Critiques and Addresses
Thomas Henry Huxley

Part 1 out of 6

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The "Critiques and Addresses" gathered together in this volume, like
the "Lay Sermons, Addresses, and Reviews," published three years ago,
deal chiefly with educational, scientific, and philosophical subjects;
and, in fact, indicate the high-water mark of the various tides of
occupation by which I have been carried along since the beginning of
the year 1870.

In the end of that year, a confidence in my powers of work, which,
unfortunately, has not been justified by events, led me to allow
myself to be brought forward as a candidate for a seat on the London
School Board. Thanks to the energy of my supporters I was elected, and
took my share in the work of that body during the critical first year
of its existence. Then my health gave way, and I was obliged to resign
my place among colleagues whose large practical knowledge of the
business of primary education, and whose self-sacrificing zeal in the
discharge of the onerous and thankless duties thrown upon them by
the Legislature, made it a pleasure to work with them, even though my
position was usually that of a member of the minority.

I mention these circumstances in order to account for (I had almost
said to apologize for) the existence of the two papers which head
the present series, and which are more or less political, both in the
lower and in the higher senses of that word.

The question of the expediency of any form of State Education is, in
fact, a question of those higher politics which lie above the region
in which Tories, Whigs, and Radicals "delight to bark and bite." In
discussing it in my address on "Administrative Nihilism," I found
myself, to my profound regret, led to diverge very widely (though even
more perhaps in seeming than in reality) from the opinions of a man of
genius to whom I am bound by the twofold tie of the respect due to a
profound philosopher and the affection given to a very old friend. But
had I no other means of knowing the fact, the kindly geniality of Mr.
Herbert Spencer's reply[1] assures me that the tie to which I refer
will bear a much heavier strain than I have put, or ever intend to
put, upon it, and I rather rejoice that I have been the means of
calling forth so vigorous a piece of argumentative writing. Nor is
this disinterested joy at an attack upon myself diminished by the
circumstance, that, in all humility, but in all sincerity, I think it
may be repulsed.

[Footnote 1: "Specialized Administration;" _Fortnightly Review_,
December 1871.]

Mr. Spencer complains that I have first misinterpreted, and then
miscalled, the doctrine of which he is so able an expositor. It would
grieve me very much if I were really open to this charge. But what are
the facts? I define this doctrine as follows:--

"Those who hold these views support them by two lines of
argument. They enforce them deductively by arguing from an
assumed axiom, that the State has no right to do anything but
protect its subjects from aggression. The State is simply a
policeman, and its duty, neither more nor less than to prevent
robbery and murder and enforce contracts. It is not to promote
good, nor even to do anything to prevent evil, except by the
enforcement of penalties upon those who have been guilty
of obvious and tangible assaults upon purse or person. And,
according to this view, the proper form of government is
neither a monarchy, an aristocracy, nor a democracy, but an
_astynomocracy_, or police government. On the other hand,
these views are supported _a posteriori_ by an induction from
observation, which professes to show that whatever is done by
a Government beyond these negative limits, is not only sure
to be done badly, but to be done much worse than private
enterprise would have done the same thing."

I was filled with surprised regret when I learned from the conclusion
of the article on "Specialized Administration," that this statement is
held by Mr. Spencer to be a, misinterpretation of his views. Perhaps
I ought to be still more sorry to be obliged to declare myself, even
now, unable to discover where my misinterpretation lies, or in what
respect my presentation of Mr. Spencer's views differs from his own
most recent version of them. As the passage cited above shows. I have
carefully defined the sense in which I use the terms which I employ,
and, therefore, I am not greatly concerned to defend the abstract
appropriateness of the terms themselves. And when Mr. Spencer
maintains the only proper functions of Government to be those which
are comprehensible under the description of "Negatively regulative
control," I may suggest that the difference between such "Negative
Administration" and "Administrative Nihilism," in the sense defined by
me, is not easily discernible.

Having, as I hope, