficult to quit ourselves of this error because many things which are true wealth in moderate use, become false wealth in immoderate; and many things are mixed of good and evil,—as mostly, books, and works of art,—out of which one person Will get the good, and another the evil; so that it seems as if[Pg 126] there were no fixed good or evil in the things themselves, but only in the view taken, and use made of them.

But that is not so. The evil and good are fixed; in essence, and in proportion. And in things in which evil depends upon excess, the point of excess, though indefinable, is fixed; and the power of the thing is on the hither side for good, and on the farther side for evil. And in all cases this power is inherent, not dependent on opinion or choice. Our thoughts of things neither make, nor mar their eternal force; nor—which is the most serious point for future consideration—can they prevent the effect of it (within certain limits) upon ourselves.

33. Therefore, the object of any special analysis of wealth will be not so much to enumerate what is serviceable, as to distinguish what is destructive; and to show that it is inevitably destructive; that to receive pleasure from an evil thing is not to escape from, or alter the evil of it, but to be altered by it; that is, to suffer from it to the utmost, having our own nature, in that degree, made evil also. And it may be shown farther, that, through whatever length of time or subtleties of connexion the harm is accomplished, (being also less or more according to the fineness and worth of the humanity on which it is wrought), still, nothing but harm ever comes of a bad thing.

34. So that, in sum, the term wealth is never to be attached to the accidental object of a morbid desire, but only to the constant object of a legitimate one.[14] By the fury of ignorance, and fitfulness of caprice, large interests may be continually attached to things unserviceable or hurtful; if their nature could be altered by our passions, the science of Political Economy would remain, what it has been hitherto among us, the weighing of clouds, and the portioning out of shadows. But of ignorance there is no science; and of caprice no law. Their disturbing forces interfere with the operations of faithful[Pg 127] Economy, but have nothing in common with them: she, the calm arbiter of national destiny, regards only essential power for good in all that she accumulates, and alike disdains the wanderings[15] of imagination, and the thirsts of disease.

35. II. Secondly. The assertion that wealth is not only intrinsic, but dependent, in order to become effectual, on a given degree of vital power in its possessor, is opposed to another popular view of wealth;—namely, that though it may always be constituted by caprice, it is, when so constituted, a substantial thing, of which given quantities may be counted as existing here, or there, and exchangeable at rated prices.

In this view there are three errors. The first and chief is the overlooking the fact that all exchangeableness of commodity, or effective demand for it, depends on the sum of capacity for its use existing, here or elsewhere. The book we cannot read, or picture we take no delight in, may indeed be called part of our wealth, in so far as we have power of exchanging either for something we like better. But our power of effecting such exchange, and yet more, of effecting it to advantage, depends absolutely on the number of accessible persons who can understand the book, or enjoy the painting, and who will dispute the possession of them. Thus the actual worth of either, even to us, depends no more on their essential goodness than on the capacity existing somewhere for the perception of it; and it is vain in any completed system of production to think of obtaining one without the other. So that, though the true political economist knows that co-existence of capacity for use with temporary possession cannot be always secured, the final fact, on which he bases all action and administration, is that, in the whole nation, or group of nations, he has to deal with, for every atom of intrinsic value produced he must with exactest chemistry produce its twin atom of acceptant digestion, or understanding capacity; or, in the degree of his failure, he has no wealth. Nature's challenge to us is, in earnest, as the Assyrians mock; "I will give thee two thousand horses, if thou be able on thy part to set riders[Pg 128] upon them." Bavieca's paces are brave, if the Cid backs him; but woe to us, if we take the dust of capacity, wearing the armour of it, for capacity itself, for so all procession, however goodly in the show of it, is to the tomb.

36. The second error in this popular view of wealth is, that in giving the name of wealth to things which we cannot use, we in reality confuse wealth with money. The land we have no skill to cultivate, the book which is sealed to us, or dress which is superfluous, may indeed be exchangeable, but as such are nothing more than a cumbrous form of bank-note, of doubtful or slow convertibility. As long as we retain possession of them, we merely keep our bank-notes in the shape of gravel or clay, of book-leaves, or of embroidered tissue. Circumstances may, perhaps, render such forms the safest, or a certain complacency may attach to the exhibition of them; into both these advantages we shall inquire afterwards; I wish the reader only to observe here, that exchangeable property which we cannot use is, to us personally, merely one of the forms of money, not of wealth.

37. The third error in the popular view is the confusion of Guardianship with Possession; the real state of men of property being, too commonly, that of curators, not possessors, of wealth.

A man's power over his property is at the widest range of it, fivefold; it is power of Use, for himself, Administration, to others, Ostentation, Destruction, or Bequest: and possession is in use only, which for each man is sternly limited; so that such things, and so much of them as he can use, are, indeed, well for him, or Wealth; and more of them, or any other things, are ill for him, or Illth.[16] Plunged to the lips in Orinoco, he shall drink to his thirst measure; more, at his peril: with a thousand oxen on his lands, he shall eat to his hunger measure; more, at his peril. He cannot live in two houses at once; a few bales of silk or wool will suffice for the fabric of all the clothes he can ever wear, and a few books will probably hold all the furniture good for his brain. Beyond these, in the best of us but narrow, capacities, we have[Pg 129] but the power of administering, or mal-administering, wealth: (that is to say, distributing, lending, or increasing it);—of exhibiting it (as in magnificence of retinue or furniture),—of destroying, or, finally, of bequeathing it. And with multitudes of rich men, administration degenerates into curatorship; they merely hold their property in charge, as Trustees, for the benefit of some person or persons to whom it is to be delivered upon their death; and the position, explained in clear terms, would hardly seem a covetable one. What would be the probable feelings of a youth, on his entrance into life, to whom the career hoped for him was proposed in terms such as these: "You must work unremittingly, and with your utmost intelligence, during all your available years, you will thus accumulate wealth to a large amount; but you must touch none of it, beyond what is needful for your support. Whatever sums you gain, beyond those required for your decent and moderate maintenance, and whatever beautiful things you may obtain possession of, shall be properly taken care of by servants, for whose maintenance you will be charged, and whom you will have the trouble of superintending, and on your deathbed you shall have the power of determining to whom the accumulated property shall belong, or to what purposes be applied."

38. The labour of life, under such conditions, would probably be neither zealous nor cheerful; yet the only difference between this position and that of the ordinary capitalist is the power which the latter supposes himself to possess, and which is attributed to him by others, of spending his money at any moment. This pleasure, taken in the imagination of power to part with that with which we have no intention of parting, is one of the most curious, though commonest forms of the Eidolon, or Phantasm of Wealth. But the political economist has nothing to do with this idealism, and looks only to the practical issue of it—namely, that the holder of wealth, in such temper, may be regarded simply as a mechanical means of collection; or as a money-chest with a slit in it, not only receptant but suctional, set in the public thoroughfare;—chest of which only Death has the key, and evil Chance the distribution[Pg 130] of the contents. In his function of Lender (which, however, is one of administration, not use, as far as he is himself concerned), the capitalist takes, indeed, a more interesting aspect; but even in that function, his relations with the state are apt to degenerate into a mechanism for the convenient contraction of debt;—a function the more mischievous, because a nation invariably appeases its conscience with respect to an unjustifiable expense, by meeting it with borrowed funds, expresses its repentance of a foolish piece of business, by letting its tradesmen wait for their money, and always leaves its descendants to pay for the work which will be of the least advantage to them.[17]

39. Quit of these three sources of misconception, the reader will have little farther difficulty in apprehending the real nature of Effectual value. He may, however, at first not without surprise, perceive the consequences involved in his acceptance of the definition. For if the actual existence of wealth be dependent on the power of its possessor, it follows that the sum of wealth held by the nation, instead of being constant, or calculable, varies hourly, nay, momentarily, with the number and character of its holders! and that in changing hands, it changes in quantity. And farther, since the worth of the currency is proportioned to the sum of material wealth which it represents, if the sum of the wealth changes, the worth of the currency changes. And thus both the sum of the property, and power of the currency, of the state, vary momentarily as the character and number of the holders. And not only so, but different rates and kinds of variation are caused by the character of the holders of different kinds of wealth. The transitions of value caused by the character of the holders of land differ in mode from those caused by character in holders of works of art; and these again from those caused by character in holders of machinery or other working capital. But we cannot examine these special phenomena[Pg 131] of any kind of wealth until we have a clear idea of the way in which true currency expresses them; and of the resulting modes in which the cost and price of any article are related to its value. To obtain this we must approach the subject in its first elements.

40. Let us suppose a national store of wealth, composed of material things either useful, or believed to be so, taken charge of by the Government,[18] and that every workman, having produced any article involving labour in its production, and for which he has no immediate use, brings it to add to this store, receiving from the Government, in exchange, an order either for the return of the thing itself, or of its equivalent in other things, such as he may choose out of the store, at any time when he needs them. The question of equivalence itself (how much wine a man is to receive in return for so much corn, or how much coal in return for so much iron) is a quite separate one, which we will examine presently. For the time, let it be assumed that this equivalence has been determined, and that the Government order, in exchange for a fixed weight of any article (called, suppose a), is either for the return of that weight of the article itself, or of another fixed weight of the article b, or another of the article c, and so on.

Now, supposing that the labourer speedily and continually presents these general orders, or, in common language, "spends the money," he has neither changed the circumstances of the nation, nor his own, except in so far as he may have produced useful and consumed useless articles, or vice versâ. But if he does not use, or uses in part only, the orders he receives, and lays aside some portion of them; and thus every day bringing his contribution to the national store, lays by some per-centage of the orders received in exchange for it, he increases the national wealth daily by as much as he does not use of the received order, and to the same amount accumulates a monetary claim on the Government. It is, of course, always in his power, as it is his legal right, to bring forward this accumulation of claim, and at once to consume, destroy, or distribute, the sum of his wealth. Supposing he never[Pg 132] does so, but dies, leaving his claim to others, he has enriched the State during his life by the quantity of wealth over which that claim extends, or has, in other words, rendered so much additional life possible in the State, of which additional life he bequeaths the immediate possibility to those whom he invests with his claim. Supposing him to cancel the claim, he would distribute this possibility of life among the nation at large.

41. We hitherto consider the Government itself as simply a conservative power, taking charge of the wealth entrusted to it.

But a Government may be more or less than a conservative power. It may be either an improving, or destructive one.

If it be an improving power, using all the wealth entrusted to it to the best advantage, the nation is enriched in root and branch at once, and the Government is enabled, for every order presented, to return a quantity of wealth greater than the order was written for, according to the fructification obtained in the interim. This ability may be either concealed, in which case the currency does not completely represent the wealth of the country, or it may be manifested by the continual payment of the excess of value on each order, in which case there is (irrespectively, observe, of collateral results afterwards to be examined) a perpetual rise in the worth of the currency, that is to say, a fall in the price of all articles represented by it.

42. But if the Government be destructive, or a consuming power, it becomes unable to return the value received on the presentation of the order.

This inability may either be concealed by meeting demands to the full, until it issue in bankruptcy, or in some form of national debt;—or it may be concealed during oscillatory movements between destructiveness and productiveness, which result on the whole in stability;—or it may be manifested by the consistent return of less than value received on each presented order, in which case there is a consistent fall in the worth of the currency, or rise in the price of the things represented by it.[Pg 133]

43. Now, if for this conception of a central Government, we substitute that of a body of persons occupied in industrial pursuits, of whom each adds in his private capacity to the common store, we at once obtain an approximation to the actual condition of a civilized mercantile community, from which approximation we might easily proceed into still completer analysis. I purpose, however, to arrive at every result by the gradual expansion of the simpler conception; but I wish the reader to observe, in the meantime, that both the social conditions thus supposed (and I will by anticipation say also, all possible social conditions), agree in two great points; namely, in the primal importance of the supposed national store or stock, and in its destructibility or improveability by the holders of it.

44. I. Observe that in both conditions, that of central Government-holding, and diffused private-holding, the quantity of stock is of the same national moment. In the one case, indeed, its amount may be known by examination of the persons to whom it is confided; in the other it cannot be known but by exposing the private affairs of every individual. But, known or unknown, its significance is the same under each condition. The riches of the nation consist in the abundance, and their wealth depends on the nature, of this store.

45. II. In the second place, both conditions, (and all other possible ones) agree in the destructibility or improveability of the store by its holders. Whether in private hands, or under Government charge, the national store may be daily consumed, or daily enlarged, by its possessors; and while the currency remains apparently unaltered, the property it represents may diminish or increase.

46. The first question, then, which we have to put under our simple conception of central Government, namely, "What store has it?" is one of equal importance, whatever may be the constitution of the State; while the second question—namely, "Who are the holders of the store?" involves the discussion of the constitution of the State itself.

The first inquiry resolves itself into three heads:[Pg 134]

1. What is the nature of the store?

2. What is its quantity in relation to the population?

3. What is its quantity in relation to the currency?

The second inquiry into two:

1. Who are the Holders of the store, and in what proportions?

2. Who are the Claimants of the store, (that is to say, the holders of the currency,) and in what proportions?

We will examine the range of the first three questions in the present paper; of the two following, in the sequel.

47. I. Question First. What is the nature of the store? Has the nation hitherto worked for and gathered the right thing or the wrong? On that issue rest the possibilities of its life.

For example, let us imagine a society, of no great extent, occupied in procuring and laying up store of corn, wine, wool, silk, and other such preservable materials of food and clothing; and that it has a currency representing them. Imagine farther, that on days of festivity, the society, discovering itself to derive satisfaction from pyrotechnics, gradually turns its attention more and more to the manufacture of gunpowder; so that an increasing number of labourers, giving what time they can spare to this branch of industry, bring increasing quantities of combustibles into the store, and use the general orders received in exchange to obtain such wine, wool, or corn, as they may have need of. The currency remains the same, and represents precisely the same amount of material in the store, and of labour spent in producing it. But the corn and wine gradually vanish, and in their place, as gradually, appear sulphur and saltpetre, till at last the labourers who have consumed corn and supplied nitre, presenting on a festal morning some of their currency to obtain materials for the feast, discover that no amount of currency will command anything Festive, except Fire. The supply of rockets is unlimited, but that of food, limited, in a quite final manner; and the whole currency in the hands of the society represents an infinite power of detonation, but none of existence.

48. This statement, caricatured as it may seem, is only exaggerated[Pg 135] in assuming the persistence of the folly to extremity, unchecked, as in reality it would be, by the gradual rise in price of food. But it falls short of the actual facts of human life in expression of the depth and intensity of the folly itself. For a great part (the reader would not believe how great until he saw the statistics in detail) of the most earnest and ingenious industry of the world is spent in producing munitions of war; gathering, that is to say the materials, not of festive, but of consuming fire; filling its stores with all power of the instruments of pain, and all affluence of the ministries of death. It was no true Trionfo della Morte[19] which men have seen and feared (sometimes scarcely feared) so long; wherein he brought them rest from their labours. We see, and share, another and higher form of his triumph now. Task-master, instead of Releaser, he rules the dust of the arena no less than of the tomb; and, content once in the grave whither man went, to make his works to cease and his devices to vanish,—now, in the busy city and on the serviceable sea, makes his work to increase, and his devices to multiply.

49. To this doubled loss, or negative power of labour, spent in producing means of destruction, we have to add, in our estimate of the consequences of human folly, whatever more insidious waste of toil there is in production of unnecessary luxury. Such and such an occupation (it is said) supports so many labourers, because so many obtain wages in following it; but it is never considered that unless there be a supporting power in the product of the occupation, the wages given to one man are merely withdrawn from another. We cannot say of any trade that it maintains such and such a number of persons, unless we know how and where the money, now spent in the purchase of its produce, would have been spent, if that produce had not been manufactured. The purchasing funds truly support a number of people in making[Pg 136] This; but (probably) leave unsupported an equal number who are making, or could have made That. The manufacturers of small watches thrive at Geneva;—it is well;—but where would the money spent on small watches have gone, had there been no small watches to buy?

50. If the so frequently uttered aphorism of mercantile economy—"labour is limited by capital," were true, this question would be a definite one. But it is untrue; and that widely. Out of a given quantity of funds for wages, more or less labour is to be had, according to the quantity of will with which we can inspire the workman; and the true limit of labour is only in the limit of this moral stimulus of the will, and of the bodily power. In an ultimate, but entirely unpractical sense, labour is limited by capital, as it is by matter—that is to say, where there is no material, there can be no work,—but in the practical sense, labour is limited only by the great original capital of head, heart, and hand. Even in the most artificial relations of commerce, labour is to capital as fire to fuel: out of so much fuel, you can have only so much fire; but out of so much fuel, you shall have so much fire,—not in proportion to the mass of combustible, but to the force of wind that fans and water that quenches; and the appliance of both. And labour is furthered, as conflagration is, not so much by added fuel, as by admitted air.[20]

51. For which reasons, I had to insert, in § 49, the qualifying "probably;" for it can never be said positively that the purchase-money, or wages fund of any trade is withdrawn from some other trade. The object itself may be the stimulus of the production of the money which buys it; that is to say, the work by which the purchaser obtained the means of buying it, would not have been done by him unless he had wanted that particular thing. And the production of any article not intrinsically (nor in the process of manufacture) injurious, is[Pg 137] useful, if the desire of it causes productive labour in other directions.

52. In the national store, therefore, the presence of things intrinsically valueless does not imply an entirely correlative absence of things valuable. We cannot be certain that all the labour spent on vanity has been diverted from reality, and that for every bad thing produced, a precious thing has been lost. In great measure, the vain things represent the results of roused indolence; they have been carved, as toys, in extra time; and, if they had not been made, nothing else would have been made. Even to munitions of war this principle applies; they partly represent the work of men who, if they had not made spears, would never have made pruning hooks, and who are incapable of any activities but those of contest.

53. Thus then, finally, the nature of the store has to be considered under two main lights; the one, that of its immediate and actual utility; the other, that of the past national character which it signifies by its production, and future character which it must develop by its use. And the issue of this investigation will be to show us that.

Economy does not depend merely on principles of "demand and supply," but primarily on what is demanded, and what is supplied; which I will beg of you to observe, and take to heart.

54. II. Question Second.—What is the quantity of the store, in relation to the population?

It follows from what has been already stated that the accurate form in which this question has to be put is—"What quantity of each article composing the store exists in proportion to the real need for it by the population?" But we shall for the time assume, in order to keep all our terms at the simplest, that the store is wholly composed of useful articles, and accurately proportioned to the several needs for them.

Now it cannot be assumed, because the store is large in proportion to the number of the people, that the people must be in comfort; nor because it is small, that they must be in distress. An active and economical race always produces[Pg 138] more than it requires, and lives (if it is permitted to do so) in competence on the produce of its daily labour. The quantity of its store, great or small, is therefore in many respects indifferent to it, and cannot be inferred from its aspect. Similarly an inactive and wasteful population, which cannot live by its daily labour, but is dependent, partly or wholly, on consumption of its store, may be (by various difficulties, hereafter to be examined, in realizing or getting at such store) retained in a state of abject distress, though its possessions may be immense. But the results always involved in the magnitude of store are, the commercial power of the nation, its security, and its mental character. Its commercial power, in that according to the quantity of its store, may be the extent of its dealings; its security, in that according to the quantity of its store are its means of sudden exertion or sustained endurance; and its character, in that certain conditions of civilization cannot be attained without permanent and continually accumulating store, of great intrinsic value, and of peculiar nature.[21]

55. Now, seeing that these three advantages arise from largeness of store in proportion to population, the question arises immediately, "Given the store—is the nation enriched by diminution of its numbers? Are a successful national speculation, and a pestilence, economically the same thing?"

This is in part a sophistical question; such as it would be to ask whether a man was richer when struck by disease which must limit his life within a predicable period, than he was when in health. He is enabled to enlarge his current expenses, and has for all purposes a larger sum at his immediate disposal (for, given the fortune, the shorter the life, the larger the annuity); yet no man considers himself richer because he is condemned by his physician.

56. The logical reply is that, since Wealth is by definition only the means of life, a nation cannot be enriched by its own mortality. Or in shorter words, the life is more than the meat; and existence itself, more wealth than the means of existence. Whence, of two nations who have equal store, the[Pg 139] more numerous is to be considered the richer, provided the type of the inhabitant be as high (for, though the relative bulk of their store be less, its relative efficiency, or the amount of effectual wealth, must be greater). But if the type of the population be deteriorated by increase of its numbers, we have evidence of poverty in its worst influence; and then, to determine whether the nation in its total may still be justifiably esteemed rich, we must set or weigh, the number of the poor against that of the rich.

To effect which piece of scale-work, it is of course necessary to determine, first, who are poor and who are rich; nor this only, but also how poor and how rich they are. Which will prove a curious thermometrical investigation; for we shall have to do for gold and for silver, what we have done for quicksilver;—determine, namely, their freezing-point, their zero, their temperate and fever-heat points; finally, their vaporescent point, at which riches, sometimes explosively, as lately in America, "make to themselves wings:"—and correspondently, the number of degrees below zero at which poverty, ceasing to brace with any wholesome cold, burns to the bone.[22]

57. For the performance of these operations, in the strictest sense scientific, we will first look to the existing so-called "science" of Political Economy; we will ask it to define for us the comparatively and superlatively rich, and the comparatively and superlatively poor; and on its own terms—if any terms it can pronounce—examine, in our prosperous England, how many rich and how many poor people there are; and whether the quantity and intensity of the poverty is indeed so overbalanced by the quantity and intensity of wealth,[Pg 140] that we may permit ourselves a luxurious blindness to it, and call ourselves, complacently, a rich country. And if we find no clear definition in the existing science, we will endeavour for ourselves to fix the true degrees of the scale, and to apply them.[23]

58. Question Third. What is the quantity of the store in relation to the Currency?

We have seen that the real worth of the currency, so far as dependent on its relation to the magnitude of the store, may vary, within certain limits, without affecting its worth in exchange. The diminution or increase of the represented wealth may be unperceived, and the currency may be taken either for more or less than it is truly worth. Usually it is taken for much more; and its power in exchange, or credit-power, is thus increased up to a given strain upon its relation to existing wealth. This credit-power is of chief importance in the thoughts, because most sharply present to the experience, of a mercantile community: but the conditions of its stability[24] and all other relations of the currency to the material[Pg 141] store are entirely simple in principle, if not in action. Far other than simple are the relations of the currency to the available labour which it also represents. For this relation is involved not only with that of the magnitude of the store to the number, but with that of the magnitude of the store to the mind, of the population. Its proportion to their number, and the resulting worth of currency, are calculable; but its proportion to their will for labour is not. The worth of the piece of money which claims a given quantity of the store is, in exchange, less or greater according to the facility of obtaining the same quantity of the same thing without having recourse to the store. In other words it depends on the immediate Cost and Price of the thing. We must now, therefore, complete the definition of these terms.

59. All cost and price are counted in Labour. We must know first, therefore, what is to be counted as Labour.

I have already defined labour to be the Contest of the life of man with an opposite. Literally, it is the quantity of "Lapse," loss, or failure of human life, caused by any effort. It is usually confused with effort itself, or the application of power (opera); but there is much effort which is merely a mode of recreation, or of pleasure. The most beautiful actions of the human body, and the highest results of the human intelligence, are conditions, or achievements, of quite unlaborious,—nay, of recreative,—effort. But labour is the suffering in effort. It is the negative quantity, or quantity of de-feat, which has to be counted against every Feat, and of de-fect which has to be counted against every Fact, or Deed of men. In brief, it is "that quantity of our toil which we die in."

We might, therefore, à priori, conjecture (as we shall ultimately find), that it cannot be bought, nor sold. Everything else is bought and sold for Labour, but labour itself cannot be bought nor sold for anything, being priceless.[25] The idea[Pg 142] that it is a commodity to be bought or sold, is the alpha and omega of Politico-Economic fallacy.

60. This being the nature of labour, the "Cost" of anything is the quantity of labour necessary to obtain it;—the quantity for which, or at which, it "stands" (constant). It is literally the "Constancy" of the thing;—you shall win it—move it—come at it, for no less than this.

Cost is measured and measurable (using the accurate Latin terms) only in "labour," not in "opera."[26] It does not matter how much work a thing needs to produce it; it matters only how much distress. Generally the more the power it requires, the less the distress; so that the noblest works of man cost less than the meanest.

True labour, or spending of life, is either of the body, in fatigue or pain; of the temper or heart (as in perseverance of search for things,—patience in waiting for them,—fortitude or degradation in suffering for them, and the like), or of the intellect. All these kinds of labour are supposed to be included in the general term, and the quantity of labour is then expressed by the time it lasts. So that a unit of labour is "an hour's work" or a day's work, as we may determine.[27]

61. Cost, like value, is both intrinsic and effectual. Intrinsic cost is that of getting the thing in the right way; effectual[Pg 143] cost is that of getting the thing in the way we set about it. But intrinsic cost cannot be made a subject of analytical investigation, being only partially discoverable, and that by long experience. Effectual cost is all that the political Economist can deal with; that is to say, the cost of the thing under existing circumstances, and by known processes.

Cost, being dependent much on application of method, varies with the quantity of the thing wanted, and with the number of persons who work for it. It is easy to get a little of some things, but difficult to get much; it is impossible to get some things with few hands, but easy to get them with many.

62. The cost and value of things, however difficult to determine accurately, are thus both dependent on ascertainable physical circumstances.[28]

[Pg 144]

But their price is dependent on the human will.

Such and such a thing is demonstrably good for so much. And it may demonstrably be had for so much.

But it remains questionable, and in all manner of ways questionable, whether I choose to give so much.[29]

This choice is always a relative one. It is a choice to give a price for this, rather than for that;—a resolution to have the thing, if getting it does not involve the loss of a better thing. Price depends, therefore, not only on the cost of the commodity itself, but on its relation to the cost of every other attainable thing.[Pg 145]

Farther. The power of choice is also a relative one. It depends not merely on our own estimate of the thing, but on everybody else's estimate; therefore on the number and force of the will of the concurrent buyers, and on the existing quantity of the thing in proportion to that number and force.

Hence the price of anything depends on four variables.

(1.) Its cost.

(2.) Its attainable quantity at that cost.

(3.) The number and power of the persons who want it.

(4.) The estimate they have formed of its desirableness.

Its value only affects its price so far as it is contemplated in this estimate; perhaps, therefore, not at all.

63. Now, in order to show the manner in which price is expressed in terms of a currency, we must assume these four quantities to be known, and the "estimate of desirableness," commonly called the Demand, to be certain. We will take the number of persons at the lowest. Let A and B be two labourers who "demand," that is to say, have resolved to labour for, two articles, a and b. Their demand for these articles (if the reader likes better, he may say their need) is to be conceived as absolute, their existence depending on the getting these two things. Suppose, for instance, that they are bread and fuel, in a cold country, and let a represent the least quantity of bread, and the least quantity of fuel, which will support a man's life for a day. Let be producible by an hour's labour, but only by two hours' labour.

Then the cost of a is one hour, and of b two (cost, by our definition, being expressible in terms of time). If, therefore, each man worked both for his corn and fuel, each would have to work three hours a day. But they divide the labour for its greater ease.[30] Then if A works three hours, he produces 3 a, which is one a more than both the men want. And if B works three hours, he produces only 1-1/2 , or half of less than both want. But if A work three hours and B six, A has[Pg 146] 3 , and B has 3 , a maintenance in the right proportion for both for a day and half; so that each might take half a day's rest. But as B has worked double time, the whole of this day's rest belongs in equity to him. Therefore the just exchange should be, A giving two for one , has one and one ;—maintenance for a day. B giving one for two , has two and two ; maintenance for two days.

But B cannot rest on the second day, or A would be left without the article which B produces. Nor is there any means of making the exchange just, unless a third labourer is called in. Then one workman, A, produces a, and two, B and C, produce b:—A, working three hours, has three ;—B, three hours, 1-1/2 ;—C, three hours, 1-1/2 . B and C each give half of for , and all have their equal daily maintenance for equal daily work.

To carry the example a single step farther, let three articles, a, b, and c be needed.

Let a need one hour's work, b two, and c four; then the day's work must be seven hours, and one man in a day's work can make 7 , or 3-1/2 , or 1-3/4 .

Therefore one A works for a, producing 7 ; two B's work for b, producing 7 ; four C's work for c, producing 7 .

A has six a to spare, and gives two for one b, and four for one c. Each B has 2-1/2 to spare, and gives 1/2 for one , and two for one .

Each C has 3/4 of c to spare, and gives 1/2 for one b, and 1/4 of for one a.

And all have their day's maintenance.

Generally, therefore, it follows that if the demand is constant,[31] the relative prices of things are as their costs, or as the quantities of labour involved in production.

64. Then, in order to express their prices in terms of a currency, we have only to put the currency into the form of orders for a certain quantity of any given article (with us it is in the form of orders for gold), and all quantities of other articles are priced by the relation they bear to the article which the currency claims.

[Pg 147]

But the worth of the currency itself is not in the slightest degree founded more on the worth of the article which it either claims or consists in (as gold) than on the worth of every other article for which the gold is exchangeable. It is just as accurate to say, "so many pounds are worth an acre of land," as "an acre of land is worth so many pounds." The worth of gold, of land, of houses, and of food, and of all other things, depends at any moment on the existing quantities and relative demands for all and each; and a change in the worth of, or demand for, any one, involves an instantaneously correspondent change in the worth of, and demand for, all the rest;—a change as inevitable and as accurately balanced (though often in its process as untraceable) as the change in volume of the outflowing river from some vast lake, caused by change in the volume of the inflowing streams, though no eye can trace, nor instrument detect, motion, either on its surface, or in the depth.

65. Thus, then, the real working power or worth of the currency is founded on the entire sum of the relative estimates formed by the population of its possessions; a change in this estimate in any direction (and therefore every change in the national character), instantly alters the value of money, in its second great function of commanding labour. But we must always carefully and sternly distinguish between this worth of currency, dependent on the conceived or appreciated value of what it represents, and the worth of it, dependent on the existence of what it represents. A currency is true, or false, in proportion to the security with which it gives claim to the possession of land, house, horse, or picture; but a currency is strong or weak,[32] worth much, or worth little, in proportion to the degree of estimate in which the nation holds the house, horse, or picture which is claimed. Thus the power of the English currency has been, till of late, largely based on the national estimate of horses and of wine: so that a man[Pg 148] might always give any price to furnish choicely his stable, or his cellar; and receive public approval therefor: but if he gave the same sum to furnish his library, he was called mad or a biblio-maniac. And although he might lose his fortune by his horses, and his health or life by his cellar, and rarely lost either by his books, he was yet never called a Hippo-maniac nor an Oino-maniac; but only Biblio-maniac, because the current worth of money was understood to be legitimately founded on cattle and wine, but not on literature. The prices lately given at sales for pictures and MSS. indicate some tendency to change in the national character in this respect, so that the worth of the currency may even come in time to rest, in an acknowledged manner, somewhat on the state and keeping of the Bedford missal, as well as on the health of Caractacus or Blink Bonny; and old pictures be considered property, no less than old port. They might have been so before now, but that it is more difficult to choose the one than the other.

66. Now, observe, all these sources of variation in the power of the currency exist, wholly irrespective of the influences of vice, indolence, and improvidence. We have hitherto supposed, throughout the analysis, every professing labourer to labour honestly, heartily, and in harmony with his fellows. We have now to bring farther into the calculation the effects of relative industry, honour, and forethought; and thus to follow out the bearings of our second inquiry: Who are the holders of the Store and Currency, and in what proportions?

This, however, we must reserve for our next paper—noticing here only that, however distinct the several branches of the subject are, radically, they are so interwoven in their issues that we cannot rightly treat any one, till we have taken cognizance of all. Thus the need of the currency in proportion to number of population is materially influenced by the probable number of the holders in proportion to the non-holders; and this again, by the number of holders of goods, or wealth, in proportion to the non-holders of goods. For as, by definition, the currency is a claim to goods which are not possessed, its quantity indicates the number of claimants in[Pg 149] proportion to the number of holders; and the force and complexity of claim. For if the claims be not complex, currency as a means of exchange may be very small in quantity. A sells some corn to B, receiving a promise from B to pay in cattle, which A then hands over to C, to get some wine. C in due time claims the cattle from B; and B takes back his promise. These exchanges have, or might have been, all effected with a single coin or promise; and the proportion of the currency to the store would in such circumstances indicate only the circulating vitality of it—that is to say, the quantity and convenient divisibility of that part of the store which the habits of the nation keep in circulation. If a cattle breeder is content to live with his household chiefly on meat and milk, and does not want rich furniture, or jewels, or books—if a wine and corn grower maintains himself and his men chiefly on grapes and bread;—if the wives and daughters of families weave and spin the clothing of the household, and the nation, as a whole, remains content with the produce of its own soil and the work of its own hands, it has little occasion for circulating media. It pledges and promises little and seldom; exchanges only so far as exchange is necessary for life. The store belongs to the people in whose hands it is found, and money is little needed either as an expression of right, or practical means of division and exchange.

67. But in proportion as the habits of the nation become complex and fantastic (and they may be both, without therefore being civilized), its circulating medium must increase in proportion to its store. If every one wants a little of everything,—if food must be of many kinds, and dress of many fashions,—if multitudes live by work which, ministering to fancy, has its pay measured by fancy, so that large prices will be given by one person for what is valueless to another,—if there are great inequalities of knowledge, causing great inequalities of estimate,—and, finally, and worst of all, if the currency itself, from its largeness, and the power which the possession of it implies, becomes the sole object of desire with large numbers of the nation, so that the holding of it is disputed among them as the main object of life:—in each[Pg 150] and all of these cases, the currency necessarily enlarges in proportion to the store; and as a means of exchange and division, as a bond of right, and as an object of passion, has a more and more important and malignant power over the nation's dealings, character, and life.

Against which power, when, as a bond of Right, it becomes too conspicuous and too burdensome, the popular voice is apt to be raised in a violent and irrational manner, leading to revolution instead of remedy. Whereas all possibility of Economy depends on the clear assertion and maintenance of this bond of right, however burdensome. The first necessity of all economical government is to secure the unquestioned and unquestionable working of the great law of Property—that a man who works for a thing shall be allowed to get it, keep it, and consume it, in peace; and that he who does not eat his cake to-day, shall be seen, without grudging, to have his cake to-morrow. This, I say, is the first point to be secured by social law; without this, no political advance, nay, no political existence, is in any sort possible. Whatever evil, luxury, iniquity, may seem to result from it, this is nevertheless the first of all Equities; and to the enforcement of this, by law and by police-truncheon, the nation must always primarily set its mind—that the cupboard door may have a firm lock to it, and no man's dinner be carried off by the mob, on its way home from the baker's. Which, thus fearlessly asserting, we shall endeavour in next paper to consider how far it may be practicable for the mob itself, also, in due breadth of dish, to have dinners to carry home.


[14] Remember carefully this statement, that Wealth consists only in the things which the nature of humanity has rendered in all ages, and must render in all ages to come, (that is what I meant by "constant") the objects of legitimate desire. And see Appendix II.

[15] The Wanderings, observe, not the Right goings, of Imagination. She is very far from despising these.

[16] See Appendix III.

[17] I would beg the reader's very close attention to these 37th and 38th paragraphs. It would be well if a dogged conviction could be enforced on nations, as on individuals, that, with few exceptions, what they cannot at present pay for, they should not at present have.

[18] See Appendix IV.

[19] I little thought, what Trionfo della Morte would be, for this very cause, and in literal fulfilment of the closing words of the 47th paragraph, over the fields and houses of Europe, and over its fairest city—within seven years from the day I wrote it.

[20] The meaning of which is, that you may spend a great deal of money, and get very little work for it, and that little bad; but having good "air" or "spirit," to put life into it, with very little money, you may get a great deal of work, and all good; which, observe, is an arithmetical, not at all a poetical or visionary circumstance.

[21] More especially, works of great art.

[22] The meaning of that, in plain English, is, that we must find out how far poverty and riches are good or bad for people, and what is the difference between being miserably poor—so as, perhaps, to be driven to crime, or to pass life in suffering—and being blessedly poor, in the sense meant in the Sermon on the Mount. For I suppose the people who believe that sermon, do not think (if they ever honestly ask themselves what they do think), either that Luke vi. 24. is a merely poetical exclamation, or that the Beatitude of Poverty has yet been attained in St. Martin's Lane and other back streets of London.

[23] Large plans!—Eight years are gone, and nothing done yet. But I keep my purpose of making one day this balance, or want of balance, visible, in those so seldom used scales of Justice.

[24] These are nearly all briefly represented by the image used for the force of money by Dante, of mast and sail:—

Quali dal vento le gonfiate vele
Caggiono avvolte, poi che l'alber fiacca
Tal cadde a terra la fiera crudele.

The image may be followed out, like all of Dante's, into as close detail as the reader chooses. Thus the stress of the sail must be proportioned to the strength of the mast, and it is only in unforeseen danger that a skilful seaman ever carries all the canvas his spars will bear, states of mercantile languor are like the flap of the sail in a calm; of mercantile precaution, like taking in reefs; and mercantile ruin is instant on the breaking of the mast.

[I mean by credit-power, the general impression on the national mind that a sovereign, or any other coin, is worth so much bread and cheese—so much wine—so much horse and carriage—or so much fine art: it may be really worth, when tried, less or more than is thought: the thought of it is the credit-power.]

[25] The object of Political Economy is not to buy, nor to sell labour, but to spare it. Every attempt to buy or sell it is, in the outcome, ineffectual; so far as successful, it is not sale, but Betrayal; and the purchase-money is a part of that thirty pieces which bought, first the greatest of labours, and afterwards the burial-field of the Stranger; for this purchase-money, being in its very smallness or vileness the exactly measured opposite of the "vilis annona amicorum," makes all men strangers to each other.

[26] Cicero's distinction, "sordidi quæstus, quorum operæ, non quorum artes emuntur," admirable in principle, is inaccurate in expression, because Cicero did not practically know how much operative dexterity is necessary in all the higher arts; but the cost of this dexterity is incalculable. Be it great or small, the "cost" of the mere perfectness of touch in a hammer-stroke of Donatello's, or a pencil-touch of Correggio's, is inestimable by any ordinary arithmetic.

[Old notes, these, more embarrassing I now perceive, than elucidatory; but right, and worth retaining.]

[27] Only observe, as some labour is more destructive of life than other labour, the hour or day of the more destructive toil is supposed to include proportionate rest. Though men do not, or cannot, usually take such rest, except in death.

[28] There is, therefore, observe, no such thing as cheapness (in the common use of that term), without some error or injustice. A thing is said to be cheap, not because it is common, but because it is supposed to be sold under its worth. Everything has its proper and true worth at any given time, in relation to everything else; and at that worth should be bought and sold. If sold under it, it is cheap to the buyer by exactly so much as the seller loses, and no more. Putrid meat, at twopence a pound, is not "cheaper" than wholesome meat at sevenpence a pound; it is probably much dearer; but if, by watching your opportunity, you can get the wholesome meat for sixpence a pound, it is cheaper to you by a penny, which you have gained, and the seller has lost. The present rage for cheapness is either, therefore, simply and literally a rage for badness of all commodities, or it is an attempt to find persons whose necessities will force them to let you have more than you should for your money. It is quite easy to produce such persons, and in large numbers; for the more distress there is in a nation, the more cheapness of this sort you can obtain, and your boasted cheapness is thus merely a measure of the extent of your national distress.

There is, indeed, a condition of apparent cheapness, which we have some right to be triumphant in; namely, the real reduction in cost of articles by right application of labour. But in this case the article is only cheap with reference to its former price; the so-called cheapness is only our expression for the sensation of contrast between its former and existing prices. So soon as the new methods of producing the article are established, it ceases to be esteemed either cheap or dear, at the new price, as at the old one, and is felt to be cheap only when accident enables it to be purchased beneath this new value. And it is no advantage to produce the article more easily, except as it enables you to multiply your population. Cheapness of this kind is merely the discovery that more men can be maintained on the same ground; and the question how many you will maintain in proportion to your additional means, remains exactly in the same terms that it did before.

A form of immediate cheapness results, however, in many cases, without distress, from the labour of a population where food is redundant, or where the labour by which the food is produced leaves much idle time on their hands, which may be applied to the production of "cheap" articles.

All such phenomena indicate to the political economist places where the labour is unbalanced. In the first case, the just balance is to be effected by taking labourers from the spot where pressure exists, and sending them to that where food is redundant. In the second, the cheapness is a local accident, advantageous to the local purchaser, disadvantageous to the local producer. It is one of the first duties of commerce to extend the market, and thus give the local producer his full advantage.

Cheapness caused by natural accidents of harvest, weather, &c., is always counterbalanced, in due time, by natural scarcity, similarly caused. It is the part of wise government, and healthy commerce, so to provide in times and places of plenty for times and places of dearth, as that there shall never be waste, nor famine.

Cheapness caused by gluts of the market is merely a disease of clumsy and wanton commerce.

[29] Price has been already defined (p. 9) to be the quantity of labour which the possessor of a thing is willing to take for it. It is best to consider the price to be that fixed by the possessor, because the possessor has absolute power of refusing sale, while the purchaser has no absolute power of compelling it; but the effectual or market price is that at which their estimates coincide.

[30] This "greater ease" ought to be allowed for by a diminution in the times of the divided work; but as the proportion of times would remain the same, I do not introduce this unnecessary complexity into the calculation.

[31] Compare Unto this Last, p. 115, et seq.

[32] [That is to say, the love of money is founded first on the intenseness of desire for given things; a youth will rob the till, now-a-days, for pantomime tickets and cigars; the "strength" of the currency being irresistible to him, in consequence of his desire for those luxuries.]

[Pg 151]



68. It will be seen by reference to the last chapter that our present task is to examine the relation of holders of store to holders of currency; and of both to those who hold neither. In order to do this, we must determine on which side we are to place substances such as gold, commonly known as bases of currency. By aid of previous definitions the reader will now be able to understand closer statements than have yet been possible.

69. The currency of any country consists of every document acknowledging debt, which is transferable in the country.[33]

This transferableness depends upon its intelligibility and credit. Its intelligibility depends chiefly on the difficulty of forging anything like it;—its credit much on national character, but ultimately always on the existence of substantial means of meeting its demand.[34]

As the degrees of transferableness are variable, (some documents passing only in certain places, and others passing, if at all, for less than their inscribed value), both the mass, and, so to speak, fluidity, of the currency, are variable. True or perfect currency flows freely, like a pure stream; it becomes sluggish or stagnant in proportion to the quantity of less[Pg 152] transferable matter which mixes with it, adding to its bulk, but diminishing its purity. [Articles of commercial value, on which bills are drawn, increase the currency indefinitely; and substances of intrinsic value if stamped or signed without restriction so as to become acknowledgments of debt, increase it indefinitely also.] Every bit of gold found in Australia, so long as it remains uncoined, is an article offered for sale like any other; but as soon as it is coined into pounds, it diminishes the value of every pound we have now in our pockets.

70. Legally authorized or national currency, in its perfect condition, is a form of public acknowledgment of debt, so regulated and divided that any person presenting a commodity of tried worth in the public market, shall, if he please, receive in exchange for it a document giving him claim to the return of its equivalent, (1) in any place, (2) at any time, and (3) in any kind.

When currency is quite healthy and vital, the persons entrusted with its management are always able to give on demand either,

A. The assigning document for the assigned quantity of goods. Or,

B. The assigned quantity of goods for the assigning document.

If they cannot give document for goods, the national exchange is at fault.

If they cannot give goods for document, the national credit is at fault.

The nature and power of the document are therefore to be examined under the three relations it bears to Place, Time, and Kind.

71. (1.) It gives claim to the return of equivalent wealth in any Place. Its use in this function is to save carriage, so that parting with a bushel of corn in London, we may receive an order for a bushel of corn at the Antipodes, or elsewhere. To be perfect in this use, the substance of currency must be to the maximum portable, credible, and intelligible. Its non-acceptance or discredit results always from some form of ignorance or dishonour: so far as such interruptions rise out[Pg 153] of differences in denomination, there is no ground for their continuance among civilized nations. It may be convenient in one country to use chiefly copper for coinage, in another silver, and in another gold,—reckoning accordingly in centimes, francs, or zecchins: but that a franc should be different in weight and value from a shilling, and a zwanziger vary from both, is wanton loss of commercial power.

72. (2.) It gives claim to the return of equivalent wealth at any Time. In this second use, currency is the exponent of accumulation: it renders the laying-up of store at the command of individuals unlimitedly possible;—whereas, but for its intervention, all gathering would be confined within certain limits by the bulk of property, or by its decay, or the difficulty of its guardianship. "I will pull down my barns and build greater," cannot be a daily saying; and all material investment is enlargement of care. The national currency transfers the guardianship of the store to many; and preserves to the original producer the right of re-entering on its possession at any future period.

73. (3.) It gives claim (practical, though not legal) to the return of equivalent wealth in any Kind. It is a transferable right, not merely to this or that, but to anything; and its power in this function is proportioned to the range of choice. If you give a child an apple or a toy, you give him a determinate pleasure, but if you give him a penny, an indeterminate one, proportioned to the range of selection offered by the shops in the village. The power of the world's currency is similarly in proportion to the openness of the world's fair, and, commonly, enhanced by the brilliancy of external aspect, rather than solidity of its wares.

74. We have said that the currency consists of orders for equivalent goods. If equivalent, their quality must be guaranteed. The kinds of goods chosen for specific claim must, therefore, be capable of test, while, also, that a store may be kept in hand to meet the call of the currency, smallness of bulk, with great relative value, is desirable; and indestructibility, over at least a certain period, essential.

Such indestructibility, and facility of being tested, are[Pg 154] united in gold; its intrinsic value is great, and its imaginary value greater; so that, partly through indolence, partly through necessity and want of organization, most nations have agreed to take gold for the only basis of their currencies;—with this grave disadvantage, that its portability enabling the metal to become an active part of the medium of exchange, the stream of the currency itself becomes opaque with gold—half currency and half commodity, in unison of functions which partly neutralize, partly enhance each other's force.

75. They partly neutralize, since in so far as the gold is commodity, it is bad currency, because liable to sale; and in so far as it is currency, it is bad commodity, because its exchange value interferes with its practical use. Especially its employment in the higher branches of the arts becomes unsafe on account of its liability to be melted down for exchange.

Again. They partly enhance, since in so far as the gold has acknowledged intrinsic value, it is good currency, because everywhere acceptable; and in so far as it has legal exchangeable value, its worth as a commodity is increased. We want no gold in the form of dust or crystal; but we seek for it coined, because in that form it will pay baker and butcher. And this worth in exchange not only absorbs a large quantity in that use,[35] but greatly increases the effect[Pg 155] on the imagination of the quantity used in the arts. Thus, in brief, the force of the functions is increased, but their precision blunted, by their unison.

76. These inconveniences, however, attach to gold as a basis of currency on account of its portability and preciousness. But a far greater inconvenience attaches to it as the only legal basis of currency. Imagine gold to be only attainable in masses weighing several pounds each, and its value, like that of malachite or marble, proportioned to its largeness of bulk;—it could not then get itself confused with the currency in daily use, but it might still remain as its basis; and this second inconvenience would still affect it, namely, that its significance as an expression of debt varies, as that of every other article would, with the popular estimate of its desirableness, and with the quantity offered in the market. My power of obtaining other goods for gold depends always on the strength of public passion for gold, and on the limitation of its quantity, so that when either of two things happen—that the world esteems gold less, or finds it more easily—my right of claim is in that degree effaced; and it has been even gravely maintained that a discovery of a mountain of gold would cancel the National Debt; in other words, that men may be paid for what costs much in what costs nothing. Now, it is true that there is little chance of sudden convulsion in this respect; the world will not so rapidly increase in wisdom as to despise gold on a sudden; and perhaps may [for a little time] desire it more eagerly the more easily it is obtained; nevertheless, the right of debt ought not to rest on a basis of imagination; nor should the frame of a national currency vibrate with every miser's panic, and every merchant's imprudence.

77. There are two methods of avoiding this insecurity, which would have been fallen upon long ago, if, instead of calculating the conditions of the supply of gold, men had only considered how the world might live and manage its affairs without gold at all.[36] One is, to base the currency on[Pg 156] substances of truer intrinsic value; the other, to base it on several substances instead of one. If I can only claim gold, the discovery of a golden mountain starves me; but if I can claim bread, the discovery of a continent of corn-fields need not trouble me. If, however, I wish to exchange my bread for other things, a good harvest will for the time limit my power in this respect; but if I can claim either bread, iron, or silk at pleasure, the standard of value has three feet instead of one, and will be proportionately firm. Thus, ultimately, the steadiness of currency depends upon the breadth of its base; but the difficulty of organization increasing with this breadth, the discovery of the condition at once safest and most convenient[37] can only be by long analysis, which must for the present be deferred. Gold or silver[38] may always be retained in limited use, as a luxury of coinage and questionless standard, of one weight and alloy among all nations, varying only in the die. The purity of coinage, when metallic, is closely indicative of the honesty of the system of revenue, and even of the general dignity of the State.[39]

[Pg 157]

78. Whatever the article or articles may be which the national currency promises to pay, a premium on that article indicates bankruptcy of the government in that proportion, the division of its assets being restrained only by the remaining confidence of the holders of notes in the return of prosperity to the firm. Currencies of forced acceptance, or of unlimited issue, are merely various modes of disguising taxation, and delaying its pressure, until it is too late to interfere with the cause of pressure. To do away with the possibility of such disguise would have been among the first results of a true economical science, had any such existed; but there have been too many motives for the concealment, so long as it could by any artifices be maintained, to permit hitherto even the founding of such a science.

79. And indeed, it is only through evil conduct, wilfully persisted in, that there is any embarrassment, either in the theory or working of currency. No exchequer is ever embarrassed, nor is any financial question difficult of solution, when people keep their practice honest, and their heads cool. But when governments lose all office of pilotage, protection, or scrutiny; and live only in magnificence of authorized larceny, and polished mendacity; or when the people, choosing Speculation (the s usually redundant in the spelling) instead of Toil, visit no dishonesty with chastisement, that each may with impunity take his dishonest turn;—there are no tricks of financial terminology that will save them; all signature and mintage do but magnify the ruin they retard; and even the riches that remain, stagnant or current, change only from the slime of Avernus to the sand of Phlegethon—quicksand at the embouchure;—land fluently recommended by recent auctioneers as "eligible for building leases."

80. Finally, then, the power of true currency is fourfold.

(1.) Credit power. Its worth in exchange, dependent on public opinion of the stability and honesty of the issuer.

(2.) Real worth. Supposing the gold, or whatever else the currency expressly promises, to be required from the issuer, for all his notes; and that the call cannot be met in full. Then the actual worth of the document would be, and its actual[Pg 158] worth at any moment is, therefore to be defined as, what the division of the assets of the issuer would produce for it.

(3.) The exchange power, of its base. Granting that we can get five pounds in gold for our note, it remains a question how much of other things we can get for five pounds in gold. The more of other things exist, and the less gold, the greater this power.

(4.) The power over labour, exercised by the given quantity of the base, or of the things to be got for it. The question in this case is, how much work, and (question of questions!) whose work, is to be had for the food which five pounds will buy. This depends on the number of the population, on their gifts, and on their dispositions, with which, down to their slightest humours, and up to their strongest impulses, the power of the currency varies.

81. Such being the main conditions of national currency, we proceed to examine those of the total currency, under the broad definition, "transferable acknowledgment of debt;"[40][Pg 159] among the many forms of which there are in effect only two, distinctly opposed; namely, the acknowledgments of debts which will be paid, and of debts which will not. Documents, whether in whole or part, of bad debt, being to those of good debt as bad money to bullion, we put for the present these forms of imposture aside (as in analysing a metal we should wash it clear of dross), and then range, in their exact quantities, the true currency of the country on one side, and the store or property of the country on the other. We place gold, and all such substances, on the side of documents, as far as they operate by signature;—on the side of store as far as they operate by value. Then the currency represents the quantity of debt in the country, and the store the quantity of its possession. The ownership of all the property is divided between the holders of currency and holders of store, and whatever the claiming value of the currency is at any moment, that value is to be deducted from the riches of the store-holders.

82. Farther, as true currency represents by definition debts which will be paid, it represents either the debtor's wealth, or his ability and willingness; that is to say, either wealth existing in his hands transferred to him by the creditor, or wealth which, as he is at some time surely to return it, he is either increasing, or, if diminishing, has the will and strength to reproduce. A sound currency therefore, as by its increase it represents enlarging debt, represents also enlarging means; but in this curious way, that a certain quantity of it marks the deficiency of the wealth of the country from what it would have been if that currency had not existed.[41] In this respect[Pg 160] it is like the detritus of a mountain; assume that it lies at a fixed angle, and the more the detritus, the larger must be the mountain; but it would have been larger still, had there been none.

83. Farther, though, as above stated, every man possessing money has usually also some property beyond what is necessary for his immediate wants, and men possessing property usually also hold currency beyond what is necessary for their immediate exchanges, it mainly determines the class to which they belong, whether in their eyes the money is an adjunct of the property, or the property of the money. In the first case the holder's pleasure is in his possessions, and in his money subordinately, as the means of bettering or adding to them. In the second, his pleasure is in his money, and in his possessions only as representing it. (In the first case the money is as an atmosphere surrounding the wealth, rising from it and raining back upon it; but in the second, it is as a deluge, with the wealth floating, and for the most part perishing in it.[42]) The shortest distinction between the men is that the one wishes always to buy, and the other to sell.

84. Such being the great relations of the classes, their several characters are of the highest importance to the nation; for on the character of the store-holders chiefly depend the preservation, display, and serviceableness of its wealth; on that of the currency-holders, its distribution; on that of both, its reproduction.

We shall, therefore, ultimately find it to be of incomparably greater importance to the nation in whose hands the thing is[Pg 161] put, than how much of it is got; and that the character of the holders may be conjectured by the quality of the store; for such and such a man always asks for such and such a thing; nor only asks for it, but if it can be bettered, betters it: so that possession and possessor reciprocally act on each other, through the entire sum of national possession. The base nation, asking for base things, sinks daily to deeper vileness of nature and weakness in use; while the noble nation, asking for noble things, rises daily into diviner eminence in both; the tendency to degradation being surely marked by "αταξια;" that is to say, (expanding the Greek thought), by carelessness as to the hands in which things are put, consequent dispute for the acquisition of them, disorderliness in the accumulation of them, inaccuracy in the estimate of them, and bluntness in conception as to the entire nature of possession.

85. The currency-holders always increase in number and influence in proportion to the bluntness of nature and clumsiness of the store-holders; for the less use people can make of things, the more they want of them, and the sooner weary of them, and want to change them for something else; and all frequency of change increases the quantity and power of currency. The large currency-holder himself is essentially a person who never has been able to make up his mind as to what he will have, and proceeds, therefore, in vague collection and aggregation, with more and more infuriate passion, urged by complacency in progress, vacancy in idea, and pride of conquest.

While, however, there is this obscurity in the nature of possession of currency, there is a charm in the seclusion of it, which is to some people very enticing. In the enjoyment of real property, others must partly share. The groom has some enjoyment of the stud, and the gardener of the garden; but the money is, or seems, shut up; it is wholly enviable. No one else can have part in any complacencies arising from it.

The power of arithmetical comparison is also a great thing to unimaginative people. They know always they are so much better than they were, in money; so much better than others,[Pg 162] in money; but wit cannot be so compared, nor character. My neighbour cannot be convinced that I am wiser than he is, but he can, that I am worth so much more; and the universality of the conviction is no less flattering than its clearness. Only a few can understand,—none measure—and few will willingly adore, superiorities in other things; but everybody can understand money, everybody can count it, and most will worship it.

86. Now, these various temptations to accumulation would be politically harmless if what was vainly accumulated had any fair chance of being wisely spent. For as accumulation cannot go on for ever, but must some day end in its reverse—if this reverse were indeed a beneficial distribution and use, as irrigation from reservoir, the fever of gathering, though perilous to the gatherer, might be serviceable to the community. But it constantly happens (so constantly, that it may be stated as a political law having few exceptions), that what is unreasonably gathered is also unreasonably spent by the persons into whose hands it finally falls. Very frequently it is spent in war, or else in a stupefying luxury, twice hurtful, both in being indulged by the rich and witnessed by the poor. So that the mal tener and mal dare are as correlative as complementary colours; and the circulation of wealth, which ought to be soft, steady, strong, far-sweeping, and full of warmth, like the Gulf stream, being narrowed into an eddy, and concentrated at a point, changes into the alternate suction and surrender of Charybdis. Which is indeed, I doubt not, the true meaning of that marvellous fable, "infinite," as Bacon said of it, "in matter of meditation."[43]

87. It is a strange habit of wise humanity to speak in enigmas only, so that the highest truths and usefullest laws must be hunted for through whole picture-galleries of dreams, which to the vulgar seem dreams only. Thus Homer, the Greek tragedians, Plato, Dante, Chaucer, Shakspeare, and Goethe, have hidden all that is chiefly serviceable in their[Pg 163] work, and in all the various literature they absorbed and re-embodied, under types which have rendered it quite useless to the multitude. What is worse, the two primal declarers of moral discovery, Homer and Plato, are partly at issue; for Plato's logical power quenched his imagination, and he became incapable of understanding the purely imaginative element either in poetry or painting: he therefore somewhat overrates the pure discipline of passionate art in song and music, and misses that of meditative art. There is, however, a deeper reason for his distrust of Homer. His love of justice, and reverently religious nature, made him dread, as death, every form of fallacy; but chiefly, fallacy respecting the world to come (his own myths being only symbolic exponents of a rational hope). We shall perhaps now every day discover more clearly how right Plato was in this, and feel ourselves more and more wonderstruck that men such as Homer and Dante (and, in an inferior sphere, Milton), not to speak of the great sculptors and painters of every age, have permitted themselves, though full of all nobleness and wisdom, to coin idle imaginations of the mysteries of eternity, and guide the faiths of the families of the earth by the courses of their own vague and visionary arts: while the indisputable truths of human life and duty, respecting which they all have but one voice, lie hidden behind these veils of phantasy, unsought, and often unsuspected. I will gather carefully, out of Dante and Homer, what, in this kind, bears on our subject, in its due place; the first broad intention of their symbols may be sketched at once.

88. The rewards of a worthy use of riches, subordinate to other ends, are shown by Dante in the fifth and sixth orbs of Paradise; for the punishment of their unworthy use, three places are assigned; one for the avaricious and prodigal whose souls are lost, (Hell, canto 7); one for the avaricious and prodigal whose souls are capable of purification, (Purgatory, canto 19); and one for the usurers, of whom none can be redeemed (, canto 17). The first group, the largest in all hell ("gente piu che altrove troppa," compare Virgil's "quæ maxima turba"), meet in contrary currents, as the[Pg 164] waves of Charybdis, casting weights at each other from opposite sides. This weariness of contention is the chief element of their torture; so marked by the beautiful lines beginning "Or puoi, figliuol," &c.: (but the usurers, who made their money inactively, sit on the sand, equally without rest, however. "Di qua, di la, soccorrien," &c.) For it is not avarice, but contention for riches, leading to this double misuse of them, which, in Dante's light, is the unredeemable sin. The place of its punishment is guarded by Plutus, "the great enemy," and "la fièra crudele," a spirit quite different from the Greek Plutus, who, though old and blind, is not cruel, and is curable, so as to become far-sighted. (ου τυφλος αλλ' οξυ βλεπων.—Plato's epithets in first book of the Laws.) Still more does this Dantesque type differ from the resplendent Plutus of Goethe in the second part of Faust, who is the personified power of wealth for good or evil—not the passion for wealth; and again from the Plutus of Spenser, who is the passion of mere aggregation. Dante's Plutus is specially and definitely the Spirit of Contention and Competition, or Evil Commerce; because, as I showed before, this kind of commerce "makes all men strangers;" his speech is therefore unintelligible, and no single soul of all those ruined by him has recognizable features.

On the other hand, the redeemable sins of avarice and prodigality are, in Dante's sight, those which are without deliberate or calculated operation. The lust, or lavishness, of riches can be purged, so long as there has been no servile consistency of dispute and competition for them. The sin is spoken of as that of degradation by the love of earth; it is purified by deeper humiliation—the souls crawl on their bellies; their chant is, "my soul cleaveth unto the dust." But the spirits thus condemned are all recognizable, and even the worst examples of the thirst for gold, which they are compelled to tell the histories of during the night, are of men swept by the passion of avarice into violent crime, but not sold to its steady work.

89. The precept given to each of these spirits for its deliverance is—Turn thine eyes to the lucre (lure) which the[Pg 165] Eternal King rolls with the mighty wheels. Otherwise, the wheels of the "Greater Fortune," of which the constellation is ascending when Dante's dream begins. Compare George Herbert—

"Lift up thy head;
Take stars for money; stars, not to be told
By any art, yet to be purchased."

And Plato's notable sentence in the third book of the Polity.—"Tell them they have divine gold and silver in their souls for ever; that they need no money stamped of men—neither may they otherwise than impiously mingle the gathering of the divine with the mortal treasure, for through that which the law of the multitude has coined, endless crimes have been done and suffered; but in their's is neither pollution nor sorrow."

90. At the entrance of this place of punishment an evil spirit is seen by Dante, quite other than the "Gran Nemico." The great enemy is obeyed knowingly and willingly; but this spirit—feminine—and called a Siren—is the "Deceitfulness of riches," απατη πλουτου of the Gospels, winning obedience by guile. This is the Idol of riches, made doubly phantasmal by Dante's seeing her in a dream. She is lovely to look upon, and enchants by her sweet singing, but her womb is loathsome. Now, Dante does not call her one of the Sirens carelessly, any more than he speaks of Charybdis carelessly; and though he had got at the meaning of the Homeric fable only through Virgil's obscure tradition of it, the clue he has given us is quite enough. Bacon's interpretation, "the Sirens, or pleasures," which has become universal since his time, is opposed alike to Plato's meaning and Homer's. The Sirens are not pleasures, but Desires: in the Odyssey they are the phantoms of vain desire; but in Plato's Vision of Destiny, phantoms of divine desire; singing each a different note on the circles of the distaff of Necessity, but forming one harmony, to which the three great Fates put words. Dante, however, adopted the Homeric conception of them, which was that they were demons of the Imagination, not carnal; (desire of the eyes; not lust of the flesh); therefore said to be daughters of the Muses. Yet not of the Muses, heavenly or historical[Pg 166] but of the Muse of pleasure; and they are at first winged, because even vain hope excites and helps when first formed; but afterwards, contending for the possession of the imagination with the Muses themselves, they are deprived of their wings.

91. And thus we are to distinguish the Siren power from the power of Circe, who is no daughter of the Muses, but of the strong elements, Sun and Sea; her power is that of frank, and full vital pleasure, which, if governed and watched, nourishes men; but, unwatched, and having no "moly," bitterness or delay, mixed with it, turns men into beasts, but does not slay them,—leaves them, on the contrary, power of revival. She is herself indeed an Enchantress;—pure Animal life; transforming—or degrading—but always wonderful (she puts the stores on board the ship invisibly, and is gone again, like a ghost); even the wild beasts rejoice and are softened around her cave; the transforming poisons she gives to men are mixed with no rich feast, but with pure and right nourishment,—Pramnian wine, cheese, and flour; that is, wine, milk, and corn, the three great sustainers of life—it is their own fault if these make swine of them; (see Appendix V.) and swine are chosen merely as the type of consumption; as Plato's ὑων πολις, in the second book of the Polity, and perhaps chosen by Homer with a deeper knowledge of the likeness in variety of nourishment, and internal form of body.

"Et quel est, s'il vous plait, cet audacieux animal qui se permet d'être bâti au dedans comme une jolie petite fille?"

"Hélas! chère enfant, j'ai honte de le nommer, et il ne faudra pas m'en vouloir. C'est ... c'est le cochon. Ce n'est pas précisément flatteur pour vous; mais nous en sommes tous là, et si cela vous contrarie par trop, il faut aller vous plaindre au bon Dieu qui a voulu que les choses fussent arrangées ainsi: seulement le cochon, qui ne pense qu'à manger, a l'estomac bien plus vaste que nous et c'est toujours une consolation."—(Histoire d'une Bouchée de Pain, Lettre ix.)

92. But the deadly Sirens are in all things opposed to the Circean power. They promise pleasure, but never give it. They nourish in no wise; but slay by slow death. And[Pg 167] whereas they corrupt the heart and the head, instead of merely betraying the senses, there is no recovery from their power; they do not tear nor scratch, like Scylla, but the men who have listened to them are poisoned, and waste away. Note that the Sirens' field is covered, not merely with the bones, but with the skins, of those who have been consumed there. They address themselves, in the part of the song which Homer gives, not to the passions of Ulysses, but to his vanity, and the only man who ever came within hearing of them, and escaped untempted, was Orpheus, who silenced the vain imaginations by singing the praises of the gods.

93. It is, then, one of these Sirens whom Dante takes as the phantasm or deceitfulness of riches; but note further, that she says it was her song that deceived Ulysses. Look back to Dante's account of Ulysses' death, and we find it was not the love of money, but pride of knowledge, that betrayed him; whence we get the clue to Dante's complete meaning: that the souls whose love of wealth is pardonable have been first deceived into pursuit of it by a dream of its higher uses, or by ambition. His Siren is therefore the Philotimé of Spenser, daughter of Mammon—

"Whom all that folk with such contention
Do flock about, my deare, my daughter is—
Honour and dignitie from her alone
Derived are."

By comparing Spenser's entire account of this Philotimé with Dante's of the Wealth-Siren, we shall get at the full meaning of both poets; but that of Homer lies hidden much more deeply. For his Sirens are indefinite; and they are desires of any evil thing; power of wealth is not specially indicated by him, until, escaping the 'harmonious danger of imagination, Ulysses has to choose between two practical ways of life, indicated by the two rocks of Scylla and Charybdis. The monsters that haunt them are quite distinct from the rocks themselves, which, having many other subordinate significations, are in the main Labour and Idleness, or getting and spending; each with its attendant monster, or betraying[Pg 168] demon. The rock of gaining has its summit in the clouds, invisible, and not to be climbed; that of spending is low, but marked by the cursed fig-tree, which has leaves, but no fruit. We know the type elsewhere; and there is a curious lateral allusion to it by Dante when Jacopo di Sant' Andrea, who had ruined himself by profusion and committed suicide, scatters the leaves of the bush of Lotto degli Agli, endeavouring to hide himself among them. We shall hereafter examine the type completely; here I will only give an approximate rendering of Homer's words, which have been obscured more by translation than even by tradition.

94. "They are overhanging rocks. The great waves of blue water break round them; and the blessed Gods call them the Wanderers.

"By one of them no winged thing can pass—not even the wild doves that bring ambrosia to their father Jove—but the smooth rock seizes its sacrifice of them." (Not even ambrosia to be had without Labour. The word is peculiar—as a part of anything is offered for Sacrifice; especially used of heave-offering.) "It reaches the wide heaven with its top, and a dark blue cloud rests on it, and never passes; neither does the clear sky hold it, in summer nor in harvest. Nor can any man climb it—not if he had twenty feet and hands, for it is smooth as though it were hewn.

"And in the midst of it is a cave which is turned the way of hell. And therein dwells Scylla, whining for prey: her cry, indeed, is no louder than that of a newly-born whelp: but she herself is an awful thing—nor can any creature see her face and be glad; no, though it were a god that rose against her. For she has twelve feet, all fore-feet, and six necks, and terrible heads on them; and each has three rows of teeth, full of black death.

"But the opposite rock is lower than this, though but a bow-shot distant; and upon it there is a great fig-tree, full of leaves; and under it the terrible Charybdis sucks down the black water. Thrice in the day she sucks it down, and thrice; casts it up again: be not thou there when she sucks down, for Neptune himself could not save thee."[Pg 169]

[Thus far went my rambling note, in Fraser's Magazine. The Editor sent me a compliment on it—of which I was very proud; what the Publisher thought of it, I am not informed; only I know that eventually he stopped the papers. I think a great deal of it myself, now, and have put it all in large print accordingly, and should like to write more; but will, on the contrary, self-denyingly, and in gratitude to any reader who has got through so much, end my chapter.]


[33] Remember this definition: it is of great importance as opposed to the imperfect ones usually given. When first these essays were published, I remember one of their reviewers asking contemptuously, "Is half-a-crown a document?" it never having before occurred to him that a document might be stamped as well as written, and stamped on silver as well as on parchment.

[34] I do not mean the demand of the holder of a five-pound note for five pounds, but the demand of the holder of a pound for a pound's worth of something good.

[35] [Read and think over, the following note very carefully.] The waste of labour in obtaining the gold, though it cannot be estimated by help of any existing data, may be understood in its bearing on entire economy by supposing it limited to transactions between two persons. If two farmers in Australia have been exchanging corn and cattle with each other for years, keeping their accounts of reciprocal debt in any simple way, the sum of the possessions of either would not be diminished, though the part of it which was lent or borrowed were only reckoned by marks on a stone, or notches on a tree; and the one counted himself accordingly, so many scratches, or so many notches, better than the other. But it would soon be seriously diminished if, discovering gold in their fields, each resolved only to accept golden counters for a reckoning; and accordingly, whenever he wanted a sack of corn or a cow, was obliged to go and wash sand for a week before he could get the means of giving a receipt for them.

[36] It is difficult to estimate the curious futility of discussions such as that which lately occupied a section of the British Association, on the absorption of gold, while no one can produce even the simplest of the data necessary for the inquiry. To take the first occurring one,—What means have we of ascertaining the weight of gold employed this year in the toilettes of the women of Europe (not to speak of Asia); and, supposing it known, what means of conjecturing the weight by which, next year, their fancies, and the changes of style among their jewellers, will diminish or increase it?

[37] See, in Pope's epistle to Lord Bathurst, his sketch of the difficulties and uses of a currency literally "pecuniary"—(consisting of herds of cattle).

"His Grace will game—to White's a bull be led," &c.

[38] Perhaps both; perhaps silver only. It may be found expedient ultimately to leave gold free for use in the arts. As a means of reckoning, the standard might be, and in some cases has already been, entirely ideal.—See Mill's Political Economy, book iii. chap. VII. at beginning.

[39] The purity of the drachma and zecchin were not without significance of the state of intellect, art, and policy, both in Athens and Venice;—a fact first impressed upon me ten years ago, when, in taking daguerreotypes at Venice, I found no purchaseable gold pure enough to gild them with, except that of the old Venetian zecchin.

[40] Under which term, observe, we include all documents of debt, which, being honest, might be transferable, though they practically are not transferred; while we exclude all documents which are in reality worthless, though in fact transferred temporarily, as bad money is. The document of honest debt, not transferred, is merely to paper currency as gold withdrawn from circulation is to that of bullion. Much confusion has crept into the reasoning on this subject from the idea that the withdrawal from circulation is a definable state, whereas it is a graduated state, and indefinable. The sovereign in my pocket is withdrawn from circulation as long as I choose to keep it there. It is no otherwise withdrawn if I bury it, nor even if I choose to make it, and others, into a golden cup, and drink out of them; since a rise in the price of the wine, or of other things, may at any time cause me to melt the cup and throw it back into currency; and the bullion operates on the prices of the things in the market as directly, though not as forcibly, while it is in the form of a cup as it does in the form of a sovereign. No calculation can be founded on my humour in either case. If I like to handle rouleaus, and therefore keep a quantity of gold, to play with, in the form of jointed basaltic columns, it is all one in its effect on the market as if I kept it in the form of twisted filigree, or, steadily "amicus lamnæ," beat the narrow gold pieces into broad ones, and dined off them. The probability is greater that I break the rouleau than that I melt the plate; but the increased probability is not calculable. Thus, documents are only withdrawn from the currency when cancelled, and bullion when it is so effectually lost as that the probability of finding it is no greater than of finding new gold in the mine.

[41] For example, suppose an active peasant, having got his ground into good order and built himself a comfortable house, finding time still on his hands, sees one of his neighbours little able to work, and ill-lodged, and offers to build him also a house, and to put his land in order, on condition of receiving for a given period rent for the building and tithe of the fruits. The offer is accepted, and a document given promissory of rent and tithe. This note is money. It can only be good money if the man who has incurred the debt so far recovers his strength as to be able to take advantage of the help he has received, and meet the demand of the note; if he lets his house fall to ruin, and his field to waste, his promissory note will soon be valueless: but the existence of the note at all is a consequence of his not having worked so stoutly as the other. Let him gain as much as to be able to pay back the entire debt; the note is cancelled, and we have two rich store-holders and no currency.

[42] [You need not trouble yourself to make out the sentence in parenthesis, unless you like, but do not think it is mere metaphor. It states a fact which I could not have stated so shortly, but by metaphor.]

[43] [What follows, to the end of the chapter, was a note only, in the first printing; but for after service, it is of more value than any other part of the book, so I have put it into the main text.]

[Pg 170]



95. As the currency conveys right of choice out of many things in exchange for one, so Commerce is the agency by which the power of choice is obtained; so that countries producing only timber can obtain for their timber silk and gold; or, naturally producing only jewels and frankincense, can obtain for them cattle and corn. In this function, commerce is of more importance to a country in proportion to the limitations of its products, and the restlessness of its fancy;—generally of greater importance towards Northern latitudes.

96. Commerce is necessary, however, not only to exchange local products, but local skill. Labour requiring the agency of fire can only be given abundantly in cold countries; labour requiring suppleness of body and sensitiveness of touch, only in warm ones; labour involving accurate vivacity of thought only in temperate ones; while peculiar imaginative actions are produced by extremes of heat and cold, and of light and darkness. The production of great art is limited to climates warm enough to admit of repose in the open air, and cool enough to render such repose delightful. Minor variations in modes of skill distinguish every locality. The labour which at any place is easiest, is in that place cheapest; and it becomes often desirable that products raised in one country should be wrought in another. Hence have arisen discussions on "International values" which will be one day remembered as highly curious exercises of the human mind. For it will be discovered, in due course of tide and time, that international value is regulated just as inter-provincial or inter-parishional value is. Coals and hops are exchanged between Northumberland and[Pg 171] Kent on absolutely the same principles as iron and wine between Lancashire and Spain. The greater breadth of an arm of the sea increases the cost, but does not modify the principle of exchange; and a bargain written in two languages will have no other economical results than a bargain written in one. The distances of nations are measured, not by seas, but by ignorances; and their divisions determined, not by dialects, but by enmities.[44]

97. Of course, a system of international values may always be constructed if we assume a relation of moral law to physical geography; as, for instance, that it is right to cheat or rob across a river, though not across a road; or across a sea, though not across a river, &c.;—again, a system of such values may be constructed by assuming similar relations of taxation to physical geography; as, for instance, that an article should be taxed in crossing a river, but not in crossing a road; or in being carried fifty miles, but not in being carried five, &c.; such positions are indeed not easily maintained when once put in logical form; but one law of international value is maintainable in any form: namely, that the farther your neighbour lives from you, and the less he understands you, the more you are bound to be true in your dealings with him; because your power over him is greater in proportion to his ignorance, and his remedy more difficult in proportion to his distance.[45]

98. I have just said the breadth of sea increases the cost of exchange. Now note that exchange, or commerce, in itself, is always costly; the sum of the value of the goods being diminished by the cost of their conveyance, and by the maintenance of the persons employed in it; so that it is only when there is advantage to both producers (in getting the one thing for the[Pg 172] other) greater than the loss in conveyance, that the exchange is expedient. And it can only be justly conducted when the porters kept by the producers (commonly called merchants) expect mere pay, and not profit.[46] For in just commerce there are but three parties—the two persons or societies exchanging, and the agent or agents of exchange; the value of the things to be exchanged is known by both the exchangers, and each receives equal value, neither gaining nor losing (for whatever one gains the other loses). The intermediate agent is paid a known per-centage by both, partly for labour in conveyance, partly for care, knowledge, and risk; every attempt at concealment of the amount of the pay indicates either effort on the part of the agent to obtain unjust profit, or effort on the part of the exchangers to refuse him just pay. But for the most part it is the first, namely, the effort on the part of the merchant to obtain larger profit (so-called) by buying cheap and selling dear. Some part, indeed, of this larger gain is deserved, and might be openly demanded, because it is the reward of the merchant's knowledge, and foresight of probable necessity; but the greater part of such gain is unjust; and unjust in this most fatal way, that it depends, first, on keeping the exchangers ignorant of the exchange value of the articles; and, secondly, on taking advantage of the buyer's need and the seller's poverty. It is, therefore, one of the essential, and quite the most fatal, forms of usury; for usury means merely taking an exorbitant[47] sum for the use of anything; and it is no matter whether the exorbitance is on loan or exchange, on rent or on price—the essence of the usury being that it is obtained by advantage of opportunity or necessity, and not as due reward for labour. All the great[Pg 173] thinkers, therefore, have held it to be unnatural and impious, in so far as it feeds on the distress of others, or their folly.[48] Nevertheless, attempts to repress it by law must for ever be ineffective; though Plato, Bacon, and the First Napoleon—all three of them men who knew somewhat more of humanity than the "British merchant" usually does—tried their hands at it, and have left some (probably) good moderative forms of law, which we will examine in their place. But the only final check upon it must be radical purifying of the national character, for being, as Bacon calls it, "concessum propter duritiem cordis," it is to be done away with by touching the heart only; not, however, without medicinal law—as in the case of the other permission, "propter duritiem." But in this more than in anything (though much in all, and though in this he would not himself allow of their application, for his own laws against usury are sharp enough), Plato's words in the fourth book of the Polity are true, that neither drugs, nor charms, nor burnings, will touch a deep-lying political sore, any more than a deep bodily one; but only right and utter change of constitution: and that "they do but lose their labour who think that by any tricks of law they can get the better of these mischiefs of commerce, and see not that they hew at a Hydra."

99. And indeed this Hydra seems so unslayable, and sin sticks so fast between the joinings of the stones of buying and selling, that "to trade" in things, or literally "cross-give" them, has warped itself, by the instinct of nations, into their worst word for fraud; for, because in trade there cannot but be trust, and it seems also that there cannot but also be injury in answer to it, what is merely fraud between enemies becomes treachery among friends: and "trader," "traditor," and "traitor" are but the same word. For which simplicity of language there is more reason than at first appears: for as in true commerce there is no "profit," so in true commerce there is no "sale." The idea of sale is that of an[Pg 174] interchange between enemies respectively endeavouring to get the better one of another; but commerce is an exchange between friends; and there is no desire but that it should be just, any more than there would be between members of the same family.[49] The moment there is a bargain over the pottage, the family relation is dissolved:—typically, "the days of mourning for my father are at hand." Whereupon follows the resolve, "then will I slay my brother."

100. This inhumanity of mercenary commerce is the more notable because it is a fulfilment of the law that the corruption of the best is the worst. For as, taking the body natural for symbol of the body politic, the governing and forming powers may be likened to the brain, and the labouring to the limbs, the mercantile, presiding over circulation and communication of things in changed utilities, is symbolized by the heart; and, if that hardens, all is lost. And this is the ultimate lesson which the leader of English intellect meant for us, (a lesson, indeed, not all his own, but part of the old wisdom of humanity), in the tale of the Merchant of Venice; in which the true and incorrupt merchant,—kind and free beyond every other Shakspearian conception of men,—is opposed to the corrupted merchant, or usurer; the lesson being deepened by the expression of the strange hatred which the corrupted merchant bears to the pure one, mixed with intense scorn,—

"This is the fool that lent out money gratis; look to him, jailer," (as to lunatic no less than criminal) the enmity, observe, having its symbolism literally carried out by being aimed straight at the heart, and finally foiled by a literal appeal to the great moral law that flesh and blood cannot be weighed, enforced by "Portia"[50] ("Portion"), the type of divine[Pg 175] Fortune, found, not in gold, nor in silver, but in lead, that is to say, in endurance and patience, not in splendour; and finally taught by her lips also, declaring, instead of the law and quality of "merces," the greater law and quality of mercy, which is not strained, but drops as the rain, blessing him that gives and him that takes. And observe that this "mercy" is not the mean "Misericordia," but the mighty "Gratia," answered by Gratitude, (observe Shylock's leaning on the, to him detestable, word, gratis, and compare the relations of Grace to Equity given in the second chapter of the second book of the Memorabilia;) that is to say, it is the gracious or loving, instead of the strained, or competing manner, of doing things, answered, not only with "merces" or pay, but with "merci" or thanks. And this is indeed the meaning of the great benediction "Grace, mercy, and peace," for there can be no peace without grace, (not even by help of rifled cannon), nor even without triplicity of graciousness, for the Greeks, who began but with one Grace, had to open their scheme into three before they had done.

101. With the usual tendency of long repeated thought, to take the surface for the deep, we have conceived these goddesses as if they only gave loveliness to gesture; whereas[Pg 176] their true function is to give graciousness to deed, the other loveliness arising naturally out of that. In which function Charis becomes Charitas;[51] and has a name and praise even greater than that of Faith or Truth, for these may be maintained sullenly and proudly; but Charis is in her countenance always gladdening (Aglaia), and in her service instant and humble; and the true wife of Vulcan, or Labour. And it is not until her sincerity of function is lost, and her mere beauty contemplated instead of her patience, that she is born again of the foam flake, and becomes Aphrodite; and it is then only that she becomes capable of joining herself to war and to the enmities of men, instead of to labour and their services. Therefore the fable of Mars and Venus is chosen by Homer, picturing himself as Demodocus, to sing at the games in the court of Alcinous. Phæacia is the Homeric island of Atlantis; an image of noble and wise government, concealed, (how slightly!) merely by the change of a short vowel for a long[Pg 177] one in the name of its queen; yet misunderstood by all later writers, (even by Horace, in his "pinguis, Phæaxque"). That fable expresses the perpetual error of men in thinking that grace and dignity can only be reached by the soldier, and never by the artisan; so that commerce and the useful arts have had the honour and beauty taken away, and only the Fraud and Pain left to them, with the lucre. Which is, indeed, one great reason of the continual blundering about the offices of government with respect to commerce. The higher classes are ashamed to employ themselves in it; and though ready enough to fight for (or occasionally against) the people,—to preach to them,—or judge them, will not break bread for them; the refined upper servant who has willingly looked after the burnishing of the armoury and ordering of the library, not liking to set foot in the larder.

102. Farther still. As Charis becomes Charitas on the one side, she becomes—better still—Chara, Joy, on the other; or rather this is her very mother's milk and the beauty of her childhood; for God brings no enduring Love, nor any other good, out of pain; nor out of contention; but out of joy and harmony. And in this sense, human and divine, music and gladness, and the measures of both, come into her name; and Cher becomes full-vowelled Cheer, and Cheerful; and Chara opens into Choir and Choral.[52]

103. And lastly. As Grace passes into Freedom of action, Charis becomes Eleutheria, or Liberality; a form of liberty quite curiously and intensely different from the thing usually[Pg 178] understood by "Liberty" in modern language: indeed, much more like what some people would call slavery: for a Greek always understood, primarily, by liberty, deliverance from the law of his own passions (or from what the Christian writers call bondage of corruption), and this a complete liberty: not being merely safe from the Siren, but also unbound from the mast, and not having to resist the passion, but making it fawn upon, and follow him—(this may be again partly the meaning of the fawning beasts about the Circean cave; so, again, George Herbert—

Correct thy passion's spite,
Then may the beasts draw thee to happy light)—

And it is only in such generosity that any man becomes capable of so governing others as to take true part in any system of national economy. Nor is there any other eternal distinction between the upper and lower classes than this form of liberty, Eleutheria, or benignity, in the one, and its opposite of slavery, Douleia, or malignity, in the other; the separation of these two orders of men, and the firm government of the lower by the higher, being the first conditions of possible wealth and economy in any state,—the Gods giving it no greater gift than the power to discern its true freemen, and "malignum spernere vulgus."

104. While I have traced the finer and higher laws of this matter for those whom they concern, I have also to note the material law—vulgarly expressed in the proverb, "Honesty is the best policy." That proverb is indeed wholly inapplicable to matters of private interest. It is not true that honesty, as far as material gain is concerned, profits individuals. A clever and cruel knave will in a mixed society always be richer than an honest person can be. But Honesty is the best "policy," if policy mean practice of State. For fraud gains nothing in a State. It only enables the knaves in it to live at the expense of honest people; while there is for every act of fraud, however small, a loss of wealth to the[Pg 179] community. Whatever the fraudulent person gains, some other person loses, as fraud produces nothing; and there is, besides, the loss of the time and thought spent in accomplishing the fraud, and of the strength otherwise obtainable by mutual help (not to speak of the fevers of anxiety and jealousy in the blood, which are a heavy physical loss, as I will show in due time). Practically, when the nation is deeply corrupt cheat answers to cheat; every one is in turn imposed upon, and there is to the body politic the dead loss of the ingenuity, together with the incalculable mischief of the injury to each defrauded person, producing collateral effect unexpectedly. My neighbour sells me bad meat: I sell him in return flawed iron. We neither of us get one atom of pecuniary advantage on the whole transaction, but we both suffer unexpected inconvenience; my men get scurvy, and his cattle-truck runs off the rails.

105. The examination of this form of Charis must, therefore, lead us into the discussion of the principles of government in general, and especially of that of the poor by the rich, discovering how the Graciousness joined with the Greatness, or Love with Majestas, is the true Dei Gratia, or Divine Right, of every form and manner of King; i. e., specifically, of the thrones, dominations, princedoms, virtues, and powers of the earth:—of the thrones, stable, or "ruling," literally right-doing powers ("rex eris, recte si facies"):—of the dominations—lordly, edifying, dominant and harmonious powers; chiefly domestic, over the "built thing," domus, or house; and inherently twofold, Dominus and Domina; Lord and Lady:—of the Princedoms, pre-eminent, incipient, creative, and demonstrative powers; thus poetic and mercantile, in the "princeps carmen deduxisse" and the merchant-prince:—of the Virtues or Courages; militant, guiding, or Ducal powers:—and finally of the Strengths, or Forces pure; magistral powers, of the More over the less, and the forceful and free over the weak and servile elements of life.

Subject enough for the next paper, involving "economical" principles of some importance, of which, for theme, here is a sentence, which I do not care to translate, for it would sound[Pg 180] harsh in English,[53] though, truly, it is one of the tenderest ever uttered by man; which may be meditated over, or rather through, in the meanwhile, by any one who will take the pains:—

Αρ' ουν, ὡσπερ Ἱππος τω ανεπιστημονι μεν εγχειρουντι δε χρησθαι ζημια εστιν, ουτω και αδελφος, ὁταν τις αυτω μη επισταμενος εγχειρ χρησθαι, ζημια εστι;


[44] I have repeated the substance of this and the next paragraph so often since, that I am ashamed and weary. The thing is too true, and too simple, it seems, for anybody ever to believe. Meantime, the theories of "international values," as explained by Modern Political Economy, have brought about last year's pillage of France by Germany, and the affectionate relations now existing in consequence between the inhabitants of the right and left banks of the Rhine.

[45] I wish some one would examine and publish accurately the late dealings of the Governors of the Cape with the Caffirs.

[46] By "pay," I mean wages for labour or skill; by "profit," gain dependent on the state of the market.

[47] Since I wrote this, I have worked out the question of interest of money, which always, until lately, had embarrassed and defeated me; and I find that the payment of interest of any amount whatever is real "usury," and entirely unjustifiable. I was shown this chiefly by the pamphlets issued by Mr. W. C. Sillar, though I greatly regret the impatience which causes Mr. Sillar to regard usury as the radical crime in political economy. There are others worse, that act with it.

[48] Hence Dante's companionship of Cahors, Inf., canto xi., supported by the view taken of the matter throughout the middle ages, in common with the Greeks.

[49] I do not wonder when I re-read this, that people talk about my "sentiment." But there is no sentiment whatever in the matter. It is a hard and bare commercial fact, that if two people deal together who don't try to cheat each other, they will in a given time, make more money out of each other than if they do. See § 104.

[50] Shakspeare would certainly never have chosen this name had he been forced to retain the Roman spelling. Like Perdita, "lost lady," or Cordelia, "heart-lady," Portia is "fortune" lady. The two great relative groups of words, Fortuna, fero, and fors—Portio, porto, and pars (with the lateral branch, op-portune, im-portune, opportunity, &c.), are of deep and intricate significance; their various senses of bringing, abstracting, and sustaining being all centralized by the wheel (which bears and moves at once), or still better, the ball (spera) of Fortune,—"Volve sua spera, e beata si gode:" the motive power of this wheel distinguishing its goddess from the fixed majesty of Necessitas with her iron nails; or ανανκη, with her pillar of fire and iridescent orbits, fixed at the centre. Portus and porta, and gate in its connexion with gain, form another interesting branch group; and Mors, the concentration of delaying, is always to be remembered with Fors, the concentration of bringing and bearing, passing on into Fortis and Fortitude.

[This note is literally a mere memorandum for the future work which I am now completing in Fors Clavigera; it was printed partly in vanity, but also with real desire to get people to share the interest I found in the careful study of the leading words in noble languages. Compare the next note.]

[51] As Charis becomes Charitas, the word "Cher," or "Dear," passes from Shylock's sense of it (to buy cheap and sell dear) into Antonio's sense of it: emphasized with the final i in tender "Cheri," and hushed to English calmness in our noble "Cherish." The reader must not think that any care can be misspent in tracing the connexion and power of the words which we have to use in the sequel. (See Appendix VI.) Much education sums itself in making men economize their words, and understand them. Nor is it possible to estimate the harm which has been done, in matters of higher speculation and conduct, by loose verbiage, though we may guess at it by observing the dislike which people show to having anything about their religion said to them in simple words, because then they understand it. Thus congregations meet weekly to invoke the influence of a Spirit of Life and Truth; yet if any part of that character were intelligibly expressed to them by the formulas of the service, they would be offended. Suppose, for instance, in the closing benediction, the clergyman were to give vital significance to the vague word "Holy," and were to say, "the fellowship of the Helpful and Honest Ghost be with you, and remain with you always," what would be the horror of many, first at the irreverence of so intelligible an expression; and secondly, at the discomfortable occurrence of the suspicion that while throughout the commercial dealings of the week they had denied the propriety of Help, and possibility of Honesty, the Person whose company they had been now asking to be blessed with could have no fellowship with cruel people or knaves.

[52] "τα μεν ουν αγγα ζωα ουκ εχειν αισθησιν των εν ταις κινησεσι ταξεων ουδε αταξιων οις δη ρυθμος υνομα και ἁομονια ημιν δε ους ειπομεν τους Θεους (Apollo, the Muses, and Bacchus—the grave Bacchus, that is—ruling the choir of age; or Bacchus restraining; 'sæva tene, cum Berecyntio cornu tympana,' &c.) συνχορευτας δεδοσθαι, τουτους ειναι και τους δεδωκοτας την ενρυθμον τε και εναρμονιον αισθησιν μεθ' ηδονης ... χορους τε ωνομακεναι παρα της χαρας εμφυτον ονομα." "Other animals have no perception of order nor of disorder in motion; but for us, Apollo and Bacchus and the Muses are appointed to mingle in our dances; and there are they who have given us the sense of delight in rhythm and harmony. And the name of choir, choral dance, (we may believe,) came from chara (delight)."—Laws, book ii.

[53] [My way now, is to say things plainly, if I can, whether they sound harsh or not;—this is the translation—"Is it possible, then, that as a horse is only a mischief to any one who attempts to use him without knowing how, so also our brother, if we attempt to use him without knowing how, may be a mischief to us?"]

[Pg 181]



106. It remains for us, as I stated in the close of the last chapter, to examine first the principles of government in general, and then those of the government of the Poor by the Rich.

The government of a state consists in its customs, laws, and councils, and their enforcements.

I. Customs.

As one person primarily differs from another by fineness of nature, and, secondarily, by fineness of training, so also, a polite nation differs from a savage one, first, by the refinement of its nature, and secondly by the delicacy of its customs.

In the completeness of custom, which is the nation's self-government, there are three stages—first, fineness in method of doing or of being;—called the manner or moral of acts; secondly, firmness in holding such method after adoption, so that it shall become a habit in the character: i. e., a constant "having" or "behaving;" and, lastly, ethical power in performance and endurance, which is the skill following on habit, and the ease reached by frequency of right doing.

The sensibility of the nation is indicated by the fineness of its customs; its courage, continence, and self-respect by its persistence in them.

By sensibility I mean its natural perception of beauty, fitness, and rightness; or of what is lovely, decent, and just: faculties dependent much on race, and the primal signs of fine breeding in man; but cultivable also by education, and necessarily perishing without it. True education has, indeed, no other function than the development of these[Pg 182] faculties, and of the relative will. It has been the great error of modern intelligence to mistake science for education. You do not educate a man by telling him what he knew not, but by making him what he was not.

And making him what he will remain for ever: for no wash of weeds will bring back the faded purple. And in that dyeing there are two processes—first, the cleansing and wringing-out, which is the baptism with water; and then the infusing of the blue and scarlet colours, gentleness and justice, which is the baptism with fire.

107.[54] The customs and manners of a sensitive and highly-trained race are always Vital: that is to say, they are orderly manifestations of intense life, like the habitual action of the fingers of a musician. The customs and manners of a vile and rude race, on the contrary, are conditions of decay: they are not, properly speaking, habits, but incrustations; not restraints, or forms, of life; but gangrenes, noisome, and the beginnings of death.

And generally, so far as custom attaches itself to indolence instead of action, and to prejudice instead of perception, it takes this deadly character, so that thus

Custom hangs upon us with a weight
Heavy as frost, and deep almost as life.

But that weight, if it become impetus, (living instead of dead weight) is just what gives value to custom, when it works with life, instead of against it.

108. The high ethical training of a nation implies perfect Grace, Pitifulness, and Peace; it is irreconcilably inconsistent with filthy or mechanical employments,—with the desire of money,—and with mental states of anxiety, jealousy, or indifference to pain. The present insensibility of the upper classes of Europe to the surrounding aspects of suffering, uncleanness, and crime, binds them not only into one responsibility with the sin, but into one dishonour with the foulness,[Pg 183] which rot at their thresholds. The crimes daily recorded in the police-courts of London and Paris (and much more those which are unrecorded) are a disgrace to the whole body politic;[55] they are, as in the body natural, stains of disease on a face of delicate skin, making the delicacy itself frightful. Similarly, the filth and poverty permitted or ignored in the midst of us are as dishonourable to the whole social body, as in the body natural it is to wash the face, but leave the hands and feet foul. Christ's way is the only true one: begin at the feet; the face will take care of itself.

109. Yet, since necessarily, in the frame of a nation, nothing but the head can be of gold, and the feet, for the work they have to do, must be part of iron, part of clay;—foul or mechanical work is always reduced by a noble race to the minimum in quantity; and, even then, performed and endured, not without sense of degradation, as a fine temper is wounded by the sight of the lower offices of the body. The highest conditions of human society reached hitherto have cast such work to slaves; but supposing slavery of a politically defined kind to be done away with, mechanical and foul employment must, in all highly organized states, take the aspect either of punishment or probation. All criminals should at once be set to the most dangerous and painful forms of it, especially to work in mines and at furnaces,[56] so as to relieve[Pg 184] the innocent population as far as possible: of merely rough (not mechanical) manual labour, especially agricultural, a large portion should be done by the upper classes;—bodily health, and sufficient contrast and repose for the mental functions, being unattainable without it; what necessarily inferior labour remains to be done, as especially in manufactures, should, and always will, when the relations of society are reverent and harmonious, fall to the lot of those who, for the time, are fit for nothing better. For as, whatever the perfectness of the educational system, there must remain infinite differences between the natures and capacities of men; and these differing natures are generally rangeable under the two qualities of lordly, (or tending towards rule, construction, and harmony), and servile (or tending towards misrule, destruction, and discord); and[Pg 185] since the lordly part is only in a state of profitableness while ruling, and the servile only in a state of redeemableness while serving, the whole health of the state depends on the manifest separation of these two elements of its mind; for, if the servile part be not separated and rendered visible in service, it mixes with, and corrupts, the entire body of the state; and if the lordly part be not distinguished, and set to rule, it is crushed and lost, being turned to no account, so that the rarest qualities of the nation are all given to it in vain.[57]

II. Laws.

110. These are the definitions and bonds of custom, or of what the nation desires should become custom.

Law is either archic,[58] (of direction), meristic, (of division), or critic, (of judgment).

Archic law is that of appointment and precept: it defines what is and is not to be done.

Meristic law is that of balance and distribution: it defines what is and is not to be possessed.

Critic law is that of discernment and award: it defines what is and is not to be suffered.

111. A. Archic Law. If we choose to unite the laws of precept and distribution under the head of "statutes," all law[Pg 186] is simply either of statute or judgment; that is, first the establishment of ordinance, and, secondly, the assignment of the reward, or penalty, due to its observance or violation.

To some extent these two forms of law must be associated, and, with every ordinance, the penalty of disobedience to it be also determined. But since the degrees and guilt of disobedience vary, the determination of due reward and punishment must be modified by discernment of special fact, which is peculiarly the office of the judge, as distinguished from that of the lawgiver and law-sustainer, or king; not but that the two offices are always theoretically, and in early stages, or limited numbers, of society, are often practically, united in the same person or persons.

112. Also, it is necessary to keep clearly in view the distinction between these two kinds of law, because the possible range of law is wider in proportion to their separation. There are many points of conduct respecting which the nation may wisely express its will by a written precept or resolve, yet not enforce it by penalty:[59] and the expedient degree of penalty is always quite a separate consideration from the expedience of the statute; for the statute may often be better enforced by mercy than severity, and is also easier in the bearing, and less likely to be abrogated. Farther, laws of precept have reference especially to youth, and concern themselves with training; but laws of judgment to manhood, and concern themselves with remedy and reward. There is a highly curious feeling in the English mind against educational law: we think no man's liberty should be interfered with till he has done irrevocable wrong; whereas it is then just too late for the only gracious and kingly interference, which is to hinder him from doing it. Make your educational laws strict, and[Pg 187] your criminal ones may be gentle; but, leave youth its liberty and you will have to dig dungeons for age. And it is good for a man that he "wear the yoke in his youth:" for the reins may then be of silken thread; and with sweet chime of silver bells at the bridle; but, for the captivity of age, you must forge the iron fetter, and cast the passing bell.

113. Since no law can be, in a final or true sense, established, but by right, (all unjust laws involving the ultimate necessity of their own abrogation), the law-giving can only become a law-sustaining power in so far as it is Royal, or "right doing;"—in so far, that is, as it rules, not misrules, and orders, not dis-orders, the things submitted to it. Throned on this rock of justice, the kingly power becomes established and establishing; "θειος," or divine, and, therefore, it is literally true that no ruler can err, so long as he is a ruler, or αρχων ουδεις αμαρτανει τοτε ὁταν αρχων η; perverted by careless thought, which has cost the world somewhat, into—"the king can do no wrong."

114. B. Meristic Law,[60] or that of the tenure of property, first determines what every individual possesses by right, and secures it to him; and what he possesses by wrong, and deprives him of it. But it has a far higher provisory function: it determines what every man should possess, and puts it within his reach on due conditions; and what he should not possess, and puts this out of his reach, conclusively.

115. Every article of human wealth has certain conditions attached to its merited possession; when these are unobserved, possession becomes rapine. And the object of meristic law is not only to secure to every man his rightful share (the share, that is, which he has worked for, produced, or received by gift from a rightful owner), but to enforce the due conditions of possession, as far as law may conveniently reach; for instance, that land shall not be wantonly allowed to run to waste, that streams shall not be poisoned by the persons through whose properties they pass, nor air be rendered unwholesome[Pg 188] beyond given limits. Laws of this kind exist already in rudimentary degree, but need large development; the just laws respecting the possession of works of art have not hitherto been so much as conceived, and the daily loss of national wealth, and of its use, in this respect, is quite incalculable. And these laws need revision quite as much respecting property in national as in private hands. For instance: the public are under a vague impression that, because they have paid for the contents of the British Museum, every one has an equal right to see and to handle them. But the public have similarly paid for the contents of Woolwich arsenal; yet do not expect free access to it, or handling of its contents. The British Museum is neither a free circulating library, nor a free school: it is a place for the safe preservation, and exhibition on due occasion, of unique books, unique objects of natural history, and unique works of art; its books can no more be used by everybody than its coins can be handled, or its statues cast. There ought to be free libraries in every quarter of London, with large and complete reading-rooms attached; so also free educational museums should be open in every quarter of London, all day long, until late at night, well lighted, well catalogued, and rich in contents both of art and natural history. But neither the British Museum nor National Gallery is a school; they are treasuries; and both should be severely restricted in access and in use. Unless some order of this kind is made, and that soon, for the MSS. department of the Museum, (its superintendents have sorrowfully told me this, and repeatedly), the best MSS. in the collection will be destroyed, irretrievably, by the careless and continual handling to which they are now subjected.

Finally, in certain conditions of a nation's progress, laws limiting accumulation of any kind of property may be found expedient.

116. C. Critic Law determines questions of injury, and assigns due rewards and punishments to conduct.

Two curious economical questions arise laterally with respect to this branch of law, namely, the cost of crime, and[Pg 189] the cost of judgment. The cost of crime is endured by nations ignorantly, that expense being nowhere stated in their budgets; the cost of judgment, patiently, (provided only it can be had pure for the money), because the science, or perhaps we ought rather to say the art, of law, is felt to found a noble profession and discipline; so that civilized nations are usually glad that a number of persons should be supported by exercise in oratory and analysis. But it has not yet been calculated what the practical value might have been, in other directions, of the intelligence now occupied in deciding, through courses of years, what might have been decided as justly, had the date of judgment been fixed, in as many hours. Imagine one half of the funds which any great nation devotes to dispute by law, applied to the determination of physical questions in medicine, agriculture, and theoretic science; and calculate the probable results within the next ten years!

I say nothing yet of the more deadly, more lamentable loss, involved in the use of purchased, instead of personal, justice—"επακτω παρ αλλων—απορια οικεων."

117. In order to true analysis of critic law, we must understand the real meaning of the word "injury."

We commonly understand by it, any kind of harm done by one man to another; but we do not define the idea of harm: sometimes we limit it to the harm which the sufferer is conscious of; whereas much the worst injuries are those he is unconscious of; and, at other times, we limit the idea to violence, or restraint; whereas much the worse forms of injury are to be accomplished by indolence, and the withdrawal of restraint.

118. "Injury" is then simply the refusal, or violation of, any man's right or claim upon his fellows: which claim, much talked of in modern times, under the term "right," is mainly resolvable into two branches: a man's claim not to be hindered from doing what he should; and his claim to be hindered from doing what he should not; these two forms of hindrance being intensified by reward, help, and fortune, or Fors, on one side, and by punishment, impediment, and even final arrest, or Mors, on the other.[Pg 190]

119. Now, in order to a man's obtaining these two rights, it is clearly needful that the worth of him should be approximately known; as well as the want of worth, which has, unhappily, been usually the principal subject of study for critic law, careful hitherto only to mark degrees of de-merit, instead of merit;—assigning, indeed, to the Deficiencies (not always, alas! even to these) just estimate, fine, or penalty; but to the Efficiencies, on the other side, which are by much the more interesting, as well as the only profitable part of its subject, assigning neither estimate nor aid.

120. Now, it is in this higher and perfect function of critic law, enabling instead of disabling, that it becomes truly Kingly, instead of Draconic: (what Providence gave the great, wrathful legislator his name?): that is, it becomes the law of man and of life, instead of the law of the worm and of death—both of these laws being set in changeless poise one against another, and the enforcement of both being the eternal function of the lawgiver, and true claim of every living soul: such claim being indeed strong to be mercifully hindered, and even, if need be, abolished, when longer existence means only deeper destruction, but stronger still to be mercifully helped, and recreated, when longer existence and new creation mean nobler life. So that reward and punishment will be found to resolve themselves mainly[61] into help and hindrance; and these again will issue naturally from time recognition of deserving, and the just reverence and just wrath which follow instinctively on such recognition.

121. I say, "follow," but, in reality, they are part of the recognition. Reverence is as instinctive as anger;—both of them instant on true vision: it is sight and understanding that we have to teach, and these are reverence. Make a man perceive worth, and in its reflection he sees his own relative unworth, and worships thereupon inevitably, not with stiff courtesy, but rejoicingly, passionately, and, best of all, restfully: for the inner capacity of awe and love is infinite in[Pg 191] man, and only in finding these, can we find peace. And the common insolences and petulances of the people, and their talk of equality, are not irreverence in them in the least, but mere blindness, stupefaction, and fog in the brains,[62] the first sign of any cleansing away of which is, that they gain some power of discerning, and some patience in submitting to, their true counsellors and governors. In the mode of such discernment consists the real "constitution" of the state, more than in the titles or offices of the discerned person; for it is no matter, save in degree of mischief, to what office a man is appointed, if he cannot fulfil it.

122. III. Government by Council.

This is the determination, by living authority, of the national conduct to be observed under existing circumstances; and the modification or enlargement, abrogation or enforcement, of the code of national law according to present needs or purposes. This government is necessarily always by council, for though the authority of it may be vested in one person, that person cannot form any opinion on a matter of public interest but by (voluntarily or involuntarily) submitting himself to the influence of others.

This government is always twofold—visible and invisible.

The visible government is that which nominally carries on the national business; determines its foreign relations, raises taxes, levies soldiers, orders war or peace, and otherwise becomes the arbiter of the national fortune. The invisible government is that exercised by all energetic and intelligent men, each in his sphere, regulating the inner will and secret ways of the people, essentially forming its character, and preparing its fate.

Visible governments are the toys of some nations, the diseases of others, the harness of some, the burdens of more[Pg 192] the necessity of all. Sometimes their career is quite distinct from that of the people, and to write it, as the national history, is as if one should number the accidents which befall a man's weapons and wardrobe, and call the list his biography. Nevertheless, a truly noble and wise nation necessarily has a noble and wise visible government, for its wisdom issues in that conclusively.

123. Visible governments are, in their agencies, capable of three pure forms, and of no more than three.

They are either monarchies, where the authority is vested in one person; oligarchies, when it is vested in a minority; or democracies, when vested in a majority.

But these three forms are not only, in practice, variously limited and combined, but capable of infinite difference in character and use, receiving specific names according to their variations; which names, being nowise agreed upon, nor consistently used, either in thought or writing, no man can at present tell, in speaking of any kind of government, whether he is understood; nor, in hearing, whether he understands. Thus we usually call a just government by one person a monarchy, and an unjust or cruel one, a tyranny: this might be reasonable if it had reference to the divinity of true government; but to limit the term "oligarchy" to government by a few rich people, and to call government by a few wise or noble people "aristocracy," is evidently absurd, unless it were proved that rich people never could be wise, or noble people rich; and farther absurd, because there are other distinctions in character, as well as riches or wisdom (greater purity of race, or strength of purpose, for instance), which may give the power of government to the few. So that if we had to give names to every group or kind of minority, we should have verbiage enough. But there is only one right name—"oligarchy."

124. So also the terms "republic" and "democracy"[63] are[Pg 193] confused, especially in modern use; and both of them are liable to every sort of misconception. A republic means, properly, a polity in which the state, with its all, is at every man's service, and every man, with his all, at the state's service—(people are apt to lose sight of the last condition), but its government may nevertheless be oligarchic (consular, or decemviral, for instance), or monarchic (dictatorial). But a democracy means a state in which the government rests directly with the majority of the citizens. And both these conditions have been judged only by such accidents and aspects of them as each of us has had experience of; and sometimes both have been confused with anarchy, as it is the fashion at present to talk of the "failure of republican institutions in America," when there has never yet been in America any such thing as an institution, but only defiance of institution; neither any such thing as a res-publica, but only a multitudinous res-privata; every man for himself. It is not republicanism which fails now in America; it is your model science of political economy, brought to its perfect practice. There you may see competition, and the "law of demand and supply" (especially in paper), in beautiful and unhindered operation.[64] Lust of wealth, and trust in it; vulgar faith in magnitude and multitude, instead of nobleness; besides that faith natural to backwoodsmen—"lucum ligna,"[65]—perpetual self-contemplation, issuing in passionate vanity; total ignorance of the finer and higher arts, and of all that they teach and bestow; and the discontent of energetic minds unoccupied, frantic with hope of uncomprehended change, and progress they know not whither;[66]—these are the things that[Pg 194] have "failed" in America; and yet not altogether failed—it is not collapse, but collision; the greatest railroad accident on record, with fire caught from the furnace, and Catiline's quenching "non aquâ, sed ruinâ."[67] But I see not, in any of our talk of them, justice enough done to their erratic strength of purpose, nor any estimate taken of the strength of endurance of domestic sorrow, in what their women and children suppose a righteous cause. And out of that endurance and suffering, its own fruit will be born with time; [not abolition of slavery, however. See § 130.] and Carlyle's prophecy of them (June, 1850), as it has now come true in the first clause, will, in the last:—

"America, too, will find that caucuses, divisionalists, stump-oratory, and speeches to Buncombe will not carry men to the immortal gods; that the Washington Congress, and constitutional battle of Kilkenny cats is there, as here, naught for such objects; quite incompetent for such; and, in fine, that said sublime constitutional arrangement will require to be (with terrible throes, and travail such as few expect yet) remodelled, abridged, extended, suppressed, torn asunder, put together again—not without heroic labour and effort, quite other than that of the stump-orator and the revival preacher, one day."

125.[68] Understand, then, once for all, that no form of government, provided it be a government at all, is, as such, to be either condemned or praised, or contested for in anywise, but[Pg 195] by fools. But all forms of government are good just so far as they attain this one vital necessity of policy—that the wise and kind, few or many, shall govern the unwise and unkind; and they are evil so far as they miss of this, or reverse it. Not does the form, in any case, signify one whit, but its firmness, and adaptation to the need; for if there be many foolish persons in a state, and few wise, then it is good that the few govern; and if there be many wise, and few foolish, then it is good that the many govern; and if many be wise, yet one wiser, then it is good that one should govern; and so on. Thus, we may have "the ant's republic, and the realm of bees," both good in their kind; one for groping, and the other for building; and nobler still, for flying;—the Ducal monarchy[69] of those

Intelligent of seasons, that set forth
The aery caravan, high over seas.

126. Nor need we want examples, among the inferior creatures, of dissoluteness, as well as resoluteness, in government. I once saw democracy finely illustrated by the beetles of North Switzerland, who by universal suffrage, and elytric acclamation, one May twilight, carried it, that they would fly over the Lake of Zug; and flew short, to the great disfigurement of the Lake of Zug,—Κανθαρον λιμην—over some leagues square, and to the close of the cockchafer democracy for that year. Then, for tyranny, the old fable of the frogs and the stork finely touches one form of it; but truth will image it more closely than fable, for tyranny is not complete when it is only over the idle, but when it is over the laborious and the blind. This description of pelicans and climbing perch, which I find quoted in one of our popular natural histories, out of Sir Emerson Tennant's Ceylon, comes as near as may be to the true image of the thing:[Pg 196]

"Heavy rains came on, and as we stood on the high ground, we observed a pelican on the margin of the shallow pool gorging himself; our people went towards him, and raised a cry of 'Fish, fish!' We hurried down, and found numbers of fish struggling upward through the grass, in the rills formed by the trickling of the rain. There was scarcely water to cover them, but nevertheless they made rapid progress up the bank, on which our followers collected about two baskets of them. They were forcing their way up the knoll, and had they not been interrupted, first by the pelican, and afterwards by ourselves, they would in a few minutes have gained the highest point, and descended on the other side into a pool which formed another portion of the tank. In going this distance, however, they must have used muscular exertion enough to have taken them half a mile on level ground; for at these places all the cattle and wild animals of the neighbourhood had latterly come to drink, so that the surface was everywhere indented with footmarks, in addition to the cracks in the surrounding baked mud, into which the fish tumbled in their progress. In those holes, which were deep, and the sides perpendicular, they remained to die, and were carried off by kites and crows."[70]

127. But whether governments be bad or good, one general disadvantage seems to attach to them in modern times—that they are all costly.[71] This, however, is not essentially the fault of the governments. If nations choose to play at war, they will always find their governments willing to lead the game, and soon coming under that term of Aristophanes, "καπηλοι ασπιδων," "shield-sellers." And when (πημ επι πηματι)[72] the shields take the form of iron ships, with apparatus[Pg 197] "for defence against liquid fire,"—as I see by latest accounts they are now arranging the decks in English dockyards—they become costly biers enough for the grey convoy of chief mourner waves, wreathed with funereal foam, to bear back the dead upon; the massy shoulders of those corpse-bearers being intended for quite other work, and to bear the living, and food for the living, if we would let them.

128. Nor have we the least right to complain of our governments being expensive, so long as we set the government to do precisely the work which brings no return. If our present doctrines of political economy be just, let us trust them to the utmost; take that war business out of the government's hands, and test therein the principles of supply and demand. Let our future sieges of Sebastopol be done by contract—no capture, no pay—(I admit that things might sometimes go better so); and let us sell the commands of our prospective battles, with our vicarages, to the lowest bidder; so may we have cheap victories, and divinity. On the other hand, if we have so much suspicion of our science that we dare not trust it on military or spiritual business, would it not be but reasonable to try whether some authoritative handling may not prosper in matters utilitarian? If we were to set our governments to do useful things instead of mischievous, possibly even the apparatus itself might in time come to be less costly. The machine, applied to the building of the house, might perhaps pay, when it seems not to pay, applied to pulling it down. If we made in our dockyards ships to carry timber and coals, instead of cannon, and with provision for the brightening of domestic solid culinary fire, instead of for the scattering of liquid hostile fire, it might have some effect on the taxes. Or suppose that we tried the experiment on land instead of water carriage; already the government, not unapproved, carries letters and parcels for us; larger packages may in time follow;—even general merchandise—why not, at last, ourselves? Had the money spent in local mistakes and vain private litigation, on the railroads of England, been laid out, instead, under proper government restraint, on really useful railroad work, and had no absurd expense been incurred[Pg 198] in ornamenting stations, we might already have had,—what ultimately it will be found we must have,—quadruple rails, two for passengers, and two for traffic, on every great line; and we might have been carried in swift safety, and watched and warded by well-paid pointsmen, for half the present fares. [For, of course, a railroad company is merely an association of turnpike-keepers, who make the tolls as high as they can, not to mend the roads with, but to pocket. The public will in time discover this, and do away with turnpikes on railroads, as on all other public-ways.]

129. Suppose it should thus turn out, finally, that a true government set to true work, instead of being a costly engine, was a paying one? that your government, rightly organized, instead of itself subsisting by an income-tax, would produce its subjects some subsistence in the shape of an income dividend?—police, and judges duly paid besides, only with less work than the state at present provides for them.

A true government set to true work!—Not easily to be imagined, still less obtained; but not beyond human hope or ingenuity. Only you will have to alter your election systems somewhat, first. Not by universal suffrage, nor by votes purchasable with beer, is such government to be had. That is to say, not by universal equal suffrage. Every man upwards of twenty, who has been convicted of no legal crime, should have his say in this matter; but afterwards a louder voice, as he grows older, and approves himself wiser. If he has one vote at twenty, he should have two at thirty, four at forty, ten at fifty. For every single vote which he has with an income of a hundred a year, he should have ten with an income of a thousand, (provided you first see to it that wealth is, as nature intended it to be, the reward of sagacity and industry—not of good luck in a scramble or a lottery). For every single vote which he had as subordinate in any business, he should have two when he became a master; and every office and authority nationally bestowed, implying trustworthiness and intellect, should have its known proportional number of votes attached to it. But into the detail and working of a true system in these matters we cannot now enter; we are concerned[Pg 199] as yet with definitions only, and statements of first principles, which will be established now sufficiently for our purposes when we have examined the nature of that form of government last on the list in § 105,—the purely "Magistral," exciting at present its full share of public notice, under its ambiguous title of "slavery."

130. I have not, however, been able to ascertain in definite terms, from the declaimers against slavery, what they understand by it. If they mean only the imprisonment or compulsion of one person by another, such imprisonment or compulsion being in many cases highly expedient, slavery, so defined, would be no evil in itself, but only in its abuse; that is, when men are slaves, who should not be, or masters, who should not be, or even the fittest characters for either state, placed in it under conditions which should not be. It is not, for instance, a necessary condition of slavery, nor a desirable one, that parents should be separated from children, or husbands from wives; but the institution of war, against which people declaim with less violence, effects such separations,—not unfrequently in a very permanent manner. To press a sailor, seize a white youth by conscription for a soldier, or carry off a black one for a labourer, may all be right acts, or all wrong ones, according to needs and circumstances. It is wrong to scourge a man unnecessarily. So it is to shoot him. Both must be done on occasion; and it is better and kinder to flog a man to his work, than to leave him idle till he robs, and flog him afterwards. The essential thing for all creatures is to be made to do right; how they are made to do it—by pleasant promises, or hard necessities, pathetic oratory, or the whip—is comparatively immaterial.[73] To be deceived is perhaps as incompatible with human dignity as to be whipped; and I suspect the last method to be not the worst, for the help of many individuals. The Jewish nation throve under it, in the hand of a monarch reputed not unwise; it is only the change of whip for scorpion which is inexpedient; and[Pg 200] that change is as likely to come to pass on the side of license as of law. For the true scorpion whips are those of the nation's pleasant vices, which are to it as St. John's locusts—crown on the head, ravin in the mouth, and sting in the tail. If it will not bear the rule of Athena and Apollo, who shepherd without smiting (ου πληγη νεμοντες), Athena at last calls no more in the corners of the streets; and then follows the rule of Tisiphone, who smites without shepherding.

131. If, however, by slavery, instead of absolute compulsion, is meant the purchase, by money, of the right of compulsion, such purchase is necessarily made whenever a portion of any territory is transferred, for money, from one monarch to another: which has happened frequently enough in history, without its being supposed that the inhabitants of the districts so transferred became therefore slaves. In this, as in the former case, the dispute seems about the fashion of the thing, rather than the fact of it. There are two rocks in mid-sea, on each of which, neglected equally by instructive and commercial powers, a handful of inhabitants live as they may. Two merchants bid for the two properties, but not in the same terms. One bids for the people, buys them, and sets them to work, under pain of scourge; the other bids for the rock, buys it, and throws the inhabitants into the sea. The former is the American, the latter the English method, of slavery; much is to be said for, and something against, both, which I hope to say in due time and place.[74]

132. If, however, slavery mean not merely the purchase of the right of compulsion, but the purchase of the body and soul of the creature itself for money, it is not, I think, among the black races that purchases of this kind are most extensively made, or that separate souls of a fine make fetch the highest price. This branch of the inquiry we shall have occasion also to follow out at some length, for in the worst instances of the selling of souls, we are apt to get, when we ask if the sale is valid, only Pyrrhon's answer[75]—"None can know."

[Pg 201]

133. The fact is that slavery is not a political institution at all, but an inherent, natural, and eternal inheritance of a large portion of the human race—to whom, the more you give of their own free will, the more slaves they will make themselves. In common parlance, we idly confuse captivity with slavery, and are always thinking of the difference between pine-trunks (Ariel in the pine), and cowslip-bells ("in the cowslip-bell I lie"), or between carrying wood and drinking (Caliban's slavery and freedom), instead of noting the far more serious differences between Ariel and Caliban themselves, and the means by which, practically, that difference may be brought about or diminished.

134.[76] Plato's slave, in the Polity, who, well dressed and washed, aspires to the hand of his master's daughter, corresponds curiously to Caliban attacking Prospero's cell; and there is an undercurrent of meaning throughout, in the Tempest as well as in the Merchant of Venice; referring in this case to government, as in that to commerce. Miranda[77] ("the wonderful," so addressed first by Ferdinand, "Oh, you wonder!") corresponds to Homer's Arete: Ariel and Caliban are[Pg 202] respectively the spirits of faithful and imaginative labour, opposed to rebellious, hurtful and slavish labour. Prospero ("for hope"), a true governor, is opposed to Sycorax, the mother of slavery, her name "Swine-raven," indicating at once brutality and deathfulness; hence the line—

"As wicked dew as e'er my mother brushed, with raven's feather,"—&c.

For all these dreams of Shakespeare, as those of true and strong men must be, are "φαντασματα θεια, και σκιαι των οντων"—divine phantasms, and shadows of things that are. We hardly tell our children, willingly, a fable with no purport in it; yet we think God sends his best messengers only to sing fairy tales to us, fond and empty. The Tempest is just like a grotesque in a rich missal, "clasped where paynims pray." Ariel is the spirit of generous and free-hearted service, in early stages of human society oppressed by ignorance and wild tyranny: venting groans as fast as mill-wheels strike; in shipwreck of states, dreadful; so that "all but mariners plunge in the brine, and quit the vessel, then all afire with me," yet having in itself the will and sweetness of truest peace, whence that is especially called "Ariel's" song, "Come unto these yellow sands, and there, take hands," "courtesied when you have, and kissed, the wild waves whist:" (mind, it is "cortesia," not "curtsey,") and read "quiet" for "whist," if you want the full sense. Then you may indeed foot it featly, and sweet spirits bear the burden for you—with watch in the night, and call in early morning. The vis viva in elemental transformation follows—"Full fathom five thy father lies, of his bones are coral made." Then, giving rest after labour, it "fetches dew from the still vext Bermoöthes, and, with a charm joined to their suffered labour, leaves men asleep." Snatching away the feast of the cruel, it seems to them as a harpy; followed by the utterly vile, who cannot see it in any shape, but to whom it is the picture of nobody, it still gives shrill harmony to their false and mocking catch, "Thought is[Pg 203] free;" but leads them into briers and foul places, and at last hollas the hounds upon them. Minister of fate against the great criminal, it joins itself with the "incensed seas and shores "—the sword that layeth at it cannot hold, and may "with bemocked-at stabs as soon kill the still-closing waters, as diminish one dowle that is in its plume." As the guide and aid of true love, it is always called by Prospero "fine" (the French "fine," not the English), or "delicate"—another long note would be needed to explain all the meaning in this word. Lastly, its work done, and war, it resolves itself into the elements. The intense significance of the last song, "Where the bee sucks," I will examine in its due place.

The types of slavery in Caliban are more palpable, and need not be dwelt on now: though I will notice them also, severally, in their proper places;—the heart of his slavery is in his worship: "That's a brave god, and bears celestial—liquor." But, in illustration of the sense in which the Latin "benignus" and "malignus" are to be coupled with Eleutheria and Douleia, note that Caliban's torment is always the physical reflection of his own nature—"cramps" and "side stiches that shall pen thy breath up; thou shalt be pinched, as thick as honeycombs:" the whole nature of slavery being one cramp and cretinous contraction. Fancy this of Ariel! You may fetter him, but you set no mark on him; you may put him to hard work and far journey, but you cannot give him a cramp.

135. I should dwell, even in these prefatory papers, at more length on this subject of slavery, had not all I would say been said already, in vain, (not, as I hope, ultimately in vain), by Carlyle, in the first of the Latter-day Pamphlets, which I commend to the reader's gravest reading; together with that as much neglected, and still more immediately needed, on model prisons, and with the great chapter on "Permanence" (fifth of the last section of "Past and Present"), which sums what is known, and foreshadows, or rather forelights, all that is to be learned of National Discipline. I have only here farther to examine the nature of one world-wide and everlasting form of slavery, wholesome in use, as deadly in abuse;—the service of the rich by the poor.


[54] [Think over this paragraph carefully; it should have been much expanded to be quite intelligible; but it contains all that I want it to contain.]

[55] "The ordinary brute, who flourishes in the very centre of ornate life, tells us of unknown depths on the verge of which we totter, being bound to thank our stars every day we live that there is not a general outbreak, and a revolt from the yoke of civilization."—Times leader, Dec. 25, 1862. Admitting that our stars are to be thanked for our safety, whom are we to thank for the danger?

[56] Our politicians, even the best of them, regard only the distress caused by the failure of mechanical labour. The degradation caused by its excess is a far more serious subject of thought, and of future fear. I shall examine this part of our subject at length hereafter. There can hardly be any doubt, at present, cast on the truth of the above passages, as all the great thinkers are unanimous on the matter. Plato's words are terrific in their scorn and pity whenever he touches on the mechanical arts. He calls the men employed in them not even human, but partially and diminutively human, "ανθρωπισκοι," and opposes such work to noble occupations, not merely as prison is opposed to freedom but as a convict's dishonoured prison is to the temple (escape from them being like that of a criminal to the sanctuary); and the destruction caused by them being of soul no less than body.—Rep. vi. 9. Compare Laws, v. 11. Xenophon dwells on the evil of occupations at the furnace and especially their "ασχολια, want of leisure."—Econ. i. 4. (Modern England, with all its pride of education, has lost that first sense of the word "school;" and till it recover that, it will find no other rightly.) His word for the harm to the soul is to "break" it, as we say of the heart.— i. 6. And herein, also, is the root of the scorn, otherwise apparently most strange and cruel, with which Homer, Dante, and Shakspeare always speak of the populace; for it is entirely true that, in great states, the lower orders are low by nature as well as by task, being precisely that part of the commonwealth which has been thrust down for its coarseness or unworthiness (by coarseness I mean especially insensibility and irreverence—the "profane" of Horace); and when this ceases to be so, and the corruption and profanity are in the higher instead of the lower orders, there arises, first, helpless confusion, then, if the lower classes deserve power, ensues swift revolution, and they get it; but if neither the populace nor their rulers deserve it, there follows mere darkness and dissolution, till, out of the putrid elements, some new capacity of order rises, like grass on a grave; if not, there is no more hope, nor shadow of turning, for that nation. Atropos has her way with it.

So that the law of national health is like that of a great lake or sea, in perfect but slow circulation, letting the dregs fall continually to the lowest place, and the clear water rise; yet so as that there shall be no neglect of the lower orders, but perfect supervision and sympathy, so that if one member suffer, all members shall suffer with it.

[57] "ολιγης, και αλλως γιγνομενης." (Little, and that little born in vain.) The bitter sentence never was so true as at this day.

[58] [This following note is a mere cluster of memoranda, but I keep it for reference.] Thetic, or Thesmic, would perhaps be a better term than archic; but liable to be confused with some which we shall want relating to Theoria. The administrators of the three great divisions of law are severally Archons, Merists, and Dicasts. The Archons are the true princes, or beginners of things; or leaders (as of an orchestra). The Merists are properly the Domini, or Lords of houses and nations. The Dicasts, properly, the judges, and that with Olympian justice, which reaches to heaven and hell. The violation of archic law is ἁμαρτια (error), πονηρια (failure), or πλημμελεια (discord). The violation of meristic law is ανομια (iniquity). The violation of critic law is αδικια (injury). Iniquity is the central generic term; for all law is fatal; it is the division to men of their fate; as the fold of their pasture, it is νομος; as the assigning of their portion, μοιρα.

[59] [This is the only sentence which, in revising these essays, I am now inclined to question; but the point is one of extreme difficulty. There might be a law, for instance, of curfew, that candles should be put out, unless for necessary service, at such and such an hour, the idea of "necessary service" being quite indefinable, and no penalty possible; yet there would be a distinct consciousness of illegal conduct in young ladies' minds who danced by candlelight till dawn.]

[60] [Read this and the next paragraph with attention; they contain clear statements, which I cannot mend, of things most necessary.]

[61] [Mainly; not altogether. Conclusive reward of high virtue is loving and crowning, not helping; and conclusive punishment of deep vice is hating and crushing, not merely hindering.]

[62] Compare Chaucer's "villany" (clownishness).

Full foul and chorlishe seemed she,
And eke villanous for to be,
And little coulde of norture
To worship any creature.

[63] [I leave this paragraph, in every syllable, as it was written, during the rage of the American war; it was meant to refer, however, chiefly to the Northerns: what modifications its hot and partial terms require I will give in another place: let it stand now as it stood.]

[64] Supply and demand! Alas! for what noble work was there ever any audible "demand" in that poor sense (Past and Present)? Nay, the demand is not loud, even for ignoble work. See "Average Earnings of Betty Taylor," in Times of 4th February of this year [1863]: "Worked from Monday morning at 8 a.m. to Friday night at 5.30 p.m. for 1s. 5-1/2d."—Laissez faire. [This kind of slavery finds no Abolitionists that I hear of.]

[65] ["That the sacred grove is nothing but logs."]

[66] Ames, by report of Waldo Emerson, says "that a monarchy is a merchantman, which sails well, but will sometimes strike on a rock, and go to the bottom; whilst a republic is a raft, which would never sink, but then your feet are always in the water." Yes, that is comfortable; and though your raft cannot sink (being too worthless for that), it may go to pieces, I suppose, when the four winds (your only pilots) steer competitively from its four corners, and carry it, ως οπωρινος Βορεης φορεησιν ακανθας, and then more than your feet will be in the water.

[67] ["Not with water, but with ruin." The worst ruin being that which the Americans chiefly boast of. They sent all their best and honestest youths, Harvard University men and the like, to that accursed war; got them nearly all shot; wrote pretty biographies (to the ages of 17, 18, 19) and epitaphs for them; and so, having washed all the salt out of the nation in blood, left themselves to putrefaction, and the morality of New York.]

[68] [This paragraph contains the gist of all that precede.]

[69] [Whenever you are puzzled by any apparently mistaken use of words in these essays, take your dictionary, remembering I had to fix terms, as well as principles. A Duke is a "dux" or "leader;" the flying wedge of cranes is under a "ducal monarch"—a very different personage from a queen bee. The Venetians, with a beautiful instinct, gave the name to their King of the Sea.]

[70] [This is a perfect picture of the French under the tyrannies of their Pelican Kings, before the Revolution. But they must find other than Pelican Kings—or rather, Pelican Kings of the Divine brood, that feed their children, and with their best blood.]

[71] [Read carefully, from this point; because here begins the statement of things requiring to be done, which I am now re-trying to make definite in Fors Clavigera.]

[72] ["Evil on the top of Evil." Delphic oracle, meaning iron on the anvil.]

[73] [Permit me to enforce and reinforce this statement, with all earnestness. It is the sum of what needs most to be understood in the matter of education.]

[74] [A pregnant paragraph, meant against English and Scotch landlords who drive their people off the land.]

[75] [In Lucian's dialogue, "The sale of lives."]

[76] [I raise this analysis of the Tempest into my text; but it is nothing but a hurried note, which I may never have time to expand. I have retouched it here and there a little, however.]

[77] Of Shakspeare's names I will afterwards speak at more length; they are curiously—often barbarously—much by Providence,—but assuredly not without Shakspeare's cunning purpose—mixed out of the various traditions he confusedly adopted, and languages which he imperfectly knew. Three of the clearest in meaning have been already noticed. Desdemona, "δυσδαιμονια," "miserable fortune," is also plain enough. Othello is, I believe, "the careful;" all the calamity of the tragedy arising from the single flaw and error in his magnificently collected strength. Ophelia, "serviceableness," the true lost wife of Hamlet, is marked as having a Greek name by that of her brother, Laertes; and its signification is once exquisitely alluded to in that brother's last word of her, where her gentle preciousness is opposed to the uselessness of the churlish clergy—"A ministering angel shall my sister be, when thou liest howling." Hamlet is, I believe, connected in some way with "homely" the entire event of the tragedy turning on betrayal of home duty. Hermione (ερμα), "pillar-like," (ἡ ειδος εχε χρυσης 'ἡειδος Αφροδιτης). Titania (τιτηνη), "the queen;" Benedict and Beatrice, "blessed and blessing;" Valentine and Proteus, enduring (or strong), (valens), and changeful. Iago and Iachimo have evidently the same root—probably the Spanish Iago, Jacob, "the supplanter," Leonatus, and other such names, are interpreted, or played with, in the plays themselves. For the interpretation of Sycorax, and reference to her raven's feather, I am indebted to Mr. John R. Wise.

[Pg 204]



136. As in all previous discussions of our subject, we must study the relation of the commanding rich to the obeying poor in its simplest elements, in order to reach its first principles.

The simplest state of it, then, is this:[78] a wise and provident person works much, consumes little, and lays by a store; an improvident person works little, consumes all his produce, and lays by no store. Accident interrupts the daily work, or renders it less productive; the idle person must then starve, or be supported by the provident one, who, having him thus at his mercy, may either refuse to maintain him altogether, or, which will evidently be more to his own interest, say to him, "I will maintain you, indeed, but you shall now work hard, instead of indolently, and instead of being allowed to lay by what you save, as you might have done, had you remained independent, I will take all the surplus. You would not lay it up for yourself; it is wholly your own fault that has thrown you into my power, and I will force you to work, or starve; yet you shall have no profit of your work, only your daily bread for it; [and competition shall determine how much of that[79]]." This mode of treatment has now become[Pg 205] so universal that it is supposed to be the only natural—nay, the only possible one; and the market wages are calmly defined by economists as "the sum which will maintain the labourer."

137. The power of the provident person to do this is only checked by the correlative power of some neighbour of similarly frugal habits, who says to the labourer—"I will give you a little more than this other provident person: come and work for me."

The power of the provident over the improvident depends thus, primarily, on their relative numbers; secondarily, on the modes of agreement of the adverse parties with each other. The accidental level of wages is a variable function of the number of provident and idle persons in the world, of the enmity between them as classes, and of the agreement between those of the same class. It depends, from beginning to end, on moral conditions.

138. Supposing the rich to be entirely selfish, it is always for their interest that the poor should be as numerous as they can employ, and restrain. For, granting that the entire population is no larger than the ground can easily maintain—that the classes are stringently divided—and that there is sense or strength of hand enough with the rich to secure obedience; then, if nine-tenths of a nation are poor, the remaining tenth have the service of nine persons each;[80] but, if eight-tenths are poor, only of four each; if seven-tenths are poor, of two and a third each; if six-tenths are poor, of one and a half each; and if five-tenths are poor, of only one each. But, practically, if the rich strive always to obtain more power over the poor, instead of to raise them—and if, on the other hand, the poor become continually more vicious and numerous, through neglect and oppression,—though the range of the power of[Pg 206] the rich increases, its tenure becomes less secure; until, at last the measure of iniquity being full, revolution, civil war, or the subjection of the state to a healthier or stronger one, closes the moral corruption, and industrial disease.[81]

139. It is rarely, however, that things come to this extremity. Kind persons among the rich, and wise among the poor, modify the connexion of the classes: the efforts made to raise and relieve on the one side, and the success of honest toil on the other, bind and blend the orders of society into the confused tissue of half-felt obligation, sullenly-rendered obedience, and variously-directed, or mis-directed toil, which form the warp of daily life. But this great law rules all the wild design: that success (while society is guided by laws of competition) signifies always so much victory over your neighbour as to obtain the direction of his work, and to take the profits of it. This is the real source of all great riches. No man can become largely rich by his personal toil.[82] The work of his own hands, wisely directed, will indeed always maintain himself and his family, and make fitting provision for his age. But it is only by the discovery of some method of taxing the labour of others that he can become opulent. Every increase of his capital enables him to extend this taxation more widely; that is, to invest larger funds in the maintenance of labourers,—to direct, accordingly, vaster and yet vaster masses of labour, and to appropriate its profits.

140. There is much confusion of idea on the subject of this appropriation. It is, of course, the interest of the employer to disguise it from the persons employed; and, for his own comfort and complacency, he often desires no less to disguise it from himself. And it is matter of much doubt with me, how far the foul and foolish arguments used habitually on this subject are indeed the honest expression of foul and foolish[Pg 207] convictions;—or rather (as I am sometimes forced to conclude from the irritation with which they are advanced) are resolutely dishonest, wilful, and malicious sophisms, arranged so as to mask, to the last moment, the real laws of economy, and future duties of men. By taking a simple example, and working it thoroughly out, the subject may be rescued from all but such determined misrepresentation.

141. Let us imagine a society of peasants, living on a rivershore, exposed to destructive inundation at somewhat extended intervals; and that each peasant possesses of this good, but imperilled, ground, more than he needs to cultivate for immediate subsistence. We will assume farther (and with too great probability of justice), that the greater part of them indolently keep in tillage just as much land as supplies them with daily food;—that they leave their children idle, and take no precautions against the rise of the stream. But one of them, (we will say but one, for the sake of greater clearness) cultivates carefully all the ground of his estate; makes his children work hard and healthily; uses his spare time and theirs in building a rampart against the river; and, at the end of some years, has in his storehouses large reserves of food and clothing,—in his stables a well-tended breed of cattle, and around his fields a wedge of wall against flood.

The torrent rises at last—sweeps away the harvests, and half the cottages of the careless peasants, and leaves them destitute. They naturally come for help to the provident one, whose fields are unwasted, and whose granaries are full. He has the right to refuse it to them: no one disputes this right.[83] But he will probably not refuse it; it is not his interest to do so, even were he entirely selfish and cruel. The only question with him will be on what terms his aid is to be granted.

142. Clearly, not on terms of mere charity. To maintain his neighbours in idleness would be not only his ruin, but theirs. He will require work from them, in exchange for their maintenance; and, whether in kindness or cruelty, all[Pg 208] the work they can give. Not now the three or four hours they were wont to spend on their own land, but the eight or ten hours they ought to have spent.[84] But how will he apply this labour? The men are now his slaves;—nothing less, and nothing more. On pain of starvation, he can force them to work in the manner, and to the end, he chooses. And it is by his wisdom in this choice that the worthiness of his mastership is proved, or its unworthiness. Evidently, he must first set them to bank out the water in some temporary way, and to get their ground cleansed and resown; else, in any case, their continued maintenance will be impossible. That done, and while he has still to feed them, suppose he makes them raise a secure rampart for their own ground against all future flood, and rebuild their houses in safer places, with the best material they can find; being allowed time out of their working hours to fetch such material from a distance. And for the food and clothing advanced, he takes security in land that as much shall be returned at a convenient period.

143. We may conceive this security to be redeemed, and the debt paid at the end of a few years. The prudent peasant has sustained no loss; but is no richer than he was, and has had all his trouble for nothing. But he has enriched his neighbours materially; bettered their houses, secured their land, and rendered them, in worldly matters, equal to himself. In all rational and final sense, he has been throughout their true Lord and King.

144. We will next trace his probable line of conduct, presuming his object to be exclusively the increase of his own fortune. After roughly recovering and cleansing the ground, he allows the ruined peasantry only to build huts upon it, such as he thinks protective enough from the weather to keep them in working health. The rest of their time he occupies, first in pulling down, and rebuilding on a magnificent scale, his own house, and in adding large dependencies to it. This done, in exchange for his continued supply of corn, he[Pg 209] buys as much of his neighbours' land as he thinks he can superintend the management of; and makes the former owners securely embank and protect the ceded portion. By this arrangement, he leaves to a certain number of the peasantry only as much ground as will just maintain them in their existing numbers; as the population increases, he takes the extra hands, who cannot be maintained on the narrowed estates, for his own servants; employs some to cultivate the ground he has bought, giving them of its produce merely enough for subsistence; with the surplus, which, under his energetic and careful superintendence, will be large, he maintains a train of servants for state, and a body of workmen, whom he educates in ornamental arts. He now can splendidly decorate his house, lay out its grounds magnificently, and richly supply his table, and that of his household and retinue. And thus, without any abuse of right, we should find established all the phenomena of poverty and riches, which (it is supposed necessarily) accompany modern civilization. In one part of the district, we should have unhealthy land, miserable dwellings, and half-starved poor; in another, a well-ordered estate, well-fed servants, and refined conditions of highly educated and luxurious life.

145. I have put the two cases in simplicity, and to some extremity. But though in more complex and qualified operation, all the relations of society are but the expansion of these two typical sequences of conduct and result. I do not say, observe, that the first procedure is entirely recommendable; or even entirely right; still less, that the second is wholly wrong. Servants, and artists, and splendour of habitation and retinue, have all their use, propriety, and office. But I am determined that the reader shall understand clearly what they cost; and see that the condition of having them is the subjection to us of a certain number of imprudent or unfortunate persons (or, it may be, more fortunate than their masters), over whose destinies we exercise a boundless control. "Riches" mean eternally and essentially this; and God send at last a time when those words of our best-reputed economist shall be true, and we shall indeed "all know what[Pg 210] it is to be rich;"[85] that it is to be slave-master over farthest earth, and over all ways and thoughts of men. Every operative you employ is your true servant: distant or near, subject to your immediate orders, or ministering to your widely-communicated caprice,—for the pay he stipulates, or the price he tempts,—all are alike under this great dominion of the gold. The milliner who makes the dress is as much a servant (more so, in that she uses more intelligence in the service) as the maid who puts it on; the carpenter who smooths the door, as the footman who opens it; the tradesmen who supply the table, as the labourers and sailors who supply the tradesmen. Why speak of these lower services? Painters and singers (whether of note or rhyme,) jesters and storytellers, moralists, historians, priests,—so far as these, in any degree, paint, or sing, or tell their tale, or charm their charm, or "perform" their rite, for pay,—in so far, they are all slaves; abject utterly, if the service be for pay only; abject less and less in proportion to the degrees of love and of wisdom which enter into their duty, or can enter into it, according as their function is to do the bidding and the work of a manly people;—or to amuse, tempt, and deceive, a childish one.

146. There is always, in such amusement and temptation, to a certain extent, a government of the rich by the poor, as of the poor by the rich; but the latter is the prevailing and necessary one, and it consists, when it is honourable, in the collection of the profits of labour from those who would have misused them, and the administration of those profits for the service either of the same persons in future, or of others; and when it is dishonourable, as is more frequently the case in modern times, it consists in the collection of the profits of labour from those who would have rightly used them, and their appropriation to the service of the collector himself.

147. The examination of these various modes of collection and use of riches will form the third branch of our future inquiries; but the key to the whole subject lies in the clear understanding of the difference between selfish and unselfish[Pg 211] expenditure. It is not easy, by any course of reasoning, to enforce this on the generally unwilling hearer; yet the definition of unselfish expenditure is brief and simple. It is expenditure which, if you are a capitalist, does not pay you, but pays somebody else; and if you are a consumer, does not please , but pleases somebody else. Take one special instance, in further illustration of the general type given above. I did not invent that type, but spoke of a real river, and of real peasantry, the languid and sickly race which inhabits, or haunts—for they are often more like spectres than living men—the thorny desolation of the banks of the Arve in Savoy. Some years ago, a society, formed at Geneva, offered to embank the river for the ground which would have been recovered by the operation; but the offer was refused by the (then Sardinian) government. The capitalists saw that this expenditure would have "paid" if the ground saved from the river was to be theirs. But if, when the offer that had this aspect of profit was refused, they had nevertheless persisted in the plan, and merely taking security for the return of their outlay, lent the funds for the work, and thus saved a whole race of human souls from perishing in a pestiferous fen (as, I presume, some among them would, at personal risk, have dragged any one drowning creature out of the current of the stream, and not expected payment therefor), such expenditure would have precisely corresponded to the use of his power made, in the first instance, by our supposed richer peasant—it would have been the king's, of grace, instead of the usurer's, for gain.

148. "Impossible, absurd, Utopian!" exclaim nine-tenths of the few readers whom these words may find.

No, good reader, this is not Utopian: but I will tell you what would have seemed, if we had not seen it, Utopian on the side of evil instead of good; that ever men should have come to value their money so much more than their lives, that if you call upon them to become soldiers, and take chance of a bullet through their heart, and of wife and children being left desolate, for their pride's sake, they will do it gaily, without thinking twice; but if you ask them, for their country's sake,[Pg 212] to spend a hundred pounds without security of getting back a hundred-and-five,[86] they will laugh in your face.

149. Not but that also this game of life-giving and taking is, in the end, somewhat more costly than other forms of play might be. Rifle practice is, indeed, a not unhealthy pastime, and a feather on the top of the head is a pleasing appendage; but while learning the stops and fingering of the sweet instrument, does no one ever calculate the cost of an overture? What melody does Tityrus meditate on his tenderly spiral pipe? The leaden seed of it, broadcast, true conical "Dents de Lion" seed—needing less allowance for the wind than is usual with that kind of herb—what crop are you likely to have of it? Suppose, instead of this volunteer marching and countermarching, you were to do a little volunteer ploughing and counter-ploughing? It is more difficult to do it straight: the dust of the earth, so disturbed, is more grateful than for merely rhythmic footsteps. Golden cups, also, given for good ploughing, would be more suitable in colour: (ruby glass, for the wine which "giveth his colour" on the ground, might be fitter for the rifle prize in ladies' hands). Or, conceive a little volunteer exercise with the spade, other than such as is needed[Pg 213] for moat and breastwork, or even for the burial of the fruit of the leaden avena-seed, subject to the shrill Lemures' criticism—

Wer hat das Haus so schlecht gebauet?

If you were to embank Lincolnshire more stoutly against the sea? or strip the peat of Solway, or plant Plinlimmon moors with larch—then, in due season, some amateur reaping and threshing?

"Nay, we reap and thresh by steam, in these advanced days."

I know it, my wise and economical friends. The stout arms God gave you to win your bread by, you would fain shoot your neighbours, and God's sweet singers with;[87] then you invoke the fiends to your farm-service; and—

When young and old come forth to play
On a sulphurous holiday,
Tell how the darkling goblin sweat
(His feast of cinders duly set),
And, belching night, where breathed the morn,
His shadowy flail hath threshed the corn
That ten day-labourers could not end.

150. Going back to the matter in hand, we will press the example closer. On a green knoll above that plain of the[Pg 214] Arve, between Cluse and Bonneville, there was, in the year 1860, a cottage, inhabited by a well-doing family—man and wife, three children, and the grandmother. I call it a cottage, but in truth, it was a large chimney on the ground, wide at the bottom, so that the family might live round the fire; lighted by one small broken window, and entered by an unclosing door. The family, I say, was "well-doing;" at least it was hopeful and cheerful; the wife healthy, the children, for Savoyards, pretty and active, but the husband threatened with decline, from exposure under the cliffs of the Mont Vergi by day, and to draughts between every plank of his chimney in the frosty nights.

"Why could he not plaster the chinks?" asks the practical reader. For the same reason that your child cannot wash its face and hands till you have washed them many a day for it, and will not wash them when it can, till you force it.

151. I passed this cottage often in my walks, had its window and door mended; sometimes mended also a little the meal of sour bread and broth, and generally got kind greeting and smile from the face of young or old; which greeting this year, narrowed itself into the half-recognizing stare of the elder child, and the old woman's tears; for the father and mother were both dead,—one of sickness, the other of sorrow. It happened that I passed not alone, but with a companion, a practised English joiner, who, while these people were dying of cold, had been employed from six in the morning to six in the evening, for two months, in fitting, without nails, the panels of a single door in a large house in London. Three days of his work taken, at the right time from fastening the oak panels with useless precision, and applied[Pg 215] to fasten the larch timbers with decent strength, would have saved these Savoyards' lives. He would have been maintained equally; (I suppose him equally paid for his work by the owner of the greater house, only the work not consumed selfishly on his own walls;) and the two peasants, and eventually, probably their children, saved.

152. There are, therefore,—let me finally enforce, and leave with the reader, this broad conclusion,—three things to be considered in employing any poor person. It is not enough to give him employment. You must employ him first to produce useful things; secondly, of the several (suppose equally useful) things he can equally well produce, you must set him to make that which will cause him to lead the healthiest life; lastly, of the things produced, it remains a question of wisdom and conscience how much you are to take yourself, and how much to leave to others. A large quantity, remember, unless you destroy it, must always be so left at one time or another; the only questions you have to decide are, not what you will give, but when, and how, and to whom, you will give. The natural law of human life is, of course, that in youth a man shall labour and lay by store for his old age, and when age comes, shall use what he has laid by, gradually slackening his toil, and allowing himself more frank use of his store; taking care always to leave himself as much as will surely suffice for him beyond any possible length of life. What he has gained, or by tranquil and unanxious toil continues to gain, more than is enough for his own need, he ought so to administer, while he yet lives, as to see the good of it again beginning, in other hands; for thus he has himself the greatest sum of pleasure from it, and faithfully uses his sagacity in its control. Whereas most men, it appears, dislike the sight of their fortunes going out into service again, and say to themselves,—"I can indeed nowise prevent this money from falling at last into the hands of others, nor hinder the good of it from becoming theirs, not mine; but at least let a merciful death save me from being a witness of their satisfaction; and may God so far be gracious to me as to let no good come of any of this money of mine before my eyes."[Pg 216]

153. Supposing this feeling unconquerable, the safest way of rationally indulging it would be for the capitalist at once to spend all his fortune on himself, which might actually, in many cases, be quite the rightest as well as the pleasantest thing to do, if he had just tastes and worthy passions. But, whether for himself only, or through the hands, and for the sake, of others also, the law of wise life is, that the maker of the money shall also be the spender of it, and spend it, approximately, all, before he dies; so that his true ambition as an economist should be, to die, not as rich, but as poor, as possible,[88] calculating the ebb tide of possession in true and calm proportion to the ebb tide of life. Which law, checking the wing of accumulative desire in the mid-volley,[89] and leading to peace of possession and fulness of fruition in old age, is also wholesome, in that by the freedom of gift, together with present help and counsel, it at once endears and dignifies age in the sight of youth, which then no longer strips the bodies of the dead, but receives the grace of the living. Its chief use would (or will be, for men are indeed capable of attaining to this much use of their reason), that some temperance and measure will be put to the acquisitiveness of commerce.[90] For as things stand, a man holds it his duty to be[Pg 217] temperate in his food, and of his body, but for no duty to be temperate in his riches, and of his mind. He sees that he ought not to waste his youth and his flesh for luxury; but he will waste his age, and his soul, for money, and think he does no wrong, nor know the delirium tremens of the intellect for disease. But the law of life is, that a man should fix the sum he desires to make annually, as the food he desires to eat daily; and stay when he has reached the limit, refusing increase of business, and leaving it to others, so obtaining due freedom of time for better thoughts.[91] How the gluttony of business is punished, a bill of health for the principals of the richest city houses, issued annually, would show in a sufficiently impressive manner.

154. I know, of course, that these statements will be received by the modern merchant as an active border rider of the sixteenth century would have heard of its being proper for men of the Marches to get their living by the spade, instead of the spur. But my business is only to state veracities and necessities; I neither look for the acceptance of the one, nor hope for the nearness of the other. Near or distant, the day will assuredly come when the merchants of a state shall be its true ministers of exchange, its porters, in the double sense of carriers and gate-keepers, bringing all lands into frank and faithful communication, and knowing for their master of guild, Hermes the herald, instead of Mercury the gain-guarder.

155. And now, finally, for immediate rule to all who will accept it.

The distress of any population means that they need food, house-room, clothes, and fuel. You can never, therefore, be wrong in employing any labourer to produce food, house-room, clothes, or fuel; but you are always wrong if you employ him to produce nothing, (for then some other labourer[Pg 218] must be worked double time to feed him); and you are generally wrong, at present, if you employ him (unless he can do nothing else) to produce works of art or luxuries; because modern art is mostly on a false basis, and modern luxury is criminally great.[92]

156. The way to produce more food is mainly to bring in fresh ground, and increase facilities of carriage;—to break rock, exchange earth, drain the moist, and water the dry, to mend roads, and build harbours of refuge. Taxation thus spent will annihilate taxation, but spent in war, it annihilates revenue.

157. The way to produce house-room is to apply your force first to the humblest dwellings. When your brick-layers are out of employ, do not build splendid new streets, but better the old ones; send your paviours and slaters to the poorest villages, and see that your poor are healthily lodged, before you try your hand on stately architecture. You will find its stateliness rise better under the trowel afterwards; and we do[Pg 219] do not yet build so well that we need hasten to display our skill to future ages. Had the labour which has decorated the Houses of Parliament filled, instead, rents in walls and roofs throughout the county of Middlesex; and our deputies met to talk within massive walls that would have needed no stucco for five hundred years,—the decoration might have been afterwards, and the talk now. And touching even our highly conscientious church building, it may be well to remember that in the best days of church plans, their masons called themselves "logeurs du bon Dieu;" and that since, according to the most trusted reports, God spends a good deal of His time in cottages as well as in churches, He might perhaps like to be a little better lodged there also.

158. The way to get more clothes is—not, necessarily, to get more cotton. There were words written twenty years ago[93] which would have saved many of us some shivering, had they been minded in time. Shall we read them again?

"The Continental people, it would seem, are importing our machinery, beginning to spin cotton, and manufacture for themselves; to cut us out of this market, and then out of that! Sad news, indeed; but irremediable. By no means the saddest news—the saddest news, is that we should find our national existence, as I sometimes hear it said, depend on selling manufactured cotton at a farthing an ell cheaper than any other people. A most narrow stand for a great nation to base itself on! A stand which, with all the Corn-law abrogations conceivable, I do not think will be capable of enduring.

"My friends, suppose we quitted that stand; suppose we came honestly down from it and said—'This is our minimum of cotton prices; we care not, for the present, to make cotton any cheaper. Do you, if it seem so blessed to you, make cotton cheaper. Fill your lungs with cotton fur, your heart[Pg 220] with copperas fumes, with rage and mutiny; become ye the general gnomes of Europe, slaves of the lamp!' I admire a nation which fancies it will die if it do not undersell all other nations to the end of the world. Brothers, we will cease to undersell them; we will be content to equal-sell them; to be happy selling equally with them! I do not see the use of underselling them: cotton-cloth is already twopence a yard, or lower; and yet bare backs were never more numerous among us. Let inventive men cease to spend their existence incessantly contriving how cotton can be made cheaper; and try to invent a little how cotton at its present cheapness could be somewhat justlier divided among us.

"Let inventive men consider—whether the secret of this universe does after all consist in making money. With a hell which means—'failing to make money,' I do not think there is any heaven possible that would suit one well. In brief, all this Mammon gospel of supply-and-demand, competition laissez faire, and devil take the hindmost (foremost, is it not, rather, Mr. Carlyle?), 'begins to be one of the shabbiest gospels ever preached.'"

159. The way to produce more fuel[94] is first to make your coal mines safer, by sinking more shafts; then set all your convicts to work in them, and if, as is to be hoped, you succeed in diminishing the supply of that sort of labourer, consider what means there may be, first, of growing forest where its growth will improve climate; secondly, of splintering the forests which now make continents of fruitful land pathless and poisonous, into fagots for fire;—so gaining at once dominion icewards and sunwards. Your steam power has been given (you will find eventually) for work such as that: and not for excursion trains, to give the labourer a moment's breath, at the peril of his breath for ever, from amidst the cities which it has crushed into masses of corruption. When you know how to build cities, and how to rule them, you will be able to[Pg 221] breathe in their streets, and the "excursion" will be the afternoon's walk or game in the fields round them.

160. "But nothing of this work will pay?"

No; no more than it pays to dust your rooms, or wash your doorsteps. It will pay; not at first in currency, but in that which is the end and the source of currency,—in life; (and in currency richly afterwards). It will pay in that which is more than life,—in light, whose true price has not yet been reckoned in any currency, and yet into the image of which, all wealth, one way or other, must be cast. For your riches must either be as the lightning, which,

Begot but in a cloud,
Though shining bright, and speaking loud,
Whilst it begins, concludes its violent race;
And, where it gilds, it wounds the place;—

or else, as the lightning of the sacred sign, which shines from one part of the heaven to the other. There is no other choice; you must either take dust for deity, spectre for possession, fettered dream for life, and for epitaph, this reversed verse of the great Hebrew hymn of economy (Psalm cxii.):—"He hath gathered together, he hath stripped the poor, his iniquity remaineth for ever:"—or else, having the sun of justice to shine on you, and the sincere substance of good in your possession, and the pure law and liberty of life within you, leave men to write this better legend over your grave:—

"He hath dispersed abroad. He hath given to the poor. His righteousness remaineth for ever."


[78] In the present general examination, I concede so much to ordinary economists as to ignore all innocent poverty. I adapt my reasoning, for once, to the modern English practical mind, by assuming poverty to be always criminal; the conceivable exceptions we will examine afterwards.

[79] [I have no terms of English, and can find none in Greek nor Latin, nor in any other strong language known to me, contemptuous enough to attach to the bestial idiotism of the modern theory that wages are to be measured by competition.]

[80] I say nothing yet of the quality of the servants, which, nevertheless, is the gist of the business. Will you have Paul Veronese to paint your ceiling, or the plumber from over the way? Both will work for the same money; Paul, if anything, a little the cheaper of the two, if you keep him in good humour; only you have to discern him first, which will need eyes.

[81] [I have not altered a syllable in these three paragraphs, 137, 138, 139, on revision; but have much italicised: the principles stated being as vital, as they are little known.]

[82] By his art he may; but only when its produce, or the sight or hearing of it, becomes a subject of dispute, so as to enable the artist to tax the labour of multitudes highly, in exchange for his own.

[83] [Observe this; the legal right to keep what you have worked for, and use it as you please, is the corner-stone of all economy: compare the end of Chap. II.]

[84] [I should now put the time of necessary labour rather under than over the third of the day.]

[85] [See Preface to Unto this Last.]

[86] I have not hitherto touched on the subject of interest of money; it is too complex, and must be reserved for its proper place in the body of the work. The definition of interest (apart from compensation for risk) is, "the exponent of the comfort of accomplished labour, separated from its power;" the power being what is lent: and the French economists who have maintained the entire illegality of interest are wrong; yet by no means so curiously or wildly wrong as the English and French ones opposed to them, whose opinions have been collected by Dr. Whewell at page 41 of his Lectures; it never seeming to occur to the mind of the compiler, any more than to the writers whom he quotes, that it is quite possible, and even (according to Jewish proverb) prudent, for men to hoard as ants and mice do, for use, not usury; and lay by something for winter nights, in the expectation of rather sharing than lending the scrapings. My Savoyard squirrels would pass a pleasant time of it under the snow-laden pine branches, if they always declined to economize because no one would pay them interest on nuts.

[I leave this note as it stood: but, as I have above stated, should now side wholly with the French economists spoken of, in asserting the absolute illegality of interest.]

[87] Compare Chaucer's feeling respecting birds (from Canace's falcon, to the nightingale, singing, "Domine, labia—" to the Lord of Love), with the usual modern British sentiments on this subject. Or even Cowley's:—

"What prince's choir of music can excel
That which within this shade does dwell,
To which we nothing pay, or give,
They, like all other poets, live
Without reward, or thanks for their obliging pains!
'Tis well if they become not prey."

Yes; it Is better than well; particularly since the seed sown by the wayside has been protected by the peculiar appropriation of part of the church-rates in our country parishes. See the remonstrance from a "Country parson," in The Times of June 4th (or 5th; the letter is dated June 3rd,) 1862:—"I have heard at a vestry meeting a good deal of higgling over a few shillings' outlay in cleaning the church; but I have never heard any dissatisfaction expressed on account of that part of the rate which is invested in 50 or 100 dozens of birds' heads."

[If we could trace the innermost of all causes of modern war, I believe it would be found, not in the avarice nor ambition of nations, but in the mere idleness of the upper classes. They have nothing to do but to teach the peasantry to kill each other.]

[88] [See the Life of Fenelon. "The labouring peasantry were at all times the objects of his tenderest care; his palace at Cambray, with all his books and writings, being consumed by fire, he bore the misfortune with unruffled calmness, and said it was better his palace should be burnt than the cottage of a poor peasant." (These thoroughly good men always go too far, and lose their power over the mass.) He died exemplifying the mean he had always observed between prodigality and avarice, leaving neither debts nor money.]

[89] και πενιαν ἡγουμενους ειναι μη το την ουσιαν ελαττω ποιειν αλλα το τηι απληστιαν ρλειω. "And thinking (wisely) that poverty consists not in making one's possessions less, but one's avarice more."—Laws, v. 8. Read the context, and compare. "He who spends for all that is noble, and gains by nothing but what is just, will hardly be notably wealthy, or distressfully poor."—, v. 42.

[90] The fury of modern trade arises chiefly out of the possibility of making sudden fortunes by largeness of transaction, and accident of discovery or contrivance. I have no doubt that the final interest of every nation is to check the action of these commercial lotteries; and that all great accidental gains or losses should be national,—not individual. But speculation absolute, unconnected with commercial effort, is an unmitigated evil in a state, and the root of countless evils beside.

[91] [I desire in the strongest terms to reinforce all that is contained in this paragraph.]

[92] It is especially necessary that the reader should keep his mind fixed on the methods of consumption and destruction, as the true sources of national poverty. Men are apt to call every exchange "expenditure," but it is only consumption which is expenditure. A large number of the purchases made by the richer classes are mere forms of interchange of unused property, wholly without effect on national prosperity. It matters nothing to the state whether, if a china pipkin be rated as worth a hundred pounds, A has the pipkin and B the pounds, or A the pounds and B the pipkin. But if the pipkin is pretty, and A or B breaks it, there is national loss, not otherwise. So again, when the loss has really taken place, no shifting of the shoulders that bear it will do away with the reality of it. There is an intensely ludicrous notion in the public mind respecting the abolishment of debt by denying it. When a debt is denied, the lender loses instead of the borrower, that is all; the loss is precisely, accurately, everlastingly the same. The Americans borrow money to spend in blowing up their own houses. They deny their debt, by one-third already [1863], gold being at fifty premium; and they will probably deny it wholly. That merely means that the holders of the notes are to be the losers instead of the issuers. The quantity of loss is precisely equal, and irrevocable; it is the quantity of human industry spent in effecting the explosion, plus the quantity of goods exploded. Honour only decides who shall pay the sum lost not whether it is to be paid or not. Paid it must be, and to the uttermost farthing.

[93] [(Past and Present. Chap. IX. of Third Section.) To think that for these twenty—now twenty-six—years, this one voice of Carlyle's has been the only faithful and useful utterance in all England, and has sounded through all these years in vain! See Fors Clavigera, Letter X.]

[94] [We don't want to produce more fuel just now, but much less; and to use what we get for cooking and warming ourselves, instead of for running from place to place.]

[Pg 222]


I have brought together in these last pages a few notes, which were not properly to be incorporated with the text, and which, at the bottom of pages, checked the reader's attention to the main argument. They contain, however, several statements to which I wish to be able to refer, or have already referred, in other of my books, so that I think right to preserve them.

APPENDIX I.—(p. 22.)

The greatest of all economists are those most opposed to the doctrine of "laissez faire," namely, the fortifying virtues, which the wisest men of all time have arranged under the general heads of Prudence, or Discretion (the spirit which discerns and adopts rightly); Justice (the spirit which rules and divides rightly); Fortitude (the spirit which persists and endures rightly); and Temperance (the spirit which stops and refuses rightly). These cardinal and sentinel virtues are not only the means of protecting and prolonging life itself, but they are the chief guards, or sources, of the material means of life, and the governing powers and princes of economy. Thus, precisely according to the number of just men in a nation, is their power of avoiding either intestine or foreign war. All disputes may be peaceably settled, if a sufficient number of persons have been trained to submit to the principles of justice, while the necessity for war is in direct ratio to the number of unjust persons who are incapable of determining a quarrel but by violence. Whether the injustice take the form of the desire of dominion, or of refusal to submit to it, or of lust of territory, or lust of money, or of[Pg 223] mere irregular passion and wanton will, the result is economically the same;—loss of the quantity of power and life consumed in repressing the injustice, added to the material and moral destruction caused by the fact of war. The early civil wars of England, and the existing[95] war in America, are curious examples—these under monarchical, this under republican, institutions—of the results on large masses of nations of the want of education in principles of justice. But the mere dread or distrust resulting from the want of the inner virtues of Faith and Charity prove often no less costly than war itself. The fear which France and England have of each other costs each nation about fifteen millions sterling annually, besides various paralyses of commerce; that sum being spent in the manufacture of means of destruction instead of means of production. There is no more reason in the nature of things that France and England should be hostile to each other than that England and Scotland should be, or Lancashire and Yorkshire; and the reciprocal terrors of the opposite sides of the English Channel are neither more necessary, more economical, nor more virtuous, than the old riding and reiving on the opposite flanks of the Cheviots, or than England's own weaving for herself of crowns of thorn, from the stems of her Red and White roses.

APPENDIX II.—(p. 34.)

Few passages of the book which at least some part of the nations at present most advanced in civilization accept as an expression of final truth, have been more distorted than those bearing on Idolatry. For the idolatry there denounced is neither sculpture, nor veneration of sculpture. It is simply the substitution of an "Eidolon," phantasm, or imagination of Good, for that which is real and enduring; from the Highest Living Good, which gives life, to the lowest material good[Pg 224] which ministers to it. The Creator, and the things created, which He is said to have "seen good" in creating, are in this their eternal goodness appointed always to be "worshipped,"—i. e., to have goodness and worth ascribed to them from the heart; and the sweep and range of idolatry extend to the rejection of any or all of these, "calling evil good, and good evil,—putting bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter."[96] For in that rejection and substitution we betray the first of all Loyalties, to the fixed Law of life, and with resolute opposite loyalty serve our own imagination of good, which is the law, not of the House, but of the Grave, (otherwise called the law of "mark missing," which we translate "law of Sin"); these "two masters," between whose services we have to choose, being otherwise distinguished as God and Mammon, which Mammon, though we narrowly take it as the power of money only, is in truth the great evil Spirit of false and fond desire, or "Covetousness, which is Idolatry." So that Iconoclasm—image-breaking—is easy; but an Idol cannot be broken—it must be forsaken; and this is not so easy, either to do, or persuade to doing. For men may readily be convinced of the weakness of an image; but not of the emptiness of an imagination.

APPENDIX III.—(p. 36.)

I have not attempted to support, by the authority of other writers, any of the statements made in these papers; indeed, if such authorities were rightly collected, there would be no occasion for my writing at all. Even in the scattered passages referring to this subject in three books of Carlyle's—Sartor Resartus, Past and Present, and the Latter Day Pamphlets,—all has been said that needs to be said, and far better than I shall ever say it again. But the habit of the public mind at present is to require everything to be uttered diffusely, loudly, and a hundred times over, before it will listen; and it has revolted against these papers of mine as if they contained[Pg 225] things daring and new, when there is not one assertion in them of which the truth has not been for ages known to the wisest, and proclaimed by the most eloquent of men. It would be [I had written will be; but have now reached a time of life for which there is but one mood—the conditional,] a far greater pleasure to me hereafter, to collect their words than to add to mine; Horace's clear rendering of the substance of the passages in the text may be found room for at once,

Si quis emat citharas, emptas comportet in unum
Nec studio citharae, nec Musae deditus ulli;
Si scalpra et formas non sutor, nautica vela
Aversus mercaturis, delirus et amens
Undique dicatur merito. Qui discrepat istis
Qui nummos aurumque recondit, nescius uti
Compositis; metuensque velut contingere sacrum?

[Which may be roughly thus translated:—

"Were anybody to buy fiddles, and collect a number, being in no wise given to fiddling, nor fond of music: or if, being no cobbler, he collected awls and lasts, or, having no mind for sea-adventure, bought sails, every one would call him a madman, and deservedly. But what difference is there between such a man and one who lays by coins and gold, and does not know how to use, when he has got them?"]

With which it is perhaps desirable also to give Xenophon's statement, it being clearer than any English one can be, owing to the power of the general Greek term for wealth, "useable things."

[I have cut out the Greek because I can't be troubled to correct the accents, and am always nervous about them; here it is in English, as well as I can do it:—

"This being so, it follows that things are only property to the man who knows how to use them; as flutes, for instance, are property to the man who can pipe upon them respectably; but to one who knows not how to pipe, they are no property, unless he can get rid of them advantageously.... For if they are not sold, the flutes are no property (being serviceable[Pg 226] for nothing); but, sold, they become property. To which Socrates made answer,—'and only then if he knows how to sell them, for if he sell them to another man who cannot play on them, still they are no property.'"]

APPENDIX IV.—(p. 39.)

The reader is to include here in the idea of "Government," any branch of the Executive, or even any body of private persons, entrusted with the practical management of public interests unconnected directly with their own personal ones. In theoretical discussions of legislative interference with political economy, it is usually, and of course unnecessarily, assumed that Government must be always of that form and force in which we have been accustomed to see it;—that its abuses can never be less, nor its wisdom greater, nor its powers more numerous. But, practically, the custom in most civilized countries is, for every man to deprecate the interference of Government as long as things tell for his personal advantage, and to call for it when they cease to do so. The request of the Manchester Economists to be supplied with cotton by Government (the system of supply and demand having, for the time, fallen sorrowfully short of the expectations of scientific persons from it), is an interesting case in point. It were to be wished that less wide and bitter suffering, suffering, too, of the innocent, had been needed to force the nation, or some part of it, to ask itself why a body of men, already confessedly capable of managing matters both military and divine, should not be permitted, or even requested, at need, to provide in some wise for sustenance as well as for defence; and secure, if it might be,—(and it might, I think, even the rather be),—purity of bodily, as well as of spiritual, aliment? Why, having made many roads for the passage of armies, may they not make a few for the conveyance of food; and after organizing, with applause, various schemes of theological instruction for the Public, organize,[Pg 227] moreover, some methods of bodily nourishment for them? Or is the soul so much less trustworthy in its instincts than the stomach, that legislation is necessary for the one, but inapplicable to the other.

APPENDIX V.—(p. 70.)

I debated with myself whether to make the note on Homer longer by examining the typical meaning of the shipwreck of Ulysses, and his escape from Charybdis by help of her fig-tree; but as I should have had to go on to the lovely myth of Leucothea's veil, and did not care to spoil this by a hurried account of it, I left it for future examination; and, three days after the paper was published, observed that the reviewers, with their customary helpfulness, were endeavouring to throw the whole subject back into confusion by dwelling on this single (as they imagined) oversight. I omitted also a note on the sense of the word λυγρον, with respect to the pharmacy of Circe, and herb-fields of Helen, (compare its use in Odyssey, xvii., 473, &c.), which would farther have illustrated the nature of the Circean power. But, not to be led too far into the subtleties of these myths, observe respecting them all, that even in very simple parables, it is not always easy to attach indisputable meaning to every part of them. I recollect some years ago, throwing an assembly of learned persons who had met to delight themselves with interpretations of the parable of the prodigal son, (interpretations which had up to that moment gone very smoothly,) into mute indignation, by inadvertently asking who the unprodigal son was, and what was to be learned by his example. The leading divine of the company, Mr. Molyneux, at last explained to me that the unprodigal son was a lay figure, put in for dramatic effect, to make the story prettier, and that no note was to be taken of him. Without, however, admitting that Homer put in the last escape of Ulysses merely to make his story prettier, this is nevertheless true of all Greek myths, that they have many opposite lights and[Pg 228] shades; they are as changeful as opal, and like opal, usually have one colour by reflected, and another by transmitted light. But they are true jewels for all that, and full of noble enchantment for those who can use them; for those who cannot, I am content to repeat the words I wrote four years ago, in the appendix to the Two Paths

"The entire purpose of a great thinker may be difficult to fathom, and we may be over and over again more or less mistaken in guessing at his meaning; but the real, profound, nay, quite bottomless and unredeemable mistake, is the fool's thought, that he had no meaning."

APPENDIX VI.—(p. 84)

The derivation of words is like that of rivers: there is one real source, usually small, unlikely, and difficult to find, far up among the hills; then, as the word flows on and comes into service, it takes in the force of other words from other sources, and becomes quite another word—often much more than one word, after the junction—a word as it were of many waters, sometimes both sweet and bitter. Thus the whole force of our English "charity" depends on the guttural in "charis" getting confused with the c of the Latin "carus;" thenceforward throughout the middle ages, the two ideas ran on together, and both got confused with St. Paul's αγαρη, which expresses a different idea in all sorts of ways; our "charity" having not only brought in the entirely foreign sense of alms-giving, but lost the essential sense of contentment, and lost much more in getting too far away from the "charis" of the final Gospel benedictions. For truly it is fine Christianity we have come to, which, professing to expect the perpetual grace or charity of its Founder, has not itself grace or charity enough to hinder it from overreaching its friends in sixpenny bargains; and which, supplicating evening and morning the forgiveness of its own debts, goes forth at noon to take its fellow-servants by the throat, saying,—not merely "Pay me that thou owest," but "Pay me that thou owest me not."[Pg 229]

It is true that we sometimes wear Ophelia's rue with a difference, and call it "Herb o' grace o' Sundays," taking consolation out of the offertory with—"Look, what he layeth out; it shall be paid him again." Comfortable words indeed, and good to set against the old royalty of Largesse—

Whose moste joie was, I wis,
When that she gave, and said, "Have this."

[I am glad to end, for this time, with these lovely words of Chaucer. We have heard only too much lately of "Indiscriminate charity," with implied reproval, not of the Indiscrimination merely, but of the Charity also. We have partly succeeded in enforcing on the minds of the poor the idea that it is disgraceful to receive; and are likely, without much difficulty, to succeed in persuading not a few of the rich that it is disgraceful to give. But the political economy of a great state makes both giving and receiving graceful; and the political economy of true religion interprets the saying that "it is more blessed to give than to receive," not as the promise of reward in another life for mortified selfishness in this, but as pledge of bestowal upon us of that sweet and better nature, which does not mortify itself in giving.]

Brantwood, Coniston,
5th October, 1871.



[95] [Written in 1862. I little thought that when I next corrected my type, the "existing" war best illustrative of the sentence would be between Frenchmen in the Elysian Fields of Paris.]

[96] Compare the close of the Fourth Lecture in Aratra Pentelici.



[Pg 235]

Eight years ago, in the close of the first volume of "Modern Painters," I ventured to give the following advice to the young artists of England:—

"They should go to nature in all singleness of heart, and walk with her laboriously and trustingly, having no other thought but how best to penetrate her meaning; rejecting nothing, selecting nothing, and scorning nothing." Advice which, whether bad or good, involved infinite labor and humiliation in the following it; and was therefore, for the most part, rejected.

It has, however, at last been carried out, to the very letter, by a group of men who, for their reward, have been assailed with the most scurrilous abuse which I ever recollect seeing issue from the public press. I have, therefore, thought it due to them to contradict the directly false statements which have been made respecting their works; and to point out the kind [Pg 236]of merit which, however deficient in some respects, those works possess beyond the possibility of dispute.

Denmark Hill,
Aug. 1851.


[Pg 237]

It may be proved, with much certainty, that God intends no man to live in this world without working: but it seems to me no less evident that He intends every man to be happy in his work. It is written, "in the sweat of thy brow," but it was never written, "in the breaking of thine heart," thou shalt eat bread; and I find that, as on the one hand, infinite misery is caused by idle people, who both fail in doing what was appointed for them to do, and set in motion various springs of mischief in matters in which they should have had no concern, so on the other hand, no small misery is caused by over-worked and unhappy people, in the dark views which they necessarily take up themselves, and force upon others, of work itself. Were it not so, I believe the fact of their being unhappy is in itself a violation of divine law, and a sign of some kind of folly or sin in their way of life. Now in order that people may be happy in their work, these three things are needed: They must be fit for it: They must not do too much of it: and they must have a sense of success in it—not a doubtful sense, such as needs some testimony of other people for its confirmation, but a sure sense, or rather knowledge, that so much work has been done well, and fruitfully done, whatever the world may say or think about it. So that in order that a man may be happy, it is necessary that he should not only be capable of his work, but a good judge of his work.

The first thing then that he has to do, if unhappily his parents or masters have not done it for him, is to find out what he is fit for. In which inquiry a man may be very safely guided by his likings, if he be not also guided by his pride.[Pg 238] People usually reason in some such fashion as this: "I don't seem quite fit for a head-manager in the firm of —— & Co., therefore, in all probability, I am fit to be Chancellor of the Exchequer." Whereas, they ought rather to reason thus: "I don't seem quite fit to be head-manager in the firm of —— & Co., but I daresay I might do something in a small green-grocery business; I used to be a good judge of peas;" that is to say, always trying lower instead of trying higher, until they find bottom: once well set on the ground, a man may build up by degrees, safely, instead of disturbing every one in his neighborhood by perpetual catastrophes. But this kind of humility is rendered especially difficult in these days, by the contumely thrown on men in humble employments. The very removal of the massy bars which once separated one class of society from another, has rendered it tenfold more shameful in foolish people's, i. e. in most people's eyes, to remain in the lower grades of it, than ever it was before. When a man born of an artisan was looked upon as an entirely different species of animal from a man born of a noble, it made him no more uncomfortable or ashamed to remain that different species of animal, than it makes a horse ashamed to remain a horse, and not to become a giraffe. But now that a man may make money, and rise in the world, and associate himself, unreproached, with people once far above him, not only is the natural discontentedness of humanity developed to an unheard-of extent, whatever a man's position, but it becomes a veritable shame to him to remain in the state he was born in, and everybody thinks it his duty to try to be a "gentleman." Persons who have any influence in the management of public institutions for charitable education know how common this feeling has become. Hardly a day passes but they receive letters from mothers who want all their six or eight sons to go to college, and make the grand tour in the long vacation, and who think there is something wrong in the foundations of society, because this is not possible. Out of every ten letters of this kind, nine will allege, as the reason of the writers' importunity, their desire to keep their families in such and such a "station of life." There is no real desire[Pg 239] for the safety, the discipline, or the moral good of the children, only a panic horror of the inexpressibly pitiable calamity of their living a ledge or two lower on the molehill of the world—a calamity to be averted at any cost whatever, of struggle, anxiety, and shortening of life itself. I do not believe that any greater good could be achieved for the country, than the change in public feeling on this head, which might be brought about by a few benevolent men, undeniably in the class of "gentlemen," who would, on principle, enter into some of our commonest trades, and make them honorable; showing that it was possible for a man to retain his dignity, and remain, in the best sense, a gentleman, though part of his time was every day occupied in manual labor, or even in serving customers over a counter. I do not in the least see why courtesy, and gravity, and sympathy with the feelings of others, and courage, and truth, and piety, and what else goes to make up a gentleman's character, should not be found behind a counter as well as elsewhere, if they were demanded, or even hoped for, there.

Let us suppose, then, that the man's way of life and manner of work have been discreetly chosen; then the next thing to be required is, that he do not over-work himself therein. I am not going to say anything here about the various errors in our systems of society and commerce, which appear (I am not sure if they ever do more than appear) to force us to over-work ourselves merely that we may live; nor about the still more fruitful cause of unhealthy toil—the incapability, in many men, of being content with the little that is indeed necessary to their happiness. I have only a word or two to say about one special cause of over-work—the ambitious desire of doing great or clever things, and the hope of accomplishing them by immense efforts: hope as vain as it is pernicious; not only making men over-work themselves, but rendering all the work they do unwholesome to them. I say it is a vain hope, and let the reader be assured of this (it is a truth all-important to the best interests of humanity). No great intellectual thing was ever done by great effort; a great thing can only be done by a great man, and he does it without[Pg 240] effort. Nothing is, at present, less understood by us than this—nothing is more necessary to be understood. Let me try to say it as clearly, and explain it as fully as I may.

I have said no great intellectual thing: for I do not mean the assertion to extend to things moral. On the contrary, it seems to me that just because we are intended, as long as we live, to be in a state of intense moral effort, we are not intended to be in intense physical or intellectual effort. Our full energies are to be given to the soul's work—to the great fight with the Dragon—the taking the kingdom of heaven by force. But the body's work and head's work are to be done quietly, and comparatively without effort. Neither limbs nor brain are ever to be strained to their utmost; that is not the way in which the greatest quantity of work is to be got out of them: they are never to be worked furiously, but with tranquillity and constancy. We are to follow the plough from sunrise to sunset, but not to pull in race-boats at the twilight: we shall get no fruit of that kind of work, only disease of the heart.

How many pangs would be spared to thousands, if this great truth and law were but once sincerely, humbly understood,—that if a great thing can be done at all, it can be done easily; that, when it is needed to be done, there is perhaps only one man in the world who can do it; but he can do it without any trouble—without more trouble, that is, than it costs small people to do small things; nay, perhaps, with less. And yet what truth lies more openly on the surface of all human phenomena? Is not the evidence of Ease on the very front of all the greatest works in existence? Do they not say plainly to us, not, "there has been a great effort here," but, "there has been a great power here"? It is not the weariness of mortality, but the strength of divinity, which we have to recognise in all mighty things; and that is just what we now never recognise, but think that we are to do great things, by help of iron bars and perspiration:—alas! we shall do nothing that way but lose some pounds of our own weight.

Yet, let me not be misunderstood, nor this great truth be supposed anywise resolvable into the favorite dogma of young[Pg 241] men, that they need not work if they have genius. The fact is, that a man of genius is always far more ready to work than other people, and gets so much more good from the work that he does, and is often so little conscious of the inherent divinity in himself, that he is very apt to ascribe all his capacity to his work, and to tell those who ask how he came to be what he is: "If I am anything, which I much doubt, I made myself so merely by labor." This was Newton's way of talking, and I suppose it would be the general tone of men whose genius had been devoted to the physical sciences. Genius in the Arts must commonly be more self-conscious, but in whatever field, it will always be distinguished by its perpetual, steady, well-directed, happy, and faithful labor in accumulating and disciplining its powers, as well as by its gigantic, incommunicable facility in exercising them. Therefore, literally, it is no man's business whether he has genius or not: work he must, whatever he is, but quietly and steadily; and the natural and unforced results of such work will be always the things that God meant him to do, and will be his best. No agonies nor heart-rendings will enable him to do any better. If he be a great man, they will be great things; if a small man, small things; but always, if thus peacefully done, good and right; always, if restlessly and ambitiously done, false, hollow, and despicable.

Then the third thing needed was, I said, that a man should be a good judge of his work; and this chiefly that he may not be dependent upon popular opinion for the manner of doing it, but also that he may have the just encouragement of the sense of progress, and an honest consciousness of victory: how else can he become

"That awful independent on to-morrow,
Whose yesterdays look backwards with a smile."

I am persuaded that the real nourishment and help of such a feeling as this is nearly unknown to half the workmen of the present day. For whatever appearance of self-complacency there may be in their outward bearing, it is visible enough,[Pg 242] by their feverish jealousy of each other, how little confidence they have in the sterling value of their several doings. Conceit may puff a man up, but never prop him up; and there is too visible distress and hopelessness in men's aspects to admit of the supposition that they have any stable support of faith in themselves.

I have stated these principles generally, because there is no branch of labor to which they do not apply: But there is one in which our ignorance or forgetfulness of them has caused an incalculable amount of suffering: and I would endeavor now to reconsider them with especial reference to it,—the branch of the Arts.

In general, the men who are employed in the Arts have freely chosen their profession, and suppose themselves to have special faculty for it; yet, as a body, they are not happy men. For which this seems to me the reason, that they are expected, and themselves expect, to make their bread by being clever—not by steady or quiet work; and are, therefore, for the most part, trying to be clever, and so living in an utterly false state of mind and action.

This is the case, to the same extent, in no other profession or employment. A lawyer may indeed suspect that, unless he has more wit than those around him, he is not likely to advance in his profession; but he will not be always thinking how he is to display his wit. He will generally understand, early in his career, that wit must be left to take care of itself, and that it is hard knowledge of law and vigorous examination and collation of the facts of every case entrusted to him, which his clients will mainly demand; this it is which he has to be paid for; and this is healthy and measurable labor, payable by the hour. If he happen to have keen natural perception and quick wit, these will come into play in their due time and place, but he will not think of them as his chief power; and if he have them not, he may still hope that industry and conscientiousness may enable him to rise in his profession without them. Again in the case of clergymen: that they are sorely tempted to display their eloquence or wit, none who know their own hearts will deny, but then they know this to be a[Pg 243] temptation: they never would suppose that cleverness was all that was to be expected from them, or would sit down deliberately to write a clever sermon: even the dullest or vainest of them would throw some veil over their vanity, and pretend to some profitableness of purpose in what they did. They would not openly ask of their hearers—Did you think my sermon ingenious, or my language poetical? They would early understand that they were not paid for being ingenious, nor called to be so, but to preach truth; that if they happened to possess wit, eloquence, or originality, these would appear and be of service in due time, but were not to be continually sought after or exhibited: and if it should happen that they had them not, they might still be serviceable pastors without them.

Not so with the unhappy artist. No one expects any honest or useful work of him; but every one expects him to be ingenious. Originality, dexterity, invention, imagination, every thing is asked of him except what alone is to be had for asking—honesty and sound work, and the due discharge of his function as a painter. What function? asks the reader in some surprise. He may well ask; for I suppose few painters have any idea what their function is, or even that they have any at all.

And yet surely it is not so difficult to discover. The faculties, which when a man finds in himself, he resolves to be a painter, are, I suppose, intenseness of observation and facility of imitation. The man is created an observer and an imitator; and his function is to convey knowledge to his fellow-men, of such things as cannot be taught otherwise than ocularly. For a long time this function remained a religious one: it was to impress upon the popular mind the reality of the objects of faith, and the truth of the histories of Scripture, by giving visible form to both. That function has now passed away, and none has as yet taken its place. The painter has no profession, no purpose. He is an idler on the earth, chasing the shadows of his own fancies.

But he was never meant to be this. The sudden and universal Naturalism, or inclination to copy ordinary natural[Pg 244] objects, which manifested itself among the painters of Europe, at the moment when the invention of printing superseded their legendary labors, was no false instinct. It was misunderstood and misapplied, but it came at the right time, and has maintained itself through all kinds of abuse; presenting in the recent schools of landscape, perhaps only the first fruits of its power. That instinct was urging every painter in Europe at the same moment to his true duty—the faithful representation of all objects of historical interest, or of natural beauty existent at the period; representations such as might at once aid the advance of the sciences, and keep faithful record of every monument of past ages which was likely to be swept away in the approaching eras of revolutionary change.

The instinct came, as I said, exactly at the right moment; and let the reader consider what amount and kind of general knowledge might by this time have been possessed by the nations of Europe, had their painters understood and obeyed it. Suppose that, after disciplining themselves so as to be able to draw, with unerring precision, each the particular kind of subject in which he most delighted, they had separated into two great armies of historians and naturalists;—that the first had painted with absolute faithfulness every edifice, every city, every battle-field, every scene of the slightest historical interest, precisely and completely rendering their aspect at the time; and that their companions, according to their several powers, had painted with like fidelity the plants and animals, the natural scenery, and the atmospheric phenomena of every country on the earth—suppose that a faithful and complete record were now in our museums of every building destroyed by war, or time, or innovation, during these last 200 years—suppose that each recess of every mountain chain of Europe had been penetrated, and its rocks drawn with such accuracy that the geologist's diagram was no longer necessary—suppose that every tree of the forest had been drawn in its noblest aspect, every beast of the field in its savage life—that all these gatherings were already in our national galleries, and that the painters of the present day were[Pg 245] laboring, happily and earnestly, to multiply them, and put such means of knowledge more and more within reach of the common people—would not that be a more honorable life for them, than gaining precarious bread by "bright effects?" They think not, perhaps. They think it easy, and therefore contemptible, to be truthful; they have been taught so all their lives. But it is not so, whoever taught it them. It is most difficult, and worthy of the greatest men's greatest effort, to render, as it should be rendered, the simplest of the natural features of the earth; but also be it remembered, no man is confined to the simplest; each may look out work for himself where he chooses, and it will be strange if he cannot find something hard enough for him. The excuse is, however, one of the lips only; for every painter knows that when he draws back from the attempt to render nature as she is, it is oftener in cowardice than in disdain.

I must leave the reader to pursue this subject for himself; I have not space to suggest to him the tenth part of the advantages which would follow, both to the painter from such an understanding of his mission, and to the whole people, in the results of his labor. Consider how the man himself would be elevated: how content he would become, how earnest, how full of all accurate and noble knowledge, how free from envy—knowing creation to be infinite, feeling at once the value of what he did, and yet the nothingness. Consider the advantage to the people; the immeasurably larger interest given to art itself; the easy, pleasurable, and perfect knowledge conveyed by it, in every subject; the far greater number of men who might be healthily and profitably occupied with it as a means of livelihood; the useful direction of myriads of inferior talents, now left fading away in misery. Conceive all this, and then look around at our exhibitions, and behold the "cattle pieces," and "sea pieces," and "fruit pieces," and "family pieces;" the eternal brown cows in ditches, and white sails in squalls, and sliced lemons in saucers, and foolish faces in simpers;—and try to feel what we are, and what we might have been.

Take a single instance in one branch of archæology. Let[Pg 246] those who are interested in the history of religion consider what a treasure we should now have possessed, if, instead of painting pots, and vegetables, and drunken peasantry, the most accurate painters of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries had been set to copy, line for line, the religious and domestic sculpture on the German, Flemish, and French cathedrals and castles; and if every building destroyed in the French or in any other subsequent revolution, had thus been drawn in all its parts with the same precision with which Gerard Douw or Mieris paint bas-reliefs of Cupids. Consider, even now, what incalculable treasure is still left in ancient bas-reliefs, full of every kind of legendary interest, of subtle expression, of priceless evidence as to the character, feelings habits, histories, of past generations, in neglected and shattered churches and domestic buildings, rapidly disappearing over the whole of Europe—treasure which, once lost, the labor of all men living cannot bring back again; and then look at the myriads of men, with skill enough, if they had but the commonest schooling, to record all this faithfully, who are making their bread by drawing dances of naked women from academy models, or idealities of chivalry fitted out with Wardour Street armor, or eternal scenes from Gil Blas, Don Quixote, and the Vicar of Wakefield, or mountain sceneries with young idiots of Londoners wearing Highland bonnets and brandishing rifles in the foregrounds. Do but think of these things in the breadth of their inexpressible imbecility, and then go and stand before that broken bas-relief in the southern gate of Lincoln Cathedral, and see if there is no fibre of the heart in you that will break too.

But is there to be no place left, it will be indignantly asked, for imagination and invention, for poetical power, or love of ideal beauty? Yes; the highest, the noblest place—that which these only can attain when they are all used in the cause, and with the aid of truth. Wherever imagination and sentiment are, they will either show themselves without forcing, or, if capable of artificial development, the kind of training which such a school of art would give them would be the best they could receive. The infinite absurdity and failure[Pg 247] of our present training consists mainly in this, that we do not rank imagination and invention high enough, and suppose that they can be taught. Throughout every sentence that I ever have written, the reader will find the same rank attributed to these powers,—the rank of a purely divine gift, not to be attained, increased, or in any wise modified by teaching, only in various ways capable of being concealed or quenched. Understand this thoroughly; know once for all, that a poet on canvas is exactly the same species of creature as a poet in song, and nearly every error in our methods of teaching will be done away with. For who among us now thinks of bringing men up to be poets?—of producing poets by any kind of general recipe or method of cultivation? Suppose even that we see in youth that which we hope may, in its development, become a power of this kind, should we instantly, supposing that we wanted to make a poet of him, and nothing else, forbid him all quiet, steady, rational labor? Should we force him to perpetual spinning of new crudities out of his boyish brain, and set before him, as the only objects of his study, the laws of versification which criticism has supposed itself to discover in the works of previous writers? Whatever gifts the boy had, would much be likely to come of them so treated? unless, indeed, they were so great as to break through all such snares of falsehood and vanity, and build their own foundation in spite of us; whereas if, as in cases numbering millions against units, the natural gifts were too weak to do this, could any thing come of such training but utter inanity and spuriousness of the whole man? But if we had sense, should we not rather restrain and bridle the first flame of invention in early youth, heaping material on it as one would on the first sparks and tongues of a fire which we desired to feed into greatness? Should we not educate the whole intellect into general strength, and all the affections into warmth and honesty, and look to heaven for the rest? This, I say, we should have sense enough to do, in order to produce a poet in words: but, it being required to produce a poet on canvas, what is our way of setting to work? We begin, in all probability, by telling the youth of fifteen or sixteen, that Nature[Pg 248] is full of faults, and that he is to improve her; but that Raphael is perfection, and that the more he copies Raphael the better; that after much copying of Raphael, he is to try what he can do himself in a Raphaelesque, but yet original, manner: that is to say, he is to try to do something very clever, all out of his own head, but yet this clever something is to be properly subjected to Raphaelesque rules, is to have a principal light occupying one-seventh of its space, and a principle shadow occupying one-third of the same; that no two people's heads in the picture are to be turned the same way, and that all the personages represented are to possess ideal beauty of the highest order, which ideal beauty consists partly in a Greek outline of nose, partly in proportions expressible in decimal fractions between the lips and chin; but partly also in that degree of improvement which the youth of sixteen is to bestow upon God's work in general. This I say is the kind of teaching which through various channels, Royal Academy lecturings, press criticisms, public enthusiasm, and not least by solid weight of gold, we give to our young men. And we wonder we have no painters!

But we do worse than this. Within the last few years some sense of the real tendency of such teaching has appeared in some of our younger painters. It only could appear in the younger ones, our older men having become familiarised with the false system, or else having passed through it and forgotten it, not well knowing the degree of harm they had sustained. This sense appeared, among our youths,—increased,—matured into resolute action. Necessarily, to exist at all, it needed the support both of strong instincts and of considerable self-confidence, otherwise it must at once have been borne down by the weight of general authority and received canon law. Strong instincts are apt to make men strange, and rude; self-confidence, however well founded, to give much of what they do or say the appearance of impertinence. Look at the self-confidence of Wordsworth, stiffening every other sentence of his prefaces into defiance; there is no more of it than was needed to enable him to do his work, yet it is not a little ungraceful here and there. Suppose this stubbornness and self-trust in[Pg 249] a youth, laboring in an art of which the executive part is confessedly to be best learnt from masters, and we shall hardly wonder that much of his work has a certain awkwardness and stiffness in it, or that he should be regarded with disfavor by many, even the most temperate, of the judges trained in the system he was breaking through, and with utter contempt and reprobation by the envious and the dull. Consider, farther, that the particular system to be overthrown was, in the present case, one of which the main characteristic was the pursuit of beauty at the expense of manliness and truth; and it will seem likely, à priori, that the men intended successfully to resist the influence of such a system should be endowed with little natural sense of beauty, and thus rendered dead to the temptation it presented. Summing up these conditions, there is surely little cause for surprise that pictures painted, in a temper of resistance, by exceedingly young men, of stubborn instincts and positive self-trust, and with little natural perception of beauty, should not be calculated, at the first glance, to win us from works enriched by plagiarism, polished by convention, invested with all the attractiveness of artificial grace, and recommended to our respect by established authority.

We should, however, on the other hand, have anticipated, that in proportion to the strength of character required for the effort, and to the absence of distracting sentiments, whether respect for precedent, or affection for ideal beauty, would be the energy exhibited in the pursuit of the special objects which the youths proposed to themselves, and their success in attaining them.

All this has actually been the case, but in a degree which it would have been impossible to anticipate. That two youths, of the respective ages of eighteen and twenty, should have conceived for themselves a totally independent and sincere method of study, and enthusiastically persevered in it against every kind of dissuasion and opposition, is strange enough; that in the third or fourth year of their efforts they should have produced works in many parts not inferior to the best of Albert Durer, this is perhaps not less strange. But the[Pg 250] loudness and universality of the howl which the common critics of the press have raised against them, the utter absence of all generous help or encouragement from those who can both measure their toil and appreciate their success, and the shrill, shallow laughter of those who can do neither the one nor the other,—these are strangest of all—unimaginable unless they had been experienced.

And as if these were not enough, private malice is at work against them, in its own small, slimy way. The very day after I had written my second letter to the Times in the defence of the Pre-Raphaelites, I received an anonymous letter respecting one of them, from some person apparently hardly capable of spelling, and about as vile a specimen of petty malignity as ever blotted paper. I think it well that the public should know this, and so get some insight into the sources of the spirit which is at work against these men—how first roused it is difficult to say, for one would hardly have thought that mere eccentricity in young artists could have excited an hostility so determined and so cruel;—hostility which hesitated at no assertion, however impudent. That of the "absence of perspective" was one of the most curious pieces of the hue and cry which began with the Times, and died away in feeble maundering in the Art Union; I contradicted it in the Times—I here contradict it directly for the second time. There was not a single error in perspective in three out of the four pictures in question. But if otherwise, would it have been anything remarkable in them? I doubt, if with the exception of the pictures of David Roberts, there were one architectural drawing in perspective on the walls of the Academy; I never met but with two men in my life who knew enough of perspective to draw a Gothic arch in a retiring plane, so that its lateral dimensions and curvatures might be calculated to scale from the drawing. Our architects certainly do not, and it was but the other day that, talking to one of the most distinguished among them, the author of several most valuable works, I found he actually did not know how to draw a circle in perspective. And in this state of general science our writers for the press take it upon them to tell us, that the forest trees[Pg 251] in Mr. Hunt's Sylvia, and the bunches of lilies in Mr. Collins's Convent Thoughts, are out of perspective.[97]

It might not, I think, in such circumstances, have been ungraceful or unwise in the Academicians themselves to have defended their young pupils, at least by the contradiction of statements directly false respecting them,[98] and the direction[Pg 252] of the mind and sight of the public to such real merit as they possess. If Sir Charles Eastlake, Mulready, Edwin and Charles Landseer, Cope, and Dyce would each of them simply state their own private opinion respecting their paintings, sign it and publish it, I believe the act would be of more service to English art than any thing the Academy has done since it was founded. But as I cannot hope for this, I can only ask the public to give their pictures careful examination, and look at them at once with the indulgence and the respect which I have endeavored to show they deserve.

Yet let me not be misunderstood. I have adduced them only as examples of the kind of study which I would desire to see substituted for that of our modern schools, and of singular success in certain characters, finish of detail, and brilliancy of color. What faculties, higher than imitative, may be in these men, I do not yet venture to say; but I do say that if they exist, such faculties will manifest themselves in due time all the more forcibly because they have received training so severe.

For it is always to be remembered that no one mind is like another, either in its powers or perceptions; and while the main principles of training must be the same for all, the result in each will be as various as the kinds of truth which each will apprehend; therefore, also, the modes of effort, even in men whose inner principles and final aims are exactly the same. Suppose, for instance, two men, equally honest, equally industrious, equally impressed with a humble desire to render some part of what they saw in nature faithfully; and, otherwise trained in convictions such as I have above endeavored to induce. But one of them is quiet in temperament, has a feeble memory, no invention, and excessively keen sight. The other is impatient in temperament, has a memory which nothing[Pg 253] escapes, an invention which never rests, and is comparatively near-sighted.

Set them both free in the same field in a mountain valley. One sees everything, small and large, with almost the same clearness; mountains and grasshoppers alike; the leaves on the branches, the veins in the pebbles, the bubbles in the stream: but he can remember nothing, and invent nothing. Patiently he sets himself to his mighty task; abandoning at once all thoughts of seizing transient effects, or giving general impressions of that which his eyes present to him in microscopical dissection, he chooses some small portion out of the infinite scene, and calculates with courage the number of weeks which must elapse before he can do justice to the intensity of his perceptions, or the fulness of matter in his subject.

Meantime, the other has been watching the change of the clouds, and the march of the light along the mountain sides; he beholds the entire scene in broad, soft masses of true gradation, and the very feebleness of his sight is in some sort an advantage to him, in making him more sensible of the aërial mystery of distance, and hiding from him the multitudes of circumstances which it would have been impossible for him to represent. But there is not one change in the casting of the jagged shadows along the hollows of the hills, but it is fixed on his mind for ever; not a flake of spray has broken from the sea of cloud about their bases, but he has watched it as it melts away, and could recall it to its lost place in heaven by the slightest effort of his thoughts. Not only so, but thousands and thousands of such images, of older scenes, remain congregated in his mind, each mingling in new associations with those now visibly passing before him, and these again confused with other images of his own ceaseless, sleepless imagination, flashing by in sudden troops. Fancy how his paper will be covered with stray symbols and blots, and undecipherable shorthand:—as for his sitting down to "draw from Nature," there was not one of the things which he wished to represent that stayed for so much as five seconds together: but none of them escaped, for all that: they are[Pg 254] sealed up in that strange storehouse of his; he may take one of them out, perhaps, this day twenty years, and paint it in his dark room, far away. Now, observe, you may tell both of these men, when they are young, that they are to be honest, that they have an important function, and that they are not to care what Raphael did. This you may wholesomely impress on them both. But fancy the exquisite absurdity of expecting either of them to possess any of the qualities of the other.

I have supposed the feebleness of sight in the last, and of invention in the first painter, that the contrast between them might be more striking; but, with very slight modification, both the characters are real. Grant to the first considerable inventive power, with exquisite sense of color; and give to the second, in addition to all his other faculties, the eye of an eagle; and the first is John Everett Millais, the second Joseph Mallard William Turner.

They are among the few men who have defied all false teaching, and have, therefore, in great measure, done justice to the gifts with which they were entrusted. They stand at opposite poles, marking culminating points of art in both directions; between them, or in various relations to them, we may class five or six more living artists who, in like manner, have done justice to their powers. I trust that I may be pardoned for naming them, in order that the reader may know how the strong innate genius in each has been invariably accompanied with the same humility, earnestness, and industry in study.

It is hardly necessary to point out the earnestness or humility in the works of William Hunt; but it may be so to suggest the high value they possess as records of English rural life, and still life. Who is there who for a moment could contend with him in the unaffected, yet humorous truth with which he has painted our peasant children? Who is there who does not sympathize with him in the simple love with which he dwells on the brightness and bloom of our summer fruit and flowers? And yet there is something to be regretted concerning him: why should he be allowed continually to[Pg 255] paint the same bunches of hot-house grapes, and supply to the Water Color Society a succession of pineapples with the regularity of a Covent Garden fruiterer? He has of late discovered that primrose banks are lovely; but there are other things grow wild besides primroses: what undreamt-of loveliness might he not bring back to us, if he would lose himself for a summer in Highland foregrounds; if he would paint the heather as it grows, and the foxglove and the harebell as they nestle in the clefts of the rocks, and the mosses and bright lichens of the rocks themselves. And then, cross to the Jura, and bring back a piece of Jura pasture in spring; with the gentians in their earliest blue, and the soldanelle beside the fading snow! And return again, and paint a gray wall of Alpine crag, with budding roses crowning it like a wreath of rubies. That is what he was meant to do in this world; not to paint bouquets in china vases.

I have in various other places expressed my sincere respect for the works of Samuel Prout: his shortness of sight has necessarily prevented their possessing delicacy of finish or fulness of minor detail; but I think that those of no other living artist furnish an example so striking of innate and special instinct, sent to do a particular work at the exact and only period when it was possible. At the instant when peace had been established all over Europe, but when neither national character nor national architecture had as yet been seriously changed by promiscuous intercourse or modern "improvement;" when, however, nearly every ancient and beautiful building had been long left in a state of comparative neglect, so that its aspect of partial ruinousness, and of separation from recent active life, gave to every edifice a peculiar interest—half sorrowful, half sublime;—at that moment Prout was trained among the rough rocks and simple cottages of Cornwall, until his eye was accustomed to follow with delight the rents and breaks, and irregularities which, to another man, would have been offensive; and then, gifted with infinite readiness in composition, but also with infinite affection for the kind of subjects he had to portray, he was sent to preserve, in an almost innumerable series of drawings,[Pg 256] every one made on the spot, the aspect borne, at the beginning of the nineteenth century, by cities which, in a few years more, rekindled wars, or unexpected prosperities, were to ravage, or renovate, into nothingness.

It seems strange to pass from Prout to John Lewis; but there is this fellowship between them, that both seem to have been intended to appreciate the characters of foreign countries more than of their own—nay, to have been born in England chiefly that the excitement of strangeness might enhance to them the interest of the scenes they had to represent. I believe John Lewis to have done more entire justice to all his powers (and they are magnificent ones) than any other man amongst us. His mission was evidently to portray the comparatively animal life of the southern and eastern families of mankind. For this he was prepared in a somewhat singular way—by being led to study, and endowed with altogether peculiar apprehension of, the most sublime characters of animals themselves. Rubens, Rembrandt, Snyders, Tintoret, and Titian, have all, in various ways, drawn wild beasts magnificently; but they have in some sort humanized or demonized them, making them either ravenous fiends or educated beasts, that would draw cars, and had respect for hermits. The sullen isolation of the brutal nature; the dignity and quietness of the mighty limbs; the shaggy mountainous power, mingled with grace, as of a flowing stream; the stealthy restraint of strength and wrath in every soundless motion of the gigantic frame; all this seems never to have been seen, much less drawn, until Lewis drew and himself engraved a series of animal subjects, now many years ago. Since then, he has devoted himself to the portraiture of those European and Asiatic races, among whom the refinements of civilization exist without its laws or its energies, and in whom the fierceness, indolence, and subtlety of animal nature are associated with brilliant imagination and strong affections. To this task he has brought not only intense perception of the kind of character, but powers of artistical composition like those of the great Venetians, displaying, at the same time, a refinement of drawing almost miraculous, and appreciable[Pg 257] only, as the minutiæ of nature itself are appreciable, by the help of the microscope. The value, therefore, of his works, as records of the aspect of the scenery and inhabitants of the south of Spain and of the East, in the earlier part of the nineteenth century, is quite above all estimate.

I hardly know how to speak of Mulready: in delicacy and completion of drawing, and splendor of color, he takes place beside John Lewis and the pre-Raphaelites; but he has, throughout his career, displayed no definiteness in choice of subject. He must be named among the painters who have studied with industry, and have made themselves great by doing so; but having obtained a consummate method of execution, he has thrown it away on subjects either altogether uninteresting, or above his powers, or unfit for pictorial representation. "The Cherry Woman," exhibited in 1850, may be named as an example of the first kind; the "Burchell and Sophia" of the second (the character of Sir William Thornhill being utterly missed); the "Seven Ages" of the third; for this subject cannot be painted. In the written passage, the thoughts are progressive and connected; in the picture they must be co-existent, and yet separate; nor can all the characters of the ages be rendered in painting at all. One may represent the soldier at the cannon's mouth, but one cannot paint the "bubble reputation" which he seeks. Mulready, therefore, while he has always produced exquisite pieces of painting, has failed in doing anything which can be of true or extensive use. He has, indeed, understood how to discipline his genius, but never how to direct it.

Edwin Landseer is the last painter but one whom I shall name: I need not point out to any one acquainted with his earlier works, the labor, or watchfulness of nature which they involve, nor need I do more than allude to the peculiar faculties of his mind. It will at once be granted that the highest merits of his pictures are throughout found in those parts of them which are least like what had before been accomplished; and that it was not by the study of Raphael that he attained his eminent success, but by a healthy love of Scotch terriers.

None of these painters, however, it will be answered, afford[Pg 258] examples of the rise of the highest imaginative power out of close study of matters of fact. Be it remembered, however, that the imaginative power, in its magnificence, is not to be found every day. Lewis has it in no mean degree; but we cannot hope to find it at its highest more than once in an age. We have had it once, and must be content.

Towards the close of the last century, among the various drawings executed, according to the quiet manner of the time, in greyish blue, with brown foregrounds, some began to be noticed as exhibiting rather more than ordinary diligence and delicacy, signed W. Turner.[99] There was nothing, however, in them at all indicative of genius, or even of more than ordinary talent, unless in some of the subjects a large perception of space, and excessive clearness and decision in the arrangement of masses. Gradually and cautiously the blues became mingled with delicate green, and then with gold; the browns in the foreground became first more positive, and then were slightly mingled with other local colors; while the touch, which had at first been heavy and broken, like that of the ordinary drawing masters of the time, grew more and more refined and expressive, until it lost itself in a method of execution often too delicate for the eye to follow, rendering, with a precision before unexampled, both the texture and the form of every object. The style may be considered as perfectly formed about the year 1800, and it remained unchanged for twenty years.

During that period the painter had attempted, and with more or less success had rendered, every order of landscape subject, but always on the same principle, subduing the colors of nature into a harmony of which the key-notes are greyish green and brown; pure blues and delicate golden yellows being admitted in small quantity, as the lowest and highest limits of shade and light: and bright local colors in extremely small quantity in figures or other minor accessories.

Pictures executed on such a system are not, properly speaking,[Pg 259] works in color at all; they are studies of light and shade, in which both the shade and the distance are rendered in the general hue which best expresses their attributes of coolness and transparency; and the lights and the foreground are executed in that which best expresses their warmth and solidity. This advantage may just as well be taken as not, in studies of light and shadow to be executed with the hand: but the use of two, three, or four colors, always in the same relations and places, does not in the least constitute the work a study of color, any more than the brown engravings of the Liber Studiorum; nor would the idea of color be in general more present to the artist's mind, when he was at work on one of these drawings, than when he was using pure brown in the mezzotint engraving. But the idea of space, warmth, and freshness being not successfully expressible in a single tint, and perfectly expressible by the admission of three or four, he allows himself this advantage when it is possible, without in the least embarrassing himself with the actual color of the objects to be represented. A stone in the fore ground might in nature have been cold grey, but it will be drawn nevertheless of a rich brown, because it is in the foreground; a hill in the distance might in nature be purple with heath, or golden with furze; but it will be drawn nevertheless of a cool grey, because it is in the distance.

This at least was the general theory,—carried out with great severity in many, both of the drawings and pictures executed by him during the period: in others more or less modified by the cautious introduction of color, as the painter felt his liberty increasing; for the system was evidently never considered as final, or as anything more than a means of progress: the conventional, easily manageable color, was visibly adopted, only that his mind might be at perfect liberty to address itself to the acquirement of the first and most necessary knowledge in all art—that of form. But as form, in landscape, implies vast bulk and space, the use of the tints which enabled him best to express them, was actually auxiliary to the mere drawing; and, therefore, not only permissible, but even necessary, while more brilliant or varied tints were never indulged[Pg 260] in, except when they might be introduced without the slightest danger of diverting his mind for an instant from his principal object. And, therefore, it will be generally found in the works of this period, that exactly in proportion to the importance and general toil of the composition, is the severity of the tint; and that the play of color begins to show itself first in slight and small drawings, where he felt that he could easily secure all that he wanted in form.

Thus the "Crossing the Brook," and such other elaborate and large compositions, are actually painted in nothing but grey, brown, and blue, with a point or two of severe local color in the figures; but in the minor drawings, tender passages of complicated color occur not unfrequently in easy places; and even before the year 1800 he begins to introduce it with evident joyfulness and longing in his rude and simple studies, just as a child, if it could be supposed to govern itself by a fully developed intellect, would cautiously, but with infinite pleasure, add now and then a tiny dish of fruit or other dangerous luxury to the simple order of its daily fare. Thus, in the foregrounds of his most severe drawings, we not unfrequently find him indulging in the luxury of a peacock; and it is impossible to express the joyfulness with which he seems to design its graceful form, and deepen with soft pencilling the bloom of its blue, after he has worked through the stern detail of his almost colorless drawing. A rainbow is another of his most frequently permitted indulgences; and we find him very early allowing the edges of his evening clouds to be touched with soft rose-color or gold; while, whenever the hues of nature in anywise fall into his system, and can be caught without a dangerous departure from it, he instantly throws his whole soul into the faithful rendering of them. Thus the usual brown tones of his foreground become warmed into sudden vigor, and are varied and enhanced with indescribable delight, when he finds himself by the shore of a moorland stream, where they truly express the stain of its golden rocks, and the darkness of its clear, Cairngorm-like pools, and the usual serenity of his aërial blue is enriched into the softness and depth of the sapphire, when it can deepen the distant[Pg 261] slumber of some Highland lake, or temper the gloomy shadows of the evening upon its hills.

The system of his color being thus simplified, he could address all the strength of his mind to the accumulation of facts of form; his choice of subject, and his methods of treatment, are therefore as various as his color is simple; and it is not a little difficult to give the reader who is unacquainted with his works, an idea either of their infinitude of aims, on the one hand, or of the kind of feeling which prevades them all, on the other. No subject was too low or too high for him; we find him one day hard at work on a cock and hen, with their family of chickens in a farm-yard; and bringing all the refinement of his execution into play to express the texture of the plumage; next day, he is drawing the Dragon of Colchis. One hour he is much interested in a gust of wind blowing away an old woman's cap; the next he is painting the fifth plague of Egypt. Every landscape painter before him had acquired distinction by confining his efforts to one class of subject. Hobbima painted oaks; Ruysdael, waterfalls and copses; Cuyp, river or meadow scenes in quiet afternoons; Salvator and Poussin, such kind of mountain scenery as people could conceive, who lived in towns in the seventeenth century. But I am well persuaded that if all the works of Turner, up to the year 1820, were divided into classes (as he has himself divided them in the Liber Studiorum), no preponderance could be assigned to one class over another. There is architecture, including a large number of formal "gentlemen's seats," I suppose drawings commissioned by the owners; then lowland pastoral scenery of every kind, including nearly all farming operations,—ploughing, harrowing, hedging and ditching, felling trees, sheep-washing, and I know not what else; then all kinds of town life—court-yards of inns, starting of mail coaches, interiors of shops, house-buildings, fairs, elections, &c.; then all kinds of inner domestic life—interiors of rooms, studies of costumes, of still life, and heraldry, including multitudes of symbolical vignettes; then marine scenery of every kind, full of local incident; every kind of boat and method of fishing for particular fish, being specifically drawn, round the[Pg 262] whole coast of England;—pilchard fishing at St. Ives, whiting fishing at Margate, herring at Loch Fyne; and all kinds of shipping, including studies of every separate part of the vessels, and many marine battle-pieces, two in particular of Trafalgar, both of high importance,—one of the Victory after the battle, now in Greenwich Hospital; another of the Death of Nelson, in his own gallery; then all kinds of mountain scenery, some idealised into compositions, others of definite localities; together with classical compositions, Romes and Carthages and such others, by the myriad, with mythological, historical, or allegorical figures,—nymphs, monsters, and spectres; heroes and divinities.[100]

What general feeling, it may be asked incredulously, can possibly pervade all this? This, the greatest of all feelings—an utter forgetfulness of self. Throughout the whole period with which we are at present concerned, Turner appears as a man of sympathy absolutely infinite—a sympathy so all-embracing, that I know nothing but that of Shakespeare comparable with it. A soldier's wife resting by the roadside is not beneath it; Rizpah, the daughter of Aiah, watching the dead bodies of her sons, not above it. Nothing can possibly be so mean as that it will not interest his whole mind, and carry away his whole heart; nothing so great or solemn but that he can raise himself into harmony with it; and it is impossible to prophesy of him at any moment, whether, the next, he will be in laughter or in tears.

This is the root of the man's greatness; and it follows as a matter of course that this sympathy must give him a subtle power of expression, even of the characters of mere material things, such as no other painter ever possessed. The man who can best feel the difference between rudeness and tenderness in humanity, perceives also more difference between the branches of an oak and a willow than any one else would; and therefore, necessarily the most striking character of the drawings themselves is the speciality of whatever they represent—the thorough stiffness of what is stiff, and grace of what is[Pg 263] graceful, and vastness of what is vast; but through and beyond all this, the condition of the mind of the painter himself is easily enough discoverable by comparison of a large number of the drawings. It is singularly serene and peaceful: in itself quite passionless, though entering with ease into the external passion which it contemplates. By the effort of its will it sympathises with tumult or distress, even in their extremes, but there is no tumult, no sorrow in itself, only a chastened and exquisitely peaceful cheerfulness, deeply meditative; touched without loss of its own perfect balance, by sadness on the one side, and stooping to playfulness upon the other. I shall never cease to regret the destruction, by fire, now several years ago, of a drawing which always seemed to me to be the perfect image of the painter's mind at this period,—the drawing of Brignal Church near Rokeby, of which a feeble idea may still be gathered from the engraving (in the Yorkshire series). The spectator stands on the "Brignal banks," looking down into the glen at twilight; the sky is still full of soft rays, though the sun is gone; and the Greta glances brightly in the valley, singing its evening-song; two white clouds, following each other, move without wind through the hollows of the ravine, and others lie couched on the far away moorlands; every leaf of the woods is still in the delicate air; a boy's kite, incapable of rising, has become entangled in their branches, he is climbing to recover it; and just behind it in the picture, almost indicated by it, the lowly church is seen in its secluded field between the rocks and the stream; and around it the low churchyard wall, and the few white stones which mark the resting places of those who can climb the rocks no more, nor hear the river sing as it passes.

There are many other existing drawings which indicate the same character of mind, though I think none so touching or so beautiful; yet they are not, as I said above, more numerous than those which express his sympathy with sublimer or more active scenes; but they are almost always marked by a tenderness of execution, and have a look of being beloved in every part of them, which shows them to be the truest expression of his own feelings.[Pg 264]

One other characteristic of his mind at this period remains to be noticed—its reverence for talent in others. Not the reverence which acts upon the practices of men as if they were the laws of nature, but that which is ready to appreciate the power, and receive the assistance, of every mind which has been previously employed in the same direction, so far as its teaching seems to be consistent with the great text-book of nature itself. Turner thus studied almost every preceding landscape painter, chiefly Claude, Poussin, Vandevelde, Loutherbourg, and Wilson. It was probably by the Sir George Beaumonts and other feeble conventionalists of the period, that he was persuaded to devote his attention to the works of these men; and his having done so will be thought, a few scores of years hence, evidence of perhaps the greatest modesty ever shown by a man of original power. Modesty at once admirable and unfortunate, for the study of the works of Vandevelde and Claude was productive of unmixed mischief to him; he spoiled many of his marine pictures, as for instance Lord Ellesmere's, by imitation of the former; and from the latter learned a false ideal, which confirmed by the notions of Greek art prevalent in London in the beginning of this century, has manifested itself in many vulgarities in his composition pictures, vulgarities which may perhaps be best expressed by the general term "Twickenham Classicism," as consisting principally in conceptions of ancient or of rural life such as have influenced the erection of most of our suburban villas. From Nicolo Poussin and Loutherbourg he seems to have derived advantage; perhaps also from Wilson; and much in his subsequent travels from far higher men, especially Tintoret and Paul Veronese. I have myself heard him speaking with singular delight of the putting in of the beech leaves in the upper right-hand corner of Titian's Peter Martyr. I cannot in any of his works trace the slightest influence of Salvator; and I am not surprised at it, for though Salvator was a man of far higher powers than either Vandevelde or Claude, he was a wilful and gross caricaturist. Turner would condescend to be helped by feeble men, but could not be corrupted by false men. Besides, he had never himself seen classical life, and[Pg 265] Claude was represented to him as competent authority for it. But he had seen mountains and torrents, and knew therefore that Salvator could not paint them.

One of the most characteristic drawings of this period fortunately bears a date, 1818, and brings us within two years of another dated drawing, no less characteristic of what I shall henceforward call Turner's Second period. It is in the possession of Mr. Hawkesworth Fawkes of Farnley, one of Turner's earliest and truest friends; and bears the inscription, unusually conspicuous, heaving itself up and down over the eminences of the foreground—"Passage of Mont Cenis. J. M. W. Turner, January 15th, 1820."

The scene is on the summit of the pass close to the hospice, or what seems to have been a hospice at that time,—I do not remember such at present,—a small square-built house, built as if partly for a fortress, with a detached flight of stone steps in front of it, and a kind of drawbridge to the door. This building, about 400 or 500 yards off, is seen in a dim, ashy grey against the light, which by help of a violent blast of mountain wind has broken through the depth of clouds which hangs upon the crags. There is no sky, properly so called, nothing but this roof of drifting cloud; but neither is there any weight of darkness—the high air is too thin for it,—all savage, howling, and luminous with cold, the massy bases of the granite hills jutting out here and there grimly through the snow wreaths. There is a desolate-looking refuge on the left, with its number 16, marked on it in long ghastly figures, and the wind is drifting the snow off the roof and through its window in a frantic whirl; the near ground is all wan with half-thawed, half-trampled snow; a diligence in front, whose horses, unable to face the wind, have turned right round with fright, its passengers struggling to escape, jammed in the window; a little farther on is another carriage off the road, some figures pushing at its wheels, and its driver at the horses' heads, pulling and lashing with all his strength, his lifted arm stretched out against the light of the distance, though too far off for the whip to be seen.

Now I am perfectly certain that any one thoroughly accustomed[Pg 266] to the earlier works of the painter, and shown this picture for the first time, would be struck by two altogether new characters in it.

The first, a seeming enjoyment of the excitement of the scene, totally different from the contemplative philosophy with which it would formerly have been regarded. Every incident of motion and of energy is seized upon with indescribable delight, and every line of the composition animated with a force and fury which are now no longer the mere expression of a contemplated external truth, but have origin in some inherent feeling in the painter's mind.

The second, that although the subject is one in itself almost incapable of color, and although, in order to increase the wildness of the impression, all brilliant local color has been refused even where it might easily have been introduced, as in the figures; yet in the low minor key which has been chosen, the melodies of color have been elaborated to the utmost possible pitch, so as to become a leading, instead of a subordinate, element in the composition; the subdued warm hues of the granite promontories, the dull stone color of the walls of the buildings, clearly opposed, even in shade, to the grey of the snow wreaths heaped against them, and the faint greens and ghastly blues of the glacier ice, being all expressed with delicacies of transition utterly unexampled in any previous drawings.

These, accordingly, are the chief characteristics of the works of Turner's second period, as distinguished from the first,—a new energy inherent in the mind of the painter, diminishing the repose and exalting the force and fire of his conceptions, and the presence of Color, as at least an essential, and often a principal, element of design.

Not that it is impossible, or even unusual, to find drawings of serene subject, and perfectly quiet feeling, among the compositions of this period; but the repose is in them, just as the energy and tumult were in the earlier period, an external quality, which the painter images by an effort of the will: it is no longer a character inherent in himself. The "Ulleswater," in the England series, is one of those which are in most perfect[Pg 267] peace: in the "Cowes," the silence is only broken by the dash of the boat's oars, and in the "Alnwick" by a stag drinking; but in at least nine drawings out of ten, either sky, water, or figures are in rapid motion, and the grandest drawings are almost always those which have even violent action in one or other, or in all: e. g. high force of Tees, Coventry, Llanthony, Salisbury, Llanberis, and such others.

The color is, however, a more absolute distinction; and we must return to Mr. Fawkes's collection in order to see how the change in it was effected. That such a change would take place at one time or other was of course to be securely anticipated, the conventional system of the first period being, as above stated, merely a means of Study. But the immediate cause was the journey of the year 1820. As might be guessed from the legend on the drawing above described, "Passage of Mont Cenis, January 15th, 1820," that drawing represents what happened on the day in question to the painter himself. He passed the Alps then in the winter of 1820; and either in the previous or subsequent summer, but on the same journey, he made a series of sketches on the Rhine, in body color, now in Mr. Fawkes's collection. Every one of those sketches is the almost instantaneous record of an effect of color or atmosphere, taken strictly from nature, the drawing and the details of every subject being comparatively subordinate, and the color nearly as principal as the light and shade had been before,—certainly the leading feature, though the light and shade are always exquisitely harmonized with it. And naturally, as the color becomes the leading object, those times of day are chosen in which it is most lovely; and whereas before, at least five out of six of Turner's drawings represented ordinary daylight, we now find his attention directed constantly to the evening: and, for the first time, we have those rosy lights upon the hills, those gorgeous falls of sun through flaming heavens, those solemn twilights, with the blue moon rising as the western sky grows dim, which have ever since been the themes of his mightiest thoughts.

I have no doubt, that the immediate reason of this change was the impression made upon him by the colors of the continental[Pg 268] skies. When he first travelled on the Continent (1800), he was comparatively a young student; not yet able to draw form as he wanted, he was forced to give all his thoughts and strength to this primary object. But now he was free to receive other impressions; the time was come for perfecting his art, and the first sunset which he saw on the Rhine taught him that all previous landscape art was vain and valueless, that in comparison with natural color, the things that had been called paintings were mere ink and charcoal, and that all precedent and all authority must be cast away at once, and trodden under foot. He cast them away: the memories of Vandevelde and Claude were at once weeded out of the great mind they had encumbered; they and all the rubbish of the schools together with them; the waves of the Rhine swept them away for ever; and a new dawn rose over the rocks of the Siebengebirge.

There was another motive at work, which rendered the change still more complete. His fellow artists were already conscious enough of his superior power in drawing, and their best hope was, that he might not be able to color. They had begun to express this hope loudly enough for it to reach his ears. The engraver of one of his most important marine pictures told me, not long ago, that one day about the period in question, Turner came into his room to examine the progress of the plate, not having seen his own picture for several months. It was one of his dark early pictures, but in the foreground was a little piece of luxury, a pearly fish wrought into hues like those of an opal. He stood before the picture for some moments; then laughed, and pointed joyously to the fish;—"They say that Turner can't color!" and turned away.

Under the force of these various impulses the change was total. Every subject thenceforth was primarily conceived in color; and no engraving ever gave the slightest idea of any drawing of this period.

The artists who had any perception of the truth were in despair; the Beaumontites, classicalists, and "owl species" in general, in as much indignation as their dulness was capable[Pg 269] of. They had deliberately closed their eyes to all nature, and had gone on inquiring, "Where do you put your brown tree?" A vast revelation was made to them at once, enough to have dazzled any one; but to them, light unendurable as incomprehensible. They "did to the moon complain," in one vociferous, unanimous, continuous "Tu whoo." Shrieking rose from all dark places at the same instant, just the same kind of shrieking that is now raised against the Pre-Raphaelites. Those glorious old Arabian Nights, how true they are! Mocking and whispering, and abuse loud and low by turns, from all the black stones beside the road, when one living soul is toiling up the hill to get the golden water. Mocking and whispering, that he may look back, and become a black stone like themselves.

Turner looked not back, but he went on in such a temper as a strong man must be in, when he is forced to walk with his fingers in his ears. He retired into himself; he could look no longer for help, or counsel, or sympathy from any one; and the spirit of defiance in which he was forced to labor led him sometimes into violences, from which the slightest expression of sympathy would have saved him. The new energy that was upon him, and the utter isolation into which he was driven, were both alike dangerous, and many drawings of the time show the evil effects of both; some of them being hasty, wild, or experimental, and others little more than magnificent expressions of defiance of public opinion.

But all have this noble virtue—they are in everything his own: there are no more reminiscences of dead masters, no more trials of skill in the manner of Claude or Poussin; every faculty of his soul is fixed upon nature only, as he saw her, or as he remembered her.

I have spoken above of his gigantic memory: it is especially necessary to notice this, in order that we may understand the kind of grasp which a man of real imagination takes of all things that are once brought within his reach—grasp thenceforth not to be relaxed for ever.

On looking over any catalogues of his works, or of particular[Pg 270] series of them, we shall notice the recurrence of the same subject two, three, or even many times. In any other artist this would be nothing remarkable. Probably most modern landscape painters multiply a favorite subject twenty, thirty, or sixty fold, putting the shadows and the clouds in different places, and "inventing," as they are pleased to call it, a new "effect" every time. But if we examine the successions of Turner's subjects, we shall find them either the records of a succession of impressions actually perceived by him at some favorite locality, or else repetitions of one impression received in early youth, and again and again realised as his increasing powers enabled him to do better justice to it. In either case we shall find them records of seen facts; never compositions in his room to fill up a favorite outline.

For instance, every traveller, at least every traveller of thirty years' standing, must love Calais, the place where he first felt himself in a strange world. Turner evidently loved it excessively. I have never catalogued his studies of Calais, but I remember, at this moment, five: there is first the "Pas de Calais," a very large oil painting, which is what he saw in broad daylight as he crossed over, when he got near the French side. It is a careful study of French fishing boats running for the shore before the wind, with the picturesque old city in the distance. Then there is the "Calais Harbor" in the Liber Studiorum: that is what he saw just as he was going into the harbor,—a heavy brig warping out, and very likely to get in his way, or run against the pier, and bad weather coming on. Then there is the "Calais Pier," a large painting, engraved some years ago by Mr. Lupton:[101] that is what he saw when he had landed, and ran back directly to the pier to see what had become of the brig. The weather had got still worse, the fishwomen were being blown about in a distressful manner on the pier head, and some more fishing boats were running in with all speed. Then there is the "Fortrouge," Calais: that is what he saw after he had been home to Dessein's, and dined, and went out again in the evening to walk on the sands, the tide being down. He had never[Pg 271] seen such a waste of sands before, and it made an impression on him. The shrimp girls were all scattered over them too, and moved about in white spots on the wild shore; and the storm had lulled a little, and there was a sunset—such a sunset,—and the bars of Fortrouge seen against it, skeleton-wise.

He did not paint that directly; thought over it,—painted it a long while afterwards.

Then there is the vignette in the illustrations to Scott. That is what he saw as he was going home, meditatively; and the revolving lighthouse came blazing out upon him suddenly, and disturbed him. He did not like that so much; made a vignette of it, however, when he was asked to do a bit of Calais, twenty or thirty years afterwards, having already done all the rest.

Turner never told me all this, but any one may see it if he will compare the pictures. They might, possibly, not be impressions of a single day, but of two days or three; though in all human probability they were seen just as I have stated them;[102] but they are records of successive impressions, as plainly written as ever traveller's diary. All of them pure veracities. Therefore immortal.

I could multiply these series almost indefinitely from the rest of his works. What is curious, some of them have a kind of private mark running through all the subjects. Thus I know three drawings of Scarborough, and all of them have a starfish in the foreground: I do not remember any others of his marine subjects which have a starfish.

The other kind of repetition—the recurrence to one early impression—is however still more remarkable. In the collection of F. H. Bale, Esq., there is a small drawing of Llanthony Abbey. It is in his boyish manner, its date probably about 1795; evidently a sketch from nature, finished at home. It had been a showery day; the hills were partially concealed by the rain, and gleams of sunshine breaking out at intervals. A man was fishing in the mountain stream. The young[Pg 272] Turner sought a place of some shelter under the bushes; made his sketch, took great pains when he got home to imitate the rain, as he best could; added his child's luxury of a rainbow; put in the very bush under which he had taken shelter, and the fisherman, a somewhat ill-jointed and long-legged fisherman, in the courtly short breeches which were the fashion of the time.

Some thirty years afterwards, with all his powers in their strongest training, and after the total change in his feelings and principles which I have endeavored to describe, he undertook the series of "England and Wales," and in that series introduced the subject of Llanthony Abbey. And behold, he went back to his boy's sketch, and boy's thought. He kept the very bushes in their places, but brought the fisherman to the other side of the river, and put him, in somewhat less courtly dress, under their shelter, instead of himself. And then he set all his gained strength and new knowledge at work on the well-remembered shower of rain, that had fallen thirty years before, to do it better. The resultant drawing[103] is one of the very noblest of his second period.

Another of the drawings of the England series, Ulleswater, is the repetition of one in Mr. Fawkes's collection, which, by the method of its execution, I should conjecture to have been executed about the year 1808, or 1810: at all events, it is a very quiet drawing of the first period. The lake is quite calm; the western hills in grey shadow, the eastern massed in light. Helvellyn rising like a mist between them, all being mirrored in the calm water. Some thin and slightly evanescent cows are standing in the shallow water in front; a boat floats motionless about a hundred yards from the shore: the foreground is of broken rocks, with lovely pieces of copse on the right and left.

This was evidently Turner's record of a quiet evening by the shore of Ulleswater, but it was a feeble one. He could not at that time render the sunset colors: he went back to it therefore in the England series, and painted it again with his new power. The same hills are there, the same shadows,[Pg 273] the same cows,—they had stood in his mind, on the same spot, for twenty years,—the same boat, the same rocks, only the copse is cut away—it interfered with the masses of his color: some figures are introduced bathing, and what was grey, and feeble gold in the first drawing, becomes purple, and burning rose-color in the last.

But perhaps one of the most curious examples is in the series of subjects from Winchelsea. That in the Liber Studiorum, "Winchelsea, Sussex," bears date 1812, and its figures consist of a soldier speaking to a woman, who is resting on the bank beside the road. There is another small subject, with Winchelsea in the distance, of which the engraving bears date 1817. It has two women with bundles, and soldiers toiling along the embankment in the plain, and a baggage waggon in the distance. Neither of these seems to have satisfied him, and at last he did another for the England series, of which the engraving bears date 1830. There is now a regiment on the march; the baggage waggon is there, having got no further on in the thirteen years, but one of the women is tired, and has fainted on the bank; another is supporting her against her bundle, and giving her drink; a third sympathetic woman is added, and the two soldiers have stopped, and one is drinking from his canteen.

Nor is it merely of entire scenes, or of particular incidents, that Turner's memory is thus tenacious. The slightest passages of color or arrangement that have pleased him—the fork of a bough, the casting of a shadow, the fracture of a stone—will be taken up again and again, and strangely worked into new relations with other thoughts. There is a single sketch from nature in one of the portfolios at Farnley, of a common wood-walk on the estate, which has furnished passages to no fewer than three of the most elaborate compositions in the Liber Studiorum.

I am thus tedious in dwelling on Turner's powers of memory, because I wish it to be thoroughly seen how all his greatness, all his infinite luxuriance of invention, depends on his taking possession of everything that he sees,—on his grasping all, and losing hold of nothing,—on his forgetting himself, and[Pg 274] forgetting nothing else. I wish it to be understood how every great man paints what he sees or did see, his greatness being indeed little else than his intense sense of fact. And thus Pre-Raphaelitism and Raphaelitism, and Turnerism, are all one and the same, so far as education can influence them. They are different in their choice, different in their faculties, but all the same in this, that Raphael himself, so far as he was great, and all who preceded or followed him who ever were great, became so by painting the truths around them as they appeared to each man's own mind, not as he had been taught to see them, except by the God who made both him and them.

There is, however, one more characteristic of Turner's second period, on which I have still to dwell, especially with reference to what has been above advanced respecting the fallacy of overtoil; namely, the magnificent ease with which all is done when it is successfully done. For there are one or two drawings of this time which are not done easily. Turner had in these set himself to do a fine thing to exhibit his powers; in the common phrase, to excel himself; so sure as he does this, the work is a failure. The worst drawings that have ever come from his hands are some of this second period, on which he has spent much time and laborious thought; drawings filled with incident from one side to the other, with skies stippled into morbid blue, and warm lights set against them in violent contrast; one of Bamborough Castle, a large water-color, may be named as an example. But the truly noble works are those in which, without effort, he has expressed his thoughts as they came, and forgotten himself; and in these the outpouring of invention is not less miraculous than the swiftness and obedience of the mighty hand that expresses it. Any one who examines the drawings may see the evidence of this facility, in the strange freshness and sharpness of every touch of color; but when the multitude of delicate touches, with which all the aërial tones are worked, is taken into consideration, it would still appear impossible that the drawing could have been completed with ease, unless we had direct evidence in the matter: fortunately, it is not wanting. There[Pg 275] is a drawing in Mr. Fawkes's collection of a man-of-war taking in stores: it is of the usual size of those of the England series, about sixteen inches by eleven: it does not appear one of the most highly finished, but is still farther removed from slightness. The hull of a first-rate occupies nearly one-half of the picture on the right, her bows towards the spectator, seen in sharp perspective from stem to stern, with all her portholes, guns, anchors, and lower rigging elaborately detailed; there are two other ships of the line in the middle distance, drawn with equal precision; a noble breezy sea dancing against their broad bows, full of delicate drawing in its waves; a store-ship beneath the hull of the larger vessel, and several other boats, and a complicated cloudy sky. It might appear no small exertion of mind to draw the detail of all this shipping down to the smallest ropes, from memory, in the drawing-room of a mansion in the middle of Yorkshire, even if considerable time had been given for the effort. But Mr. Fawkes sat beside the painter from the first stroke to the last. Turner took a piece of blank paper one morning after breakfast, outlined his ships, finished the drawing in three hours, and went out to shoot.

Let this single fact be quietly meditated upon by our ordinary painters, and they will see the truth of what was above asserted,—that if a great thing can be done at all, it can be done easily; and let them not torment themselves with twisting of compositions this way and that, and repeating, and experimenting, and scene-shifting. If a man can compose at all, he can compose at once, or rather he must compose in spite of himself. And this is the reason of that silence which I have kept in most of my works, on the subject of Composition. Many critics, especially the architects, have found fault with me for not "teaching people how to arrange masses;" for not "attributing sufficient importance to composition." Alas! I attribute far more importance to it than they do;—so much importance, that I should just as soon think of sitting down to teach a man how to write a Divina Commedia, or King Lear, as how to "compose," in the true sense, a single building or picture. The marvellous stupidity of this age[Pg 276] of lecturers is, that they do not see that what they call "principles of composition," are mere principles of common sense in everything, as well as in pictures and buildings;—A picture is to have a principal light? Yes; and so a dinner is to have a principal dish, and an oration a principal point, and an air of music a principal note, and every man a principal object. A picture is to have harmony of relation among its parts? Yes; and so is a speech well uttered, and an action well ordered, and a company well chosen, and a ragout well mixed. Composition! As if a man were not composing every moment of his life, well or ill, and would not do it instinctively in his picture as well as elsewhere, if he could. Composition of this lower or common kind is of exactly the same importance in a picture that it is in any thing else,—no more. It is well that a man should say what he has to say in good order and sequence, but the main thing is to say it truly. And yet we go on preaching to our pupils as if to have a principal light was every thing, and so cover our academy walls with Shacabac feasts, wherein the courses are indeed well ordered, but the dishes empty.

It is not, however, only in invention that men over-work themselves, but in execution also; and here I have a word to say to the Pre-Raphaelites specially. They are working too hard. There is evidence in failing portions of their pictures, showing that they have wrought so long upon them that their very sight has failed for weariness, and that the hand refused any more to obey the heart. And, besides this, there are certain qualities of drawing which they miss from over-carefulness. For, let them be assured, there is a great truth lurking in that common desire of men to see things done in what they call a "masterly," or "bold," or "broad," manner: a truth oppressed and abused, like almost every other in this world, but an eternal one nevertheless; and whatever mischief may have followed from men's looking for nothing else but this facility of execution, and supposing that a picture was assuredly all right if only it were done with broad dashes of the brush, still the truth remains the same:—that because it is not intended that men shall torment or weary themselves with any[Pg 277] earthly labor, it is appointed that the noblest results should only be attainable by a certain ease and decision of manipulation. I only wish people understood this much of sculpture, as well as of painting, and could see that the finely finished statue is, in ninety-nine cases out of a hundred, a far more vulgar work than that which shows rough signs of the right hand laid to the workman's hammer: but at all events, in painting it is felt by all men, and justly felt. The freedom of the lines of nature can only be represented by a similar freedom in the hand that follows them; there are curves in the flow of the hair, and in the form of the features, and in the muscular outline of the body, which can in no wise be caught but by a sympathetic freedom in the stroke of the pencil. I do not care what example is taken, be it the most subtle and careful work of Leonardo himself, there will be found a play and power and ease in the outlines, which no slow effort could ever imitate. And if the Pre-Raphaelites do not understand how this kind of power, in its highest perfection, may be united with the most severe rendering of all other orders of truth, and especially of those with which they themselves have most sympathy, let them look at the drawings of John Lewis.

These then are the principal lessons which we have to learn from Turner, in his second or central period of labor. There is one more, however, to be received; and that is a warning; for towards the close of it, what with doing small conventional vignettes for publishers, making showy drawings from sketches taken by other people of places he had never seen, and touching up the bad engravings from his works submitted to him almost every day,—engravings utterly destitute of animation, and which had to be raised into a specious brilliancy by scratching them over with white, spotty lights, he gradually got inured to many conventionalities, and even falsities; and, having trusted for ten or twelve years almost entirely to his memory and invention, living I believe mostly in London, and receiving a new sensation only from the burning of the Houses of Parliament, he painted many pictures between 1830 and 1840 altogether unworthy of him. But he was not thus to close his career.[Pg 278]

In the summer either of 1840 or 1841, he undertook another journey into Switzerland. It was then at least forty years since he had first seen the Alps; (the source of the Arveron, in Mr. Fawkes's collection, which could not have been painted till he had seen the thing itself, bears date 1800,) and the direction of his journey in 1840 marks his fond memory of that earliest one; for, if we look over the Swiss studies and drawings executed in his first period, we shall be struck with his fondness for the pass of the St. Gothard; the most elaborate drawing in the Farnley collection is one of the Lake of Lucerne from Fluelen; and, counting the Liber Studiorum subjects, there are, to my knowledge, six compositions taken at the same period from the pass of St. Gothard, and, probably, several others are in existence. The valleys of Sallenche, and Chamouni, and Lake of Geneva, are the only other Swiss scenes which seem to have made very profound impressions on him.

He returned in 1841 to Lucerne; walked up Mont Pilate on foot, crossed the St. Gothard, and returned by Lausanne and Geneva. He made a large number of colored sketches on this journey, and realised several of them on his return. The drawings thus produced are different from all that had preceded them, and are the first which belong definitely to what I shall henceforth call his Third period.

The perfect repose of his youth had returned to his mind, while the faculties of imagination and execution appeared in renewed strength; all conventionality being done away with by the force of the impression which he had received from the Alps, after his long separation from them. The drawings are marked by a peculiar largeness and simplicity of thought: most of them by deep serenity, passing into melancholy; all by a richness of color, such as he had never before conceived. They, and the works done in following years, bear the same relation to those of the rest of his life that the colors of sunset do to those of the day; and will be recognised, in a few years more, as the noblest landscapes ever yet conceived by human intellect.

Such has been the career of the greatest painter of this[Pg 279] century. Many a century may pass away before there rises such another; but what greatness any among us may be capable of, will, at least, be best attained by following in his path; by beginning in all quietness and hopefulness to use whatever powers we may possess to represent the things around us as we see and feel them; trusting to the close of life to give the perfect crown to the course of its labors, and knowing assuredly that the determination of the degree in which watchfulness is to be exalted into invention, rests with a higher will than our own. And, if not greatness, at least a certain good, is thus to be achieved; for though I have above spoken of the mission of the more humble artist, as if it were merely to be subservient to that of the antiquarian or the man of science, there is an ulterior aspect in which it is not subservient, but superior. Every archæologist, every natural philosopher, knows that there is a peculiar rigidity of mind brought on by long devotion to logical and analytical inquiries. Weak men, giving themselves to such studies, are utterly hardened by them, and become incapable of understanding anything nobler, or even of feeling the value of the results to which they lead. But even the best men are in a sort injured by them, and pay a definite price, as in most other matters, for definite advantages. They gain a peculiar strength, but lose in tenderness, elasticity, and impressibility. The man who has gone, hammer in hand, over the surface of a romantic country, feels no longer, in the mountain ranges he has so laboriously explored, the sublimity or mystery with which they were veiled when he first beheld them, and with which they are adorned in the mind of the passing traveller. In his more informed conception, they arrange themselves like a dissected model: where another man would be awe-struck by the magnificence of the precipice, he sees nothing but the emergence of a fossiliferous rock, familiarised already to his imagination as extending in a shallow stratum, over a perhaps uninteresting district; where the unlearned spectator would be touched with strong emotion by the aspect of the snowy summits which rise in the distance, he sees only the culminating points of a metamorphic formation, with an uncomfortable web of fan-like[Pg 280] fissures radiating, in his imagination, through their centres[104]. That in the grasp he has obtained of the inner relations of all these things to the universe, and to man, that in the views which have been opened to him of natural energies such as no human mind would have ventured to conceive, and of past states of being, each in some new way bearing witness to the unity of purpose and everlastingly consistent providence of the Maker of all things, he has received reward well worthy the sacrifice, I would not for an instant deny; but the sense of the loss is not less painful to him if his mind be rightly constituted; and it would be with infinite gratitude that he would regard the man, who, retaining in his delineation of natural scenery a fidelity to the facts of science so rigid as to make his work at once acceptable and credible to the most sternly critical intellect, should yet invest its features again with the sweet veil of their daily aspect; should make them dazzling with the splendor of wandering light, and involve them in the unsearchableness of stormy obscurity; should restore to the divided anatomy its visible vitality of operation, clothe naked crags with soft forests, enrich the mountain ruins with bright pastures, and lead the thoughts from the monotonous recurrence of the phenomena of the physical world, to the sweet interests and sorrows of human life and death.



[97] It was not a little curious, that in the very number of the Art Union which repeated this direct falsehood about the Pre-Raphaelite rejection of "linear perspective" (by-the-bye, the next time J. B. takes upon him to speak of any one connected with the Universities, he may as well first ascertain the difference between a Graduate and an Under-Graduate), the second plate given should have been of a picture of Bonington's,—a professional landscape painter, observe,—for the want of aërial perspective in which the Art Union itself was obliged to apologise, and in which the artist has committed nearly as many blunders in linear perspective as there are lines in the picture.

[98] These false statements may be reduced to three principal heads, and directly contradicted in succession.

The first, the current fallacy of society as well as of the press, was, that the Pre-Raphaelites imitated the errors of early painters.

A falsehood of this kind could not have obtained credence anywhere but in England, few English people, comparatively, having ever seen a picture of early Italian Masters. If they had, they would have known that the Pre-Raphaelite pictures are just as superior to the early Italian in skill of manipulation, power of drawing, and knowledge of effect, as inferior to them in grace of design; and that in a word, there is not a shadow of resemblance between the two styles. The Pre-Raphaelites imitate no pictures: they paint from nature only. But they have opposed themselves as a body to that kind of teaching above described, which only began after Raphael's time: and they have opposed themselves as sternly to the entire feeling of the Renaissance schools; a feeling compounded of indolence, infidelity, sensuality, and shallow pride. Therefore they have called themselves Pre-Raphaelites. If they adhere to their principles, and paint nature as it is around them, with the help of modern science, with the earnestness of the men of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, they will, as I said, found a new and noble school in England. If their sympathies with the early artists lead them into mediævalism or Romanism, they will of course come to nothing. But I believe there is no danger of this, at least for the strongest among them. There may be some weak ones, whom the Tractarian heresies may touch; but if so, they will drop off like decayed branches from a strong stem. I hope all things from the school.

The second falsehood was, that the Pre-Raphaelites did not draw well. This was asserted, and could have been asserted only by persons who had never looked at the pictures.

The third falsehood was, that they had no system of light and shade. To which it may be simply replied that their system of light and shade is exactly the same as the Sun's; which is, I believe, likely to outlast that of the Renaissance, however brilliant.

[99] He did not use his full signature, J. M. W., until about the year 1800.

[100] I shall give a catalogue raisonnée of all this in the third volume of "Modern Painters."

[101] The plate was, however, never published.

[102] And the more probably because Turner was never fond of staying long at any place, and was least of all likely to make a pause of two or three days at the beginning of his journey.

[103] Vide Modern Painters, Part II. Sect. III. Chap. IV. § 14.

[104] This state of mind appears to have been the only one which Wordsworth had been able to discern in men of science; and in disdain of which, he wrote that short-sighted passage in the Excursion, Book III. l. 165-190, which is, I think, the only one in the whole range of his works which his true friends would have desired to see blotted out. What else has been found fault with as feeble or superfluous, is not so in the intense distinctive relief which it gives to his character. But these lines are written in mere ignorance of the matter they treat; in mere want of sympathy with the men they describe; for, observe, though the passage is put into the mouth of the Solitary, it is fully confirmed, and even rendered more scornful, by the speech which follows.

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I must pray the readers of the following Lectures to remember that the duty at present laid on me at Oxford is of an exceptionally complex character. Directly, it is to awaken the interest of my pupils in a study which they have hitherto found unattractive, and imagined to be useless; but more imperatively, it is to define the principles by which the study itself should be guided; and to vindicate their security against the doubts with which frequent discussion has lately encumbered a subject which all think themselves competent to discuss. The possibility of such vindication is, of course, implied in the original consent of the universities to the establishment of Art Professorships. Nothing can be made an element of education of which it is impossible to determine whether it is ill done or well; and the clear assertion that there is a canon law in formative Art is, at this time, a more important function of each University than the instruction of its younger members in any branch of practical skill. It matters comparatively little whether few or many of our students learn to draw; but it matters much that all who learn should be taught with accuracy. And the number who may be justifiably advised to give any part of the time they spend at college to the study of painting or sculpture ought to depend, and finally must depend, on their being certified that painting and sculpture, no less than language or than reasoning, have grammar and method,—that they permit a recognizable distinction between scholarship and ignorance, and enforce a constant distinction between Right and Wrong.

This opening course of Lectures on Sculpture is therefore restricted to the statement, not only of first principles, but of[Pg 284] those which were illustrated by the practice of one school, and by that practice in its simplest branch, the analysis of which could be certified by easily accessible examples, and aided by the indisputable evidence of photography.[105]

The exclusion of the terminal Lecture of the course from the series now published, is in order to mark more definitely this limitation of my subject; but in other respects the Lectures have been amplified in arranging them for the press, and the portions of them trusted at the time to extempore delivery, (not through indolence, but because explanations of detail are always most intelligible when most familiar,) have been in substance to the best of my power set down, and in what I said too imperfectly, completed.

In one essential particular I have felt it necessary to write what I would not have spoken. I had intended to make no reference, in my University Lectures, to existing schools of[Pg 285] Art, except in cases where it might be necessary to point out some undervalued excellence. The objects specified in the eleventh paragraph of my inaugural Lecture, might, I hoped, have been accomplished without reference to any works deserving of blame; but the Exhibition of the Royal Academy in the present year showed me a necessity of departing from my original intention. The task of impartial criticism[106] is now, unhappily, no longer to rescue modest skill from neglect; but to withstand the errors of insolent genius, and abate the influence of plausible mediocrity.

The Exhibition of 1871 was very notable in this important particular, that it embraced some representation of the modern schools of nearly every country in Europe; and I am well assured that looking back upon it after the excitement of that singular interest has passed away, every thoughtful judge of Art will confirm my assertion, that it contained not a single picture of accomplished merit; while it contained many that were disgraceful to Art, and some that were disgraceful to humanity.

It becomes, under such circumstances, my inevitable duty to speak of the existing conditions of Art with plainness enough to guard the youths whose judgments I am entrusted to form, from being misled, either by their own naturally vivid interest in what represents, however unworthily, the scenes and persons of their own day, or by the cunningly devised, and, without doubt, powerful allurements of Art which has long since confessed itself to have no other object than to allure. I have, therefore, added to the second of these Lectures such illustration of the motives and course of modern industry as naturally arose out of its subject, and shall continue[Pg 286] in future to make similar applications; rarely, indeed, permitting myself, in the Lectures actually read before the University, to introduce subjects of instant, and therefore too exciting, interest; but completing the addresses which I prepare for publication in these, and in any other particulars which may render them more widely serviceable.

The present course of Lectures will be followed, if I am able to fulfil the design of them, by one of a like elementary character on Architecture; and that by a third series on Christian Sculpture: but, in the meantime, my effort is to direct the attention of the resident students to Natural History, and to the higher branches of ideal Landscape: and it will be, I trust, accepted as sufficient reason for the delay which has occurred in preparing the following sheets for the press, that I have not only been interrupted by a dangerous illness, but engaged, in what remained to me of the summer, in an endeavour to deduce, from the overwhelming complexity of modern classification in the Natural Sciences, some forms capable of easier reference by Art students, to whom the anatomy of brutal and floral nature is often no less important than that of the human body.

The preparation of examples for manual practice, and the arrangement of standards for reference, both in Painting and Sculpture, had to be carried on meanwhile, as I was able. For what has already been done, the reader is referred to the Catalogue of the Educational Series, published at the end of the Spring Term; of what remains to be done I will make no anticipatory statement, being content to have ascribed to me rather the fault of narrowness in design, than of extravagance in expectation.

Denmark Hill,
25th November, 1871.


[105] Photography cannot exhibit the character of large and finished sculpture; but its audacity of shadow is in perfect harmony with the more roughly picturesque treatment necessary in coins. For the rendering of all such frank relief, and for the better explanation of forms disturbed by the lustre of metal or polished stone, the method employed in the plates of this volume will be found, I believe, satisfactory. Casts are first taken from the coins, in white plaster; these are photographed, and the photograph printed by the heliotype process of Messrs. Edwards and Kidd. Plate XII. is exceptional, being a pure mezzotint engraving of the old school, excellently carried through by my assistant, Mr. Allen, who was taught, as a personal favour to myself, by my friend, and Turner's fellow-worker, Thomas Lupton. Plate IV. was intended to be a photograph from the superb vase in the British Museum, No. 564 in Mr. Newton's Catalogue; but its variety of colour defied photography, and after the sheets had gone to press I was compelled to reduce Le Normand's plate of it, which is unsatisfactory, but answers my immediate purpose.

The enlarged photographs for use in the Lecture Room were made for me with most successful skill by Sergeant Spackman, of South Kensington; and the help throughout rendered to me by Mr. Burgess is acknowledged in the course of the Lectures; though with thanks which must remain inadequate lest they should become tedious; for Mr. Burgess drew the subjects of Plates III., X., and XIII.; drew and engraved every woodcut in the book; and printed all the plates with his own hand.

[106] A pamphlet by the Earl of Southesk, "Britain's Art Paradise," (Edmonston and Douglas, Edinburgh) contains an entirely admirable criticism of the most faultful pictures of the 1871 Exhibition. It is to be regretted that Lord Southesk speaks only to condemn; but indeed, in my own three days' review of the rooms, I found nothing deserving of notice otherwise, except Mr. Hook's always pleasant sketches from fisher life, and Mr. Pettie's graceful and powerful, though too slightly painted, study from Henry VI.


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November, 1870.

1. If, as is commonly believed, the subject of study which it is my special function to bring before you had no relation to the great interests of mankind, I should have less courage in asking for your attention to-day, than when I first addressed you; though, even then, I did not do so without painful diffidence. For at this moment, even supposing that in other places it were possible for men to pursue their ordinary avocations undisturbed by indignation or pity; here, at least, in the midst of the deliberative and religious influences of England, only one subject, I am well assured, can seriously occupy your thoughts—the necessity, namely, of determining how it has come to pass, that in these recent days, iniquity the most reckless and monstrous can be committed unanimously, by men more generous than ever yet in the world's history were deceived into deeds of cruelty; and that prolonged agony of body and spirit, such as we should shrink from inflicting wilfully on a single criminal, has become the appointed and accepted portion of unnumbered multitudes of innocent persons, inhabiting the districts of the world which, of all others, as it seemed, were best instructed in the laws of civilization, and most richly invested with the honour, and indulged in the felicity, of peace.

Believe me, however, the subject of Art—instead of being[Pg 288] foreign to these deep questions of social duty and peril,—is so vitally connected with them, that it would be impossible for me now to pursue the line of thought in which I began these lectures, because so ghastly an emphasis would be given to every sentence by the force of passing events. It is well, then, that in the plan I have laid down for your study, we shall now be led into the examination of technical details, or abstract conditions of sentiment; so that the hours you spend with me may be times of repose from heavier thoughts. But it chances strangely that, in this course of minutely detailed study, I have first to set before you the most essential piece of human workmanship, the plough, at the very moment when—(you may see the announcement in the journals either of yesterday or the day before)—the swords of your soldiers have been sent for to be sharpened, and not at all to be beaten into ploughshares. I permit myself, therefore, to remind you of the watchword of all my earnest writings—"Soldiers of the Ploughshare, instead of Soldiers of the Sword"—and I know it my duty to assert to you that the work we enter upon to-day is no trivial one, but full of solemn hope; the hope, namely, that among you there may be found men wise enough to lead the national passions towards the arts of peace, instead of the arts of war.

I say the work "we enter upon," because the first four lectures I gave in the spring were wholly prefatory; and the following three only defined for you methods of practice. To-day we begin the systematic analysis and progressive study of our subject.

2. In general, the three great, or fine, Arts of Painting, Sculpture, and Architecture, are thought of as distinct from the lower and more mechanical formative arts, such as carpentry or pottery. But we cannot, either verbally, or with any practical advantage, admit such classification. How are we to distinguish painting on canvas from painting on china?—or painting on china from painting on glass?—or painting on glass from infusion of colour into any vitreous substance, such as enamel?—or the infusion of colour into glass and enamel from the infusion of colour into wool or silk, and weaving of[Pg 289] pictures in tapestry, or patterns in dress? You will find that although, in ultimately accurate use of the word, painting must be held to mean only the laying of a pigment on a surface with a soft instrument; yet, in broad comparison of the functions of Art, we must conceive of one and the same great artistic faculty, as governing every mode of disposing colours in a permanent relation on, or in, a solid substance; whether it be by tinting canvas, or dyeing stuffs; inlaying metals with fused flint, or coating walls with coloured stone.

3. Similarly the word "Sculpture,"—though in ultimate accuracy it is to be limited to the development of form in hard substances by cutting away portions of their mass—in broad definition, must be held to signify the reduction of any shapeless mass of solid matter into an intended shape, whatever the consistence of the substance, or nature of the instrument employed; whether we carve a granite mountain, or a piece of box-wood, and whether we use, for our forming instrument axe, or hammer, or chisel, or our own hands, or water to soften, or fire to fuse;—whenever and however we bring a shapeless thing into shape, we do so under the laws of the one great Art of Sculpture.

4. Having thus broadly defined painting and sculpture, we shall see that there is, in the third place, a class of work separated from both, in a specific manner, and including a great group of arts which neither, of necessity, tint, nor for the sake of form merely, shape, the substances they deal with; but construct or arrange them with a view to the resistance of some external force. We construct, for instance, a table with a flat top, and some support of prop, or leg, proportioned in strength to such weights as the table is intended to carry. We construct a ship out of planks, or plates of iron, with reference to certain forces of impact to be sustained, and of inertia to be overcome; or we construct a wall or roof with distinct reference to forces of pressure and oscillation, to be sustained or guarded against; and therefore, in every case, with especial consideration of the strength of our materials, and the nature of that strength, elastic, tenacious, brittle, and the like.

Now although this group of arts nearly always involves the[Pg 290] putting of two or more separate pieces together, we must not define it by that accident. The blade of an oar is not less formed with reference to external force than if it were made of many pieces; and the frame of a boat, whether hollowed out of a tree-trunk, or constructed of planks nailed together, is essentially the same piece of art; to be judged by its buoyancy and capacity of progression. Still, from the most wonderful piece of all architecture, the human skeleton, to this simple one,[107] the ploughshare, on which it depends for its subsistence, the putting of two or more pieces together is curiously necessary to the perfectness of every fine instrument; and the peculiar mechanical work of Dædalus,—inlaying,—becomes all the more delightful to us in external aspect, because, as in the jawbone of a Saurian, or the wood of a bow, it is essential to the finest capacities of tension and resistance.

5. And observe how unbroken the ascent from this, the simplest architecture, to the loftiest. The placing of the timbers in a ship's stem, and the laying of the stones in a bridge buttress, are similar in art to the construction of the ploughshare, differing in no essential point, either in that they deal with other materials, or because, of the three things produced, one has to divide earth by advancing through it, another to divide water by advancing through it, and the third to divide water which advances against it. And again, the buttress of a bridge differs only from that of a cathedral in having less weight to sustain, and more to resist. We can find no term in the gradation, from the ploughshare to the cathedral buttress, at which we can set a logical distinction.

6. Thus then we have simply three divisions of Art—one, that of giving colours to substance; another, that of giving form to it without question of resistance to force; and the third, that of giving form or position which will make it capable of such resistance. All the fine arts are embraced[Pg 291] under these three divisions. Do not think that it is only a logical or scientific affectation to mass them together in this manner; it is, on the contrary, of the first practical importance to understand that the painter's faculty, or masterhood over colour, being as subtle as a musician's over sound, must be looked to for the government of every operation in which colour is employed; and that, in the same manner, the appliance of any art whatsoever to minor objects cannot be right, unless under the direction of a true master of that art. Under the present system, you keep your Academician occupied only in producing tinted pieces of canvas to be shown in frames, and smooth pieces of marble to be placed in niches; while you expect your builder or constructor to design coloured patterns in stone and brick, and your china-ware merchant to keep a separate body of workwomen who can paint china, but nothing else. By this division of labour, you ruin all the arts at once. The work of the Academician becomes mean and effeminate, because he is not used to treat colour on a grand scale and in rough materials; and your manufactures become base because no well educated person sets hand to them. And therefore it is necessary to understand, not merely as a logical statement, but as a practical necessity, that wherever beautiful colour is to be arranged, you need a Master of Painting; and wherever noble form is to be given, a Master of Sculpture; and wherever complex mechanical force is to be resisted, a Master of Architecture.

7. But over this triple division there must rule another yet more important. Any of these three arts may be either imitative of natural objects or limited to useful appliance. You may either paint a picture that represents a scene, or your street door, to keep it from rotting; you may mould a statue, or a plate; build the resemblance of a cluster of lotus stalks, or only a square pier. Generally speaking, Painting and Sculpture will be imitative, and Architecture merely useful; but there is a great deal of Sculpture—as this crystal ball[108] for instance, which is not imitative, and a great deal of[Pg 292] Architecture which, to some extent is so, as the so called foils of Gothic apertures; and for many other reasons you will find it necessary to keep distinction clear in your minds between the arts—of whatever kind—which are imitative, and produce a resemblance or image of something which is not present; and those which are limited to the production of some useful reality, as the blade of a knife, or the wall of a house. You will perceive also, as we advance, that sculpture and painting are indeed in this respect only one art; and that we shall have constantly to speak and think of them as simply graphic, whether with chisel or colour, their principal function being to make us, in the words of Aristotle, "θεωρητικοι του περι τα σωματα καλλους" (Polit. 8, 3.), "having capacity and habit of contemplation of the beauty that is in material things;" while Architecture, and its co-relative arts, are to be practised under quite other conditions of sentiment.

8. Now it is obvious that so far as the fine arts consist either in imitation or mechanical construction, the right judgment of them must depend on our knowledge of the things they imitate, and forces they resist: and my function of teaching here would (for instance) so far resolve itself, either into demonstration that this painting of a peach,[109] does resemble a peach, or explanation of the way in which this ploughshare (for instance) is shaped so as to throw the earth aside with least force of thrust. And in both of these methods of study, though of course your own diligence must be your chief master, to a certain extent your Professor of Art can always guide you securely, and can show you, either that the image does truly resemble what it attempts to resemble, or that the structure is rightly prepared for the service it has to perform. But there is yet another virtue of fine art which is, perhaps, exactly that about which you will expect your Professor to teach you most, and which, on the contrary, is exactly that about which you must teach yourselves all that it is essential to learn.

9. I have here in my hand one of the simplest possible[Pg 293] examples of the union of the graphic and constructive powers,—one of my breakfast plates. Since all the finely architectural arts, we said, began in the shaping of the cup and the platter, we will begin, ourselves, with the platter.

Why has it been made round? For two structural reasons: first, that the greatest holding surface may be gathered into the smallest space; and secondly, that in being pushed past other things on the table, it may come into least contact with them.

Fig. 1. Fig. 1.

Next, why has it a rim? For two other structural reasons; first, that it is convenient to put salt or mustard upon; but secondly and chiefly, that the plate may be easily laid hold of. The rim is the simplest form of continuous handle.

Farther, to keep it from soiling the cloth, it will be wise to put this ridge beneath, round the bottom; for as the rim is the simplest possible form of continuous handle, so this is the simplest form of continuous leg. And we get the section given beneath the figure for the essential one of a rightly made platter.[Pg 294]

10. Thus far our art has been strictly utilitarian having respect to conditions of collision, of carriage, and of support. But now, on the surface of our piece of pottery, here are various bands and spots of colour which are presumably set there to make it pleasanter to the eye. Six of the spots, seen closely, you discover are intended to represent flowers. These then have as distinctly a graphic purpose as the other properties of the plate have an architectural one, and the first critical question we have to ask about them is, whether they are like roses or not. I will anticipate what I have to say in subsequent lectures so far as to assure you that, if they are to be like roses at all, the liker they can be, the better. Do not suppose, as many people will tell you, that because this is a common manufactured article, your roses on it are the better for being ill-painted, or half-painted. If they had been painted by the same hand that did this peach, the plate would have been all the better for it; but, as it chanced, there was no hand such as William Hunt's to paint them, and their graphic power is not distinguished. In any case, however, that graphic power must have been subordinate to their effect as pink spots, while the band of green-blue round the plate's edge, and the spots of gold, pretend to no graphic power at all, but are meaningless spaces of colour or metal. Still less have they any mechanical office: they add nowise to the serviceableness of the plate; and their agreeableness, if they possess any, depends, therefore, neither on any imitative, nor any structural, character; but on some inherent pleasantness in themselves, either of mere colours to the eye (as of taste to the tongue), or in the placing of those colours in relations which obey some mental principle of order, or physical principle of harmony.

11. These abstract relations and inherent pleasantnesses, whether in space, number, or time, and whether of colours or sounds, form what we may properly term the musical or harmonic element in every art; and the study of them is an entirely separate science. It is the branch of art-philosophy to which the word "æsthetics" should be strictly limited, being the inquiry into the nature of things that in themselves are[Pg 295] pleasant to the human senses or instincts, though they represent nothing, and serve for nothing, their only service being their pleasantness. Thus it is the province of æsthetics to tell you, (if you did not know it before,) that the taste and colour of a peach are pleasant, and to ascertain, if it be ascertainable, (and you have any curiosity to know,) why they are so.

12. The information would, I presume, to most of you, be gratuitous. If it were not, and you chanced to be in a sick state of body in which you disliked peaches, it would be, for the time, to you false information, and, so far as it was true of other people, to you useless. Nearly the whole study of æsthetics is in like manner either gratuitous or useless. Either you like the right things without being recommended to do so, or if you dislike them, your mind cannot be changed by lectures on the laws of taste. You recollect the story of Thackeray, provoked, as he was helping himself to strawberries, by a young coxcomb's telling him that "he never took fruit or sweets." "That" replied, or is said to have replied, Thackeray, "is because you are a sot, and a glutton." And the whole science of æsthetics is, in the depth of it, expressed by one passage of Goethe's in the end of the 2nd part of Faust;—the notable one that follows the song of the Lemures, when the angels enter to dispute with the fiends for the soul of Faust. They enter singing—"Pardon to sinners and life to the dust." Mephistopheles hears them first, and exclaims to his troop, "Discord I hear, and filthy jingling"—"Mistöne höre ich; garstiges Geklimper." This, you see, is the extreme of bad taste in music. Presently the angelic host begin strewing roses, which discomfits the diabolic crowd altogether. Mephistopheles in vain calls to them—"What do you duck and shrink for—is that proper hellish behaviour? Stand fast, and let them strew"—"Was duckt und zuckt ihr; ist das Hellen-brauch? So haltet stand, und lasst sie streuen." There you have, also, the extreme of bad taste in sight and smell. And in the whole passage is a brief embodiment for you of the ultimate fact that all æsthetics depend on the health of soul and body, and the proper exercise of both, not only through years, but generations. Only by harmony of[Pg 296] both collateral and successive lives can the great doctrine of the Muses be received which enables men "χαιρειν ορθως," "to have pleasures rightly;" and there is no other definition of the beautiful, nor of any subject of delight to the æsthetic faculty, than that it is what one noble spirit has created, seen and felt by another of similar or equal nobility. So much as there is in you of ox, or of swine, perceives no beauty, and creates none: what is human in you, in exact proportion to the perfectness of its humanity, can create it, and receive.

13. Returning now to the very elementary form in which the appeal to our æsthetic virtue is made in our breakfast-plate, you notice that there are two distinct kinds of pleasantness attempted. One by hues of colour; the other by proportions of space. I have called these the musical elements of the arts relating to sight; and there are indeed two complete sciences, one of the combinations of colour, and the other of the combinations of line and form, which might each of them separately engage us in as intricate study as that of the science of music. But of the two, the science of colour is, in the Greek sense, the more musical, being one of the divisions of the Apolline power; and it is so practically educational, that if we are not using the faculty for colour to discipline nations, they will infallibly use it themselves as a means of corruption. Both music and colour are naturally influences of peace; but in the war trumpet, and the war shield, in the battle song and battle standard, they have concentrated by beautiful imagination the cruel passions of men; and there is nothing in all the Divina Commedia of history more grotesque, yet more frightful, than the fact that, from the almost fabulous period when the insanity and impiety of war wrote themselves in the symbols of the shields of the Seven against Thebes, colours have been the sign and stimulus of the most furious and fatal passions that have rent the nations: blue against green, in the decline of the Roman Empire; black against white, in that of Florence; red against white, in the wars of the Royal houses in England; and at this moment, red against white, in the contest of anarchy and loyalty, in all the world.[Pg 297]

14. On the other hand, the directly ethical influence of colour in the sky, the trees, flowers, and coloured creatures round us, and in our own various arts massed under the one name of painting, is so essential and constant that we cease to recognize it, because we are never long enough altogether deprived of it to feel our need; and the mental diseases induced by the influence of corrupt colour are as little suspected, or traced to their true source, as the bodily weaknesses resulting from atmospheric miasmata.

15. The second musical science which belongs peculiarly to sculpture (and to painting, so far as it represents form), consists in the disposition of beautiful masses. That is to say, beautiful surfaces limited by beautiful lines. Beautiful surfaces, observe; and remember what is noted in my fourth lecture of the difference between a space and a mass. If you have at any time examined carefully, or practised from, the drawings of shells placed in your copying series, you cannot but have felt the difference in the grace between the aspects of the same line, when enclosing a rounded or unrounded space. The exact science of sculpture is that of the relations between outline and the solid form it limits; and it does not matter whether that relation be indicated by drawing or carving, so long as the expression of solid form is the mental purpose; it is the science always of the beauty of relation in three dimensions. To take the simplest possible line of continuous limit—the circle: the flat disc enclosed by it may indeed be made an element of decoration, though a very meagre one but its relative mass, the ball, being gradated in three dimensions, is always delightful. Here[110] is at once the simplest, and in mere patient mechanism, the most skilful, piece of sculpture I can possibly show you,—a piece of the purest rock-crystal, chiselled, (I believe, by mere toil of hand,) into a perfect sphere. Imitating nothing, constructing nothing; sculpture for sculpture's sake, of purest natural substance into simplest primary form.

16. Again. Out of the nacre of any mussel or oyster-shell you might cut, at your pleasure, any quantity of small flat circular[Pg 298] discs of the prettiest colour and lustre. To some extent, such tinsel or foil of shell is used pleasantly for decoration. But the mussel or oyster becoming itself an unwilling modeller, agglutinates its juice into three dimensions, and the fact of the surface being now geometrically gradated, together with the savage instinct of attributing value to what is difficult to obtain, make the little boss so precious in men's sight that wise eagerness of search for the kingdom of heaven can be likened to their eagerness of search for it; and the gates of Paradise can be no otherwise rendered so fair to their poor intelligence, as by telling them that every several gate was of "one pearl."

17. But take note here. We have just seen that the sum of the perceptive faculty is expressed in those words of Aristotle's "to take pleasure rightly" or straightly—χαιρειν ορθως. Now, it is not possible to do the direct opposite of that,—to take pleasure iniquitously or obliquely—χαιρειν αδικως or σκολιως—more than you do in enjoying a thing because your neighbour cannot get it. You may enjoy a thing legitimately because it is rare, and cannot be seen often, (as you do a fine aurora, or a sunset, or an unusually lovely flower); that is Nature's way of stimulating your attention. But if you enjoy it because your neighbour cannot have it—and, remember, all value attached to pearls more than glass beads, is merely and purely for that cause,—then you rejoice through the worst of idolatries, covetousness; and neither arithmetic, nor writing, nor any other so-called essential of education, is now so vitally necessary to the population of Europe, as such acquaintance with the principles of intrinsic value, as may result in the iconoclasm of jewellery; and in the clear understanding that we are not in that instinct, civilized, but yet remain wholly savage, so far as we care for display of this selfish kind.

You think, perhaps, I am quitting my subject, and proceeding, as it is too often with appearance of justice alleged against me, into irrelevant matter. Pardon me; the end, not only of these lectures, but of my whole professorship, would be accomplished,—and far more than that,—if only the English nation could be made to understand that the beauty which is[Pg 299] indeed to be a joy for ever, must be a joy for all; and that though the idolatry may not have been wholly divine which sculptured gods, the idolatry is wholly diabolic, which, for vulgar display, sculptures diamonds.

18. To go back to the point under discussion. A pearl, or a glass bead, may owe its pleasantness in some degree to its lustre as well as to its roundness. But a mere and simple ball of unpolished stone is enough for sculpturesque value. You may have noticed that the quatrefoil used in the Ducal Palace of Venice owes its complete loveliness in distant effect to the finishing of its cusps. The extremity of the cusp is a mere ball of Istrian marble; and consider how subtle the faculty of sight must be, since it recognizes at any distance, and is gratified by, the mystery of the termination of cusp obtained by the gradated light on the ball.

In that Venetian tracery this simplest element of sculptured form is used sparingly, as the most precious that can be employed to finish the façade. But alike in our own, and the French, central Gothic, the ball-flower is lavished on every line—and in your St. Mary's spire, and the Salisbury spire, and the towers of Notre Dame of Paris, the rich pleasantness of decoration,—indeed, their so-called "decorated style,"—consists only in being daintily beset with stone balls. It is true the balls are modified into dim likeness of flowers; but do you trace the resemblance to the rose in their distant, which is their intended effect?

19. But farther, let the ball have motion; then the form it generates will be that of a cylinder. You have, perhaps, thought that pure Early English Architecture depended for its charm on visibility of construction. It depends for its charm altogether on the abstract harmony of groups of cylinders,[111] arbitrarily bent into mouldings, and arbitrarily associated[Pg 300] as shafts, having no real relation to construction whatsoever, and a theoretical relation so subtle that none of us had seen it, till Professor Willis worked it out for us.

20. And now, proceeding to analysis of higher sculpture, you may have observed the importance I have attached to the porch of San Zenone, at Verona, by making it, among your standards, the first of the group which is to illustrate the system of sculpture and architecture founded on faith in a future life. That porch, fortunately represented in the photograph, from which Plate I. has been engraved, under a clear and pleasant light, furnishes you with examples of sculpture of every kind from the flattest incised bas-relief to solid statues, both in marble and bronze. And the two points I have been pressing upon you are conclusively exhibited here, namely,—(1). That sculpture is essentially the production of a pleasant bossiness or roundness of surface; (2) that the pleasantness of that bossy condition to the eye is irrespective of imitation on one side, and of structure on the other.

21. (1.) Sculpture is essentially the production of a pleasant bossiness or roundness of surface.

If you look from some distance at these two engravings of Greek coins, (place the book open so that you can see the opposite plate three or four yards off,) you will find the relief on each of them simplifies itself into a pearl-like portion of a sphere, with exquisitely gradated light on its surface. When you look at them nearer, you will see that each smaller portion into which they are divided—cheek, or brow, or leaf, or tress of hair—resolves itself also into a rounded or undulated surface, pleasant by gradation of light. Every several surface is delightful in itself, as a shell, or a tuft of rounded moss, or the bossy masses of distant forest would be. That these intricately modulated masses present some resemblance to a girl's face, such as the Syracusans imagined that of the water-goddess Arethusa, is entirely a secondary matter; the primary condition is that the masses shall be beautifully rounded, and disposed with due discretion and order.

Plate I.—Porch of San Zenone. Verona. Plate I.—Porch of San Zenone. Verona.

[Pg 301]

22. (2.) It is difficult for you, at first, to feel this order and beauty of surface, apart from the imitation. But you can see there is a pretty disposition of, and relation between, the projections of a fir-cone, though the studded spiral imitates nothing. Order exactly the same in kind, only much more complex; and an abstract beauty of surface rendered definite by increase and decline of light—(for every curve of surface has its own luminous law, and the light and shade on a parabolic solid differs, specifically, from that on an elliptical or spherical one)—it is the essential business of the sculptor to obtain; as it is the essential business of a painter to get good colour, whether he imitates anything or not. At a distance from the picture, or carving, where the things represented become absolutely unintelligible, we must yet be able to say, at a glance, "That is good painting, or good carving."

And you will be surprised to find, when you try the experiment, how much the eye must instinctively judge in this manner. Take the front of San Zenone for instance, Plate I. You will find it impossible without a lens, to distinguish in the bronze gates, and in great part of the wall, anything that their bosses represent. You cannot tell whether the sculpture is of men, animals, or trees; only you feel it to be composed of pleasant projecting masses; you acknowledge that both gates and wall are, somehow, delightfully roughened; and only afterwards, by slow degrees, can you make out what this roughness means; nay, though here (Plate III.) I magnify[112] one of the bronze plates of the gate to a scale, which gives you the same advantage as if you saw it quite close, in the reality,—you may still be obliged to me for the information, that this boss represents the Madonna asleep in her little bed, and this smaller boss, the Infant Christ in His; and this at[Pg 302] the top, a cloud with an angel coming out of it, and these jagged bosses, two of the Three Kings, with their crowns on, looking up to the star, (which is intelligible enough I admit); but what this straggling, three-legged boss beneath signifies, I suppose neither you nor I can tell, unless it be the shepherd's dog, who has come suddenly upon the Kings with their crowns on, and is greatly startled at them.

23. Farther, and much more definitely, the pleasantness of the surface decoration is independent of structure; that is to say, of any architectural requirement of stability. The greater part of the sculpture here is exclusively ornamentation of a flat wall, or of door panelling; only a small portion of the church front is thus treated, and the sculpture has no more to do with the form of the building than a piece of a lace veil would have, suspended beside its gates on a festal day; the proportions of shaft and arch might be altered in a hundred different ways, without diminishing their stability; and the pillars would stand more safely on the ground than on the backs of these carved animals.

24. I wish you especially to notice these points, because the false theory that ornamentation should be merely decorated structure is so pretty and plausible, that it is likely to take away your attention from the far more important abstract conditions of design. Structure should never be contradicted, and in the best buildings it is pleasantly exhibited and enforced; in this very porch the joints of every stone are visible, and you will find me in the Fifth Lecture insisting on this clearness of its anatomy as a merit; yet so independent is the mechanical structure of the true design, that when I begin my Lectures on Architecture, the first building I shall give you as a standard will be one in which the structure is wholly concealed. It will be the Baptistry of Florence, which is, in reality, as much a buttressed chapel with a vaulted roof, as the Chapter House of York—but round it, in order to conceal that buttressed structure, (not to decorate, observe, but to conceal) a flat external wall is raised; simplifying the whole to a mere hexagonal box, like a wooden piece of Tunbridge ware, on the surface of which the eye and intellect are to be interested by the relations of dimension and curve between pieces of encrusting marble of different colours, which have no more to do with the real make of the building than the diaper of a Harlequin's jacket has to do with his bones.

Plate II.—The Arethusa of Syracuse. Plate II.—The Arethusa of Syracuse.
Plate III.—The Warning to the Kings.  San Zenone. Verona. Plate III.—The Warning to the Kings. San Zenone. Verona.

[Pg 303]

25. The sense of abstract proportion, on which the enjoyment of such a piece of art entirely depends, is one of the æsthetic faculties which nothing can develop but time and education. It belongs only to highly-trained nations; and, among them, to their most strictly refined classes, though the germs of it are found, as part of their innate power, in every people capable of art. It has for the most part vanished at present from the English mind, in consequence of our eager desire for excitement, and for the kind of splendour that exhibits wealth, careless of dignity; so that, I suppose, there are very few now even of our best-trained Londoners who know the difference between the design of Whitehall and that of any modern club-house in Pall-mall. The order and harmony which, in his enthusiastic account of the Theatre of Epidaurus, Pausanias insists on before beauty, can only be recognized by stern order and harmony in our daily lives; and the perception of them is as little to be compelled, or taught suddenly, as the laws of still finer choice in the conception of dramatic incident which regulate poetic sculpture.

26. And now, at last, I think, we can sketch out the subject before us in a clear light. We have a structural art, divine, and human, of which the investigation comes under the general term, Anatomy; whether the junctions or joints be in mountains, or in branches of trees, or in buildings, or in bones of animals. We have next a musical art, falling into two distinct divisions—one using colours, the other masses, for its elements of composition; lastly, we have an imitative art, concerned with the representation of the outward appearances of things. And, for many reasons, I think it best to begin with imitative Sculpture; that being defined as the art which, by the musical disposition of masses, imitates anything of which the imitation is justly pleasant to us; and does so in accordance with structural laws having due reference to the materials employed.[Pg 304]

So that you see our task will involve the immediate inquiry what the things are of which the imitation is justly pleasant to us: what, in few words,—if we are to be occupied in the making of graven images—we ought to like to make images of. Secondly, after having determined its subject, what degree of imitation or likeness we ought to desire in our graven image; and lastly, under what limitations demanded by structure and material, such likeness may be obtained.

These inquiries I shall endeavour to pursue with you to some practical conclusion, in my next four lectures, and in the sixth, I will briefly sketch the actual facts that have taken place in the development of sculpture by the two greatest schools of it that hitherto have existed in the world.

27. The tenor of our next lecture then must be an inquiry into the real nature of Idolatry; that is to say, the invention and service of Idols: and, in the interval, may I commend to your own thoughts this question, not wholly irrelevant, yet which I cannot pursue; namely, whether the God to whom we have so habitually prayed for deliverance "from battle, murder, and sudden death," is indeed, seeing that the present state of Christendom is the result of a thousand years' praying to that effect, "as the gods of the heathen who were but idols;" or whether—(and observe, one or other of these things must be true)—whether our prayers to Him have been, by this much, worse than Idolatry;—that heathen prayer was true prayer to false gods; and our prayers have been false prayers to the True One.


[107] I had a real ploughshare on my lecture table; but it would interrupt the drift of the statements in the text too long if I attempted here to illustrate by figures the relation of the coulter to the share, and of the hard to the soft pieces of metal in the share itself.

[108] A sphere of rock crystal, cut in Japan, enough imaginable by the reader, without a figure.

[109] One of William Hunt's peaches; not, I am afraid, imaginable altogether, but still less representable by figure.

[110] The crystal ball above mentioned.

[111] All grandest effects in mouldings may be, and for the most part have been, obtained by rolls and cavettos of circular (segmental) section. More refined sections, as that of the fluting of a Doric shaft, are only of use near the eye and in beautiful stone; and the pursuit of them was one of the many errors of later Gothic. The statement in the text that the mouldings, even of best time, "have no real relation to construction," is scarcely strong enough: they in fact contend with, and deny the construction, their principal purpose seeming to be the concealment of the joints of the voussoirs.

[112] Some of the most precious work done for me by my assistant Mr. Burgess, during the course of these lectures, consisted in making enlarged drawings from portions of photographs. Plate III. is engraved from a drawing of his, enlarged from the original photograph of which Plate I. is a reduction.


28. Beginning with the simple conception of sculpture as the art of fiction in solid substance, we are now to consider what its subjects should be. What—having the gift of imagery—should we by preference endeavour to image? A question[Pg 305] which is, indeed, subordinate to the deeper one—why we should wish to image anything at all.

29. Some years ago, having been always desirous that the education of women should begin in learning how to cook, I got leave, one day, for a little girl of eleven years old to exchange, much to her satisfaction, her schoolroom for the kitchen. But as ill fortune would have it, there was some pastry toward, and she was left unadvisedly in command of some delicately rolled paste; whereof she made no pies, but an unlimited quantity of cats and mice.

Now you may read the works of the gravest critics of art from end to end; but you will find, at last, they can give you no other true account of the spirit of sculpture than that it is an irresistible human instinct for the making of cats and mice, and other imitable living creatures, in such permanent form that one may play with the images at leisure.

Play with them, or love them, or fear them, or worship them. The cat may become the goddess Pasht, and the mouse, in the hand of the sculptured king, enforce his enduring words "ες εμε τις ορεων ευσεβης εστω;" but the great mimetic instinct underlies all such purpose; and is zooplastic,—life-shaping,—alike in the reverent and the impious.

30. Is, I say, and has been, hitherto; none of us dare say that it will be. I shall have to show you hereafter that the greater part of the technic energy of men, as yet, has indicated a kind of childhood; and that the race becomes, if not more wise, at least more manly,[113] with every gained century. I can fancy that all this sculpturing and painting of ours may be looked back upon, in some distant time, as a kind of doll-making, and that the words of Sir Isaac Newton may be smiled at no more: only it will not be for stars that we desert our stone dolls, but for men. When the day comes, as come it must, in which we no more deface and defile God's image in living clay, I am not sure that we shall any of us care so much for the images made of Him, in burnt clay.

31. But, hitherto, the energy of growth in any people may be almost directly measured by their passion for imitative art;[Pg 306] namely, for sculpture, or for the drama, which is living and speaking sculpture, or, as in Greece, for both; and in national as in actual childhood, it is not merely the making, but the making-believe; not merely the acting for the sake of the scene, but acting for the sake of acting, that is delightful. And, of the two mimetic arts, the drama, being more passionate, and involving conditions of greater excitement and luxury, is usually in its excellence the sign of culminating strength in the people; while fine sculpture, requiring always submission to severe law, is an unfailing proof of their being in early and active progress. There is no instance of fine sculpture being produced by a nation either torpid, weak, or in decadence. Their drama may gain in grace and wit; but their sculpture, in days of decline, is always base.

32. If my little lady in the kitchen had been put in command of colours, as well as of dough, and if the paste would have taken the colours, we may be sure her mice would have been painted brown, and her cats tortoise-shell; and this, partly indeed for the added delight and prettiness of colour itself, but more for the sake of absolute realization to her eyes and mind. Now all the early sculpture of the most accomplished nations has been thus coloured, rudely or finely; and, therefore, you see at once how necessary it is that we should keep the term "graphic" for imitative art generally; since no separation can at first be made between carving and painting, with reference to the mental powers exerted in, or addressed by, them. In the earliest known art of the world, a reindeer hunt may be scratched in outline on the flat side of a clean-picked bone, and a reindeer's head carved out of the end of it; both these are flint-knife work, and, strictly speaking, sculpture: but the scratched outline is the beginning of drawing, and the carved head of sculpture proper. When the spaces enclosed by the scratched outline are filled with colour, the colouring soon becomes a principal means of effect; so that, in the engraving of an Egyptian-colour bas-relief (S. 101), Rosellini has been content to miss the outlining incisions altogether, and represent it as a painting only. Its proper definition is, "painting accented by sculpture;"[Pg 307] on the other hand, in solid coloured statues,—Dresden china figures, for example,—we have pretty sculpture accented by painting; the mental purpose in both kinds of art being to obtain the utmost degree of realization possible, and the ocular impression being the same, whether the delineation is obtained by engraving or painting. For, as I pointed out to you in my fifth lecture, everything is seen by the eye as patches of colour, and of colour only; a fact which the Greeks knew well; so that when it becomes a question in the dialogue of Minos, "τινι οντι τη οπσει ὁραται τα ὁωμενα," the answer is "αισθησει ταυτη τη δια των οφθαλμων δηλοιση ἡμιν τα χρωματα."—"What kind of power is the sight with which we see things? It is that sense which, through the eyes, can reveal colours to us."

33. And now observe that while the graphic arts begin in the mere mimetic effort, they proceed, as they obtain more perfect realization, to act under the influence of a stronger and higher instinct. They begin by scratching the reindeer, the most interesting object of sight. But presently, as the human creature rises in scale of intellect, it proceeds to scratch, not the most interesting object of sight only, but the most interesting object of imagination; not the reindeer, but the Maker and Giver of the reindeer. And the second great condition for the advance of the art of sculpture is that the race should possess, in addition to the mimetic instinct, the realistic or idolizing instinct; the desire to see as substantial the powers that are unseen, and bring near those that are far off, and to possess and cherish those that are strange. To make in some way tangible and visible the nature of the gods—to illustrate and explain it by symbols; to bring the immortals out of the recesses of the clouds, and make them Penates; to bring back the dead from darkness, and make them Lares.

34. Our conception of this tremendous and universal human passion has been altogether narrowed by the current idea that Pagan religious art consisted only, or chiefly, in giving personality to the gods. The personality was never doubted; it was visibility, interpretation, and possession that the hearts of men sought. Possession, first of all—the getting hold of[Pg 308] some hewn log of wild olive-wood that would fall on its knees if it was pulled from its pedestal—and, afterwards, slowly clearing manifestation; the exactly right expression is used in Lucian's dream,—Φειδιας εδειξε τον 916()#;ια; "Showed[114] Zeus;" manifested him, nay, in a certain sense, brought forth, or created, as you have it, in Anacreon's ode to the Rose, of the birth of Athena herself—

πολεμοκλονον τ' Αθηνην
κορυφης εδεικνυε Ζευς.

But I will translate the passage from Lucian to you at length—it is in every way profitable.

35. "There came to me, in the healing[115] night, a divine dream, so clear that it missed nothing of the truth itself; yes, and still after all this time, the shapes of what I saw remain in my sight, and the sound of what I heard dwells in my ears"—note the lovely sense of εναυλος—the sound being as of a stream passing always by in the same channel,—"so distinct was everything to me. Two women laid hold of my hands and pulled me, each towards herself, so violently, that I had like to have been pulled asunder; and they cried out against one another,—the one, that she was resolved to have me to herself, being indeed her own, and the other that it was vain for her to claim what belonged to others;—and the one who first claimed me for her own was like a hard worker, and had strength as a man's; and her hair was dusty, and her hand full of horny places, and her dress fastened tight about her, and the folds of it loaded with white marble-dust, so that she looked just as my uncle used to look when he was filing stones: but the other was pleasant in features, and delicate in form, and orderly in her dress; and so in the end, they left it to me to decide, after hearing what they had to say, with which of them I would go; and first the hard featured and masculine one spoke:—


[Pg 309]

36. "'Dear child, I am the Art of Image-sculpture, which yesterday you began to learn; and I am as one of your own people, and of your house, for your grandfather,' (and she named my mother's father) 'was a stone-cutter; and both your uncles had good name through me: and if you will keep yourself well clear of the sillinesses and fluent follies that come from this creature,' (and she pointed to the other woman) 'and will follow me, and live with me, first of all, you shall be brought up as a man should be, and have strong shoulders; and, besides that, you shall be kept well quit of all restless desires, and you shall never be obliged to go away into any foreign places, leaving your own country and the people of your house; neither shall all men praise you for your talk.[116] And you must not despise this rude serviceableness of my body, neither this meanness of my dusty dress; for, pushing on in their strength from such things as these, that great Phidias revealed Zeus, and Polyclitus wrought out Hera, and Myron was praised, and Praxiteles marvelled at: therefore are these men worshipped with the gods.'"

37. There is a beautiful ambiguity in the use of the preposition with the genitive in this last sentence. "Pushing on from these things" means indeed, justly, that the sculptors rose from a mean state to a noble one; but not as leaving the mean state;—not as, from a hard life, attaining to a soft one,—but as being helped and strengthened by the rough life to do what was greatest. Again, "worshipped with the gods" does not mean that they are thought of as in any sense equal to, or like to, the gods, but as being on the side of the gods against what is base and ungodly; and that the kind of worth which is in them is therefore indeed worshipful, as having its source with the gods. Finally, observe that every one of the expressions, used of the four sculptors, is definitely the best[Pg 310] that Lucian could have chosen. Phidias carved like one who had seen Zeus, and had only to reveal him; Polyclitus, in labour of intellect, completed his sculpture by just law, and wrought out Hera; Myron was of all most praised, because he did best what pleased the vulgar; and Praxiteles, the most wondered at or admired, because he bestowed utmost exquisiteness of beauty.

38. I am sorry not to go on with the dream; the more refined lady, as you may remember, is liberal or gentlemanly Education, and prevails at last; so that Lucian becomes an author instead of a sculptor, I think to his own regret, though to our present benefit. One more passage of his I must refer you to, as illustrative of the point before us; the description of the temple of the Syrian Hieropolis, where he explains the absence of the images of the sun and moon. "In the temple itself," he says, "on the left hand as one goes in, there is set first the throne of the sun; but no form of him is thereon, for of these two powers alone, the sun and the moon, they show no carved images. And I also learned why this is their law, for they say that it is permissible, indeed, to make of the other gods, graven images, since the forms of them are not visible to all men. But Helios and Selenaia are everywhere clear-bright, and all men behold them; what need is there therefore for sculptured work of these, who appear in the air?"

39. This, then, is the second instinct necessary to sculpture; the desire for the manifestation, description, and companionship of unknown powers; and for possession of a bodily substance—the "bronze Strasbourg," which you can embrace, and hang immortelles on the head of—instead of an abstract idea. But if you get nothing more in the depth of the national mind than these two feelings, the mimetic and idolizing instincts, there may be still no progress possible for the arts except in delicacy of manipulation and accumulative caprice of design. You must have not only the idolizing instinct, but an ηθος which chooses the right thing to idolize! Else, you will get states of art like those in China or India, non-progressive, and in great part diseased and frightful,[Pg 311] being wrought under the influence of foolish terror, or foolish admiration. So that a third condition, completing and confirming both the others, must exist in order to the development of the creative power.

40. This third condition is that the heart of the nation shall be set on the discovery of just or equal law, and shall be from day to day developing that law more perfectly. The Greek school of sculpture is formed during, and in consequence of, the national effort to discover the nature of justice; the Tuscan, during, and in consequence of, the national effort to discover the nature of justification. I assert to you at present briefly, what will, I hope, be the subject of prolonged illustration hereafter.

41. Now when a nation with mimetic instinct and imaginative longing is also thus occupied earnestly in the discovery of Ethic law, that effort gradually brings precision and truth into all its manual acts; and the physical progress of sculpture as in the Greek, so in the Tuscan, school, consists in gradually limiting what was before indefinite, in verifying what was inaccurate, and in humanizing what was monstrous. I might perhaps content you by showing these external phenomena, and by dwelling simply on the increasing desire of naturalness, which compels, in every successive decade of years, literally, in the sculptured images, the mimicked bones to come together, bone to his bone; and the flesh to come up upon them, until from a flattened and pinched handful of clay, respecting which you may gravely question whether it was intended for a human form at all;—by slow degrees, and added touch to touch, in increasing consciousness of the bodily truth,—at last the Aphrodite of Melos stands before you, a perfect woman. But all that search for physical accuracy is merely the external operation, in the arts, of the seeking for truth in the inner soul; it is impossible without that higher effort, and the demonstration of it would be worse than useless to you, unless I made you aware at the same time of its spiritual cause.

42. Observe farther; the increasing truth in representation is co-relative with increasing beauty in the thing to be represented.[Pg 312] The pursuit of justice which regulates the imitative effort, regulates also the development of the race into dignity of person, as of mind; and their culminating art-skill attains the grasp of entire truth at the moment when the truth becomes most lovely. And then, ideal sculpture may go on safely into portraiture. But I shall not touch on the subject of portrait sculpture to-day; it introduces many questions of detail, and must be a matter for subsequent consideration.

43. These then are the three great passions which are concerned in true sculpture. I cannot find better, or, at least, more easily remembered, names for them than "the Instincts of Mimicry, Idolatry, and Discipline;" meaning, by the last, the desire of equity and wholesome restraint, in all acts and works of life. Now of these, there is no question but that the love of Mimicry is natural and right, and the love of Discipline is natural and right. But it looks a grave question whether the yearning for Idolatry, (the desire of companionship with images,) is right. Whether, indeed, if such an instinct be essential to good sculpture, the art founded on it can possibly be "fine" art.

44. I must now beg for your close attention, because I have to point out distinctions in modes of conception which will appear trivial to you, unless accurately understood; but of an importance in the history of art which cannot be overrated.

When the populace of Paris adorned the statue of Strasbourg with immortelles, none, even the simplest of the pious decorators, would suppose that the city of Strasbourg itself, or any spirit or ghost of the city, was actually there, sitting in the Place de la Concorde. The figure was delightful to them as a visible nucleus for their fond thoughts about Strasbourg; but never for a moment supposed to be Strasbourg.

Similarly, they might have taken delight in a statue purporting to represent a river instead of a city,—the Rhine, or Garonne, suppose,—and have been touched with strong emotion in looking at it, if the real river were dear to them, and yet never think for an instant that the statue was the river.[Pg 313]

And yet again, similarly, but much more distinctly, they might take delight in the beautiful image of a god, because it gathered and perpetuated their thoughts about that god; and yet never suppose, nor be capable of being deceived by any arguments into supposing, that the statue was the god.

On the other hand, if a meteoric stone fell from the sky in the sight of a savage, and he picked it up hot, he would most probably lay it aside in some, to him, sacred place, and believe the stone itself to be a kind of god, and offer prayer and sacrifice to it.

In like manner, any other strange or terrifying object, such, for instance, as a powerfully noxious animal or plant, he would be apt to regard in the same way; and very possibly also construct for himself frightful idols of some kind, calculated to produce upon him a vague impression of their being alive; whose imaginary anger he might deprecate or avert with sacrifice, although incapable of conceiving in them any one attribute of exalted intellectual or moral nature.

45. If you will now refer to § 52-59 of my Introductory Lectures, you will find this distinction between a resolute conception, recognized for such, and an involuntary apprehension of spiritual existence, already insisted on at some length. And you will see more and more clearly as we proceed, that the deliberate and intellectually commanded conception is not idolatrous in any evil sense whatever, but is one of the grandest and wholesomest functions of the human soul; and that the essence of evil idolatry begins only in the idea or belief of a real presence of any kind, in a thing in which there is no such presence.

46. I need not say that the harm of the idolatry must depend on the certainty of the negative. If there be a real presence in a pillar of cloud, in an unconsuming flame, or in a still small voice, it is no sin to bow down before these.

But, as matter of historical fact, the idea of such presence has generally been both ignoble and false, and confined to nations of inferior race, who are often condemned to remain for ages in conditions of vile terror, destitute of thought. Nearly all Indian architecture and Chinese design arise out[Pg 314] of such a state: so also, though in a less gross degree, Ninevite and Phœnician art, early Irish, and Scandinavian; the latter, however, with vital elements of high intellect mingled in it from the first.

But the greatest races are never grossly subject to such terror, even in their childhood, and the course of their minds is broadly divisible into three distinct stages.

47. (I.) In their infancy they begin to imitate the real animals about them, as my little girl made the cats and mice, but with an undercurrent of partial superstition—a sense that there must be more in the creatures than they can see; also they catch up vividly any of the fancies of the baser nations round them, and repeat these more or less apishly, yet rapidly naturalizing and beautifying them. They then connect all kinds of shapes together, compounding meanings out of the old chimeras, and inventing new ones with the speed of a running wild-fire; but always getting more of man into their images, and admitting less of monster or brute; their own characters, meanwhile, expanding and purging themselves, and shaking off the feverish fancy, as springing flowers shake the earth off their stalks.

48. (II.) In the second stage, being now themselves perfect men and women, they reach the conception of true and great gods as existent in the universe; and absolutely cease to think of them as in any wise present in statues or images; but they have now learned to make these statues beautifully human, and to surround them with attributes that may concentrate their thoughts of the gods. This is, in Greece, accurately the Pindaric time, just a little preceding the Phidian; the Phidian is already dimmed with a faint shadow of infidelity; still, the Olympic Zeus may be taken as a sufficiently central type of a statue which was no more supposed to be Zeus, than the gold or elephants' tusks it was made of; but in which the most splendid powers of human art were exhausted in representing a believed and honoured God to the happy and holy imagination of a sincerely religious people.

49. (III.) The third stage of national existence follows, in which, the imagination having now done its utmost, and being[Pg 315] partly restrained by the sanctities of tradition, which permit no farther change in the conceptions previously created, begins to be superseded by logical deduction and scientific investigation. At the same moment, the elder artists having done all that is possible in realizing the national conceptions of the Gods, the younger ones, forbidden to change the scheme of existing representations, and incapable of doing anything better in that kind, betake themselves to refine and decorate the old ideas with more attractive skill. Their aims are thus more and more limited to manual dexterity, and their fancy paralyzed. Also, in the course of centuries, the methods of every art continually improving, and being made subjects of popular inquiry, praise is now to be got, for eminence in these, from the whole mob of the nation; whereas intellectual design can never be discerned but by the few. So that in this third æra, we find every kind of imitative and vulgar dexterity more and more cultivated; while design and imagination are every day less cared for, and less possible.

50. Meanwhile, as I have just said, the leading minds in literature and science become continually more logical and investigative; and, once that they are established in the habit of testing facts accurately, a very few years are enough to convince all the strongest thinkers that the old imaginative religion is untenable, and cannot any longer be honestly taught in its fixed traditional form, except by ignorant persons. And at this point the fate of the people absolutely depends on the degree of moral strength into which their hearts have been already trained. If it be a strong, industrious, chaste, and honest race, the taking its old gods, or at least the old forms of them, away from it, will indeed make it deeply sorrowful and amazed; but will in no whit shake its will, nor alter its practice. Exceptional persons, naturally disposed to become drunkards, harlots, and cheats, but who had been previously restrained from indulging these dispositions by their fear of God, will, of course, break out into open vice, when that fear is removed. But the heads of the families of the people, instructed in the pure habits and perfect delights of an honest life, and to whom the thought of a[Pg 316] Father in heaven had been a comfort, not a restraint, will assuredly not seek relief from the discomfort of their orphanage by becoming uncharitable and vile. Also the high leaders of their thought gather their whole strength together in the gloom; and at the first entrance of this valley of the Shadow of Death, look their new enemy full in the eyeless face of him, and subdue him, and his terror, under their feet. "Metus omnes, et inexorabile fatum,... strepitumque Acherontis avari." This is the condition of national soul expressed by the art, and the words, of Holbein, Durer, Shakspeare, Pope, and Goethe.

51. But if the people, at the moment when the trial of darkness approaches, be not confirmed in moral character, but are only maintaining a superficial virtue by the aid of a spectral religion; the moment the staff of their faith is broken, the character of the race falls like a climbing plant cut from its hold: then all the earthliest vices attack it as it lies in the dust; every form of sensual and insane sin is developed, and half a century is sometimes enough to close, in hopeless shame, the career of the nation in literature, art, and war.

52. Notably, within the last hundred years, all religion has perished from the practically active national mind of France and England. No statesman in the senate of either country would dare to use a sentence out of their acceptedly divine Revelation, as having now a literal authority over them for their guidance, or even a suggestive wisdom for their contemplation. England, especially, has cast her Bible full in the face of her former God; and proclaimed, with open challenge to Him, her resolved worship of His declared enemy, Mammon. All the arts, therefore, founded on religion, and sculpture chiefly, are here in England effete and corrupt, to a degree which arts never were hitherto in the history of mankind: and it is possible to show you the condition of sculpture living, and sculpture dead, in accurate opposition, by simply comparing the nascent Pisan school in Italy with the existing school in England.

53. You were perhaps surprised at my placing in your[Pg 317] educational series, as a type of original Italian sculpture, the pulpit by Niccola Pisano in the Duomo of Siena. I would rather, had it been possible, have given the pulpit by Giovanni Pisano in the Duomo of Pisa; but that pulpit is dispersed in fragments through the upper galleries of the Duomo, and the cloister of the Campo Santo; and the casts of its fragments now put together at Kensington are too coarse to be of use to you. You may partly judge, however, of the method of their execution by the eagle's head, which I have sketched from the marble in the Campo Santo (Edu., No. 113), and the lioness with her cubs, (Edu., No. 103, more carefully studied at Siena); and I will get you other illustrations in due time. Meanwhile, I want you to compare the main purpose of the Cathedral of Pisa, and its associated Bell Tower, Baptistery, and Holy Field, with the main purpose of the principal building lately raised for the people of London. In these days, we indeed desire no cathedrals; but we have constructed an enormous and costly edifice, which, in claiming educational influence over the whole London populace, and middle class, is verily the Metropolitan cathedral of this century,—the Crystal Palace.

54. It was proclaimed, at its erection, an example of a newly discovered style of architecture, greater than any hitherto known,—our best popular writers, in their enthusiasm, describing it as an edifice of Fairyland. You are nevertheless to observe that this novel production of fairy enchantment is destitute of every kind of sculpture, except the bosses produced by the heads of nails and rivets; while the Duomo of Pisa, in the wreathen work of its doors, in the foliage of its capitals, inlaid colour designs of its façade, embossed panels of its baptistery font, and figure sculpture of its two pulpits, contained the germ of a school of sculpture which was to maintain, through a subsequent period of four hundred years, the greatest power yet reached by the arts of the world in description of Form, and expression of Thought.

55. Now it is easy to show you the essential cause of the vast discrepancy in the character of these two buildings.

In the vault of the apse of the Duomo of Pisa, was a[Pg 318] colossal image of Christ, in coloured mosaic, bearing to the temple, as nearly as possible, the relation which the statue of Athena bore to the Parthenon; and in the same manner, concentrating the imagination of the Pisan on the attributes of the God in whom he believed.

In precisely the same position with respect to the nave of the building, but of larger size, as proportioned to the three or four times greater scale of the whole, a colossal piece of sculpture was placed by English designers, at the extremity of the Crystal Palace, in preparation for their solemnities in honour of the birthday of Christ, in December, 1867 or 1868.

That piece of sculpture was the face of the clown in a pantomime, some twelve feet high from brow to chin, which face, being moved by the mechanism which is our pride, every half minute opened its mouth from ear to ear, showed its teeth, and revolved its eyes, the force of these periodical seasons of expression being increased and explained by the illuminated inscription underneath "Here we are again."

56. When it is assumed, and with too good reason, that the mind of the English populace is to be addressed, in the principal Sacred Festival of its year, by sculpture such as this, I need scarcely point out to you that the hope is absolutely futile of advancing their intelligence by collecting within this building, (itself devoid absolutely of every kind of art, and so vilely constructed that those who traverse it are continually in danger of falling over the cross-bars that bind it together) examples of sculpture filched indiscriminately from the past work, bad and good, of Turks, Greeks, Romans, Moors, and Christians, miscoloured, misplaced, and misinterpreted;[117] here thrust into unseemly corners, and there mortised together into mere confusion of heterogeneous obstacle; pronouncing itself hourly more intolerable in weariness, until any kind of relief is sought from it in steam wheelbarrows or cheap toy-shops;[Pg 319] and most of all in beer and meat, the corks and the bones being dropped through the chinks in the damp deal flooring of the English Fairy Palace.

57. But you will probably think me unjust in assuming that a building prepared only for the amusement of the people can typically represent the architecture or sculpture of modern England. You may urge, that I ought rather to describe the qualities of the refined sculpture which is executed in large quantities for private persons belonging to the upper classes, and for sepulchral and memorial purposes. But I could not now criticise that sculpture with any power of conviction to you, because I have not yet stated to you the principles of good sculpture in general. I will, however, in some points, tell you the facts by anticipation.

58. We have much excellent portrait sculpture; but portrait sculpture, which is nothing more, is always third-rate work, even when produced by men of genius;—nor does it in the least require men of genius to produce it. To paint a portrait, indeed, implies the very highest gifts of painting; but any man, of ordinary patience and artistic feeling, can carve a satisfactory bust.

59. Of our powers in historical sculpture, I am, without question, just, in taking for sufficient evidence the monuments we have erected to our two greatest heroes by sea and land; namely, the Nelson Column, and the statue of the Duke of Wellington opposite Apsley House. Nor will you, I hope, think me severe,—certainly, whatever you may think me, I am using only the most temperate language, in saying of both these monuments, that they are absolutely devoid of high sculptural merit. But, consider how much is involved in the fact thus dispassionately stated, respecting the two monuments in the principal places of our capital, to our two greatest heroes.

60. Remember that we have before our eyes, as subjects of perpetual study and thought, the art of all the world for three thousand years past: especially, we have the best sculpture of Greece, for example of bodily perfection; the best of Rome, for example of character in portraiture; the best of Florence,[Pg 320] for example of romantic passion: we have unlimited access to books and other sources of instruction; we have the most perfect scientific illustrations of anatomy, both human and comparative; and, we have bribes for the reward of success, large, in the proportion of at least twenty to one, as compared with those offered to the artists of any other period. And with all these advantages, and the stimulus also of fame carried instantly by the press to the remotest corners of Europe, the best efforts we can make, on the grandest of occasions, result in work which it is impossible in any one particular to praise.

Now consider for yourselves what an intensity of the negation of the faculty of sculpture this implies in the national mind! What measures can be assigned to the gulf of incapacity, which can deliberately swallow up in the gorge of it the teaching and example of three thousand years, and produce as the result of that instruction, what it is courteous to call "nothing?"

61. That is the conclusion at which we arrive, on the evidence presented by our historical sculpture. To complete the measure of ourselves, we must endeavour to estimate the rank of the two opposite schools of sculpture employed by us in the nominal service of religion, and in the actual service of vice.

I am aware of no statue of Christ, nor of any apostle of Christ, nor of any scene related in the New Testament, produced by us within the last three hundred years, which has possessed even superficial merit enough to attract public attention.

Whereas the steadily immoral effect of the formative art which we learn, more or less apishly, from the French schools, and employ, but too gladly, in manufacturing articles for the amusement of the luxurious classes, must be ranked as one of the chief instruments used by joyful fiends and angry fates, for the ruin of our civilization.

If, after I have set before you the nature and principles of true sculpture, in Athens, Pisa, and Florence, you reconsider these facts,—(which you will then at once recognize as such),—you[Pg 321] will find that they absolutely justify my assertion that the state of sculpture in modern England, as compared with that of the great Ancients, is literally one of corrupt and dishonourable death, as opposed to bright and fameful life.

62. And now, will you bear with me, while I tell you finally why this is so?

The cause with which you are personally concerned is your own frivolity; though essentially this is not your fault, but that of the system of your early training. But the fact remains the same, that here, in Oxford, you, a chosen body of English youth, in no wise care for the history of your country, for its present dangers, or its present duties. You still, like children of seven or eight years old, are interested only in bats, balls, and oars: nay, including with you the students of Germany and France, it is certain that the general body of modern European youth have their minds occupied more seriously by the sculpture and painting of the bowls of their tobacco-pipes, than by all the divinest workmanship and passionate imagination of Greece, Rome, and Mediæval Christendom.

63. But the elementary causes, both of this frivolity in you, and of worse than frivolity in older persons, are the two forms of deadly Idolatry which are now all but universal in England.

The first of these is the worship of the Eidolon, or Phantasm of Wealth; worship of which you will find the nature partly examined in the 37th paragraph of my Munera Pulveris; but which is briefly to be defined as the servile apprehension of an active power in Money, and the submission to it as the God of our life.

64. The second elementary cause of the loss of our nobly imaginative faculty, is the worship of the Letter, instead of the Spirit, in what we chiefly accept as the ordinance and teaching of Deity; and the apprehension of a healing sacredness in the act of reading the Book whose primal commands we refuse to obey.

No feather idol of Polynesia was ever a sign of a more shameful idolatry, than the modern notion in the minds of[Pg 322] certainly the majority of English religious persons, that the Word of God, by which the heavens were of old, and the earth, standing out of the water and in the water,—the Word of God which came to the prophets, and comes still for ever to all who will hear it, (and to many who will forbear); and which, called Faithful and True, is to lead forth, in the judgment, the armies of heaven,—that this "Word of God" may yet be bound at our pleasure in morocco, and carried about in a young lady's pocket, with tasselled ribands to mark the passages she most approves of.

65. Gentlemen, there has hitherto been seen no instance, and England is little likely to give the unexampled spectacle, of a country successful in the noble arts, yet in which the youths were frivolous, the maidens falsely religious, the men, slaves of money, and the matrons, of vanity. Not from all the marble of the hills of Luni will such a people ever shape one statue that may stand nobly against the sky; not from all the treasures bequeathed to them by the great dead, will they gather, for their own descendants, any inheritance but shame.


[113] Glance forward at once to § 75, read it, and return to this.

[114] There is a primary and vulgar sense of "exhibited" in Lucian's mind; but the higher meaning is involved in it.

[115] In the Greek, "ambrosial." Recollect always that ambrosia, as food of gods, is the continual restorer of strength; that all food is ambrosial when it nourishes, and that the night is called "ambrosial" because it restores strength to the soul through its peace, as, in the 23rd Psalm, the stillness of waters.

[116] I have italicised this final promise of blessedness, given by the noble Spirit of Workmanship. Compare Carlyle's 5th Latter-day pamphlet, throughout; but especially pp. 12-14, in the first edition.

[117] "Falsely represented," would be the better expression. In the cast of the tomb of Queen Eleanor, for a single instance, the Gothic foliage of which one essential virtue is its change over every shield, is represented by a repetition of casts from one mould, of which the design itself is entirely conjectural.



66. The principal object of the preceding lecture (and I choose rather to incur your blame for tediousness in repeating, than for obscurity in defining it), was to enforce the distinction between the ignoble and false phase of Idolatry, which consists in the attribution of a spiritual power to a material thing; and the noble and truth-seeking phase of it, to which I shall in these lectures[118] give the general term of Imagination;—that is to say, the invention of material symbols which may lead us to contemplate the character and nature of gods, spirits, or abstract virtues and powers, without in the least implying the actual presence of such Beings among us, or even their possession, in reality, of the forms we attribute to them.

[Pg 323]

Fig. 2. Fig. 2.

[Pg 325]67. For instance, in the ordinarily received Greek type of Athena, on vases of the Phidian time (sufficiently represented in the opposite woodcut), no Greek would have supposed the vase on which this was painted to be itself Athena, nor to contain Athena inside of it, as the Arabian fisherman's casket contained the genie; neither did he think that this rude black painting, done at speed as the potter's fancy urged his hand, represented anything like the form or aspect of the Goddess herself. Nor would he have thought so, even had the image been ever so beautifully wrought. The goddess might, indeed, visibly appear under the form of an armed virgin, as she might under that of a hawk or a swallow, when it pleased her to give such manifestation of her presence; but it did not, therefore, follow that she was constantly invested with any of these forms, or that the best which human skill could, even by her own aid, picture of her, was, indeed, a likeness of her. The real use, at all events, of this rude image, was only to signify to the eye and heart the facts of the existence, in some manner, of a Spirit of wisdom, perfect in gentleness, irresistible in anger; having also physical dominion over the air which is the life and breadth of all creatures, and clothed, to human eyes, with ægis of fiery cloud, and raiment of falling dew.

68. In the yet more abstract conception of the Spirit of agriculture, in which the wings of the chariot represent the winds of spring, and its crested dragons are originally a mere type of the seed with its twisted root piercing the ground, and sharp-edged leaves rising above it; we are in still less danger of mistaking the symbol for the presumed form of an actual Person. But I must, with persistence, beg of you to observe that in all the noble actions of imagination in this kind, the distinction from idolatry consists, not in the denial of[Pg 326] the being, or presence of the Spirit, but only in the due recognition of our human incapacity to conceive the one, or compel the other.

Fig. 3. Fig. 3.

69. Farther—and for this statement I claim your attention still more earnestly. As no nation has ever attained real greatness during periods in which it was subject to any condition of Idolatry, so no nation has ever attained or persevered in greatness, except in reaching and maintaining a passionate Imagination of a spiritual estate higher than that of men; and of spiritual creatures nobler than men, having a quite real and personal existence, however imperfectly apprehended by us.[Pg 327]

And all the arts of the present age deserving to be included under the name of sculpture have been degraded by us, and all principles of just policy have vanished from us,—and that totally,—for this double reason; that we are on one side, given up to idolatries of the most servile kind, as I showed you in the close of the last lecture,—while, on the other hand, we have absolutely ceased from the exercise of faithful imagination; and the only remnants of the desire of truth which remain in us have been corrupted into a prurient itch to discover the origin of life in the nature of the dust, and prove that the source of the order of the universe is the accidental concurrence of its atoms.

70. Under these two calamities of our time, the art of sculpture has perished more totally than any other, because the object of that art is exclusively the representation of form as the exponent of life. It is essentially concerned only with the human form, which is the exponent of the highest life we know; and with all subordinate forms only as they exhibit conditions of vital power which have some certain relation to humanity. It deals with the "particula undique desecta" of the animal nature, and itself contemplates, and brings forward for its disciples' contemplation, all the energies of creation which transform the πηλος, or lower still, the βορβορος of the trivia, by Athena's help, into forms of power;—(το μεν ὁλον αρχιτεκτων αυτος ην. συνειργαζετο δε τοι και η 'Αθηνα εμπνεουσα τον πηλον και εμπσυχα ροιουσα ειναι τα πλασματα;)[119]—but it has nothing whatever to do with the representation of forms not living, however beautiful, (as of clouds or waves); nor may it condescend to use its perfect skill, except in expressing the noblest conditions of life.

These laws of sculpture, being wholly contrary to the practice of our day, I cannot expect you to accept on my assertion, nor do I wish you to do so. By placing definitely good and bad sculpture before you, I do not doubt but that I shall[Pg 328] gradually prove to you the nature of all excelling and enduring qualities; but to-day I will only confirm my assertions by laying before you the statement of the Greeks themselves on the subject; given in their own noblest time, and assuredly authoritative, in every point which it embraces, for all time to come.

71. If any of you have looked at the explanation I have given of the myth of Athena in my Queen of the Air, you cannot but have been surprised that I took scarcely any note of the story of her birth. I did not, because that story is connected intimately with the Apolline myths; and is told of Athena, not essentially as the goddess of the air, but as the goddess of Art-Wisdom.

You have probably often smiled at the legend itself, or avoided thinking of it, as revolting. It is indeed, one of the most painful and childish of sacred myths; yet remember, ludicrous and ugly as it seems to us, this story satisfied the fancy of the Athenian people in their highest state; and if it did not satisfy—yet it was accepted by, all later mythologists: you may also remember I told you to be prepared to find that, given a certain degree of national intellect, the ruder the symbol, the deeper would be its purpose. And this legend of the birth of Athena is the central myth of all that the Greeks have left us respecting the power of their arts; and in it they have expressed, as it seemed good to them, the most important things they had to tell us on these matters. We may read them wrongly; but we must read them here, if anywhere.

72. There are so many threads to be gathered up in the legend, that I cannot hope to put it before you in total clearness, but I will take main points. Athena is born in the island of Rhodes; and that island is raised out of the sea by Apollo, after he had been left without inheritance among the gods. Zeus[120] would have cast the lot again, but Apollo[Pg 329] orders the golden-girdled Lachesis to stretch out her hands; and not now by chance or lot, but by noble enchantment, the island rises out of the sea.

Physically, this represents the action of heat and light on chaos, especially on the deep sea. It is the "Fiat lux" of Genesis, the first process in the conquest of Fate by Harmony. The island is dedicated to the Nymph Rhodos, by whom Apollo has the seven sons who teach σοφωτατα νοηματα; because the rose is the most beautiful organism existing in matter not vital, expressive of the direct action of light on the earth, giving lovely form and colour at once; (compare the use of it by Dante as the form of the sainted crowd in highest heaven) and remember that, therefore, the rose is in the Greek mind, essentially a Doric flower, expressing the worship of Light, as the Iris or Ion is an Ionic one, expressing the worship of the Winds and Dew.

73. To understand the agency of Hephæstus at the birth of Athena, we must again return to the founding of the arts on agriculture by the hand. Before you can cultivate land you must clear it; and the characteristic weapon of Hephæstus,—which is as much his attribute as the trident is of Poseidon, and the rhabdos of Hermes, is not, as you would have expected, the hammer, but the clearing-axe—the doubled-edged πελεκυς, the same that Calypso gives Ulysses with which to cut down the trees for his home voyage; so that both the naval and agricultural strength of the Athenians are expressed by this weapon, with which they had to hew out their fortune. And you must keep in mind this agriculturally laborious character of Hephæstus, even when he is most distinctly the god of serviceable fire; thus Horace's perfect epithet for him "avidus" expresses at once the devouring eagerness of fire, and the zeal of progressive labour, for Horace gives it to him when he is fighting against the giants. And this rude symbol of his cleaving the forehead of Zeus with the axe, and giving birth to Athena signifies, indeed, physically the thrilling power of heat in the heavens, rending the clouds, and giving birth to the blue air; but far more deeply it signifies the subduing of adverse Fate by true labour; until, out of the chasm,[Pg 330] cleft by resolute and industrious fortitude, springs the Spirit of Wisdom.

74. Here (Fig. 4) is an early drawing of the myth, to which I shall have to refer afterwards in illustration of the childishness of the Greek mind at the time when its art-symbols were first fixed; but it is of peculiar value, because the physical character of Vulcan, as fire, is indicated by his wearing the ενδρομιδες of Hermes, while the antagonism of Zeus, as the adverse chaos, either of cloud or of fate, is shown by his striking at Hephæstus with his thunderbolt. But Plate IV. gives you (as far as the light on the rounded vase will allow it to be deciphered) a characteristic representation of the scene, as conceived in later art.

Fig. 4. Fig. 4.

75. I told you in a former lecture of this course that the entire Greek intellect was in a childish phase as compared to that of modern times. Observe, however, childishness does not necessarily imply universal inferiority: there may be a vigorous, acute, pure, and solemn childhood, and there may be a weak, foul, and ridiculous condition of advanced life; but the one is still essentially the childish, and the other the adult phase of existence.

76. You will find, then, that the Greeks were the first people that were born into complete humanity. All nations before them had been, and all around them still were, partly[Pg 331] savage, bestial, clay-encumbered, inhuman; still semi-goat, or semi-ant, or semi-stone, or semi-cloud. But the power of a new spirit came upon the Greeks, and the stones were filled with breath, and the clouds clothed with flesh; and then came the great spiritual battle between the Centaurs and Lapithæ; and the living creatures became "Children of Men." Taught, yet, by the Centaur—sown, as they knew, in the fang—from the dappled skin of the brute, from the leprous scale of the serpent, their flesh came again as the flesh of a little child, and they were clean.

Fix your mind on this as the very central character of the Greek race—the being born pure and human out of the brutal misery of the past, and looking abroad, for the first time, with their children's eyes, wonderingly open, on the strange and divine world.

77. Make some effort to remember, so far as may be possible to you, either what you felt in yourselves when you were young, or what you have observed in other children, of the action of thought and fancy. Children are continually represented as living in an ideal world of their own. So far as I have myself observed, the distinctive character of a child is to live always in the tangible present, having little pleasure in memory, and being utterly impatient and tormented by anticipation: weak alike in reflection and forethought, but having an intense possession of the actual present, down to the shortest moments and least objects of it; possessing it, indeed, so intensely that the sweet childish days are as long as twenty days will be; and setting all the faculties of heart and imagination on little things, so as to be able to make anything out of them he chooses. Confined to a little garden, he does not imagine himself somewhere else, but makes a great garden out of that; possessed of an acorn-cup, he will not despise it and throw it away, and covet a golden one in its stead: it is the adult who does so. The child keeps his acorn-cup as a treasure, and makes a golden one out of it in his mind; so that the wondering grown-up person standing beside him is always tempted to ask concerning his treasures, not, "What would you have more than these?" but "What possibly can[Pg 332] you see in these?" for, to the bystander, there is a ludicrous and incomprehensible inconsistency between the child's words and the reality. The little thing tells him gravely, holding up the acorn-cup, that "this is a queen's crown, or a fairy's boat," and, with beautiful effrontery, expects him to believe the same. But observe—the acorn-cup must be there, and in his own hand. "Give it me;" then I will make more of it for myself. That is the child's one word, always.

Fig. 5. Fig. 5.

78. It is also the one word of the Greek—"Give it me." Give me any thing definite here in my sight, then I will make more of it.

Plate V.—Tomb of the Doges Jacopo and Lorenzo Tiepolo. Plate V.—Tomb of the Doges Jacopo and Lorenzo Tiepolo.

[Pg 333]

I cannot easily express to you how strange it seems to me that I am obliged, here in Oxford, to take the position of an apologist for Greek art; that I find, in spite of all the devotion of the admirable scholars who have so long maintained in our public schools the authority of Greek literature, our younger students take no interest in the manual work of the people upon whose thoughts the tone of their early intellectual life has exclusively depended. But I am not surprised that the interest, if awakened, should not at first take the form of admiration. The inconsistency between an Homeric description of a piece of furniture or armour, and the actual rudeness of any piece of art approximating within even three or four centuries, to the Homeric period, is so great, that we at first cannot recognize the art as elucidatory of, or in any way related to, the poetic language.

79. You will find, however, exactly the same kind of discrepancy between early sculpture, and the languages of deed and thought, in the second birth, and childhood, of the world, under Christianity. The same fair thoughts and bright imaginations arise again; and similarly, the fancy is content with the rudest symbols by which they can be formalized to the eyes. You cannot understand that the rigid figure (2) with chequers or spots on its breast, and sharp lines of drapery to its feet, could represent, to the Greek, the healing majesty of heaven: but can you any better understand how a symbol so haggard as this (Fig. 5) could represent to the noblest hearts of the Christian ages the power and ministration of angels? Yet it not only did so, but retained in the rude undulatory and linear ornamentation of its dress, record of the thoughts intended to be conveyed by the spotted ægis and falling chiton of Athena, eighteen hundred years before. Greek and Venetian alike, in their noble childhood, knew with the same terror the coiling wind and congealed hail in heaven—saw with the same thankfulness the dew shed softly on the earth, and on its flowers; and both recognized, ruling these, and symbolized by them, the great helpful spirit of Wisdom, which leads the children of men to all knowledge, all courage, and all art.

80. Read the inscription written on the sarcophagus (Plate V.), at the extremity of which this angel is sculptured. It stands in an open recess in the rude brick wall of the west front of the church of St. John and Paul at Venice, being the[Pg 334] tomb of the two doges, father and son, Jacopo and Lorenzo Tiepolo. This is the inscription:—

"Quos natura pares studiis, virtutibus, arte
Edidit, illustres genitor natusque, sepulti
Hác sub rupe Duces. Venetum charissima proles
Theupula collatis dedit hos celebranda triumphis.
Omnia presentis donavit predia templi
Dux Jacobus: valido fixit moderamine leges
Urbis, et ingratam redimens certamine Jadram
Dalmatiosque dedit patrie, post, Marte subactas
Graiorum pelago maculavit sanguine classes.
Suscipit oblatos princeps Laurentius Istros,
Et domuit rigidos, ingenti strage cadentes,
Bononie populos. Hinc subdita Cervia cessit.
Fundavere vias pacis; fortique relictá
Re, superos sacris petierunt mentibus ambo.
"Dominus Jachobus hobiit[121] M.CCLI. Dominus Laurentius hobiit M.CCLXXVIII."

You see, therefore, this tomb is an invaluable example of thirteenth century sculpture in Venice. In Plate VI., you have an example of the (coin) sculpture of the date accurately corresponding in Greece to the thirteenth century in Venice, when the meaning of symbols was everything and the workmanship comparatively nothing. The upper head is an Athena, of Athenian work in the seventh or sixth century—(the coin itself may have been struck later, but the archaic type was retained). The two smaller impressions below are the front and obverse of a coin of the same age from Corinth, the head of Athena on one side, and Pegasus, with the archaic Koppa, on the other. The smaller head is bare, the hair being looped up at the back and closely bound with an olive branch. You are to note this general outline of the head, already given in a more finished type in Plate II., as a most important elementary form in the finest sculpture, not of Greece only, but of all Christendom. In the upper head the hair is restrained still more closely by a round helmet, for the most part smooth, but embossed with a single flower tendril, having one bud, one flower, and above it, two olive leaves. You have thus the most absolutely restricted symbol possible to human thought of the power of Athena over the flowers and trees of the earth. An olive leaf by itself could not have stood for the sign of a tree, but the two can, when set in position of growth.

Plate VI.—Archaic Athena of Athens and Corinth. Plate VI.—Archaic Athena of Athens and Corinth.

[Pg 335]

I would not give you the reverse of the coin on the same plate, because you would have looked at it only, laughed at it, and not examined the rest; but here it is, wonderfully engraved for you (Fig. 6): of it we shall have more to say afterwards.

Fig. 6. Fig. 6.

81. And now as you look at these rude vestiges of the religion of Greece, and at the vestiges, still ruder, on the Ducal tomb, of the religion of Christendom, take warning against two opposite errors.

There is a school of teachers who will tell you that nothing but Greek art is deserving of study, and that all our work at this day should be an imitation of it.

Whenever you feel tempted to believe them, think of these portraits of Athena and her owl, and be assured that Greek art is not in all respects perfect, nor exclusively deserving of imitation.

There is another school of teachers who will tell you that Greek art is good for nothing; that the soul of the Greek was outcast, and that Christianity entirely superseded its faith, and excelled its works.

Whenever you feel tempted to believe them, think of this angel on the tomb of Jacopo Tiepolo; and remember, that Christianity, after it had been twelve hundred years existent as an imaginative power on the earth, could do no better work than this, though with all the former power of Greece to help it; nor was able to engrave its triumph in having stained its fleets in the seas of Greece with the blood of her people, but between barbarous imitations of the pillars which that people had invented.[Pg 336]

82. Receiving these two warnings, receive also this lesson; In both examples, childish though it be, this Heathen and Christian art is alike sincere, and alike vividly imaginative: the actual work is that of infancy; the thoughts, in their visionary simplicity, are also the thoughts of infancy, but in their solemn virtue, they are the thoughts of men.

We, on the contrary, are now, in all that we do, absolutely without sincerity;—absolutely, therefore, without imagination, and without virtue. Our hands are dexterous with the vile and deadly dexterity of machines; our minds filled with incoherent fragments of faith, which we cling to in cowardice, without believing, and make pictures of in vanity, without loving. False and base alike, whether we admire or imitate, we cannot learn from the Heathen's art, but only pilfer it; we cannot revive the Christian's art, but only galvanize it; we are, in the sum of us, not human artists at all, but mechanisms of conceited clay, masked in the furs and feathers of living creatures, and convulsed with voltaic spasms, in mockery of animation.

83. You think, perhaps, that I am using terms unjustifiable in violence. They would, indeed, be unjustifiable, if, spoken from this chair, they were violent at all. They are, unhappily, temperate and accurate,—except in shortcoming of blame. For we are not only impotent to restore, but strong to defile, the work of past ages. Of the impotence, take but this one, utterly humiliatory, and, in the full meaning of it, ghastly, example. We have lately been busy embanking, in the capital of the country, the river which, of all its waters, the imagination of our ancestors had made most sacred, and the bounty of nature most useful. Of all architectural features of the metropolis, that embankment will be, in future, the most conspicuous; and in its position and purpose it was the most capable of noble adornment.

For that adornment, nevertheless, the utmost which our modern poetical imagination has been able to invent, is a row of gas-lamps. It has, indeed, farther suggested itself to our minds as appropriate to gas-lamps set beside a river, that the gas should come out of fishes' tails; but we have not ingenuity[Pg 337] enough to cast so much as a smelt or a sprat for ourselves; so we borrow the shape of a Neapolitan marble, which has been the refuse of the plate and candlestick shops in every capital of Europe for the last fifty years. We cast that badly, and give lustre to the ill-cast fish with lacquer in imitation of bronze. On the base of their pedestals, towards the road, we put for advertisement's sake, the initials of the casting firm; and, for farther originality and Christianity's sake, the caduceus of Mercury; and to adorn the front of the pedestals towards the river, being now wholly at our wit's end, we can think of nothing better than to borrow the door-knocker which—again for the last fifty years—has disturbed and decorated two or three millions of London street-doors; and magnifying the marvellous device of it, a lion's head with a ring in its mouth (still borrowed from the Greek), we complete the embankment with a row of heads and rings, on a scale which enables them to produce, at the distance at which only they can be seen, the exact effect of a row of sentry boxes.

84. Farther. In the very centre of the city, and at the point where the Embankment commands a view of Westminster Abbey on one side and of St. Paul's on the other—that is to say, at precisely the most important and stately moment of its whole course—it has to pass under one of the arches of Waterloo Bridge, which, in the sweep of its curve, is as vast—it alone—as the Rialto at Venice, and scarcely less seemly in proportions. But over the Rialto, though of late and debased Venetian work, there still reigns some power of human imagination: on the two flanks of it are carved the Virgin and the Angel of the Annunciation; on the keystone the descending Dove. It is not, indeed, the fault of living designers that the Waterloo arch is nothing more than a gloomy and hollow heap of wedged blocks of blind granite. But just beyond the damp shadow of it, the new Embankment is reached by a flight of stairs, which are, in point of fact, the principal approach to it, a-foot, from central London; the descent from the very midst of the metropolis of England to the banks of the chief river of England; and for this approach, living designers are answerable.[Pg 338]

85. The principal decoration of the descent is again a gas-lamp, but a shattered one, with a brass crown on the top of it or, rather, half-crown, and that turned the wrong way, the back of it to the river and causeway, its flame supplied by a visible pipe far wandering along the wall; the whole apparatus being supported by a rough cross-beam. Fastened to the centre of the arch above is a large placard, stating that the Royal Humane Society's drags are in constant readiness, and that their office is at 4, Trafalgar Square. On each side of the arch are temporary, but dismally old and battered boardings, across two angles capable of unseemly use by the British public. Above one of these is another placard, stating that this is the Victoria Embankment. The steps themselves—some forty of them—descend under a tunnel, which the shattered gas-lamp lights by night, and nothing by day. They are covered with filthy dust, shaken off from infinitude of filthy feet; mixed up with shreds of paper, orange-peel, foul straw, rags, and cigar ends, and ashes; the whole agglutinated, more or less, by dry saliva into slippery blotches and patches; or, when not so fastened, blown dismally by the sooty wind hither and thither, or into the faces of those who ascend and descend. The place is worth your visit, for you are not likely to find elsewhere a spot which, either in costly and ponderous brutality of building, or in the squalid and indecent accompaniment of it, is so far separated from the peace and grace of nature, and so accurately indicative of the methods of our national resistance to the Grace, Mercy, and Peace of Heaven.

86. I am obliged always to use the English word "Grace" in two senses, but remember that the Greek χαρις includes them both (the bestowing, that is to say of Beauty and Mercy); and especially it includes these in the passage of Pindar's first ode, which gives us the key to the right interpretation of the power of sculpture in Greece. You remember that I told you, in my Sixth Introductory Lecture (§ 151), that the mythic accounts of Greek sculpture begin in the legends of the family of Tantalus; and especially in the most grotesque legend of them all, the inlaying of the ivory shoulder[Pg 339] of Pelops. At that story Pindar pauses—not, indeed, without admiration, nor alleging any impossibility in the circumstances themselves, but doubting the careless hunger of Demeter—and gives his own reading of the event, instead of the ancient one. He justifies this to himself, and to his hearers, by the plea that myths have, in some sort, or degree, (που τι), led the mind of mortals beyond the truth: and then he goes on:—

"Grace, which creates everything that is kindly and soothing for mortals, adding honour, has often made things at first untrustworthy, become trustworthy through Love."

87. I cannot, except in these lengthened terms, give you the complete force of the passage; especially of the αριστον εμησατο ριοτον—"made it trustworthy by passionate desire that it should be so"—which exactly describes the temper of religious persons at the present day, who are kindly and sincere, in clinging to the forms of faith which either have long been precious to themselves, or which they feel to have been without question instrumental in advancing the dignity of mankind. And it is part of the constitution of humanity—a part which, above others, you are in danger of unwisely contemning under the existing conditions of our knowledge, that the things thus sought for belief with eager passion, do, indeed, become trustworthy to us; that, to each of us, they verily become what we would have them; the force of the μηνις and μνημη with which we seek after them, does, indeed, make them powerful to us for actual good or evil; and it is thus granted to us to create not only with our hands things that exalt or degrade our sight, but with our hearts also, things that exalt or degrade our souls; giving true substance to all that we hoped for; evidence to things that we have not seen, but have desired to see; and calling, in the sense of creating, things that are not, as though they were.

88. You remember that in distinguishing Imagination from Idolatry, I referred you to the forms of passionate affection with which a noble people commonly regards the rivers and springs of its native land. Some conception of personality or of spiritual power in the stream, is almost necessarily involved[Pg 340] in such emotion; and prolonged χαρις in the form of gratitude, the return of Love for benefits continually bestowed, at last alike in all the highest and the simplest minds, when they are honourable and pure, makes this untrue thing trustworthy; αριστον εμησατο ριστον, until it becomes to them the safe basis of some of the happiest impulses of their moral nature. Next to the marbles of Verona, given you as a primal type of the sculpture of Christianity, moved to its best energy in adorning the entrance of its temples, I have not unwillingly placed, as your introduction to the best sculpture of the religion of Greece, the forms under which it represented the personality of the fountain Arethusa. But, without restriction to those days of absolute devotion, let me simply point out to you how this untrue thing, made true by Love, has intimate and heavenly authority even over the minds of men of the most practical sense, the most shrewd wit, and the most severe precision of moral temper. The fair vision of Sabrina in Comus, the endearing and tender promise, "Fies nobilium tu quoque fontium," and the joyful and proud affection of the great Lombard's address to the lakes of his enchanted land,—

Te, Lari maxume, teque
Fluctibus et fremitu assurgens, Benace, marino,

may surely be remembered by you with regretful piety, when you stand by the blank stones which at once restrain and disgrace your native river, as the final worship rendered to it by modern philosophy. But a little incident which I saw last summer on its bridge at Wallingford, may put the contrast of ancient and modern feeling before you still more forcibly.

89. Those of you who have read with attention (none of us can read with too much attention), Molière's most perfect work, the Misanthrope, must remember Celiméne's description of her lovers, and her excellent reason for being unable to regard with any favour, "notre grand flandrin de vicomte,—depuis que je l'ai vu, trois quarts d'heure durant, cracher dans un puits pour faire des ronds." That sentence is worth noting, both in contrast to the reverence paid by the ancients to wells and springs, and as one of the most interesting traces of the[Pg 341] extension of the loathsome habit among the upper classes of Europe and America, which now renders all external grace, dignity, and decency, impossible in the thoroughfares of their principal cities. In connection with that sentence of Molière's you may advisably also remember this fact, which I chanced to notice on the bridge of Wallingford. I was walking from end to end of it, and back again, one Sunday afternoon of last May, trying to conjecture what had made this especial bend and ford of the Thames so important in all the Anglo-Saxon wars. It was one of the few sunny afternoons of the bitter spring, and I was very thankful for its light, and happy in watching beneath it the flow and the glittering of the classical river, when I noticed a well-dressed boy, apparently just out of some orderly Sunday-school, leaning far over the parapet; watching, as I conjectured, some bird or insect on the bridge-buttress. I went up to him to see what he was looking at; but just as I got close to him, he started over to the opposite parapet, and put himself there into the same position, his object being, as I then perceived, to spit from both sides upon the heads of a pleasure party who were passing in a boat below.

90. The incident may seem to you too trivial to be noticed in this place. To me, gentlemen, it was by no means trivial. It meant, in the depth of it, such absence of all true χαρις, reverence, and intellect, as it is very dreadful to trace in the mind of any human creature, much more in that of a child educated with apparently every advantage of circumstance in a beautiful English country town, within ten miles of our University. Most of all, is it terrific when we regard it as the exponent (and this, in truth, it is), of the temper which, as distinguished from former methods, either of discipline or recreation, the present tenor of our general teaching fosters in the mind of youth;—teaching which asserts liberty to be a right, and obedience a degradation; and which, regardless alike of the fairness of nature and the grace of behaviour, leaves the insolent spirit and degraded senses to find their only occupation in malice, and their only satisfaction in shame.[Pg 342]

91. You will, I hope, proceed with me, not scornfully any more, to trace, in the early art of a noble heathen nation, the feeling of what was at least a better childishness than this of ours; and the efforts to express, though with hands yet failing, and minds oppressed by ignorant phantasy, the first truth by which they knew that they lived; the birth of wisdom and of all her powers of help to man, as the reward of his resolute labour.

92. "Αφαιστου τεχναισι." Note that word of Pindar in the Seventh Olympic. This axe-blow of Vulcan's was to the Greek mind truly what Clytemnestra falsely asserts hers to have been "της δε δεξιας χερος εργον δικαιας τεκτονος"; physically, it meant the opening of the blue through the rent clouds of heaven, by the action of local terrestrial heat of Hephæstus as opposed to Apollo, who shines on the surface of the upper clouds, but cannot pierce them; and, spiritually, it meant the first birth of prudent thought out of rude labour, the clearing-axe in the hand of the woodman being the practical elementary sign of his difference from the wild animals of the wood. Then he goes on, "From the high head of her Father, Athenaia rushing forth, cried with her great and exceeding cry; and the Heaven trembled at her, and the Earth Mother." The cry of Athena, I have before pointed out, physically distinguishes her, as the spirit of the air, from silent elemental powers; but in this grand passage of Pindar it is again the mythic cry of which he thinks; that is to say, the giving articulate words, by intelligence, to the silence of Fate. "Wisdom crieth aloud, she uttereth her voice in the streets," and Heaven and Earth tremble at her reproof.

93. Uttereth her voice in "the streets." For all men, that is to say; but to what work did the Greeks think that her voice was to call them? What was to be the impulse communicated by her prevailing presence; what the sign of the people's obedience to her?

This was to be the sign—"But she, the goddess herself, gave to them to prevail over the dwellers upon earth, with best-labouring hands in every art. And by their paths there were the likenesses of living and of creeping things; and the glory[Pg 343] was deep. For to the cunning workman, greater knowledge comes, undeceitful."

94. An infinitely pregnant passage, this, of which to-day you are to note mainly these three things: First, that Athena is the goddess of Doing, not at all of sentimental inaction. She is begotten, as it were, of the woodman's axe; her purpose is never in a word only, but in a word and a blow. She guides the hands that labour best, in every art.

95. Secondly. The victory given by Wisdom, the worker, to the hands that labour best, is that the streets and ways, κελευθοι, shall be filled by likenesses of living and creeping things?

Things living, and creeping! Are the Reptile things not alive then? You think Pindar wrote that carelessly? or that, if he had only known a little modern anatomy, instead of "reptile" things, he would have said "monochondylous" things? Be patient, and let us attend to the main points first.

Sculpture, it thus appears, is the only work of wisdom that the Greeks care to speak of; they think it involves and crowns every other. Image-making art; this is Athena's, as queenliest of the arts. Literature, the order and the strength of word, of course belongs to Apollo and the Muses; under Athena are the Substances and the Forms of things.

96, Thirdly. By this forming of Images there is to be gained a "deep"—that is to say—a weighty, and prevailing, glory; not a floating nor fugitive one. For to the cunning workman, greater knowledge comes, "undeceitful."

"916()#;αεντι" I am forced to use two English words to translate that single Greek one. The "cunning" workman, thoughtful in experience, touch, and vision of the thing to be done; no machine, witless, and of necessary motion; yet not cunning only, but having perfect habitual skill of hand also; the confirmed reward of truthful doing. Recollect, in connection with this passage of Pindar, Homer's three verses about getting the lines of ship-timber true, (Il. xv. 410)

"Αλλ' ωστε σταθμη δορυ νηιον εξιθυνει
τεχτονος εν παλαμησι δαημονος, ὁς ρα τε πασης
εδ ειδη σοφης, υροθημοσυνησιν Αθηνης

[Pg 344]and the beautiful epithet of Persephone, "δαειρα," as the Tryer and Knower of good work; and remembering these, trust Pindar for the truth of his saying, that to the cunning workman—(and let me solemnly enforce the words by adding—that to him only,) knowledge comes undeceitful.

97. You may have noticed, perhaps, and with a smile, as one of the paradoxes you often hear me blamed for too fondly stating, what I told you in the close of my Third Introductory Lecture, that "so far from art's being immoral, little else except art is moral." I have now farther to tell you, that little else, except art, is wise; that all knowledge, unaccompanied by a habit of useful action, is too likely to become deceitful, and that every habit of useful action must resolve itself into some elementary practice of manual labour. And I would, in all sober and direct earnestness advise you, whatever may be the aim, predilection, or necessity of your lives, to resolve upon this one thing at least, that you will enable yourselves daily to do actually with your hands, something that is useful to mankind. To do anything well with your hands, useful or not;—to be, even in trifling, ραλαμησι δαημων is already much;—when we come to examine the art of the middle ages I shall be able to show you that the strongest of all influences of right then brought to bear upon character was the necessity for exquisite manual dexterity in the management of the spear and bridle; and in your own experience most of you will be able to recognize the wholesome effect, alike on body and mind, of striving, within proper limits of time, to become either good batsmen, or good oarsmen. But the bat and the racer's oar are children's toys. Resolve that you will be men in usefulness, as well as in strength; and you will find that then also, but not till then, you can become men in understanding; and that every fine vision and subtle theorem will present itself to you thenceforward undeceitfully, ὑροθημοσυνησιν Αθηνης.

98. But there is more to be gathered yet from the words of Pindar. He is thinking, in his brief, intense way, at once of Athena's work on the soul, and of her literal power on the dust of the Earth. His "κελευθοι" is a wide word meaning all[Pg 345] the paths of sea and land. Consider, therefore, what Athena's own work actually is—in the literal fact of it. The blue, clear air is the sculpturing power upon the earth and sea. Where the surface of the earth is reached by that, and its matter and substance inspired with, and filled by that, organic form becomes possible. You must indeed have the sun, also, and moisture; the kingdom of Apollo risen out of the sea: but the sculpturing of living things, shape by shape, is Athena's, so that under the brooding spirit of the air, what was without form, and void brings forth the moving creature that hath life.

99. That is her work then—the giving of Form; then the separately Apolline work is the giving of Light; or, more strictly, Sight: giving that faculty to the retina to which we owe not merely the idea of light, but the existence of it; for light is to be defined only as the sensation produced in the eye of an animal, under given conditions; those same conditions being, to a stone, only warmth or chemical influence, but not light. And that power of seeing, and the other various personalities and authorities of the animal body, in pleasure and pain, have never, hitherto, been, I do not say, explained, but in any wise touched or approached by scientific discovery. Some of the conditions of mere external animal form and of muscular vitality have been shown; but for the most part that is true, even of external form, which I wrote six years ago. "You may always stand by Form against Force. To a painter, the essential character of anything is the form of it, and the philosophers cannot touch that. They come and tell you, for instance, that there is as much heat, or motion, or calorific energy (or whatever else they like to call it), in a tea-kettle, as in a gier-eagle. Very good: that is so; and it is very interesting. It requires just as much heat as will boil the kettle, to take the gier-eagle up to his nest, and as much more to bring him down again on a hare or a partridge. But we painters, acknowledging the equality and similarity of the kettle and the bird in all scientific respects, attach, for our part, our principal interest to the difference in their forms. For us, the primarily cognisable facts, in the two things, are,[Pg 346] that the kettle has a spout, and the eagle a beak; the one a lid on its back, the other a pair of wings; not to speak of the distinction also of volition, which the philosophers may properly call merely a form or mode of force—but, then to an artist, the form or mode is the gist of the business."

100. As you will find that it is, not to the artist only, but to all of us. The laws under which matter is collected and constructed are the same throughout the universe: the substance so collected, whether for the making of the eagle, or the worm, may be analyzed into gaseous identity; a diffusive vital force, apparently so closely related to mechanically measurable heat as to admit the conception of its being itself mechanically measurable, and unchanging in total quantity, ebbs and flows alike through the limbs of men, and the fibres of insects. But, above all this, and ruling every grotesque or degraded accident of this, are two laws of beauty in form, and of nobility in character, which stand in the chaos of creation between the Living and the Dead, to separate the things that have in them a sacred and helpful, from those that have in them an accursed and destroying, nature; and the power of Athena, first physically put forth in the sculpturing of these ζωα and ερπατα, these living and reptile things, is put forth, finally, in enabling the hearts of men to discern the one from the other; to know the unquenchable fires of the Spirit from the unquenchable fires of Death; and to choose, not unaided, between submission to the Love that cannot end, or to the Worm that cannot die.

101. The unconsciousness of their antagonism is the most notable characteristic of the modern scientific mind; and I believe no credulity or fallacy admitted by the weakness (or it may sometimes rather have been the strength) of early imagination, indicates so strange a depression beneath the due scale of human intellect, as the failure of the sense of beauty in form, and loss of faith in heroism of conduct, which have become the curses of recent science,[122] art, and policy.

[Pg 347]

102. That depression of intellect has been alike exhibited in the mean consternation confessedly felt on one side, and the mean triumph apparently felt on the other, during the course of the dispute now pending as to the origin of man. Dispute for the present, not to be decided, and of which the decision is to persons in the modern temper of mind, wholly without significance: and I earnestly desire that you, my pupils, may have firmness enough to disengage your energies from investigation so premature and so fruitless, and sense enough to perceive that it does not matter how you have been made, so long as you are satisfied with being what you are. If you are dissatisfied with yourselves, it ought not to console, but humiliate you, to imagine that you were once seraphs; and if you are pleased with yourselves, it is not any ground of reasonable shame to you if, by no fault of your own, you have passed through the elementary condition of apes.

103. Remember, therefore, that it is of the very highest importance that you should know what you are, and determine to be the best that you may be; but it is of no importance whatever, except as it may contribute to that end, to know what you have been. Whether your Creator shaped you with fingers, or tools, as a sculptor would a lump of clay, or gradually raised you to manhood through a series of inferior forms, is only of moment to you in this respect—that in the one case you cannot expect your children to be nobler creatures than you are yourselves—in the other, every act and thought of your present life may be hastening the advent of a race which will look back to you, their fathers (and you ought at least to have attained the dignity of desiring that it may be so), with incredulous disdain.

104. But that you are yourselves capable of that disdain and dismay; that you are ashamed of having been apes, if you ever were so; that you acknowledge instinctively, a relation of better and worse, and a law respecting what is noble and base, which makes it no question to you that the man is worthier than the baboon—this is a fact of infinite significance. This law of preference in your hearts is the true[Pg 348] essence of your being, and the consciousness of that law is a more positive existence than any dependent on the coherence or forms of matter.

105. Now, but a few words more of mythology, and I have done. Remember that Athena holds the weaver's shuttle, not merely as an instrument of texture, but as an instrument of picture; the ideas of clothing, and of the warmth of life, being thus inseparably connected with those of graphic beauty and the brightness of life. I have told you that no art could be recovered among us without perfectness in dress, nor without the elementary graphic art of women, in divers colours of needlework. There has been no nation of any art-energy, but has strenuously occupied and interested itself in this household picturing, from the web of Penelope to the tapestry of Queen Matilda, and the meshes of Arras and Gobelins.

106. We should then naturally ask what kind of embroidery Athena put on her own robe; "περλον ἑανον, ροικιλον ὁυ ρ αυτη ροιησατο και καμε χερσιν."

The subject of that ροικιλια of hers, as you know, was the war of the giants and gods. Now the real name of these giants, remember, is that used by Hesiod, "πηλοχονοι," "mud-begotten," and the meaning of the contest between these and Zeus, πηλογονων ελατηρ, is, again, the inspiration of life into the clay, by the goddess of breath; and the actual confusion going on visibly before you, daily, of the earth, heaping itself into cumbrous war with the powers above it.

107. Thus briefly, the entire material of Art, under Athena's hand, is the contest of life with clay; and all my task in explaining to you the early thought of both the Athenian and Tuscan schools will only be the tracing of this battle of the giants into its full heroic form, when, not in tapestry only—but in sculpture—and on the portal of the Temple of Delphi itself, you have the "κλονος εν τειχεσι λαινοισι γιγαντων," and their defeat hailed by the passionate cry of delight from the Athenian maids, beholding Pallas in her full power, "κλονος εν τειχεσι λαινοισι γιγαντω Παλλαδ' εμαν θεον," my own goddess. All our work, I repeat, will be nothing but the inquiry into the development of this the subject, and the pressing fully home the question of Plato[Pg 349] about that embroidery—"And think you that there is verily war with each other among the Gods? and dreadful enmities and battle, such as the poets have told, and such as our painters set forth in graven scripture, to adorn all our sacred rites and holy places; yes, and in the great Panathenaea themselves, the Peplus, full of such wild picturing, is carried up into the Acropolis—shall we say that these things are true, oh Euthuphron, right-minded friend?"

108. Yes, we say, and know, that these things are true; and true for ever: battles of the gods, not among themselves, but against the earth-giants. Battle prevailing age by age, in nobler life and lovelier imagery; creation, which no theory of mechanism, no definition of force, can explain, the adoption and completing of individual form by individual animation, breathed out of the lips of the Father of Spirits. And to recognize the presence in every knitted shape of dust, by which it lives and moves and has its being—to recognize it, revere, and show it forth, is to be our eternal Idolatry.

"Thou shalt not bow down to them, nor worship them."

"Assuredly no," we answered once, in our pride; and through porch and aisle, broke down the carved work thereof, with axes and hammers.

Who would have thought the day so near when we should bow down to worship, not the creatures, but their atoms,—not the forces that form, but those that dissolve them? Trust me, gentlemen, the command which is stringent against adoration of brutality, is stringent no less against adoration of chaos, nor is faith in an image fallen from heaven to be reformed by a faith only in the phenomenon of decadence. We have ceased from the making of monsters to be appeased by sacrifice;—it is well,—if indeed we have also ceased from making them in our thoughts. We have learned to distrust the adorning of fair phantasms, to which we once sought for succour;—it is well, if we learn to distrust also the adorning of those to which we seek, for temptation; but the verity of gains like these can only be known by our confession of the divine seal of strength and beauty upon the tempered frame, and honour in the fervent heart, by which, increasing visibly, may[Pg 350] yet be manifested to us the holy presence, and the approving love, of the Loving God, who visits the iniquities of the Fathers upon the Children, unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate Him, and shows mercy unto thousands in them that love Him, and keep His Commandments.


[118] I shall be obliged in future lectures, as hitherto in my other writings, to use the terms, Idolatry and Imagination in a more comprehensive sense; but here I use them for convenience sake, limitedly, to avoid the continual occurrence of the terms, noble and ignoble, or false and true, with reference to modes of conception.

[119] "And in sum, he himself (Prometheus) was the master-maker, and Athena worked together with him, breathing into the clay, and caused the moulded things to have soul (psyche) in them."—Lucian, Prometheus.

[120] His relations with the two great Titans, Themis and Mnemosyne, belong to another group of myths. The father of Athena is the lower and nearer physical Zeus, from whom Metis, the mother of Athena, long withdraws and disguises herself.

[121] The Latin verses are of later date; the contemporary plain prose retains the Venetian gutturals and aspirates.

[122] The best modern illustrated scientific works show perfect faculty of representing monkeys, lizards, and insects; absolute incapability of representing either a man, a horse, or a lion.



109. You were probably vexed, and tired, towards the close of my last lecture, by the time it took us to arrive at the apparently simple conclusion, that sculpture must only represent organic form, and the strength of life in its contest with matter. But it is no small thing to have that "λευσσω Παλλαδα" fixed in your minds, as the one necessary sign by which you are to recognize right sculpture, and believe me you will find it the best of all things, if you can take for yourselves the saying from the lips of the Athenian maids, in its entirety, and say also—λευσσω Παλλαδ' εμαν θεον. I proceed to-day into the practical appliance of this apparently speculative, but in reality imperative, law.

110. You observe, I have hitherto spoken of the power of Athena, as over painting no less than sculpture. But her rule over both arts is only so far as they are zoographic;—representative, that is to say, of animal life, or of such order and discipline among other elements, as may invigorate and purify it. Now there is a speciality of the art of painting beyond this, namely, the representation of phenomena of colour and shadow, as such, without question of the nature of the things that receive them. I am now accordingly obliged to speak of sculpture and painting as distinct arts, but the laws which bind sculpture, bind no less the painting of the higher schools which has, for its main purpose, the showing beauty in human or animal form; and which is therefore placed by the Greeks[Pg 351] equally under the rule of Athena, as the Spirit, first, of Life, and then of Wisdom in conduct.

111. First, I say, you are to "see Pallas" in all such work, as the Queen of Life; and the practical law which follows from this, is one of enormous range and importance, namely, that nothing must be represented by sculpture, external to any living form, which does not help to enforce or illustrate the conception of life. Both dress and armour may be made to do this, by great sculptors, and are continually so used by the greatest. One of the essential distinctions between the Athenian and Florentine schools is dependent on their treatment of drapery in this respect; an Athenian always sets it to exhibit the action of the body, by flowing with it, or over it, or from it, so as to illustrate both its form and gesture; a Florentine, on the contrary, always uses his drapery to conceal or disguise the forms of the body, and exhibit mental emotion: but both use it to enhance the life, either of the body or soul; Donatello and Michael Angelo, no less than the sculptors of Gothic chivalry, ennoble armour in the same way; but base sculptors carve drapery and armour for the sake of their folds and picturesqueness only, and forget the body beneath. The rule is so stern that all delight in mere incidental beauty, which painting often triumphs in, is wholly forbidden to sculpture;—for instance, in painting the branch of a tree, you may rightly represent and enjoy the lichens and moss on it, but a sculptor must not touch one of them: they are inessential to the tree's life,—he must give the flow and bending of the branch only, else he does not enough "see Pallas" in it.

Or to take a higher instance, here is an exquisite little painted poem, by Edward Frere; a cottage interior, one of the thousands which within the last two months[123] have been laid desolate in unhappy France. Every accessory in the painting is of value—the fireside, the tiled floor, the vegetables lying upon it, and the basket hanging from the roof. But not one of these accessories would have been admissible[Pg 352] in sculpture. You must carve nothing but what has life. "Why"? you probably feel instantly inclined to ask me.—You see the principle we have got, instead of being blunt or useless, is such an edged tool that you are startled the moment I apply it. "Must we refuse every pleasant accessory and picturesque detail, and petrify nothing but living creatures"?—Even so: I would not assert it on my own authority. It is the Greeks who say it, but whatever they say of sculpture, be assured, is true.

112. That then is the first law—you must see Pallas as the Lady of Life—the second is, you must see her as the Lady of Wisdom; or σοφια—and this is the chief matter of all. I cannot but think, that after the considerations into which we have now entered, you will find more interest than hitherto in comparing the statements of Aristotle, in the Ethics, with those of Plato in the Polity, which are authoritative as Greek definitions of goodness in art, and which you may safely hold authoritative as constant definitions of it. You remember, doubtless, that the σοφια or αρετη τεχνης, for the sake of which Phidias is called σοφος as a sculptor, and Polyclitus as an image-maker, Eth. 6. 7. (the opposition is both between ideal and portrait sculpture, and between working in stone and bronze) consists in the "νους των τιμιωτατων τη φυσει" "the mental apprehension of the things that are most honourable in their nature." Therefore what is, indeed, most lovely, the true image-maker will most love; and what is most hateful, he will most hate, and in all things discern the best and strongest part of them, and represent that essentially, or, if the opposite of that, then with manifest detestation and horror. That is his art wisdom; the knowledge of good and evil, and the love of good, so that you may discern, even in his representation of the vilest thing, his acknowledgment of what redemption is possible for it, or latent power exists in it; and, contrariwise, his sense of its present misery. But for the most part, he will idolize, and force us also to idolize, whatever is living, and virtuous, and victoriously right; opposing to it in some definite mode the image of the conquered ἑρπετον.

113. This is generally true of both the great arts; but in[Pg 353] severity and precision, true of sculpture. To return to our illustration: this poor little girl was more interesting to Edward Frere, he being a painter, because she was poorly dressed, and wore these clumsy shoes, and old red cap, and patched gown. May we sculpture her so? No. We may sculpture her naked, if we like; but not in rags.

But if we may not put her into marble in rags, may we give her a pretty frock with ribands and flounces to it, and put her into marble in that? No. We may put her simplest peasant's dress, so it be perfect and orderly, into marble; anything finer than that would be more dishonourable in the eyes of Athena than rags. If she were a French princess, you might carve her embroidered robe and diadem; if she were Joan of Arc you might carve her armour—for then these also would be "των τιμιωτατων," not otherwise.

114. Is not this an edge-tool we have got hold of, unawares? and a subtle one too; so delicate and scimitar-like in decision. For note, that even Joan of Arc's armour must be only sculptured, if she has it on; it is not the honourableness or beauty of it that are enough, but the direct bearing of it by her body. You might be deeply, even pathetically, interested by looking at a good knight's dinted coat of mail, left in his desolate hall. May you sculpture it where it hangs? No; the helmet for his pillow, if you will—no more.

You see we did not do our dull work for nothing in last lecture. I define what we have gained once more, and then we will enter on our new ground.

115. The proper subject of sculpture, we have determined, is the spiritual power seen in the form of any living thing, and so represented as to give evidence that the sculptor has loved the good of it and hated the evil.

"So represented," we say; but how is that to be done? Why should it not be represented, if possible, just as it is seen? What mode or limit of representation may we adopt? We are to carve things that have life;—shall we try so to imitate them that they may indeed seem living,—or only half living, and like stone instead of flesh?

It will simplify this question if I show you three examples[Pg 354] of what the Greeks actually did: three typical pieces of their sculpture, in order of perfection.

116. And now, observe that in all our historical work, I will endeavour to do, myself, what I have asked you to do in your drawing exercises; namely, to outline firmly in the beginning, and then fill in the detail more minutely. I will give you first, therefore, in a symmetrical form, absolutely simple and easily remembered, the large chronology of the Greek school; within that unforgettable scheme we will place, as we discover them, the minor relations of arts and times.

I number the nine centuries before Christ thus, upwards, and divide them into three groups of three each.

A. archaic.{8
B. best.{5
C. corrupt.{ 2

Then the ninth, eighth, and seventh centuries are the period of Archaic Greek Art, steadily progressive wherever it existed.

The sixth, fifth, and fourth are the period of central Greek Art; the fifth, or central century producing the finest. That is easily recollected by the battle of Marathon. And the third, second, and first centuries are the period of steady decline.

Plate VII.—Archaic, Central and Declining Art of Greece. Plate VII.—Archaic, Central and Declining Art of Greece.

[Pg 355]

Learn this A B C thoroughly, and mark, for yourselves, what you, at present, think the vital events in each century. As you know more, you will think other events the vital ones; but the best historical knowledge only approximates to true thought in that matter; only be sure that what is truly vital in the character which governs events, is always expressed by the art of the century; so that if you could interpret that art rightly, the better part of your task in reading history would be done to your hand.

117. It is generally impossible to date with precision art of the archaic period—often difficult to date even that of the central three hundred years. I will not weary you with futile minor divisions of time; here are three coins (Plate VII.) roughly, but decisively, characteristic of the three ages. The first is an early coin of Tarentum. The city was founded as you know, by the Spartan Phalanthus, late in the eighth century. I believe the head is meant for that of Apollo Archegetes, it may however be Taras, the son of Poseidon; it is no matter to us at present whom it is meant for, but the fact that we cannot know, is itself of the greatest import. We cannot say, with any certainty, unless by discovery of some collateral evidence, whether this head is intended for that of a god, or demi-god, or a mortal warrior. Ought not that to disturb some of your thoughts respecting Greek idealism? Farther, if by investigation we discover that the head is meant for that of Phalanthus, we shall know nothing of the character of Phalanthus from the face; for there is no portraiture at this early time.

118. The second coin is of Ænus in Macedonia; probably of the fifth or early fourth century, and entirely characteristic of the central period. This we know to represent the face of a god—Hermes. The third coin is a king's, not a city's. I will not tell you, at this moment, what king's; but only that it is a late coin of the third period, and that it is as distinct in purpose as the coin of Tarentum is obscure. We know of this coin, that it represents no god nor demi-god, but a mere mortal; and we know precisely, from the portrait, what that mortal's face was like.

119. A glance at the three coins, as they are set side by side, will now show you the main differences in the three great Greek styles. The archaic coin is sharp and hard; every line decisive and numbered, set unhesitatingly in its place; nothing[Pg 356] is wrong, though everything incomplete, and, to us who have seen finer art, ugly. The central coin is as decisive and clear in arrangement of masses, but its contours are completely rounded and finished. There is no character in its execution so prominent that you can give an epithet to the style. It is not hard, it is not soft, it is not delicate, it is not coarse, it is not grotesque, it is not beautiful; and I am convinced, unless you had been told that this is fine central Greek art, you would have seen nothing at all in it to interest you. Do not let yourselves be anywise forced into admiring it; there is, indeed, nothing more here, than an approximately true rendering of a healthy youthful face, without the slightest attempt to give an expression of activity, cunning, nobility, or any other attribute of the Mercurial mind. Extreme simplicity, unpretending vigour of work, which claims no admiration either for minuteness or dexterity, and suggests no idea of effort at all; refusal of extraneous ornament, and perfectly arranged disposition of counted masses in a sequent order, whether in the beads, or the ringlets of hair; this is all you have to be pleased with; neither will you ever find, in the best Greek Art, more. You might at first suppose that the chain of beads round the cap was an extraneous ornament; but I have little doubt that it is as definitely the proper fillet for the head of Hermes, as the olive for Zeus, or corn for Triptolemus. The cap or petasus cannot have expanded edges, there is no room for them on the coin; these must be understood, therefore; but the nature of the cloud-petasus is explained by edging it with beads, representing either dew or hail. The shield of Athena often bears white pellets for hail, in like manner.

120. The third coin will, I think, at once strike you by what we moderns should call its "vigour of character." You may observe also that the features are finished with great care and subtlety, but at the cost of simplicity and breadth. But the essential difference between it and the central art, is its disorder in design—you see the locks of hair cannot be counted any longer—they are entirely dishevelled and irregular. Now the individual character may, or may not[Pg 357] be, a sign of decline; but the licentiousness, the casting loose of the masses in the design, is an infallible one. The effort at portraiture is good for art if the men to be portrayed are good men, not otherwise. In the instance before you, the head is that of Mithridates VI. of Pontus, who had, indeed, the good qualities of being a linguist and a patron of the arts; but as you will remember, murdered, according to report, his mother, certainly his brother, certainly his wives and sisters, I have not counted how many of his children, and from a hundred to a hundred and fifty thousand persons besides; these last in a single day's massacre. The effort to represent this kind of person is not by any means a method of study from life ultimately beneficial to art.

121. This however is not the point I have to urge to-day. What I want you to observe is that, though the master of the great time does not attempt portraiture, he does attempt animation. And as far as his means will admit, he succeeds in making the face—you might almost think—vulgarly animated; as like a real face, literally, "as it can stare." Yes: and its sculptor meant it to be so; and that was what Phidias meant his Jupiter to be, if he could manage it. Not, indeed, to be taken for Zeus himself; and yet, to be as like a living Zeus as art could make it. Perhaps you think he tried to make it look living only for the sake of the mob, and would not have tried to do so for connoisseurs. Pardon me; for real connoisseurs, he would, and did; and herein consists a truth which belongs to all the arts, and which I will at once drive home in your minds, as firmly as I can.

122. All second-rate artists—(and remember, the second-rate ones are a loquacious multitude, while the great come only one or two in a century; and then, silently)—all second-rate artists will tell you that the object of fine art is not resemblance, but some kind of abstraction more refined than reality. Put that out of your heads at once. The object of the great Resemblant Arts is, and always has been, to resemble; and to resemble as closely as possible. It is the function of a good portrait to set the man before you in habit as he lived, and I would we had a few more that did so. It is the function[Pg 358] of a good landscape to set the scene before you in its reality, to make you, if it may be, think the clouds are flying, and the streams foaming. It is the function of the best sculptor—the true Dædalus—to make stillness look like breathing, and marble look like flesh.

123. And in all great times of art, this purpose is as naïvely expressed as it is steadily held. All the talk about abstraction belongs to periods of decadence. In living times, people see something living that pleases them; and they try to make it live for ever, or to make it something as like it as possible, that will last for ever. They paint their statues, and inlay the eyes with jewels, and set real crowns on their heads; they finish, in their pictures, every thread of embroidery, and would fain, if they could, draw every leaf upon the trees. And their only verbal expression of conscious success is, that they have made their work "look real."

124. You think all that very wrong. So did I, once; but it was I that was wrong. A long time ago, before ever I had seen Oxford, I painted a picture of the Lake of Como, for my father. It was not at all like the Lake of Como; but I thought it rather the better for that. My father differed with me; and objected particularly to a boat with a red and yellow awning, which I had put into the most conspicuous corner of my drawing. I declared this boat to be "necessary to the composition." My father not the less objected, that he had never seen such a boat, either at Como or elsewhere; and suggested that if I would make the lake look a little more like water, I should be under no necessity of explaining its nature by the presence of floating objects. I thought him at the time a very simple person for his pains; but have since learned, and it is the very gist of all practical matters, which, as professor of fine art, I have now to tell you, that the great point in painting a lake is—to get it to look like water.

125. So far, so good. We lay it down for a first principle, that our graphic art, whether painting or sculpture, is to produce something which shall look as like Nature as possible. But now we must go one step farther, and say that it is to produce what shall look like Nature to people who know what[Pg 359] Nature is like! You see this is at once a great restriction, as well as a great exaltation of our aim. Our business is not to deceive the simple; but to deceive the wise! Here, for instance, is a modern Italian print, representing, to the best of its power, St. Cecilia, in a brilliantly realistic manner. And the fault of the work is not in its earnest endeavour to show St. Cecilia in habit as she lived, but in that the effort could only be successful with persons unaware of the habit St. Cecilia lived in. And this condition of appeal only to the wise increases the difficulty of imitative resemblance so greatly, that, with only average skill or materials, we must surrender all hope of it, and be content with an imperfect representation, true as far as it reaches, and such as to excite the imagination of a wise beholder to complete it; though falling very far short of what either he or we should otherwise have desired. For instance, here is a suggestion, by Sir Joshua Reynolds, of the general appearance of a British Judge—requiring the imagination of a very wise beholder indeed, to fill it up, or even at first to discover what it is meant for. Nevertheless, it is better art than the Italian St. Cecilia, because the artist, however little he may have done to represent his knowledge, does, indeed, know altogether what a Judge is like, and appeals only to the criticism of those who know also.

126. There must be, therefore, two degrees of truth to be looked for in the good graphic arts; one, the commonest, which, by any partial or imperfect sign conveys to you an idea which you must complete for yourself; and the other, the finest, a representation so perfect as to leave you nothing to be farther accomplished by this independent exertion; but to give you the same feeling of possession and presence which you would experience from the natural object itself. For instance of the first, in this representation of a rainbow,[124] the artist has no hope that, by the black lines of engraving, he can deceive you into any belief of the rainbow's being there, but he gives indication enough of what he intends, to enable you to supply the rest of the idea yourself, providing always you know beforehand what a rainbow is like. But in this drawing[Pg 360] of the falls of Terni,[125] the painter has strained his skill to the utmost to give an actually deceptive resemblance of the iris, dawning and fading among the foam. So far as he has not actually deceived you, it is not because he would not have done so if he could; but only because his colours and science have fallen short of his desire. They have fallen so little short that, in a good light, you may all but believe the foam and the sunshine are drifting and changing among the rocks.

127. And after looking a little while, you will begin to regret that they are not so: you will feel that, lovely as the drawing is, you would like far better to see the real place, and the goats skipping among the rocks, and the spray floating above the fall. And this is the true sign of the greatest art—to part voluntarily with its greatness;—to make itself poor and unnoticed; but so to exalt and set forth its theme that you may be fain to see the theme instead of it. So that you have never enough admired a great workman's doing till you have begun to despise it. The best homage that could be paid to the Athena of Phidias would be to desire rather to see the living goddess; and the loveliest Madonnas of Christian art fall short of their due power, if they do not make their beholders sick at heart to see the living Virgin.

128. We have then, for our requirement of the finest art (sculpture, or anything else), that it shall be so like the thing it represents as to please those who best know or can conceive the original; and, if possible, please them deceptively—its final triumph being to deceive even the wise; and (the Greeks thought) to please even the Immortals, who were so wise as to be undeceivable. So that you get the Greek, thus far entirely true, idea of perfectness in sculpture, expressed to you by what Phalaris says, at first sight of the bull of Perilaus, "It only wanted motion and bellowing to seem alive; and as soon as I saw it, I cried out, it ought to be sent to the god." To Apollo, for only he, the undeceivable, could thoroughly understand such sculpture, and perfectly delight in it.

129. And with this expression of the Greek ideal of sculpture,[Pg 361] I wish you to join the early Italian, summed in a single line by Dante—"non vide me' di me, chi vide 'l vero." Read the 12th canto of the "Purgatory," and learn that whole passage by heart; and if ever you chance to go to Pistoja, look at La Robbia's coloured porcelain bas-reliefs of the seven works of Mercy on the front of the hospital there; and note especially the faces of the two sick men—one at the point of death, and the other in the first peace and long-drawn breathing of health after fever—and you will know what Dante meant by the preceding line, "Morti li morti, e i vivi parèn vivi."

130. But now, may we not ask farther,—is it impossible for art such as this, prepared for the wise, to please the simple also? Without entering on the awkward questions of degree, how many the wise can be, or how much men should know, in order to be rightly called wise, may we not conceive an art to be possible, which would deceive everybody, or everybody worth deceiving? I showed you at my first lecture, a little ringlet of Japan ivory, as a type of elementary bas-relief touched with colour; and in your rudimentary series you have a drawing by Mr. Burgess, of one of the little fishes enlarged, with every touch of the chisel facsimiled on the more visible scale; and showing the little black bead inlaid for the eye, which in the original is hardly to be seen without a lens. You may, perhaps be surprised, when I tell you, that (putting the question of subject aside for the moment, and speaking only of the mode of execution and aim at resemblance), you have there a perfect example of the Greek ideal of method in sculpture. And you will admit that, to the simplest person whom we could introduce as a critic, that fish would be a satisfactory, nay, almost a deceptive fish; while to any one caring for subtleties of art, I need not point out that every touch of the chisel is applied with consummate knowledge, and that it would be impossible to convey more truth and life with the given quantity of workmanship.

Fig. 7. Fig. 7.

131. Here is, indeed, a drawing by Turner, (Edu. 131), in which with some fifty times the quantity of labour, and[Pg 362] far more highly educated faculty of sight, the artist has expressed some qualities of lustre and colour which only very wise persons indeed could perceive in a John Dory; and this piece of paper contains, therefore, much more, and more subtle, art, than the Japan ivory; but are we sure that it is therefore greater art? or that the painter was better employed in producing this drawing, which only one person can possess, and only one in a hundred enjoy, than he would have been in producing two or three pieces on a larger scale, which should have been at once accessible to, and enjoyable by, a number of simpler persons? Suppose for instance, that Turner, instead of faintly touching this outline, on white paper, with his camel's hair pencil, had struck the main forms of his fish into marble, thus (Fig. 7): and instead of colouring the white paper so delicately that, perhaps, only a few of the most keenly observant artists in England can see it at all, had,[Pg 363] with his strong hand, tinted the marble with a few colours, deceptive to the people, and harmonious to the initiated; suppose that he had even conceded so much to the spirit of popular applause as to allow of a bright glass bead being inlaid for the eye, in the Japanese manner; and that the enlarged, deceptive, and popularly pleasing work had been carved on the outside of a great building,—say Fishmongers' Hall,—where everybody commercially connected with Billingsgate could have seen it, and ratified it with the wisdom of the market;—might not the art have been greater, worthier, and kinder in such use?

132. Perhaps the idea does not once approve itself to you of having your public buildings covered with ornaments like this; but pray, remember that the choice of subject is an ethical question, not now before us. All I ask you to decide is whether the method is right, and would be pleasant in giving the distinctiveness to pretty things, which it has here given to what, I suppose it may be assumed, you feel to be an ugly thing. Of course, I must note parenthetically, such realistic work is impossible in a country where the buildings are to be discoloured by coal-smoke; but so is all fine sculpture, whatsoever; and the whiter, the worse its chance. For that which is prepared for private persons, to be kept under cover, will, of necessity, degenerate into the copyism of past work, or merely sensational and sensual forms of present life, unless there be a governing school addressing the populace, for their instruction, on the outside of buildings. So that, as I partly warned you in my third lecture, you can simply have no sculpture in a coal country. Whether you like coals or carvings best, is no business of mine. I merely have to assure you of the fact that they are incompatible.

But, assuming that we are again, some day, to become a civilized and governing race, deputing ironmongery, coal-digging, and lucre-digging, to our slaves in other countries, it is quite conceivable that, with an increasing knowledge of natural history, and desire for such knowledge, what is now done by careful, but inefficient, woodcuts, and in ill-coloured engravings, might be put in quite permanent sculptures, with[Pg 364] inlay of variegated precious stones, on the outside of buildings, where such pictures would be little costly to the people; and in a more popular manner still, by Robbia ware and Palissy ware, and inlaid majolica, which would differ from the housewives' present favourite decoration of plates above her kitchen dresser, by being every piece of it various, instructive, and universally visible.

133. You hardly know, I suppose, whether I am speaking in jest or earnest. In the most solemn earnest, I assure you; though such is the strange course of our popular life that all the irrational arts of destruction are at once felt to be earnest; while any plan for those of instruction on a grand scale, sounds like a dream or jest. Still, I do not absolutely propose to decorate our public buildings with sculpture wholly of this character; though beast, and fowl, and creeping things, and fishes, might all find room on such a building as the Solomon's House of a New Atlantis; and some of them might even become symbolic of much to us again. Passing through the Strand, only the other day, for instance, I saw four highly finished and delicately coloured pictures of cock-fighting, which, for imitative quality, were nearly all that could be desired, going far beyond the Greek cock of Himera; and they would have delighted a Greek's soul, if they had meant as much as a Greek cock-fight; but they were only types of the "ενδομαχας αλεκτωρ," and of the spirit of home contest, which has been so fatal lately to the Bird of France; and not of the defence of one's own barnyard, in thought of which the Olympians set the cock on the pillars of their chariot course; and gave it goodly alliance in its battle, as you may see here, in what is left of the angle of mouldering marble in the chair of the priest of Dionusos. The cast of it, from the centre of the theatre under the Acropolis, is in the British Museum; and I wanted its spiral for you, and this kneeling Angel of Victory;—it is late Greek art, but nobly systematic flat bas-relief. So I set Mr. Burgess to draw it; but neither he nor I for a little while, could make out what the Angel of Victory was kneeling for. His attitude is an ancient and grandly conventional one among the Egyptians;[Pg 365] and I was tracing it back to a kneeling goddess of the greatest dynasty of the Pharaohs—a goddess of Evening, or Death, laying down the sun out of her right hand;—when, one bright day, the shadows came out clear on the Athenian throne, and I saw that my Angel of Victory was only backing a cock at a cock-fight.

134. Still, as I have said, there is no reason why sculpture, even for simplest persons, should confine itself to imagery of fish, or fowl, or four-footed things.

We go back to our first principle: we ought to carve nothing but what is honourable. And you are offended, at this moment, with my fish, (as I believe, when the first sculptures appeared on the windows of this museum, offence was taken at the unnecessary introduction of cats), these dissatisfactions being properly felt by your "νους των τιμιωτατων." For indeed, in all cases, our right judgment must depend on our wish to give honour only to things and creatures that deserve it.

135. And now I must state to you another principle of veracity, both in sculpture, and all following arts, of wider scope than any hitherto examined. We have seen that sculpture is to be a true representation of true external form. Much more is it to be a representation of true internal emotion. You must carve only what you yourself see as you see it; but, much more, you must carve only what you yourself feel, as you feel it. You may no more endeavour to feel through other men's souls, than to see with other men's eyes. Whereas generally now in Europe and America, every man's energy is bent upon acquiring some false emotion, not his own, but belonging to the past, or to other persons, because he has been taught that such and such a result of it will be fine. Every attempted sentiment in relation to art is hypocritical; our notions of sublimity, of grace, or pious serenity, are all second hand; and we are practically incapable of designing so much as a bell-handle or a door-knocker without borrowing the first notion of it from those who are gone—where we shall not wake them with our knocking. I would we could.[Pg 366]

136. In the midst of this desolation we have nothing to count on for real growth, but what we can find of honest liking and longing, in ourselves and in others. We must discover, if we would healthily advance, what things are verily τιμιωτατα among us; and if we delight to honour the dishonourable, consider how, in future, we may better bestow our likings. Now it appears to me from all our popular declarations, that we, at present, honour nothing so much as liberty and independence; and no person so much as the Free man and Self-made man, who will be ruled by no one, and has been taught, or helped, by no one. And the reason I chose a fish for you as the first subject of sculpture, was that in men who are free and self-made, you have the nearest approach, humanly possible, to the state of the fish, and finely organized ἑρπετον. You get the exact phrase in Habakkuk, if you take the Septuagint text.—"ροιησεις τους ανθρωπους ὡς τους ιχθυας της θαλασσης, και ὡς τα ἑρπετα τα ουκ εχοντα ἡγουμενον."] "Thou wilt make men as the fishes of the sea, and as the reptile things, that have no ruler over them." And it chanced that as I was preparing this lecture, one of our most able and popular prints gave me a woodcut of the "self-made man," specified as such, so vigorously drawn, and with so few touches, that Phidias or Turner himself could scarcely have done it better; so that I had only to ask my assistant to enlarge it with accuracy, and it became comparable with my fish at once. Of course it is not given by the caricaturist as an admirable face; only, I am enabled by his skill to set before you, without any suspicion of unfairness on my part, the expression to which the life we profess to think most honourable, naturally leads. If we were to take the hat off, you see how nearly the profile corresponds with that of the typical fish.

Plate VIII.—The Apollo of Syracuse and the Self-made Man. Plate VIII.—The Apollo of Syracuse and the Self-made Man.

[Pg 367]

137. Such, then, being the definition by your best popular art, of the ideal of feature at which we are gradually arriving by self-manufacture; when I place opposite to it (in Plate VIII.) the profile of a man not in any wise self-made, neither by the law of his own will, nor by the love of his own interest—nor capable, for a moment, of any kind of "Independence," or of the idea of independence; but wholly dependent upon, and subjected to, external influence of just law, wise teaching, and trusted love and truth, in his fellow-spirits;—setting before you, I say, this profile of a God-made instead of a self-made, man, I know that you will feel, on the instant, that you are brought into contact with the vital elements of human art; and that this, the sculpture of the good, is indeed the only permissible sculpture.

138. A God-made man, I say. The face, indeed, stands as a symbol of more than man in its sculptor's mind. For as I gave you, to lead your first effort in the form of leaves, the sceptre of Apollo, so this, which I give you as the first type of rightness in the form of flesh, is the countenance of the holder of that sceptre, the Sun-God of Syracuse. But there is nothing in the face (nor did the Greek suppose there was) more perfect than might be seen in the daily beauty of the creatures the Sun-God shone upon, and whom his strength and honour animated. This is not an ideal, but a quite literally true, face of a Greek youth; nay, I will undertake to show you that it is not supremely beautiful, and even to surpass it altogether with the literal portrait of an Italian one. It is in verity no more than the form habitually taken by the features of a well educated young Athenian or Sicilian citizen; and the one requirement for the sculptors of to-day is not, as it has been thought, to invent the same ideal, but merely to see the same reality.

Now, you know I told you in my fourth lecture, that the beginning of art was in getting our country clean and our people beautiful, and you supposed that to be a statement irrelevant to my subject; just as, at this moment, you perhaps think, I am quitting the great subject of this present lecture—the method of likeness-making—and letting myself branch into the discussion of what things we are to make likeness of. But you shall see hereafter that the method of imitating a beautiful thing must be different from the method of imitating an ugly one; and that, with the change in subject from what is dishonourable to what is honourable, there will be involved a parallel change in the management of tools, of lines,[Pg 368] and of colours. So that before I can determine for you how you are to imitate, you must tell me what kind of face you wish to imitate. The best draughtsmen in the world could not draw this Apollo in ten scratches, though he can draw the self-made man. Still less this nobler Apollo of Ionian Greece, (Plate IX.) in which the incisions are softened into a harmony like that of Correggio's painting. So that you see the method itself,—the choice between black incision or fine sculpture, and perhaps, presently, the choice between colour or no colour, will depend on what you have to represent. Colour may be expedient for a glistening dolphin or a spotted fawn;—perhaps inexpedient for white Poseidon, and gleaming Dian. So that, before defining the laws of sculpture, I am compelled to ask you, what you mean to carve; and that, little as you think it, is asking you how you mean to live, and what the laws of your State are to be, for they determine those of your statue. You can only have this kind of face to study from, in the sort of state that produced it. And you will find that sort of state described in the beginning of the fourth book of the laws of Plato; as founded, for one thing, on the conviction that of all the evils that can happen to a state, quantity of money is the greatest! μειζον κακον, ως επος ειρειν, ρολει ουδεν αν γιγνοιτο, εις γενναιων και δικαιων ηθων κτησιν, "for, to speak shortly, no greater evil, matching each against each, can possibly happen to a city, as adverse to its forming just or generous character," than its being full of silver and gold.

139. Of course, the Greek notion may be wrong, and ours right, only—ως επος ειρειν—you can have Greek sculpture only on that Greek theory: shortly expressed by the words put into the mouth of Poverty herself, in the Plutus of Aristophanes "Του πλουτου παρεχω βελτιονας ανδρας, και την γνωμην, και την ιδεαν," "I deliver to you better men than the God of Money can, both in imagination and feature." So on the other hand, this ichthyoid, reptilian, or mono-chondyloid ideal of the self-made man can only be reached, universally, by a nation which holds that poverty, either of purse or spirit,—but especially the spiritual character of being πτωχοι τω πνευματι, is the lowest of degradations; and which believes that the desire of wealth is the first of manly and moral sentiments. As I have been able to get the popular ideal represented by its own living art, so I can give you this popular faith in its own living words; but in words meant seriously and not at all as caricature, from one of our leading journals, professedly æsthetic also in its very name, the Spectator, of August 6th, 1870.

Plate IX.—Apollo Chrysocomes of Clazomenœ. Plate IX.—Apollo Chrysocomes of Clazomenœ.

[Pg 369]

"Mr. Ruskin's plan," it says, "would make England poor, in order that she might be cultivated, and refined and artistic. A wilder proposal was never broached by a man of ability; and it might be regarded as a proof that the assiduous study of art emasculates the intellect, and even the moral sense. Such a theory almost warrants the contempt with which art is often regarded by essentially intellectual natures, like Proudhon" (sic). "Art is noble as the flower of life, and the creations of a Titian are a great heritage of the race; but if England could secure high art and Venetian glory of colour only by the sacrifice of her manufacturing supremacy, and by the acceptance of national poverty, then the pursuit of such artistic achievements would imply that we had ceased to possess natures of manly strength, or to know the meaning of moral aims. If we must choose between a Titian and a Lancashire cotton mill, then, in the name of manhood and of morality, give us the cotton mill. Only the dilettantism of the studio; that dilettantism which loosens the moral no less than the intellectual fibre, and which is as fatal to rectitude of action as to correctness of reasoning power, would make a different choice."

You see also, by this interesting and most memorable passage, how completely the question is admitted to be one of ethics—the only real point at issue being, whether this face or that is developed on the truer moral principle.

140. I assume, however, for the present, that this Apolline type is the kind of form you wish to reach and to represent. And now observe, instantly, the whole question of manner of imitation is altered for us. The fins of the fish, the plumes of the swan, and the flowing of the Sun-God's hair are all represented by incisions—but the incisions do sufficiently represent the fin and feather,—they insufficiently represent the[Pg 372] hair. If I chose, with a little more care and labor, I could absolutely get the surface of the scales and spines of the fish, and the expression of its mouth; but no quantity of labor would obtain the real surface of a tress of Apollo's hair, and the full expression of his mouth. So that we are compelled at once to call the imagination to help us, and say to it, You know what the Apollo Chrysocomes must be like; finish all this for yourself. Now, the law under which imagination works, is just that of other good workers. "You must give me clear orders; show me what I have to do, and where I am to begin, and let me alone." And the orders can be given, quite clearly, up to a certain point, in form; but they cannot be given clearly in color, now that the subject is subtle. All beauty of this high kind depends on harmony; let but the slightest discord come into it, and the finer the thing is, the more fatal will be the flaw. Now, on a flat surface, I can command my color to be precisely what and where I mean it to be; on a round one I cannot. For all harmony depends, first, on the fixed proportion of the color of the light to that of the relative shadow; and therefore if I fasten my color, I must fasten my shade. But on a round surface the shadow changes at every hour of the day; and therefore all coloring which is expressive of form, is impossible; and if the form is fine, (and here there is nothing but what is fine,) you may bid farewell to color.

141. Farewell to color; that is to say, if the thing is to be seen distinctly, and you have only wise people to show it to; but if it is to be seen indistinctly, at a distance, color may become explanatory; and if you have simple people to show it to, color may be necessary to excite their imaginations, though not to excite yours. And the art is great always by meeting its conditions in the straightest way; and if it is to please a multitude of innocent and bluntly-minded persons, must express itself in the terms that will touch them; else it is not good. And I have to trace for you through the history of the past, and possibilities of the future, the expedients used by great sculptors to obtain clearness, impressiveness, or splendor; and the manner of their appeal to the people, under various light and shadow, and with reference to different degrees of public intelligence: such investigation resolving itself again and again, as we proceed, into questions absolutely ethical; as, for instance, whether color is to be bright or dull,—that is to say, for a populace cheerful or heartless;—whether it is to be delicate or strong,—that is to say, for a populace attentive or careless; whether it is to be a background like the sky, for a procession of young men and maidens, because your populace revere life—or the shadow of the vault behind a corpse stained with drops of blackened blood, for a populace taught to worship Death. Every critical determination of rightness depends on the obedience to some ethic law, by the most rational and, therefore, simplest means. And you see how it depends most, of all things, on whether you are working for chosen persons, or for the mob; for the joy of the boudoir, or of the Borgo. And if for the mob, whether the mob of Olympia, or of St. Antoine. Phidias, showing his Jupiter for the first time, hides behind the temple door to listen, resolved afterwards "ρὑθμιζειν το αγαλμα προς το τοις πλειστοις δοκουν, ου γαρ ἡγειτο μικραν ειναι συμβουλην δημου τοσουτου," and truly, as your people is, in judgment, and in multitude, so must your sculpture be, in glory. An elementary principle which has been too long out of mind.

142. I leave you to consider it, since, for some time, we shall not again be able to take up the inquiries to which it leads. But, ultimately, I do not doubt that you will rest satisfied in these following conclusions:

1. Not only sculpture, but all the other fine arts, must be for the people.

2. They must be didactic to the people, and that as their chief end. The structural arts, didactic in their manner; the graphic arts, in their matter also.

3. And chiefly the great representative and imaginative arts—that is to say, the drama and sculpture—are to teach what is noble in past history, and lovely in existing human and organic life.

4. And the test of right manner of execution in these arts, is that they strike, in the most emphatic manner, the rank of popular minds to which they are addressed.

5. And the test of utmost fineness in execution in these arts, is that they make themselves be forgotten in what they represent; and so fulfil the words of their greatest Master,

"The best, in this kind, are but shadows."


[123] See date of delivery of Lecture. The picture was of a peasant girl of eleven or twelve years old, peeling carrots by a cottage fire.

[124] In Durer's "Melencholia."

[125] Turner's, in the Hakewill series.



December, 1870.

143. On previous occasions of addressing you, I have endeavoured to show you, first, how sculpture is distinguished from other arts; then its proper subjects, then its proper method in the realization of these subjects. To-day, we must, in the fourth place, consider the means at its command for the accomplishment of these ends; the nature of its materials; and the mechanical or other difficulties of their treatment.

And however doubtful we may have remained, as to the justice of Greek ideals, or propriety of Greek methods of representing them, we may be certain that the example of the Greeks will be instructive in all practical matters relating to this great art, peculiarly their own. I think even the evidence I have already laid before you is enough to convince you, that it was by rightness and reality, not by idealism or delightfulness only, that their minds were finally guided; and I am sure that, before closing the present course, I shall be able so far to complete that evidence, as to prove to you that the commonly received notions of classic art are, not only unfounded, but even in many respects, directly contrary to the truth. You are constantly told that Greece idealized whatever she contemplated. She did the exact contrary: she realized and verified it. You are constantly told she sought only the beautiful. She sought, indeed, with all her heart; but[Pg 373] she found, because she never doubted that the search was to be consistent with propriety and common sense. And the first thing you will always discern in Greek work is the first which you ought to discern in all work; namely, that the object of it has been rational, and has been obtained by simple and unostentatious means.

144. "That the object of the work has been rational!" Consider how much that implies. That it should be by all means seen to have been determined upon, and carried through, with sense and discretion; these being gifts of intellect far more precious than any knowledge of mathematics, or of the mechanical resources of art. Therefore, also, that it should be a modest and temperate work, a structure fitted to the actual state of men; proportioned to their actual size, as animals,—to their average strength,—to their true necessities,—and to the degree of easy command they have over the forces and substances of nature.

145. You see how much this law excludes! All that is fondly magnificent, insolently ambitious, or vainly difficult. There is, indeed, such a thing as Magnanimity in design, but never unless it be joined also with modesty and Equanimity. Nothing extravagant, monstrous, strained, or singular, can be structurally beautiful. No towers of Babel envious of the skies; no pyramids in mimicry of the mountains of the earth; no streets that are a weariness to traverse, nor temples that make pigmies of the worshippers.

It is one of the primal merits and decencies of Greek work that it was, on the whole, singularly small in scale, and wholly within reach of sight, to its finest details. And, indeed, the best buildings that I know are thus modest; and some of the best are minute jewel cases for sweet sculpture. The Parthenon would hardly attract notice, if it were set by the Charing Cross Railway Station: the Church of the Miracoli, at Venice, the Chapel of the Rose, at Lucca, and the Chapel of the Thorn, at Pisa, would not, I suppose, all three together, fill the tenth part, cube, of a transept of the Crystal Palace. And they are better so.

146. In the chapter on Power in the "Seven Lamps of Architecture,"[Pg 374] I have stated what seems, at first, the reverse of what I am saying now; namely, that it is better to have one grand building than any number of mean ones. And that is true, but you cannot command grandeur by size till you can command grace in minuteness; and least of all, remember, will you so command it to-day, when magnitude has become the chief exponent of folly and misery, co-ordinate in the fraternal enormities of the Factory and Poorhouse,—the Barracks and Hospital. And the final law in this matter is, that if you require edifices only for the grace and health of mankind, and build them without pretence and without chicanery, they will be sublime on a modest scale, and lovely with little decoration.

147. From these principles of simplicity and temperance, two very severely fixed laws of construction follow; namely, first, that our structure, to be beautiful, must be produced with tools of men; and secondly, that it must be composed of natural substances. First, I say, produced with tools of men. All fine art requires the application of the whole strength and subtlety of the body, so that such art is not possible to any sickly person, but involves the action and force of a strong man's arm from the shoulder, as well as the delicatest touch of his finger: and it is the evidence that this full and fine strength has been spent on it which makes the art executively noble; so that no instrument must be used, habitually, which is either too heavy to be delicately restrained, or too small and weak to transmit a vigorous impulse; much less any mechanical aid, such as would render the sensibility of the fingers ineffectual.[126]

148. Of course, any kind of work in glass, or in metal, on a[Pg 375] large scale, involves some painful endurance of heat; and working in clay, some habitual endurance of cold; but the point beyond which the effort must not be carried is marked by loss of power of manipulation. As long as the eyes and fingers have complete command of the material (as a glass blower has, for instance, in doing fine ornamental work)—the law is not violated; but all our great engine and furnace work, in gun-making and the like, is degrading to the intellect; and no nation can long persist in it without losing many of its human faculties. Nay, even the use of machinery, other than the common rope and pully, for the lifting of weights, is degrading to architecture; the invention of expedients for the raising of enormous stones has always been a characteristic of partly savage or corrupted races. A block of marble not larger than a cart with a couple of oxen could carry, and a cross-beam, with a couple of pulleys, raise, is as large as should generally be used in any building. The employment of large masses is sure to lead to vulgar exhibitions of geometrical arrangement,[127] and to draw away the attention from the sculpture. In general, rocks naturally break into such pieces as the human beings that have to build with them can easily lift, and no larger should be sought for.

149. In this respect, and in many other subtle ways, the law that the work is to be with tools of men is connected with the farther condition of its modesty, that it is to be wrought in substance provided by Nature, and to have a faithful respect to all the essential qualities of such substance.

And here I must ask your attention to the idea, and, more than idea,—the fact, involved in that infinitely misused term, "Providentia," when applied to the Divine Power. In its truest sense and scholarly use, it is a human virtue, Προμηθεια; the personal type of it is in Prometheus, and all the first power of τεχνη, is from him, as compared to the weakness of days when men without foresight "εφυρον εικη παντα." But, so far as we use the word "Providence" as an attribute of the Maker and Giver of all things, it does not mean that in a[Pg 376] shipwreck He takes care of the passengers who are to be saved and takes none of those who are to be drowned; but it does mean that every race of creatures is born into the world under circumstances of approximate adaptation to its necessities; and, beyond all others, the ingenious and observant race of man is surrounded with elements naturally good for his food, pleasant to his sight, and suitable for the subjects of his ingenuity;—the stone, metal, and clay of the earth he walks upon lending themselves at once to his hand, for all manner of workmanship.

150. Thus, his truest respect for the law of the entire creation is shown by his making the most of what he can get most easily; and there is no virtue of art, nor application of common sense, more sacredly necessary than this respect to the beauty of natural substance, and the ease of local use; neither are there any other precepts of construction so vital as these—that you show all the strength of your material, tempt none of its weaknesses, and do with it only what can be simply and permanently done.

151. Thus, all good building will be with rocks, or pebbles, or burnt clay, but with no artificial compound; all good painting, with common oils and pigments on common canvas, paper, plaster, or wood,—admitting, sometimes for precious work, precious things, but all applied in a simple and visible way. The highest imitative art should not, indeed, at first sight, call attention to the means of it; but even that, at length, should do so distinctly, and provoke the observer to take pleasure in seeing how completely the workman is master of the particular material he has used, and how beautiful and desirable a substance it was, for work of that kind. In oil painting its unctious quality is to be delighted in; in fresco, its chalky quality; in glass, its transparency; in wood, its grain; in marble, its softness; in porphyry, its hardness; in iron, its toughness. In a flint country, one should feel the delightfulness of having flints to pick up, and fasten together into rugged walls. In a marble country one should be always more and more astonished at the exquisite colour and structure of marble; in a slate country one should feel as if every rock cleft itself only for the sake of being built with conveniently.

Plate X.—Marble Masonry in the Duomo of Verona. Plate X.—Marble Masonry in the Duomo of Verona.

[Pg 377]

152. Now, for sculpture, there are, briefly, two materials—Clay, and Stone; for glass is only a clay that gets clear and brittle as it cools, and metal a clay that gets opaque and tough as it cools. Indeed, the true use of gold in this world is only as a very pretty and very ductile clay, which you can spread as flat as you like, spin as fine as you like, and which will neither crack, nor tarnish.

All the arts of sculpture in clay may be summed up under the word "Plastic," and all of those in stone, under the word "Glyptic."

153. Sculpture in clay will accordingly include all cast brick-work, pottery, and tile-work[128]—a somewhat important branch of human skill. Next to the potter's work, you have all the arts in porcelain, glass, enamel, and metal; everything, that is to say, playful and familiar in design, much of what is most felicitously inventive, and, in bronze or gold, most precious and permanent.

154. Sculpture in stone, whether granite, gem, or marble, while we accurately use the general term "glyptic" for it, may be thought of with, perhaps, the most clear force under the English word "engraving." For, from the mere angular incision which the Greek consecrated in the triglyphs of his greatest order of architecture, grow forth all the arts of bas-relief, and methods of localized groups of sculpture connected with each other and with architecture: as, in another direction, the arts of engraving and wood-cutting themselves.

155. Over all this vast field of human skill the laws which I have enunciated to you rule with inevitable authority, embracing the greatest, and consenting to the humblest, exertion; strong to repress the ambition of nations, if fantastic and vain, but gentle to approve the efforts of children, made in accordance with the visible intention of the Maker of all flesh, and[Pg 378] the Giver of all Intelligence. These laws, therefore, I now repeat, and beg of you to observe them as irrefragable.

1. That the work is to be with tools of men.

2. That it is to be in natural materials.

3. That it is to exhibit the virtues of those materials, and aim at no quality inconsistent with them.

4. That its temper is to be quiet and gentle, in harmony with common needs, and in consent to common intelligence.

We will now observe the bearing of these laws on the elementary conditions of the art at present under discussion.

156. There is, first, work in baked clay, which contracts as it dries, and is very easily frangible. Then you must put no work into it requiring niceness in dimension, nor any so elaborate that it would be a great loss if it were broken, but as the clay yields at once to the hand, and the sculptor can do anything with it he likes, it is a material for him to sketch with and play with,—to record his fancies in, before they escape him—and to express roughly, for people who can enjoy such sketches, what he has not time to complete in marble. The clay, being ductile, lends itself to all softness of line; being easily frangible, it would be ridiculous to give it sharp edges, so that a blunt and massive rendering of graceful gesture will be its natural function; but as it can be pinched, or pulled, or thrust in a moment into projection which it would take hours of chiselling to get in stone, it will also properly be used for all fantastic and grotesque form, not involving sharp edges. Therefore, what is true of chalk and charcoal, for painters, is equally true of clay, for sculptors; they are all most precious materials for true masters, but tempt the false ones into fatal license; and to judge rightly of terra-cotta work is a far higher reach of skill in sculpture-criticism than to distinguish the merits of a finished statue.

157. We have, secondly, work in bronze, iron, gold, and other metals; in which the laws of structure are still more definite.

All kinds of twisted and wreathen work on every scale become delightful when wrought in ductile or tenacious metal, but metal which is to be hammered into form separates itself into two great divisions—solid, and flat.

Plate XI.—The First Elements of Sculpture. Plate XI.—The First Elements of Sculpture.
Incised Outline and Opened Space.

[Pg 379]

(A.) In solid metal work, i. e., metal cast thick enough to resist bending, whether it be hollow or not, violent and various projection may be admitted, which would be offensive in marble; but no sharp edges, because it is difficult to produce them with the hammer. But since the permanence of the material justifies exquisiteness of workmanship, whatever delicate ornamentation can be wrought with rounded surfaces may be advisedly introduced; and since the colour of bronze or any other metal is not so pleasantly representative of flesh as that of marble, a wise sculptor will depend less on flesh contour, and more on picturesque accessories, which, though they would be vulgar if attempted in stone, are rightly entertaining in bronze or silver. Verrochio's statue of Colleone at Venice, Cellini's Perseus at Florence, and Ghiberti's gates at Florence, are models of bronze treatment.

(B.) When metal is beaten thin, it becomes what is technically called "plate," (the flattened thing) and may be treated advisably in two ways; one, by beating it out into bosses, the other by cutting it into strips and ramifications. The vast schools of goldsmith's work and of iron decoration, founded on these two principles, have had the most powerful influences over general taste in all ages and countries. One of the simplest and most interesting elementary examples of the treatment of flat metal by cutting is the common branched iron bar, Fig. 8, used to close small apertures in countries possessing any good primitive style of iron-work, formed by alternate cuts on its sides, and the bending down of the several portions. The ordinary domestic window balcony of Verona is formed by mere ribands of iron, bent into curves as studiously refined as those of a Greek vase, and decorated merely by their own terminations in spiral volutes.

Fig. 8. Fig. 8.

All cast work in metal, unfinished by hand, is inadmissible[Pg 380] in any school of living art, since it cannot possess the perfection of form due to a permanent substance; and the continual sight of it is destructive of the faculty of taste: but metal stamped with precision, as in coins, is to sculpture what engraving is to painting.

158. Thirdly. Stone-sculpture divides itself into three schools: one in very hard material; one in very soft, and one in that of centrally useful consistence.

A. The virtue of work in hard material is the expression of form in shallow relief, or in broad contours; deep cutting in hard material is inadmissible, and the art, at once pompous and trivial, of gem engraving, has been in the last degree destructive of the honour and service of sculpture.

B. The virtue of work in soft material is deep cutting, with studiously graceful disposition of the masses of light and shade. The greater number of flamboyant churches of France are cut out of an adhesive chalk; and the fantasy of their latest decoration was, in great part, induced by the facility of obtaining contrast of black space, undercut, with white tracery easily left in sweeping and interwoven rods—the lavish use of wood in domestic architecture materially increasing the habit of delight in branched complexity of line. These points, however, I must reserve for illustration in my lectures on architecture. To-day, I shall limit myself to the illustration of elementary sculptural structure in the best material;—that is to say, in crystalline marble, neither soft enough to encourage the caprice of the workman, nor hard enough to resist his will.

159. C. By the true "Providence" of Nature, the rock which is thus submissive has been in some places stained with the fairest colours, and in others blanched into the fairest absence of colour, that can be found to give harmony to inlaying, or dignity to form. The possession by the Greeks of their λευκος λιθος was indeed the first circumstance regulating the development of their art; it enabled them at once to express their passion for light by executing the faces, hands, and feet of their dark wooden statues in white marble, so that what we look upon only with pleasure for fineness of texture[Pg 381] was to them an imitation of the luminous body of the deity shining from behind its dark robes; and ivory afterwards is employed in their best statues for its yet more soft and flesh-like brightness, receptive also of the most delicate colour—(therefore to this day the favourite ground of miniature painters). In like manner, the existence of quarries of peach-coloured marble within twelve miles of Verona, and of white marble and green serpentine between Pisa and Genoa, defined the manner both of sculpture and architecture for all the Gothic buildings of Italy. No subtlety of education could have formed a high school of art without these materials.

160. Next to the colour, the fineness of substance which will take a perfectly sharp edge, is essential; and this not merely to admit fine delineation in the sculpture itself, but to secure a delightful precision in placing the blocks of which it is composed. For the possession of too fine marble, as far as regards the work itself, is a temptation instead of an advantage to an inferior sculptor; and the abuse of the facility of undercutting, especially of undercutting so as to leave profiles defined by an edge against shadow, is one of the chief causes of decline of style in such encrusted bas-reliefs as those of the Certosa of Pavia and its contemporary monuments. But no undue temptation ever exists as to the fineness of block fitting; nothing contributes to give so pure and healthy a tone to sculpture as the attention of the builder to the jointing of his stones; and his having both the power to make them fit so perfectly as not to admit of the slightest portion of cement showing externally, and the skill to insure, if needful, and to suggest always, their stability in cementless construction. Plate X. represents a piece of entirely fine Lombardic building, the central portion of the arch in the Duomo of Verona, which corresponds to that of the porch of San Zenone, represented in Plate I. In both these pieces of building, the only line that traces the architrave round the arch, is that of the masonry joint; yet this line is drawn with extremest subtlety, with intention of delighting the eye by its relation of varied curvature to the arch itself; and it is just as much considered as the finest pen-line of a Raphael drawing. Every joint of[Pg 382] the stone is used, in like manner, as a thin black line, which the slightest sign of cement would spoil like a blot. And so proud is the builder of his fine jointing, and so fearless of any distortion or strain spoiling the adjustment afterwards, that in one place he runs his joint quite gratuitously through a bas-relief, and gives the keystone its only sign of pre-eminence by the minute inlaying of the head of the Lamb, into the stone of the course above.

161. Proceeding from this fine jointing to fine draughtsmanship, you have, in the very outset and earliest stage of sculpture, your flat stone surface given you as a sheet of white paper, on which you are required to produce the utmost effect you can with the simplest means, cutting away as little of the stone as may be, to save both time and trouble; and, above all, leaving the block itself, when shaped, as solid as you can, that its surface may better resist weather, and the carved parts be as much protected as possible by the masses left around them.

162. The first thing to be done is clearly to trace the outline of subject with an incision approximating in section to that of the furrow of a plough, only more equal-sided. A fine sculptor strikes it, as his chisel leans, freely, on marble; an Egyptian, in hard rock, cuts it sharp, as in cuneiform inscriptions. In any case, you have a result somewhat like the upper figure, Plate XI., in which I show you the most elementary indication of form possible, by cutting the outline of the typical archaic Greek head with an incision like that of a Greek triglyph, only not so precise in edge or slope, as it is to be modified afterwards.

163. Now, the simplest thing we can do next, is to round off the flat surface within the incision, and put what form we can get into the feebler projection of it thus obtained. The Egyptians do this, often with exquisite skill, and then, as I showed you in a former lecture, colour the whole—using the incision as an outline. Such a method of treatment is capable of good service in representing, at little cost of pains, subjects in distant effect, and common, or merely picturesque, subjects even near. To show you what it is capable of, and what[Pg 383] coloured sculpture would be in its rudest type, I have prepared the coloured relief of the John Dory[129] as a natural history drawing for distant effect. You know, also, that I meant him to be ugly—as ugly as any creature can well be. In time, I hope to show you prettier things—peacocks and kingfishers,—butterflies and flowers, on grounds of gold, and the like, as they were in Byzantine work. I shall expect you, in right use of your æsthetic faculties, to like those better than what I show you to-day. But it is now a question of method only; and if you will look, after the lecture, first at the mere white relief, and then see how much may be gained by a few dashes of colour, such as a practised workman could lay in a quarter of an hour,—the whole forming, if well done, almost a deceptive image—you will, at least, have the range of power in Egyptian sculpture clearly expressed to you.

164. But for fine sculpture, we must advance by far other methods. If we carve the subject with real delicacy, the cast shadow of the incision will interfere with its outline, so that, for representation of beautiful things, you must clear away the ground about it, at all events for a little distance. As the law of work is to use the least pains possible, you clear it only just as far back as you need, and then for the sake of order and finish, you give the space a geometrical outline. By taking, in this case, the simplest I can,—a circle,—I can clear the head with little labor in the removal of surface round it; (see the lower figure in Plate XI.)

165. Now, these are the first terms of all well-constructed bas-relief. The mass you have to treat consists of a piece of stone, which, however you afterwards carve it, can but, at its most projecting point, reach the level of the external plane surface out of which it was mapped, and defined by a depression round it; that depression being at first a mere trench, then a moat of certain width, of which the outer sloping bank is in contact, as a limiting geometrical line, with the laterally salient portions of sculpture. This, I repeat, is the primal [Pg 384]construction of good bas-relief, implying, first, perfect protection to its surface from any transverse blow, and a geometrically limited space to be occupied by the design, into which it shall pleasantly (and as you shall ultimately see, ingeniously,) contract itself: implying, secondly, a determined depth of projection, which it shall rarely reach, and never exceed: and implying, finally, the production of the whole piece with the least possible labor of chisel and loss of stone.

166. And these, which are the first, are very nearly the last constructive laws of sculpture. You will be surprised to find how much they include, and how much of minor propriety in treatment their observance involves.

In a very interesting essay on the architecture of the Parthenon, by the professor of architecture of the Ecole Polytechnique, M. Emile Boutmy, you will find it noticed that the Greeks do not usually weaken, by carving, the constructive masses of their building; but put their chief sculpture in the empty spaces between the triglyphs, or beneath the roof. This is true; but in so doing, they merely build their panel instead of carving it; they accept no less than the Goths, the laws of recess and limitation, as being vital to the safety and dignity of their design; and their noblest recumbent statues are, constructively, the fillings of the acute extremity of a panel in the form of an obtusely summitted triangle.

167. In gradual descent from that severest type, you will find that an immense quantity of sculpture of all times and styles may be generally embraced under the notion of a mass hewn out of, or, at least, placed in, a panel or recess, deepening, it may be, into a niche; the sculpture being always designed with reference to its position in such recess; and, therefore, to the effect of the building out of which the recess is hewn.

But, for the sake of simplifying our inquiry, I will at first suppose no surrounding protective ledge to exist, and that the area of stone we have to deal with is simply a flat slab, extant from a flat surface depressed all round it.

168. A flat slab, observe. The flatness of surface is essential to the problem of bas-relief. The lateral limit of the[Pg 385] panel may, or may not, be required; but the vertical limit of surface must be expressed; and the art of bas-relief is to give the effect of true form on that condition. For observe, if nothing more were needed than to make first a cast of a solid form, then cut it in half, and apply the half of it to the flat surface;—if, for instance, to carve a bas-relief of an apple, all I had to do was to cut my sculpture of the whole apple in half, and pin it to the wall, any ordinary trained sculptor, or even a mechanical workman, could produce bas-relief; but the business is to carve a round thing out of thing; to carve an apple out of a biscuit!—to conquer, as a subtle Florentine has here conquered,[130] his marble, so as not only to get motion into what is most rigidly fixed, but to get boundlessness into what is most narrowly bounded; and carve Madonna and Child, rolling clouds, flying angels, and space of heavenly air behind all, out of a film of stone not the third of an inch thick where it is thickest.

169. Carried, however, to such a degree of subtlety as this, and with so ambitious and extravagant aim, bas-relief becomes a tour-de-force; and, you know, I have just told you all tours-de-force are wrong. The true law of bas-relief is to begin with a depth of incision proportioned justly to the distance of the observer and the character of the subject, and out of that rationally determined depth, neither increased for ostentation of effect, nor diminished for ostentation of skill, to do the utmost that will be easily visible to an observer, supposing him to give an average human amount of attention, but not to peer into, or critically scrutinize the work.

170. I cannot arrest you to-day by the statement of any of the laws of sight and distance which determine the proper depth of bas-relief. Suppose that depth fixed; then observe what a pretty problem, or, rather, continually varying cluster of problems, will be offered to us. You might, at first, imagine that, given what we may call our scale of solidity, or scale of depth, the diminution from nature would be in regular[Pg 386] proportion, as for instance, if the real depth of your subject be, suppose a foot, and the depth of your bas-relief an inch, then the parts of the real subject which were six inches round the side of it would be carved, you might imagine, at the depth of half-an-inch, and so the whole thing mechanically reduced to scale. But not a bit of it. Here is a Greek bas-relief of a chariot with two horses (upper figure, Plate XXI). Your whole subject has therefore the depth of two horses side by side, say six or eight feet. Your bas-relief has, on the scale,[131] say the depth of the third of an inch. Now, if you gave only the sixth of an inch for the depth of the off horse, and, dividing him again, only the twelfth of an inch for that of each foreleg, you would make him look a mile away from the other, and his own forelegs a mile apart. Actually, the Greek has made the near leg of the off horse project much beyond the off leg of the near horse; and has put nearly the whole depth and power of his relief into the breast of the off horse, while for the whole distance from the head of the nearest to the neck of the other, he has allowed himself only a shallow line; knowing that, if he deepened that, he would give the nearest horse the look of having a thick nose; whereas, by keeping that line down, he has not only made the head itself more delicate, but detached it from the other by giving no cast shadow, and left the shadow below to serve for thickness of breast, cutting it as sharp down as he possibly can, to make it bolder.

171. Here is a fine piece of business we have got into!—even supposing that all this selection and adaptation were to be contrived under constant laws, and related only to the expression of given forms. But the Greek sculptor, all this while, is not only debating and deciding how to show what he wants, but, much more, debating and deciding what, as he can't show everything, he will choose to show at all. Thus, being himself interested, and supposing that you will be, in[Pg 387] the manner of the driving, he takes great pains to carve the reins, to show you where they are knotted, and how they are fastened round the driver's waist (you recollect how Hippolytus was lost by doing that), but he does not care the least bit about the chariot, and having rather more geometry than he likes in the cross and circle of one wheel of it, entirely omits the other!

172. I think you must see by this time that the sculptor's is not quite a trade which you can teach like brickmaking; nor its produce an article of which you can supply any quantity "demanded" for the next railroad waiting-room. It may perhaps, indeed, seem to you that, in the difficulties thus presented by it, bas-relief involves more direct exertion of intellect than finished solid sculpture. It is not so, however. The questions involved by bas-relief are of a more curious and amusing kind, requiring great variety of expedients; though none except such as a true workmanly instinct delights in inventing and invents easily; but design in solid sculpture involves considerations of weight in mass, of balance, of perspective and opposition, in projecting forms, and of restraint for those which must not project, such as none but the greatest masters have ever completely solved; and they, not always; the difficulty of arranging the composition so as to be agreeable from points of view on all sides of it, being, itself, arduous enough.

173. Thus far, I have been speaking only of the laws of structure relating to the projection of the mass which becomes itself the sculpture. Another most interesting group of constructive laws governs its relation to the line that contains or defines it.

In your Standard Series I have placed a photograph of the south transept of Rouen Cathedral. Strictly speaking, all standards of Gothic are of the thirteenth century; but, in the fourteenth, certain qualities of richness are obtained by the diminution of restraint; out of which we must choose what is best in their kinds. The pedestals of the statues which once occupied the lateral recesses are, as you see, covered with groups of figures, enclosed each in a quatrefoil panel; the[Pg 388] spaces between this panel and the enclosing square being filled with sculptures of animals.

You cannot anywhere find a more lovely piece of fancy, or more illustrative of the quantity of result that may be obtained with low and simple chiselling. The figures are all perfectly simple in drapery, the story told by lines of action only in the main group, no accessories being admitted. There is no undercutting anywhere, nor exhibition of technical skill, but the fondest and tenderest appliance of it; and one of the principal charms of the whole is the adaptation of every subject to its quaint limit. The tale must be told within the four petals of the quatrefoil, and the wildest and playfullest beasts must never come out of their narrow corners. The attention with which spaces of this kind are filled by the Gothic designers is not merely a beautiful compliance with architectural requirements, but a definite assertion of their delight in the restraint of law; for, in illuminating books, although, if they chose it, they might have designed floral ornaments, as we now usually do, rambling loosely over the leaves, and although, in later works, such license is often taken by them, in all books of the fine time the wandering tendrils are enclosed by limits approximately rectilinear, and in gracefullest branching often detach themselves from the right line only by curvature of extreme severity.

174 Since the darkness and extent of shadow by which the sculpture is relieved necessarily vary with the depth of the recess, there arise a series of problems, in deciding which the wholesome desire for emphasis by means of shadow is too often exaggerated by the ambition of the sculptor to show his skill in undercutting. The extreme of vulgarity is usually reached when the entire bas-relief is cut hollow underneath, as in much Indian and Chinese work, so as to relieve its forms against an absolute darkness; but no formal law can ever be given; for exactly the same thing may be beautifully done for a wise purpose, by one person, which is basely done, and to no purpose, or to a bad one, by another. Thus, the desire for emphasis itself may be the craving of a deadened imagination, or the passion of a vigorous one; and relief against shadow[Pg 389] may be sought by one man only for sensation, and by another for intelligibility. John of Pisa undercuts fiercely, in order to bring out the vigour of life which no level contour could render; the Lombardi of Venice undercut delicately, in order to obtain beautiful lines, and edges of faultless precision; but the base Indian craftsmen undercut only that people may wonder how the chiselling was done through the holes, or that they may see every monster white against black.

175. Yet, here again we are met by another necessity for discrimination. There may be a true delight in the inlaying of white on dark, as there is a true delight in vigorous rounding. Nevertheless, the general law is always, that, the lighter the incisions, and the broader the surface, the grander, cæteris paribus, will be the work. Of the structural terms of that work you now know enough to understand that the schools of good sculpture, considered in relation to projection, divide themselves into four entirely distinct groups:—

1st. Flat Relief, in which the surface is, in many places, absolutely flat; and the expression depends greatly on the lines of its outer contour, and on fine incisions within them.

2nd. Round Relief, in which, as in the best coins, the sculptured mass projects so as to be capable of complete modulation into form, but is not anywhere undercut. The formation of a coin by the blow of a die necessitates, of course, the severest obedience to this law.

3rd. Edged Relief. Undercutting admitted, so as to throw out the forms against a background of shadow.

4th. Full Relief. The statue completely solid in form, and unreduced in retreating depth of it, yet connected locally with some definite part of the building, so as to be still dependent on the shadow of its background and direction of protective line.

176. Let me recommend you at once to take what pains may be needful to enable you to distinguish these four kinds of sculpture, for the distinctions between them are not founded on mere differences in gradation of depth. They are truly four species, or orders, of sculpture, separated from each other[Pg 390] by determined characters. I have used, you may have noted, hitherto in my Lectures, the word "bas-relief" almost indiscriminately for all, because the degree of lowness or highness of relief is not the question, but the method of relief. Observe again, therefore—

A. If a portion of the surface is absolutely flat, you have the first order—Flat Relief.

B. If every portion of the surface is rounded, but none undercut, you have Round Relief—essentially that of seals and coins.

C. If any part of the edges be undercut, but the general projection of solid form reduced, you have what I think you may conveniently call Foliate Relief,—the parts of the design overlapping each other in places, like edges of leaves.

D. If the undercutting is bold and deep, and the projection of solid form unreduced, you have full relief.

Learn these four names at once by heart:—

Flat Relief.
Round Relief.
Foliate Relief.
Full Relief.

And whenever you look at any piece of sculpture, determine first to which of these classes it belongs; and then consider how the sculptor has treated it with reference to the necessary structure—that reference, remember, being partly to the mechanical conditions of the material, partly to the means of light and shade at his command.

Plate XII.—Branch of Phillyrea. Dark Purple Plate XII.—Branch of Phillyrea. Dark Purple

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177. To take a single instance. You know, for these many years, I have been telling our architects with all the force of voice I had in me, that they could design nothing until they could carve natural forms rightly. Many imagine that work was easy; but judge for yourselves whether it be or not. In Plate XII., I have drawn, with approximate accuracy, a cluster of Phillyrea leaves as they grow. Now, if we wanted to cut them in bas-relief, the first thing we should have to consider would be the position of their outline on the marble;—here it is, as far down as the spring of the leaves. But do you suppose that is what an ordinary sculptor could either lay for his first sketch, or contemplate as a limit to be worked down to? Then consider how the interlacing and springing of the leaves can be expressed within this outline. It must be done by leaving such projection in the marble as will take the light in the same proportion as the drawing does;—and a Florentine workman could do it, for close sight, without driving one incision deeper, or raising a single surface higher, than the eighth of an inch. Indeed, no sculptor of the finest time would design such a complex cluster of leaves as this, except for bronze or iron work; they would take simpler contours for marble; but the laws of treatment would, under these conditions, remain just as strict: and you may, perhaps, believe me now when I tell you that, in any piece of fine structural sculpture by the great masters, there is more subtlety and noble obedience to lovely laws than could be explained to you if I took twenty lectures to do it in, instead of one.

Fig. 9. Fig. 9.

178. There remains yet a point of mechanical treatment, on which I have not yet touched at all; nor that the least important,—namely,[Pg 392] the actual method and style of handling. A great sculptor uses his tools exactly as a painter his pencil, and you may recognize the decision of his thought, and glow of his temper, no less in the workmanship than the design. The modern system of modelling the work in clay, getting it into form by machinery, and by the hands of subordinates, and touching it at last, if indeed the (so called) sculptor touch it at all, only to correct their inefficiencies, renders the production of good work in marble a physical impossibility. The first result of it is that the sculptor thinks in clay instead of marble, and loses his instinctive sense of the proper treatment of a brittle substance. The second is that neither he nor the public recognize the touch of the chisel as expressive of personal feeling or power, and that nothing is looked for except mechanical polish.

179. The perfectly simple piece of Greek relief represented in Plate XIII., will enable you to understand at once,—examination of the original, at your leisure, will prevent you, I trust, from ever forgetting—what is meant by the virtue of handling in sculpture.

Plate XIII.—Greek Flat Relief and Sculpture by Edged Incision. Plate XIII.—Greek Flat Relief and Sculpture by Edged Incision.

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The projection of the heads of the four horses, one behind the other, is certainly not more, altogether, than three-quarters of an inch from the flat ground, and the one in front does not in reality project more than the one behind it, yet, by mere drawing,[132] you see the sculptor has got them to appear to recede in due order, and by the soft rounding of the flesh surfaces, and modulation of the veins, he has taken away all look of flatness from the necks. He has drawn the eyes and nostrils with dark incision, careful as the finest touches of a painter's pencil: and then, at last, when he comes to the manes, he has let fly hand and chisel with their full force, and where a base workman, (above all, if he had modelled the thing in clay first,) would have lost himself in laborious imitation of hair, the Greek has struck the tresses out with angular incisions, deep driven, every one in appointed place and deliberate curve, yet flowing so free under his noble hand that you cannot alter, without harm, the bending of any single ridge, nor contract, nor extend, a point of them. And if you will look back to Plate IX. you will see the difference between this sharp incision, used to express horse-hair, and the soft incision with intervening rounded ridge, used to express the hair of Apollo Chrysocomes; and, beneath, the obliquely ridged incision used to express the plumes of his swan; in both these cases the handling being much more slow, because the engraving is in metal; but the structural importance of incision, as the means of effect, never lost sight of. Finally, here are two actual examples of the work in marble of the two great schools of the world; one, a little Fortune, standing tiptoe on the globe of the Earth, its surface traced with lines in hexagons; not chaotic under Fortune's feet; Greek, this, and by a trained workman;—dug up in the temple of Neptune at Corfu;—and here, a Florentine portrait-marble, found in the recent alterations, face downwards, under the pavement of Sta Maria Novella;[133] both of them first-rate of their kind; and both of them, while exquisitely finished at the telling points, showing, on all their unregarded surfaces, the rough furrow of the fast-driven chisel, as distinctly as the edge of a common paving-stone.

180. Let me suggest to you, in conclusion, one most interesting point of mental expression in these necessary aspects of finely executed sculpture. I have already again and again pressed on your attention the beginning of the arts of men in the make and use of the ploughshare. Read more carefully—you might indeed do well to learn at once by heart,—the twenty-seven lines of the Fourth Pythian, which describe the ploughing of Jason. There is nothing grander extant in human fancy, nor set down in human words: but this great mythical expression of the conquest of the earth-clay, and brute-force, by vital human energy, will become yet more interesting to you when you reflect what enchantment has been cut, on whiter clay, by the tracing of finer furrows;—what[Pg 394] the delicate and consummate arts of man have done by the ploughing of marble, and granite, and iron. You will learn daily more and more, as you advance in actual practice, how the primary manual art of engraving, in the steadiness, clearness, and irrevocableness of it, is the best art-discipline that can be given either to mind or hand;[134] you will recognize one law of right, pronouncing itself in the well-resolved work of every age; you will see the firmly traced and irrevocable incision determining not only the forms, but, in great part, the moral temper, of all vitally progressive art; you will trace the same principle and power in the furrows which the oblique sun shows on the granite of his own Egyptian city,—in the white scratch of the stylus through the colour on a Greek vase—in the first delineation, on the wet wall, of the groups of an Italian fresco; in the unerring and unalterable touch of the great engraver of Nüremberg,—and in the deep driven and deep bitten ravines of metal by which Turner closed, in embossed limits, the shadows of the Liber Studiorum.

Learn, therefore, in its full extent, the force of the great Greek word, χαρασσω;—and, give me pardon—if you think pardon needed, that I ask you also to learn the full meaning of the English word derived from it. Here, at the Ford of the Oxen of Jason, are other furrows to be driven than these in the marble of Pentelicus. The fruitfullest, or the fatallest of all ploughing is that by the thoughts of your youth, on the white field of its imagination. For by these, either down to the disturbed spirit, "κεκοπται και χαρασσεται πεδον;" or around the quiet spirit, and on all the laws of conduct that hold it, as a fair vase its frankincense, are ordained the pure colours, and engraved the just Characters, of Æonian life.


[126] Nothing is more wonderful, or more disgraceful among the forms of ignorance engendered by modern vulgar occupations in pursuit of gain, than the unconsciousness, now total, that fine art is essentially Athletic. I received a letter from Birmingham, some little time since, inviting me to see how much, in glass manufacture, "machinery excelled rude hand work." The writer had not the remotest conception that he might as well have asked me to come and see a mechanical boat-race rowed by automata, and "how much machinery excelled rude arm-work."

[127] Such as the sculptureless arch of Waterloo Bridge, for instance, referred to in the Third Lecture, § 84.

[128] It is strange, at this day, to think of the relation of the Athenian Ceramicus to the French Tile-fields, Tileries, or Tuileries; and how these last may yet become—have already partly become—"the Potter's field," blood-bought (December, 1870.)

[129] This relief is now among the other casts which I have placed in the lower school in the University galleries.

[130] The reference is to a cast from a small and low relief of Florentine work in the Kensington Museum.

[131] The actual bas-relief is on a coin, and the projection not above the twentieth of an inch, but I magnified it in photograph, for this Lecture, so as to represent a relief with about the third of an inch for maximum projection.

[132] This plate has been executed from a drawing by Mr. Burgess, in which he has followed the curves of incision with exquisite care, and preserved the effect of the surface of the stone, where a photograph would have lost it by exaggerating accidental stains.

[133] These two marbles will always, henceforward, be sufficiently accessible for reference in my room at Corpus Christi College.

[134] That it was also, in, some cases, the earliest that the Greeks gave, is proved by Lucian's account of his first lesson at his uncle's; the ενκοπευς, literally "in-cutter"—being the first tool put into his hand, and an earthenware tablet to cut upon, which the boy pressing too hard, presently breaks;—gets beaten—goes home crying, and becomes, after his dream above quoted, a philosopher instead of a sculptor.

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181. It can scarcely be needful for me to tell even the younger members of my present audience, that the conditions necessary for the production of a perfect school of sculpture have only twice been met in the history of the world, and then for a short time; nor for short time only, but also in narrow districts, namely, in the valleys and islands of Ionian Greece, and in the strip of land deposited by the Arno, between the Apennine crests and the sea.

All other schools, except these two, led severally by Athens in the fifth century before Christ, and by Florence in the fifteenth of our own era, are imperfect; and the best of them are derivative: these two are consummate in themselves, and the origin of what is best in others.

182. And observe, these Athenian and Florentine schools are both of equal rank, as essentially original and independent. The Florentine, being subsequent to the Greek, borrowed much from it; but it would have existed just as strongly—and, perhaps, in some respects, more nobly—had it been the first, instead of the latter of the two. The task set to each of these mightiest of the nations was, indeed, practically the same, and as hard to the one as to the other. The Greeks found Phœnician and Etruscan art monstrous, and had to make them human. The Italians found Byzantine and Norman art monstrous, and had to make them human. The original power in the one case is easily traced; in the other it has partly to be unmasked, because the change at Florence was, in many points, suggested and stimulated by the former school. But we mistake in supposing that Athens taught Florence the laws of design; she taught her, in reality, only the duty of truth.

183. You remember that I told you the highest art could[Pg 396] do no more than rightly represent the human form. This is the simple test, then, of a perfect school,—that it has represented the human form, so that it is impossible to conceive of its being better done. And that, I repeat, has been accomplished twice only: once in Athens, once in Florence. And so narrow is the excellence even of these two exclusive schools, that it cannot be said of either of them that they represented the entire human form. The Greeks perfectly drew, and perfectly moulded the body and limbs; but there is, so far as I am aware, no instance of their representing the face as well as any great Italian. On the other hand, the Italian painted and carved the face insuperably; but I believe there is no instance of his having perfectly represented the body, which, by command of his religion, it became his pride to despise, and his safety to mortify.

184. The general course of your study here renders it desirable that you should be accurately acquainted with the leading principles of Greek sculpture; but I cannot lay these before you without giving undue prominence to some of the special merits of that school, unless I previously indicate the relation it holds to the more advanced, though less disciplined, excellence of Christian art.

In this and the last lecture of the present course,[135] I shall endeavour, therefore, to mass for you, in such rude and diagram-like outline as may be possible or intelligible, the main characteristics of the two schools, completing and correcting the details of comparison afterwards; and not answering, observe, at present, for any generalization I give you, except as a ground for subsequent closer and more qualified statements.

And in carrying out this parallel, I shall speak indifferently of works of sculpture, and of the modes of painting which[Pg 397] propose to themselves the same objects as sculpture. And this indeed Florentine, as opposed to Venetian, painting, and that of Athens in the fifth century, nearly always did.

185. I begin, therefore, by comparing two designs of the simplest kind—engravings, or, at least, linear drawings, both; one on clay, one on copper, made in the central periods of each style, and representing the same goddess—Aphrodite. They are now set beside each other in your Rudimentary Series. The first is from a patera lately found at Camirus, authoritatively assigned by Mr. Newton, in his recent catalogue, to the best period of Greek art. The second is from one of the series of engravings executed, probably, by Baccio Baldini, in 1485, out of which I chose your first practical exercise—the Sceptre of Apollo. I cannot, however, make the comparison accurate in all respects, for I am obliged to set the restricted type of the Aphrodite Urania of the Greeks beside the universal Deity conceived by the Italian as governing the air, earth, and sea; nevertheless the restriction in the mind of the Greek, and expatiation in that of the Florentine, are both characteristic. The Greek Venus Urania is flying in heaven, her power over the waters symbolized by her being borne by a swan, and her power over the earth by a single flower in her right hand; but the Italian Aphrodite is rising out of the actual sea, and only half risen: her limbs are still in the sea, her merely animal strength filling the waters with their life; but her body to the loins is in the sunshine, her face raised to the sky; her hand is about to lay a garland of flowers on the earth.

186. The Venus Urania of the Greeks, in her relation to men, has power only over lawful and domestic love; therefore, she is fully dressed, and not only quite dressed, but most daintily and trimly: her feet delicately sandalled, her gown spotted with little stars, her hair brushed exquisitely smooth at the top of her head, trickling in minute waves down her forehead; and though, because there's such a quantity of it, she can't possibly help having a chignon, look how tightly she has fastened it in with her broad fillet. Of course she is married, so she must wear a cap with pretty minute pendant jewels at the border; and a very small necklace, all that her[Pg 398] husband can properly afford, just enough to go closely round the neck, and no more. On the contrary, the Aphrodite of the Italian, being universal love, is pure-naked; and her long hair is thrown wild to the wind and sea.

These primal differences in the symbolism, observe, are only because the artists are thinking of separate powers: they do not necessarily involve any national distinction in feeling. But the differences I have next to indicate are essential, and characterize the two opposed national modes of mind.

187. First, and chiefly. The Greek Aphrodite is a very pretty person, and the Italian a decidedly plain one. That is because a Greek thought no one could possibly love any but pretty people; but an Italian thought that love could give dignity to the meanest form that it inhabited, and light to the poorest that it looked upon. So his Aphrodite will not condescend to be pretty.

188. Secondly. In the Greek Venus the breasts are broad and full, though perfectly severe in their almost conical profile;—(you are allowed on purpose to see the outline of the right breast, under the chiton:)—also the right arm is left bare, and you can just see the contour of the front of the right limb and knee; both arm and limb pure and firm, but lovely. The plant she holds in her hand is a branching and flowering one, the seed vessel prominent. These signs all mean that her essential function is child-bearing.

On the contrary, in the Italian Venus the breasts are so small as to be scarcely traceable; the body strong, and almost masculine in its angles; the arms meagre and unattractive, and she lays a decorative garland of flowers on the earth. These signs mean that the Italian thought of love as the strength of an eternal spirit, for ever helpful; and for ever crowned with flowers, that neither know seed-time nor harvest, and bloom where there is neither death, nor birth.

189. Thirdly. The Greek Aphrodite is entirely calm, and looks straight forward. Not one feature of her face is disturbed, or seems ever to have been subject to emotion. The Italian Aphrodite looks up, her face all quivering and burning[Pg 399] with passion and wasting anxiety. The Greek one is quiet, self-possessed, and self-satisfied; the Italian incapable of rest, she has had no thought nor care for herself; her hair has been bound by a fillet like the Greeks; but it is now all fallen loose, and clotted with the sea, or clinging to her body; only the front tress of it is caught by the breeze from her raised forehead, and lifted, in the place where the tongues of fire rest on the brows, in the early Christian pictures of Pentecost, and the waving fires abide upon the heads of Angelico's seraphim.

190. There are almost endless points of interest, great and small, to be noted in these differences of treatment. This binding of the hair by the single fillet marks the straight course of one great system of art method, from that Greek head which I showed you on the archaic coin of the seventh century before Christ, to this of the fifteenth of our own era—nay, when you look close, you will see the entire action of the head depends on one lock of hair falling back from the ear, which it does in compliance with the old Greek observance of its being bent there by the pressure of the helmet. That rippling of it down her shoulders comes from the Athena of Corinth; the raising of it on her forehead, from the knot of the hair of Diana, changed into the vestal fire of the angels. But chiefly, the calmness of the features in the one face, and their anxiety in the other, indicate first, indeed, the characteristic difference in every conception of the schools, the Greek never representing expression, the Italian primarily seeking it; but far more, mark for us here the utter change in the conception of love; from the tranquil guide and queen of a happy terrestrial domestic life, accepting its immediate pleasures and natural duties, to the agonizing hope of an infinite good, and the ever mingled joy and terror of a love divine in jealousy, crying, "Set me as a seal upon thine heart, as a seal upon thine arm; for love is strong as death, jealousy is cruel as the grave."

The vast issues dependent on this change in the conception of the ruling passion of the human soul, I will endeavour to show you, on a future occasion: in my present lecture, I[Pg 400] shall limit myself to the definition of the temper of Greek sculpture, and of its distinctions from Florentine in the treatment of any subject whatever, be it love or hatred, hope or despair.

These great differences are mainly the following.

191. 1. A Greek never expresses momentary passion; a Florentine looks to momentary passion as the ultimate object of his skill.

When you are next in London, look carefully in the British Museum at the casts from the statues in the pediment of the Temple of Minerva at Ægina. You have there Greek work of definite date;—about 600 b.c., certainly before 580—of the purest kind; and you have the representation of a noble ideal subject, the combats of the Æacidæ at Troy, with Athena herself looking on. But there is no attempt whatever to represent expression in the features, none to give complexity of action or gesture; there is no struggling, no anxiety, no visible temporary exertion of muscles. There are fallen figures, one pulling a lance out of his wound, and others in attitudes of attack and defence; several kneeling to draw their bows. But all inflict and suffer, conquer or expire, with the same smile.

192. Plate XIV. gives you examples, from more advanced art, of true Greek representation; the subjects being the two contests of leading import to the Greek heart—that of Apollo with the Python, and of Hercules with the Nemean Lion. You see that in neither case is there the slightest effort to represent the λυσσα or agony of contest. No good Greek artist would have you behold the suffering, either of gods, heroes, or men; nor allow you to be apprehensive of the issue of their contest with evil beasts, or evil spirits. All such lower sources of excitement are to be closed to you; your interest is to be in the thoughts involved by the fact of the war; and in the beauty or rightness of form, whether active or inactive. I have to work out this subject with you afterwards, and to compare with the pure Greek method of thought, that of modern dramatic passion, engrafted on it, as typically in Turner's contest of Apollo and the Python: in the meantime, be content with the statement of this first great principle—that a Greek, as such, never expresses momentary passion.

Plate XIV.—Apollo and the Python. Plate XIV.—Apollo and the Python.
Heracles and the Nemean Lion.
Plate XV.—Hera of Argos. Zeus of Syracuse. Plate XV.—Hera of Argos. Zeus of Syracuse.

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193. Secondly. The Greek, as such, never expresses personal character, while a Florentine holds it to be the ultimate condition of beauty. You are startled, I suppose, at my saying this, having had it often pointed out to you, as a transcendent piece of subtlety in Greek art, that you could distinguish Hercules from Apollo by his being stout, and Diana from Juno by her being slender. That is very true; but those are general distinctions of class, not special distinctions of personal character. Even as general, they are bodily, not mental. They are the distinctions, in fleshly aspect, between an athlete and a musician,—between a matron and a huntress; but in no wise distinguish the simple-hearted hero from the subtle Master of the Muses, nor the wilful and fitful girl-goddess from the cruel and resolute matron-goddess. But judge for yourselves;—In the successive plates, XV.—XVIII., I show you,[136] typically represented as the protectresses of nations, the Argive, Cretan, and Lacinian Hera, the Messenian Demeter, the Athena of Corinth, the Artemis of Syracuse, the fountain Arethusa of Syracuse, and the Sirem Ligeia of Terina. Now, of these heads, it is true that some are more delicate in feature than the rest, and some softer in expression: in other respects, can you trace any distinction between the Goddesses of Earth and Heaven, or between the Goddess of Wisdom and the Water Nymph of Syracuse? So little can you do so, that it would have remained a disputed question—had not the name luckily been inscribed on some Syracusan coins—whether the head upon them was meant for Arethusa at all; and, continually, it becomes a question respecting finished statues, if without attributes, "Is this Bacchus or Apollo—Zeus or Poseidon?" There is a fact for you; noteworthy, I think! There is no personal character in[Pg 402] true Greek art:—abstract ideas of youth and age, strength and swiftness, virtue and vice,—yes: but there is no individuality; and the negative holds down to the revived conventionalism of the Greek school by Leonardo, when he tells you how you are to paint young women, and how old ones; though a Greek would hardly have been so discourteous to age as the Italian is in his canon of it,—"old women should be represented as passionate and hasty, after the manner of Infernal Furies."

194. "But at least, if the Greeks do not give character, they give ideal beauty?" So it is said, without contradiction. But will you look again at the series of coins of the best time of Greek art, which I have just set before you? Are any of these goddesses or nymphs very beautiful? Certainly the Junos are not. Certainly the Demeters are not. The Siren, and Arethusa, have well-formed and regular features; but I am quite sure that if you look at them without prejudice, you will think neither reach even the average standard of pretty English girls. The Venus Urania suggests at first, the idea of a very charming person, but you will find there is no real depth nor sweetness in the contours, looked at closely. And remember, these are chosen examples; the best I can find of art current in Greece at the great time; and if even I were to take the celebrated statues, of which only two or three are extant, not one of them excels the Venus of Melos; and she, as I have already asserted, in The Queen of the Air, has nothing notable in feature except dignity and simplicity. Of Athena I do not know one authentic type of great beauty; but the intense ugliness which the Greeks could tolerate in their symbolism of her will be convincingly proved to you by the coin represented in Plate VI. You need only look at two or three vases of the best time, to assure yourselves that beauty of feature was, in popular art, not only unattained, but unattempted; and finally,—and this you may accept as a conclusive proof of the Greek insensitiveness to the most subtle beauty—there is little evidence even in their literature, and none in their art, of their having ever perceived any beauty in infancy, or early childhood.

Plate XVI.—Demeter of Messene. Hera of Crossus. Plate XVI.—Demeter of Messene. Hera of Crossus.
Plate XVII.—Athena of Thurium. Plate XVII.—Athena of Thurium.
Sereie Ligeia of Terina

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195. The Greeks, then, do not give passion, do not give character, do not give refined or naïve beauty. But you may think that the absence of these is intended to give dignity to the gods and nymphs; and that their calm faces would be found, if you long observed them, instinct with some expression of divine mystery or power.

I will convince you of the narrow range of Greek thought in these respects, by showing you, from the two sides of one and the same coin, images of the most mysterious of their Deities, and the most powerful,—Demeter and Zeus.

Remember, that just as the west coasts of Ireland and England catch first on their hills the rain of the Atlantic, so the western Peloponnese arrests, in the clouds of the first mountain ranges of Arcadia, the moisture of the Mediterranean; and over all the plains of Elis, Pylos, and Messene, the strength and sustenance of men was naturally felt to be granted by Zeus; as, on the east coast of Greece, the greater clearness of the air by the power of Athena. If you will recollect the prayer of Rhea, in the single line of Callimachus—"Γαια φιλη, τεκε και συ τεαι δ' ωδινες ελαφραι," (compare Pausanias iv. 33, at the beginning,)—it will mark for you the connection, in the Greek mind, of the birth of the mountain springs of Arcadia with the birth of Zeus. And the centres of Greek thought on this western coast are necessarily Elis, and, (after the time of Epaminondas,) Messene.

196. I show you the coin of Messene, because the splendid height and form of Mount Ithome were more expressive of the physical power of Zeus than the lower hills of Olympia; and also because it was struck just at the time of the most finished and delicate Greek art—a little after the main strength of Phidias, but before decadence had generally pronounced itself. The coin is a silver didrachm, bearing on one side a head of Demeter (Plate XVI., at the top); on the other a full figure of Zeus Aietophoros (Plate XIX., at the top); the two together signifying the sustaining strength of the earth and heaven. Look first at the head of Demeter. It is merely meant to personify fulness of harvest; there is no mystery in it, no sadness, no vestige of the expression which[Pg 404] we should have looked for in any effort to realize the Greek thoughts of the Earth Mother, as we find them spoken by the poets. But take it merely as personified abundance;—the goddess of black furrow and tawny grass—how commonplace it is, and how poor! The hair is grand, and there is one stalk of wheat set in it, which is enough to indicate the goddess who is meant; but, in that very office, ignoble, for it shows that the artist could only inform you that this was Demeter by such a symbol. How easy it would have been for a great designer to have made the hair lovely with fruitful flowers, and the features noble in mystery of gloom, or of tenderness. But here you have nothing to interest you, except the common Greek perfections of a straight nose and a full chin.

197. We pass, on the reverse of the die, to the figure of Zeus Aietophoros. Think of the invocation to Zeus in the Suppliants, (525), "King of Kings, and Happiest of the Happy, Perfectest of the Perfect in strength, abounding in all things, Jove—hear us and be with us;" and then, consider what strange phase of mind it was, which, under the very mountain-home of the god, was content with this symbol of him as a well-fed athlete, holding a diminutive and crouching eagle on his fist. The features and the right hand have been injured in this coin, but the action of the arms shows that it held a thunderbolt, of which, I believe, the twisted rays were triple. In the, presumably earlier, coin engraved by Millingen, however,[137] it is singly pointed only; and the added inscription "ΙΘΩΜ," in the field, renders the conjecture of Millingen probable, that this is a rude representation of the statue of Zeus Ithomates, made by Ageladas, the master of Phidias; and I think it has, indeed, the aspect of the endeavour, by a workman of more advanced knowledge, and more vulgar temper, to put the softer anatomy of later schools into the simple action of an archaic figure. Be that as it may, here is one of the most refined cities of Greece content with the figure of an athlete as the representative of their own mountain god; marked as a divine power merely by the attributes of the eagle and thunderbolt.

Plate XVIII.—Artemis of Syracuse. Plate XVIII.—Artemis of Syracuse.
Hera of Lacinian Cape.
Plate XIX.—Zeus of Messene. Ajax of Opus. Plate XIX.—Zeus of Messene. Ajax of Opus.

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198. Lastly. The Greeks have not, it appears, in any supreme way, given to their statues character, beauty, or divine strength. Can they give divine sadness? Shall we find in their artwork any of that pensiveness and yearning for the dead, which fills the chants of their tragedy? I suppose if anything like nearness or firmness of faith in afterlife is to be found in Greek legend, you might look for it in the stories about the Island of Leuce, at the mouth of the Danube, inhabited by the ghosts of Achilles, Patroclus, Ajax the son of Oïleus, and Helen; and in which the pavement of the Temple of Achilles was washed daily by the sea-birds with their wings, dipping them in the sea.

Now it happens that we have actually on a coin of the Locrians the representation of the ghost of the Lesser Ajax. There is nothing in the history of human imagination more lovely, than their leaving always a place for his spirit, vacant in their ranks of battle. But here is their sculptural representation of the phantom; (lower figure, Plate XIX.), and I think you will at once agree with me in feeling that it would be impossible to conceive anything more completely unspiritual. You might more than doubt that it could have been meant for the departed soul, unless you were aware of the meaning of this little circlet between the feet. On other coins you find his name inscribed there, but in this you have his habitation, the haunted Island of Leuce itself, with the waves flowing round it.

199. Again and again, however, I have to remind you, with respect to these apparently frank and simple failures, that the Greek always intends you to think for yourself, and understand, more than he can speak. Take this instance at our hands, the trim little circlet for the Island of Leuce. The workman knows very well it is not like the island, and that he could not make it so; that at its best, his sculpture can be little more than a letter; and yet, in putting this circlet, and its encompassing fretwork of minute waves, he does more than if he had merely given you a letter L, or written "Leuce." If you know anything of beaches and sea, this symbol will set your imagination at work in recalling them;[Pg 406] then you will think of the temple service of the novitiate sea-birds, and of the ghosts of Achilles and Patroclus appearing, like the Dioscuri, above the storm-clouds of the Euxine. And the artist, throughout his work, never for an instant loses faith in your sympathy and passion being ready to answer his;—if you have none to give, he does not care to take you into his counsel; on the whole, would rather that you should not look at his work.

200. But if you have this sympathy to give, you may be sure that whatever he does for you will be right, as far as he can render it so. It may not be sublime, nor beautiful, nor amusing; but it will be full of meaning, and faithful in guidance. He will give you clue to myriads of things that he cannot literally teach; and, so far as he does teach, you may trust him. Is not this saying much?

And as he strove only to teach what was true, so, in his sculptured symbol, he strove only to carve what was—Right. He rules over the arts to this day, and will for ever, because he sought not first for beauty, nor first for passion, or for invention, but for Rightness; striving to display, neither himself nor his art, but the thing that he dealt with, in its simplicity. That is his specific character as a Greek. Of course, every nation's character is connected with that of others surrounding or preceding it; and in the best Greek work you will find some things that are still false, or fanciful; but whatever in it is false or fanciful, is not the Greek part of it—it is the Phœnician, or Egyptian, or Pelasgian part. The essential Hellenic stamp is veracity:—Eastern nations drew their heroes with eight legs, but the Greeks drew them with two;—Egyptians drew their deities with cats' heads, but the Greeks drew them with men's; and out of all fallacy, disproportion, and indefiniteness, they were, day by day, resolvedly withdrawing and exalting themselves into restricted and demonstrable truth.

201. And now, having cut away the misconceptions which encumbered our thoughts, I shall be able to put the Greek school into some clearness of its position for you, with respect to the art of the world. That relation is strangely duplicate; for on one side, Greek art is the root of all simplicity; and on the other, of all complexity.

Plate XX.—Greek and Barbarian Sculpture. Plate XX.—Greek and Barbarian Sculpture.

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On one side I say, it is the root of all simplicity. If you were for some prolonged period to study Greek sculpture exclusively in the Elgin Room of the British Museum, and were then suddenly transported to the Hôtel de Cluny, or any other museum of Gothic and barbarian workmanship, you would imagine the Greeks were the masters of all that was grand, simple, wise, and tenderly human, opposed to the pettiness of the toys of the rest of mankind.

202. On one side of their work they are so. From all vain and mean decoration—all weak and monstrous error, the Greeks rescue the forms of man and beast, and sculpture them in the nakedness of their true flesh, and with the fire of their living soul. Distinctively from other races, as I have now, perhaps to your weariness, told you, this is the work of the Greek, to give health to what was diseased, and chastisement to what was untrue. So far as this is found in any other school, hereafter, it belongs to them by inheritance from the Greeks, or invests them with the brotherhood of the Greek. And this is the deep meaning of the myth of Dædalus as the giver of motion to statues. The literal change from the binding together of the feet to their separation, and the other modifications of action which took place, either in progressive skill, or often, as the mere consequence of the transition from wood to stone, (a figure carved out of one wooden log must have necessarily its feet near each other, and hands at its sides), these literal changes are as nothing, in the Greek fable, compared to the bestowing of apparent life. The figures of monstrous gods on Indian temples have their legs separate enough; but they are infinitely more dead than the rude figures at Branchidæ sitting with their hands on their knees. And, briefly, the work of Dædalus is the giving of deceptive life, as that of Prometheus the giving of real life; and I can put the relation of Greek to all other art, in this function, before you in easily compared and remembered examples.

203. Here, on the right, in Plate XX., is an Indian bull, colossal, and elaborately carved, which you may take as a[Pg 408] sufficient type of the bad art of all the earth. False in form, dead in heart, and loaded with wealth, externally. We will not ask the date of this; it may rest in the eternal obscurity of evil art, everywhere and for ever. Now, besides this colossal bull, here is a bit of Dædalus work, enlarged from a coin not bigger than a shilling: look at the two together, and you ought to know, henceforward, what Greek art means, to the end of your days.

204. In this aspect of it then, I say, it is the simplest and nakedest of lovely veracities. But it has another aspect, or rather another pole, for the opposition is diametric. As the simplest, so also it is the most complex of human art. I told you in my fifth Lecture, showing you the spotty picture of Velasquez, that an essential Greek character is a liking for things that are dappled. And you cannot but have noticed how often and how prevalently the idea which gave its name to the Porch of Polygnotus, "στοα ποικιλη," occurs to the Greeks as connected with the finest art. Thus, when the luxurious city is opposed to the simple and healthful one, in the second book of Plato's Polity, you find that, next to perfumes, pretty ladies, and dice, you must have in it "ποικιλια," which observe, both in that place and again in the third book, is the separate art of joiners' work, or inlaying; but the idea of exquisitely divided variegation or division, both in sight and sound—the "ravishing division to the lute," as in Pindar's "ροικιλοι ὑμνοι"—runs through the compass of all Greek art-description; and if, instead of studying that art among marbles you were to look at it only on vases of a fine time, (look back, for instance, to Plate IV. here), your impression of it would be, instead of breadth and simplicity, one of universal spottiness and chequeredness, "εν ανγεων Ἑρκεσιν παμποικιλοις;" and of the artist's delighting in nothing so much as in crossed or starred or spotted things; which, in right places, he and his public both do unlimitedly. Indeed they hold it complimentary even to a trout, to call him a "spotty." Do you recollect the trout in the tributaries of the Ladon, which Pausanias says were spotted, so that they were like thrushes and which, the Arcadians told him, could speak? In this last ποικιλια, however, they disappointed him. "I, indeed, saw some of them caught," he says, "but I did not hear any of them speak, though I waited beside the river till sunset."

Plate XXI.—The Beginnings of Chivalry. Plate XXI.—The Beginnings of Chivalry.

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205. I must sum roughly now, for I have detained you too long.

The Greeks have been thus the origin not only of all broad, mighty, and calm conception, but of all that is divided, delicate, and tremulous; "variable as the shade, by the light quivering aspen made." To them, as first leaders of ornamental design, belongs, of right, the praise of glistenings in gold, piercings in ivory, stainings in purple, burnishings in dark blue steel; of the fantasy of the Arabian roof—quartering of the Christian shield,—rubric and arabesque of Christian scripture; in fine, all enlargement, and all diminution of adorning thought, from the temple to the toy, and from the mountainous pillars of Agrigentum to the last fineness of fretwork in the Pisan Chapel of the Thorn.

And in their doing all this, they stand as masters of human order and justice, subduing the animal nature guided by the spiritual one, as you see the Sicilian Charioteer stands, holding his horse-reins, with the wild lion racing beneath him, and the flying angel above, on the beautiful coin of early Syracuse; (lowest in Plate XXI).

And the beginnings of Christian chivalary were in that Greek bridling of the dark and the white horses.

206. Not that a Greek never made mistakes. He made as many as we do ourselves, nearly;—he died of his mistakes at last—as we shall die of them; but so far he was separated from the herd of more mistaken and more wretched nations—so far as he was Greek—it was by his rightness. He lived, and worked, and was satisfied with the fatness of his land, and the fame of his deeds, by his justice, and reason, and modesty. He became Græculus esuriens, little, and hungry, and every man's errand-boy, by his iniquity, and his competition, and his love of talk. But his Græcism was in having done, at least at one period of his dominion, more than anybody else, what was modest, useful, and eternally true; and as a workman, he[Pg 410] verily did, or first suggested the doing of, everything possible to man.

Take Dædalus, his great type of the practically executive craftsman, and the inventor of expedients in craftsmanship, (as distinguished from Prometheus, the institutor of moral order in art). Dædalus invents,—he, or his nephew,—

The potter's wheel, and all work in clay;

The saw, and all work in wood;

The masts and sails of ships, and all modes of motion; (wings only proving too dangerous!)

The entire art of minute ornament;

And the deceptive life of statues.

By his personal toil, he involves the fatal labyrinth for Minos; builds an impregnable fortress for the Agrigentines; adorns healing baths among the wild parsley fields of Selinus; buttresses the precipices of Eryx, under the temple of Aphrodite; and for her temple itself—finishes in exquisiteness the golden honeycomb.

207. Take note of that last piece of his art: it is connected with many things which I must bring before you when we enter on the study of architecture. That study we shall begin at the foot of the Baptistery of Florence, which, of all buildings known to me, unites the most perfect symmetry with the quaintest ροικιλια. Then, from the tomb of your own Edward the Confessor, to the farthest shrine of the opposite Arabian and Indian world, I must show you how the glittering and iridescent dominion of Dædalus prevails; and his ingenuity in division, interposition, and labyrinthine sequence, more widely still. Only this last summer I found the dark red masses of the rough sandstone of Furness Abbey had been fitted by him, with no less pleasure than he had in carving them, into wedged hexagons—reminiscences of the honeycomb of Venus Erycina. His ingenuity plays around the framework of all the noblest things; and yet the brightness of it has a lurid shadow. The spot of the fawn, of the bird, and the moth, may be harmless. But Dædalus reigns no less over the spot of the leopard and snake. That cruel and venomous power of his art is marked, in the legends of him, by[Pg 411] his invention of the saw from the serpent's tooth; and his seeking refuge, under blood-guiltiness, with Minos, who can judge evil, and measure, or remit, the penalty of it, but not reward good: Rhadamanthus only can measure that; but Minos is essentially the recognizer of evil deeds "conoscitor delle peccata," whom, therefore, you find in Dante under the form of the ερπετον. "Cignesi con la coda tante volte, quantunque gradi vuol che giu sia messa."

And this peril of the influence of Dædalus is twofold; first in leading us to delight in glitterings and semblances of things, more than in their form, or truth;—admire the harlequin's jacket more than the hero's strength; and love the gilding of the missal more than its words;—but farther, and worse, the ingenuity of Dædalus may even become bestial, an instinct for mechanical labour only, strangely involved with a feverish and ghastly cruelty:—(you will find this distinct in the intensely Dædal work of the Japanese); rebellious, finally, against the laws of nature and honour, and building labyrinths for monsters,—not combs for bees.

208. Gentlemen, we of the rough northern race may never, perhaps, be able to learn from the Greek his reverence for beauty: but we may at least learn his disdain of mechanism:—of all work which he felt to be monstrous and inhuman in its imprudent dexterities.

We hold ourselves, we English, to be good workmen. I do not think I speak with light reference to recent calamity, (for I myself lost a young relation, full of hope and good purpose, in the foundered ship London,) when I say that either an Æginetan or Ionian shipwright built ships that could be fought from, though they were under water; and neither of them would have been proud of having built one that would fill and sink helplessly if the sea washed over her deck, or turn upside down if a squall struck her topsail.

Believe me, gentlemen, good workmanship consists in continence [Pg 414]and common sense, more than in frantic expatiation of mechanical ingenuity; and if you would be continent and rational, you had better learn more of Art than you do now, and less of Engineering. What is taking place at this very[Pg 412] hour,[138] among the streets, once so bright, and avenues once so pleasant, of the fairest city in Europe, may surely lead us all to feel that the skill of Dædalus, set to build impregnable fortresses, is not so wisely applied as in framing the τρητον πονου—the golden honeycomb.


[135] The closing Lecture, on the religious temper of the Florentine, though necessary for the complete explanation of the subject to my class, at the time, introduced new points of inquiry which I do not choose to lay before the general reader until they can be examined in fuller sequence. The present volume, therefore, closes with the Sixth Lecture, and that on Christian art will be given as the first of the published course on Florentine Sculpture.

[136] These plates of coins are given for future reference and examination, not merely for the use made of them in this place. The Lacinian Hera, if a coin could be found unworn in surface, would be very noble; her hair is thrown free because she is the goddess of the cape of storms though in her temple, there, the wind never moved the ashes on its altar. (Livy, xxiv. 3.)

[137] Ancient Cities and Kings, Plate IV. No. 20.

[138] The siege of Paris, at the time of the delivery of this Lecture, was in one of its most destructive phases.

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(Delivered at the R. A. Institution, Woolwich, December 14, 1869.)

I would fain have left to the frank expression of the moment, but fear I could not have found clear words—I cannot easily find them, even deliberately,—to tell you how glad I am, and yet how ashamed, to accept your permission to speak to you. Ashamed of appearing to think that I can tell you any truth which you have not more deeply felt than I; but glad in the thought that my less experience, and way of life sheltered from the trials, and free from the responsibilities of yours, may have left me with something of a child's power of help to you; a sureness of hope, which may perhaps be the one thing that can be helpful to men who have done too much not to have often failed in doing all that they desired. And indeed, even the most hopeful of us, cannot but now be in many things apprehensive. For this at least we all know too well, that we are on the eve of a great political crisis, if not of political change. That a struggle is approaching between the newly-risen power of democracy and the apparently departing power of feudalism; and another struggle, no less imminent, and far more dangerous, between wealth and pauperism. These two quarrels are constantly thought of as the same. They are being fought together, and an apparently common interest unites for the most part the millionaire with the noble, in resistance to a multitude, crying, part of it for bread and part of it for liberty.

And yet no two quarrels can be more distinct. Riches—so far from being necessary to noblesse—are adverse to it. So utterly adverse, that the first character of all the Nobilities which have founded great dynasties in the world is to be[Pg 416] poor;—often poor by oath—always poor by generosity. And of every true knight in the chivalric ages, the first thing history tells you is, that he never kept treasure for himself.

Thus the causes of wealth and noblesse are not the same; but opposite. On the other hand, the causes of anarchy and of the poor are not the same, but opposite. Side by side, in the same rank, are now indeed set the pride that revolts against authority, and the misery that appeals against avarice. But, so far from being a common cause, all anarchy is the forerunner of poverty, and all prosperity begins in obedience. So that thus, it has become impossible to give due support to the cause of order, without seeming to countenance injury; and impossible to plead justly the claims of sorrow, without seeming to plead also for those of license.

Let me try, then, to put in very brief terms, the real plan of this various quarrel, and the truth of the cause on each side. Let us face that full truth, whatever it may be, and decide what part, according to our power, we should take in the quarrel.

First. For eleven hundred years, all but five, since Charlemagne set on his head the Lombard crown, the body of European people have submitted patiently to be governed; generally by kings—always by single leaders of some kind. But for the last fifty years they have begun to suspect, and of late they have many of them concluded, that they have been on the whole ill-governed, or misgoverned, by their kings. Whereupon they say, more and more widely, "Let us henceforth have no kings; and no government at all."

Now we said, we must face the full truth of the matter, in order to see what we are to do. And the truth is that the people have been misgoverned;—that very little is to be said, hitherto, for most of their masters—and that certainly in many places they will try their new system of "no masters:"—and as that arrangement will be delightful to all foolish persons, and, at first, profitable to all wicked ones,—and as these classes are not wanting or unimportant in any human society,—the experiment is likely to be tried extensively. And the world may be quite content to endure much suffering[Pg 417] with this fresh hope, and retain its faith in anarchy, whatever comes of it, till it can endure no more.

Then, secondly. The people have begun to suspect that one particular form of this past misgovernment has been, that their masters have set them to do all the work, and have themselves taken all the wages. In a word, that what was called governing them, meant only wearing fine clothes, and living on good fare at their expense. And I am sorry to say, the people are quite right in this opinion also. If you inquire into the vital fact of the matter, this you will find to be the constant structure of European society for the thousand years of the feudal system; it was divided into peasants who lived by working; priests who lived by begging; and knights who lived by pillaging; and as the luminous public mind becomes gradually cognizant of these facts, it will assuredly not suffer things to be altogether arranged that way any more; and the devising of other ways will be an agitating business; especially because the first impression of the intelligent populace is, that whereas, in the dark ages, half the nation lived idle, in the bright ages to come, the whole of it may.

Now, thirdly—and here is much the worst phase of the crisis. This past system of misgovernment, especially during the last three hundred years, has prepared, by its neglect, a class among the lower orders which it is now peculiarly difficult to govern. It deservedly lost their respect—but that was the least part of the mischief. The deadly part of it was, that the lower orders lost their habit, and at last their faculty, of respect;—lost the very capability of reverence, which is the most precious part of the human soul. Exactly in the degree in which you can find creatures greater than yourself, to look up to, in that degree, you are ennobled yourself, and, in that degree, happy. If you could live always in the presence of archangels, you would be happier than in that of men; but even if only in the company of admirable knights and beautiful ladies, the more noble and bright they were, and the more you could reverence their virtue the happier you would be. On the contrary, if you were condemned to live among a multitude of idiots, dumb, distorted and[Pg 418] malicious, you would not be happy in the constant sense of your own superiority. Thus all real joy and power of progress in humanity depend on finding something to reverence; and all the baseness and misery of humanity begin in a habit of disdain. Now, by general misgovernment, I repeat, we have created in Europe a vast populace, and out of Europe a still vaster one, which has lost even the power and conception of reverence;[139]—which exists only in the worship of itself—which can neither see anything beautiful around it, nor conceive anything virtuous above it; which has, towards all goodness and greatness, no other feelings than those of the lowest creatures—fear, hatred, or hunger a populace which has sunk below your appeal in their nature, as it has risen beyond your power in their multitude;—whom you can now no more charm than you can the adder, nor discipline, than you can the summer fly.

It is a crisis, gentlemen; and time to think of it. I have roughly and broadly put it before you in its darkness. Let us look what we may find of light.

Only the other day, in a journal which is a fairly representative exponent of the Conservatism of our day, and for the most part not at all in favor of strikes or other popular proceedings; only about three weeks since, there was a leader, with this, or a similar, title—"What is to become of the House of Lords?" It startled me, for it seemed as if we were going even faster than I had thought, when such a question was put as a subject of quite open debate, in a journal meant chiefly for the reading of the middle and upper classes. Open or not—the debate is near. What is to become of them? And the answer to such question depends first on their being able to answer another question—"What is the use of them!" For some time back, I think the theory of the nation has been, that they are useful as impediments to business, so as to give time for second thoughts. But the nation is getting impatient of impediments to business; and certainly, sooner or later, will think it needless to maintain these[Pg 419] expensive obstacles to its humors. And I have not heard, either in public, or from any of themselves, a clear expression of their own conception of their use. So that it seems thus to become needful for all men to tell them, as our one quite clear-sighted teacher, Carlyle, has been telling us for many a year, that the use of the Lords of a country is to govern the country. If they answer that use, the country will rejoice in keeping them; if not, that will become of them which must of all things found to have lost their serviceableness.

Here, therefore, is the one question, at this crisis, for them, and for us. Will they be lords indeed, and give us laws—dukes indeed, and give us guiding—princes indeed, and give us beginning, of truer dynasty, which shall not be soiled by covetousness, nor disordered by iniquity? Have they themselves sunk so far as not to hope this? Are there yet any among them who can stand forward with open English brows, and say,—So far as in me lies, I will govern with my might, not for Dieu et mon Droit, but for the first grand reading of the war cry, from which that was corrupted, "Dieu et Droit?" Among them I know there are some—among you, soldiers of England, I know there are many, who can do this; and in you is our trust. I, one of the lower people of your country, ask of you in their name—you whom I will not any more call soldiers, but by the truer name of Knights;—Equites of England. How many yet of you are there, knights errant now beyond all former fields of danger—knights patient now beyond all former endurance; who still retain the ancient and eternal purpose of knighthood, to subdue the wicked, and aid the weak? To them, be they few or many, we English people call for help to the wretchedness, and for rule over the baseness, of multitudes desolate and deceived, shrieking to one another this new gospel of their new religion. "Let the weak do as they can, and the wicked as they will."

I can hear you saying in your hearts, even the bravest of you, "The time is past for all that." Gentlemen, it is not so. The time has come for more than all that. Hitherto,[Pg 420] soldiers have given their lives for false fame, and for cruel power. The day is now when they must give their lives for true fame, and for beneficent power: and the work is near every one of you—close beside you—the means of it even thrust into your hands. The people are crying to you for command, and you stand there at pause, and silent. You think they don't want to be commanded; try them; determine what is needful for them—honorable for them; show it them, promise to bring them to it, and they will follow you through fire. "Govern us," they cry with one heart, though many minds. They can be governed still, these English; they are men still; not gnats, nor serpents. They love their old ways yet, and their old masters, and their old land. They would fain live in it, as many as may stay there, if you will show them how, there, to live;—or show them even, how, there, like Englishmen, to die.

"To live in it, as many as may!" How many do you think may? How many can? How many do you want to live there? As masters, your first object must be to increase your power; and in what does the power of a country consist? Will you have dominion over its stones, or over its clouds, or over its souls? What do you mean by a great nation, but a great multitude of men who are true to each other, and strong, and of worth? Now you can increase the multitude only definitely—your island has only so much standing room—but you can increase the worth indefinitely. It is but a little island;—suppose, little as it is, you were to fill it with friends? You may, and that easily. You must, and that speedily; or there will be an end to this England of ours, and to all its loves and enmities.

To fill this little island with true friends—men brave, wise, and happy! Is it so impossible, think you, after the world's eighteen hundred years of Christianity, and our own thousand years of toil, to fill only this little white gleaming crag with happy creatures, helpful to each other? Africa, and India, and the Brazilian wide-watered plain, are these not wide enough for the ignorance of our race? have they not space enough for its pain? Must we remain here also[Pg 421] savage,— at enmity with each other,— foodless, houseless, in rags, in dust, and without hope, as thousands and tens of thousands of us are lying? Do not think it, gentlemen. The thought that it is inevitable is the last infidelity; infidelity not to God only, but to every creature and every law that He has made. Are we to think that the earth was only shaped to be a globe of torture; and that there cannot be one spot of it where peace can rest, or justice reign? Where are men ever to be happy, if not in England? by whom shall they ever be taught to do right, if not by you? Are we not of a race first among the strong ones of the earth; the blood in us incapable of weariness, unconquerable by grief? Have we not a history of which we can hardly think without becoming insolent in our just pride of it? Can we dare, without passing every limit of courtesy to other nations, to say how much more we have to be proud of in our ancestors than they? Among our ancient monarchs, great crimes stand out as monstrous and strange. But their valor, and, according to their understanding, their benevolence, are constant. The Wars of the Roses, which are as a fearful crimson shadow on our land, represent the normal condition of other nations; while from the days of the Heptarchy downwards we have had examples given us, in all ranks, of the most varied and exalted virtue; a heap of treasure that no moth can corrupt, and which even our traitorship, if we are to become traitors to it, cannot sully.

And this is the race, then, that we know not any more how to govern! and this the history which we are to behold broken off by sedition! and this is the country, of all others, where life is to become difficult to the honest, and ridiculous to the wise! And the catastrophe, forsooth, is to come just when we have been making swiftest progress beyond the wisdom and wealth of the past. Our cities are a wilderness of spinning wheels instead of palaces; yet the people have not clothes. We have blackened every leaf of English greenwood with ashes, and the people die of cold; our harbors are a forest of merchant ships, and the people die of hunger.

Whose fault is it? Yours, gentlemen; yours only. You[Pg 422] alone can feed them, and clothe, and bring into their right minds, for you only can govern—that is to say, you only can educate them.

Educate, or govern, they are one and the same word. Education does not mean teaching people to know what they do not know. It means teaching them to behave as they do not behave. And the true "compulsory education" which the people now ask of you is not catechism, but drill. It is not teaching the youth of England the shapes of letters and the tricks of numbers; and then leaving them to turn their arithmetic to roguery, and their literature to lust. It is, on the contrary, training them into the perfect exercise and kingly continence of their bodies and souls. It is a painful, continual, and difficult work; to be done by kindness, by watching, by warning, by precept, and by praise,—but above all—by example.

Compulsory! Yes, by all means! "Go ye out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in." Compulsory! Yes, and gratis also. Dei Gratia, they must be taught, as, Dei Gratia, you are set to teach them. I hear strange talk continually, "how difficult it is to make people pay for being educated!" Why, I should think so! Do you make your children pay for their education, or do you give it them compulsorily, and gratis? You do not expect them to pay you for their teaching, except by becoming good children. Why should you expect a peasant to pay for his, except by becoming a good man?—payment enough, I think, if we knew it. Payment enough to himself, as to us. For that is another of our grand popular mistakes—people are always thinking of education as a means of livelihood. Education is not a profitable business, but a costly one; nay, even the best attainments of it are always unprofitable, in any terms of coin. No nation ever made its bread either by its great arts, or its great wisdoms. By its minor arts or manufactures, by its practical knowledges, yes: but its noble scholarship, its noble philosophy, and its noble art, are always to be bought as a treasure, not sold for a livelihood. You do not learn that you may live—you live that you may learn.[Pg 423] You are to spend on National Education, and to be spent for it, and to make by it, not more money, but better men;—to get into this British Island the greatest possible number of good and brave Englishmen. They are to be your "money's worth."

But where is the money to come from? Yes, that is to be asked. Let us, as quite the first business in this our national crisis, look not only into our affairs, but into our accounts, and obtain some general notion how we annually spend our money, and what we are getting for it. Observe, I do not mean to inquire into the public revenue only; of that some account is rendered already. But let us do the best we can to set down the items of the national private expenditure; and know what we spend altogether, and how.

To begin with this matter of education. You probably have nearly all seen the admirable lecture lately given by Captain Maxse, at Southampton. It contains a clear statement of the facts at present ascertained as to our expenditure in that respect. It appears that of our public moneys, for every pound that we spend on education we spend twelve either in charity or punishment;—ten millions a year in pauperism and crime, and eight hundred thousand in instruction. Now Captain Maxse adds to this estimate of ten millions public money spent on crime and want, a more or less conjectural sum of eight millions for private charities. My impression is that this is much beneath the truth, but at all events it leaves out of consideration much the heaviest and saddest form of charity—the maintenance, by the working members of families, of the unfortunate or ill-conducted persons whom the general course of misrule now leaves helpless to be the burden of the rest.

Now I want to get first at some, I do not say approximate, but at all events some suggestive, estimate of the quantity of real distress and misguided life in this country. Then next, I want some fairly representative estimate of our private expenditure in luxuries. We won't spend more, publicly, it appears, than eight hundred thousand a year, on educating men gratis. I want to know, as nearly as possible, what we[Pg 424] spend privately a year, in educating horses gratis. Let us, at least, quit ourselves in this from the taunt of Rabshakeh, and see that for every horse we train also a horseman; and that the rider be at least as high-bred as the horse, not jockey, but chevalier. Again, we spend eight hundred thousand, which is certainly a great deal of money, in making rough minds bright. I want to know how much we spend annually in making rough stones bright; that is to say, what may be the united annual sum, or near it, of our jewellers' bills. So much we pay for educating children gratis;—how much for educating diamonds gratis? and which pays best for brightening, the spirit or the charcoal? Let us get those two items set down with some sincerity, and a few more of the same kind. Publicly set down. We must not be ashamed of the way we spend our money. If our right hand is not to know what our left does, it must not be because it would be ashamed if it did.

That is, therefore, quite the first practical thing to be done. Let every man who wishes well to his country, render it yearly an account of his income, and of the main heads of his expenditure; or, if he is ashamed to do so, let him no more impute to the poor their poverty as a crime, nor set them to break stones in order to frighten them from committing it. To lose money ill is indeed often a crime; but to get it ill is a worse one, and to spend it ill, worst of all. You object, Lords of England, to increase, to the poor, the wages you give them, because they spend them, you say, unadvisedly. Render them, therefore, an account of the wages which they give you; and show them, by your example, how to spend theirs, to the last farthing advisedly.

It is indeed time to make this an acknowledged subject of instruction, to the workingman,—how to spend his wages. For, gentlemen, we must give that instruction, whether we will or no, one way or the other. We have given it in years gone by; and now we find fault with our peasantry for having been too docile, and profited too shrewdly by our tuition. Only a few days since I had a letter from the wife of a village rector, a man of common sense and kindness, who[Pg 425] was greatly troubled in his mind because it was precisely the men who got highest wages in summer that came destitute to his door in the winter. Destitute, and of riotous temper—for their method of spending wages in their period of prosperity was by sitting two days a week in the tavern parlor, ladling port wine, not out of bowls, but out of buckets. Well, gentlemen, who taught them that method of festivity? Thirty years ago, I, a most inexperienced freshman, went to my first college supper; at the head of the table sat a nobleman of high promise and of admirable powers, since dead of palsy; there also we had in the midst of us, not buckets, indeed, but bowls as large as buckets; there also, we helped ourselves with ladles. There (for this beginning of college education was compulsory), I choosing ladlefuls of punch instead of claret, because I was then able, unperceived to pour them into my waistcoat instead of down my throat, stood it out to the end, and helped to carry four of my fellow-students, one of them the son of the head of a college, head foremost, down stairs and home.

Such things are no more; but the fruit of them remains, and will for many a day to come. The laborers whom you cannot now shut out of the ale-house are only the too faithful disciples of the gentlemen who were wont to shut themselves into the dining-room. The gentlemen have not thought it necessary, in order to correct their own habits, to diminish their incomes; and, believe me, the way to deal with your drunken workman is not to lower his wages,—but to mend his wits.[140]

And if indeed we do not yet see quite clearly how to deal with the sins of our poor brother, it is possible that our dimness of sight may still have other causes that can be cast out. There are two opposite cries of the great liberal and conservative parties, which are both most right, and worthy to be rallying cries. On their side "let every man have his chance;" on yours "let every man stand in his place." Yes, indeed, let that be so, every man in his place, and[Pg 426] every man fit for it. See that he holds that place from Heaven's Providence; and not from his family's Providence. Let the Lords Spiritual quit themselves of simony, we laymen will look after the heretics for them. Let the Lords Temporal quit themselves of nepotism, and we will take care of their authority for them. Publish for us, you soldiers, an army gazette, in which the one subject of daily intelligence shall be the grounds of promotion; a gazette which shall simply tell us, what there certainly can be no detriment to the service in our knowing, when any officer is appointed to a new command,—what his former services and successes have been,—whom he has superseded,—and on what ground. It will be always a satisfaction to us; it may sometimes be an advantage to you: and then, when there is really necessary debate respecting reduction of wages, let us always begin not with the wages of the industrious classes, but with those of the idle ones. Let there be honorary titles, if people like them; but let there be no honorary incomes.

So much for the master's motto, "Every man in his place." Next for the laborer's motto, "Every man his chance." Let us mend that for them a little, and say, "Every man his certainty"—certainty, that if he does well, he will be honored, and aided, and advanced in such degree as may be fitting for his faculty and consistent with his peace; and equal certainty that if he does ill, he will by sure justice be judged, and by sure punishment be chastised; if it may be, corrected; and if that may not be, condemned. That is the right reading of the Republican motto, "Every man his chance." And then, with such a system of government, pure, watchful and just, you may approach your great problem of national education, or in other words, of national employment. For all education begins in work. What we think, or what we know; or what we believe, is in the end, of little consequence. The only thing of consequence is what we do; and for man, woman, or child, the first point of education is to make them do their best. It is the law of good economy to make the best of everything. How much more to make the best of every creature! Therefore, when your[Pg 427] pauper comes to you and asks for bread, ask of him instantly—What faculty have you? What can you do best? Can you drive a nail into wood? Go and mend the parish fences. Can you lay a brick? Mend the walls of the cottages where the wind comes in. Can you lift a spadeful of earth? Turn this field up three feet deep all over. Can you only drag a weight with your shoulders? Stand at the bottom of this hill and help up the overladen horses. Can you weld iron and chisel stone? Fortify this wreck-strewn coast into a harbor; and change these shifting sands into fruitful ground. Wherever death was, bring life; that is to be your work; that your parish refuge; that your education. So and no otherwise can we meet existent distress. But for the continual education of the whole people, and for their future happiness, they must have such consistent employment as shall develop all the powers of the fingers, and the limbs, and the brain: and that development is only to be obtained by hand-labor, of which you have these four great divisions—hand-labor on the earth, hand-labor on the sea, hand-labor in art, hand-labor in war. Of the last two of these I cannot speak to-night, and of the first two only with extreme brevity.

I. Hand-labor on the earth, the work of the husbandman and of the shepherd;—to dress the earth and to keep the flocks of it—the first task of man, and the final one—the education always of noblest lawgivers, kings and teachers; the education of Hesiod, of Moses, of David, of all the true strength of Rome; and all its tenderness: the pride of Cincinnatus, and the inspiration of Virgil. Hand-labor on the earth, and the harvest of it brought forth with singing:—not steam-piston labor on the earth, and the harvest of it brought forth with steam-whistling. You will have no prophet's voice accompanied by that shepherd's pipe, and pastoral symphony. Do you know that lately, in Cumberland, in the chief pastoral district of England—in Wordsworth's own home—a procession of villagers on their festa day provided for themselves, by way of music, a steam-plough whistling at the head of them.

Give me patience while I put the principle of machine[Pg 428] labor before you, as clearly and in as short compass as possible; it is one that should be known at this juncture. Suppose a farming proprietor needs to employ a hundred men on his estate, and that the labor of these hundred men is enough, but not more than enough, to till all his land, and to raise from it food for his own family, and for the hundred laborers. He is obliged, under such circumstances, to maintain all the men in moderate comfort, and can only by economy accumulate much for himself. But, suppose he contrive a machine that will easily do the work of fifty men, with only one man to watch it. This sounds like a great advance in civilization. The farmer of course gets his machine made, turns off the fifty men, who may starve or emigrate at their choice, and now he can keep half of the produce of his estate, which formerly went to feed them, all to himself. That is the essential and constant operation of machinery among us at this moment.

Nay, it is at first answered; no man can in reality keep half the produce of an estate to himself, nor can he in the end keep more than his own human share of anything; his riches must diffuse themselves at some time; he must maintain somebody else with them, however he spends them. That is mainly true (not altogether so), for food and fuel are in ordinary circumstances personally wasted by rich people, in quantities which would save many lives. One of my own great luxuries, for instance, is candlelight—and I probably burn, for myself alone, as many candles during the winter, as would comfort the old eyes, or spare the young ones, of a whole rushlighted country village. Still, it is mainly true, that it is not by their personal waste that rich people prevent the lives of the poor. This is the way they do it. Let me go back to my farmer. He has got his machine made, which goes creaking, screaming, and occasionally exploding, about modern Arcadia. He has turned off his fifty men to starve. Now, at some distance from his own farm, there is another on which the laborers were working for their bread in the same way, by tilling the land. The machinist sends over to these, saying—"I have got food enough for you without your digging or ploughing any more. I can maintain you in other occupations instead[Pg 429] of ploughing that land; if you rake in its gravel you will find some hard stones—you shall grind those on mills till they glitter; then, my wife shall wear a necklace of them. Also, if you turn up the meadows below you will find some fine white clay, of which you shall make a porcelain service for me: and the rest of the farm I want for pasture for horses for my carriage—and you shall groom them, and some of you ride behind the carriage with staves in your hands, and I will keep you much fatter for doing that than you can keep yourselves by digging."

Well—but it is answered, are we to have no diamonds, nor china, nor pictures, nor footmen, then—but all to be farmers? I am not saying what we ought to do, I want only to show you with perfect clearness first what we are doing; and that, I repeat, is the upshot of machine-contriving in this country. And observe its effect on the national strength. Without machines, you have a hundred and fifty yeomen ready to join for defence of the land. You get your machine, starve fifty of them, make diamond-cutters or footmen of as many more, and for your national defence against an enemy, you have now, and can have, only fifty men, instead of a hundred and fifty; these also now with minds much alienated from you as their chief,[141] and the rest, lapidaries or footmen; and a steam plough.

That is one effect of machinery; but at all events, if we have thus lost in men, we have gained in riches; instead of happy human souls, we have at least got pictures, china, horses, and are ourselves better off than we were before. But very often, and in much of our machine-contriving, even that result does not follow. We are not one whit the richer for the machine, we only employ it for our amusement. For observe, our gaining in riches depends on the men who are out of employment consenting to be starved, or sent out of the country. But suppose they do not consent passively to be starved, but some of them become criminals, and have to be taken charge of and fed at a much greater cost than if[Pg 430] they were at work, and, others, paupers, rioters, and the like, then you attain the real outcome of modern wisdom and ingenuity. You have your hundred men honestly at country work; but you don't like the sight of human beings in your fields; you like better to see a smoking kettle. You pay, as an amateur, for that pleasure, and you employ your fifty men in picking oakum, or begging, rioting, and thieving.

By hand-labor, therefore, and that alone, we are to till the ground. By hand-labor also to plough the sea; both for food, and in commerce, and in war: not with floating kettles there neither, but with hempen bridle, and the winds of heaven in harness. That is the way the power of Greece rose on her Egean, the power of Venice on her Adria, of Amalfi in her blue bay, of the Norman sea-riders from the North Cape to Sicily:—so, your own dominion also of the past. Of the past mind you. On the Baltic and the Nile, your power is already departed. By machinery you would advance to discovery; by machinery you would carry your commerce;—you would be engineers instead of sailors; and instantly in the North seas you are beaten among the ice, and before the very Gods of Nile, beaten among the sand. Agriculture, then, by the hand or by the plough drawn only by animals; and shepherd and pastoral husbandry, are to be the chief schools of Englishmen. And this most royal academy of all academies you have to open over all the land, purifying your heaths and hills, and waters, and keeping them full of every kind of lovely natural organism, in tree, herb, and living creature. All land that is waste and ugly, you must redeem into ordered fruitfulness; all ruin, desolateness, imperfectness of hut or habitation, you must do away with; and throughout every village and city of your English dominion there must not be a hand that cannot find a helper, nor a heart that cannot find a comforter.

"How impossible!" I know, you are thinking. Ah! So far from impossible, it is easy, it is natural, it is necessary, and I declare to you that, sooner or later, it must be done, at our peril. If now our English lords of land will fix this idea steadily before them; take the people to their hearts, trust[Pg 431] to their loyalty, lead their labor;—then indeed there will be princes again in the midst of us, worthy of the island throne,

"This royal throne of kings—this sceptred isle—
This fortress built by nature for herself
Against infection, and the hand of war;
This precious stone set in the silver sea;
This happy breed of men—this little world:
This other Eden—Demi-Paradise."

But if they refuse to do this, and hesitate and equivocate, clutching through the confused catastrophe of all things only at what they can still keep stealthily for themselves—their doom is nearer than even their adversaries hope, and it will be deeper than even their despisers dream.

That, believe me, is the work you have to do in England; and out of England you have room for everything else you care to do. Are her dominions in the world so narrow that she can find no place to spin cotton in but Yorkshire? We may organize emigration into an infinite power. We may assemble troops of the more adventurous and ambitious of our youth; we may send them on truest foreign service, founding new seats of authority, and centres of thought, in uncultivated and unconquered lands; retaining the full affection to the native country no less in our colonists than in our armies, teaching them to maintain allegiance to their fatherland in labor no less than in battle; aiding them with free hand in the prosecution of discovery, and the victory over adverse natural powers; establishing seats of every manufacture in the climates and places best fitted for it, and bringing ourselves into due alliance and harmony of skill with the dexterities of every race, and the wisdoms of every tradition and every tongue.

And then you may make England itself the centre of the learning, of the arts, of the courtesies and felicities of the world. Yon may cover her mountains with pasture; her plains with corn, her valleys with the lily, and her gardens with the rose. You may bring together there in peace the[Pg 434][Pg 432] wise and the pure, and the gentle of the earth, and by their word, command through its farthest darkness the birth of "God's first creature, which was Light." You know whose words those are; the words of the wisest of Englishmen. He, and with him the wisest of all other great nations, have spoken always to men of this hope, and they would not hear. Plato, in the dialogue of Critias, his last, broken off at his death—Pindar, in passionate singing of the fortunate islands—Virgil, in the prophetic tenth eclogue—Bacon, in his fable of the New Atlantis—More, in the book which, too impatiently wise, became the bye-word of fools—these, all, have told us with one voice what we should strive to attain; they not hopeless of it, but for our follies forced, as it seems, by heaven, to tell us only partly and in parables, lest we should hear them and obey.

Shall we never listen to the words of these wisest of men? Then listen at least to the words of your children—let us in the lips of babes and sucklings find our strength; and see that we do not make them mock instead of pray, when we teach them, night and morning, to ask for what we believe never can be granted;—that the will of the Father,—which is, that His creatures may be righteous and happy—should be done, on earth, as it is in Heaven.


[139] Compare Time and Tide, § 169, and Fors Clavigera, Letter XIV, page 9.

[140] See Appendix, "Modern Education," and compare § 70 of Time and Tide.

[141] [They were deserting, I am informed, in the early part of this year, 1873, at the rate of a regiment a week.]

[Pg 435]


I am often accused of inconsistency; but believe myself defensible against the charge with respect to what I have said on nearly every subject except that of war. It is impossible for me to write consistently of war, for the groups of facts I have gathered about it lead me to two precisely opposite conclusions.

When I find this the case, in other matters, I am silent, till I can choose my conclusion: but, with respect to war, I am forced to speak, by the necessities of the time; and forced to act, one way or another. The conviction on which I act is, that it causes an incalculable amount of avoidable human suffering, and that it ought to cease among Christian nations; and if therefore any of my boy-friends desire to be soldiers, I try my utmost to bring them into what I conceive to be a better mind. But, on the other hand, I know certainly that the most beautiful characters yet developed among men have been formed in war;—that all great nations have been warrior nations, and that the only kinds of peace which we are likely to get in the present age are ruinous alike to the intellect, and the heart.

The lecture on "War," in this volume, addressed to young soldiers, had for its object to strengthen their trust in the virtue of their profession. It is inconsistent with itself, in its closing appeal to women, praying them to use their influence to bring wars to an end. And I have been hindered from completing my long intended notes on the economy of the Kings of Prussia by continually increasing doubt how far the machinery[Pg 436] and discipline of war, under which they learned the art of government, was essential for such lesson; and what the honesty and sagacity of the Friedrich who so nobly repaired his ruined Prussia, might have done for the happiness of his Prussia, unruined.

In war, however, or in peace, the character which Carlyle chiefly loves him for, and in which Carlyle has shown him to differ from all kings up to this time succeeding him, is his constant purpose to use every power entrusted to him for the good of his people; and be, not in name only, but in heart and hand, their king.

Not in ambition, but in natural instinct of duty. Friedrich, born to govern, determines to govern to the best of his faculty. That "best" may sometimes be unwise; and self-will, or love of glory, may have their oblique hold on his mind, and warp it this way or that; but they are never principal with him. He believes that war is necessary, and maintains it; sees that peace is necessary, and calmly persists in the work of it to the day of his death, not claiming therein more praise than the head of any ordinary household, who rules it simply because it is his place, and he must not yield the mastery of it to another.

How far, in the future, it may be possible for men to gain the strength necessary for kingship without either fronting death, or inflicting it, seems to me not at present determinable. The historical facts are that, broadly speaking, none but soldiers, or persons with a soldierly faculty, have ever yet shown themselves fit to be kings; and that no other men are so gentle, so just, or so clear-sighted. Wordsworth's character of the happy warrior cannot be reached in the height of it but by a warrior; nay, so much is it beyond common strength that I had supposed the entire meaning of it to be metaphorical, until one of the best soldiers of England himself read me the poem,[142] and taught me, what I might have known, had I enough watched his own life, that it was entirely literal. There is nothing of so high reach distinctly demonstrable in Friedrich: but I see more and more, as I[Pg 437] grow older, that the things which are the most worth, encumbered among the errors and faults of every man's nature, are never clearly demonstrable; and are often most forcible when they are scarcely distinct to his own conscience,—how much less, clamorous for recognition by others!

Nothing can be more beautiful than Carlyle's showing of this, to any careful reader of Friedrich. But careful readers are but one in the thousand; and by the careless, the masses of detail with which the historian must deal are insurmountable.

My own notes, made for the special purpose of hunting down the one point of economy, though they cruelly spoil Carlyle's own current and method of thought, may yet be useful in enabling readers, unaccustomed to books involving so vast a range of conception, to discern what, on this one subject only, may be gathered from that history. On any other subject of importance, similar gatherings might be made of other passages. The historian has to deal with all at once.

I therefore have determined to print here, as a sequel to the Essay on War, my notes from the first volume of Friedrich, on the economies of Brandenburg, up to the date of the establishment of the Prussian monarchy. The economies of the first three Kings of Prussia I shall then take up in Fors Clavigera, finding them fitter for examination in connection with the subject of that book than of this.

I assume, that the reader will take down his first volume of Carlyle, and read attentively the passages to which I refer him. I give the reference first to the largest edition, in six volumes (1858-1865); then, in parenthesis, to the smallest or "people's edition" (1872-1873). The pieces which I have quoted in my own text are for the use of readers who may not have ready access to the book; and are enough for the explanation of the points to which I wish them to direct their thoughts in reading such histories of soldiers or soldier-kingdoms.[Pg 438]


Year 928 to 936.—Dawn of Order in Christian Germany.

Book II. Chap. i. p. 67 (47).

Henry the Fowler, "the beginning of German kings," is a mighty soldier in the cause of peace; his essential work the building and organization of fortified towns for the protection of men.

Read page 72 with utmost care (51), "He fortified towns," to end of small print. I have added some notes on the matter in my lecture on Giovanni Pisano; but whether you can glance at them or not, fix in your mind this institution of truly civil or civic building in Germany, as distinct from the building of baronial castles for the security of robbers: and of a standing army consisting of every ninth man, called a "burgher" ("townsman")—a soldier, appointed to learn that profession that he may guard the walls—the exact reverse of our notion of a burgher.

Frederick's final idea of his army is, indeed, only this.

Brannibor, a chief fortress of the Wends, is thus taken, and further strengthened by Henry the Fowler; wardens appointed for it; and thus the history of Brandenburg begins. On all frontiers, also, this "beginning of German kings" has his "Markgraf." "Ancient of the marked place." Read page 73, measuredly, learning it by heart, if it may be. (51-2.)


936-1000.—History of Nascent Brandenburg.

The passage I last desired you to read ends with this sentence: "The sea-wall you build, and what main floodgates you establish in it, will depend on the state of the outer sea."

From this time forward you have to keep clearly separate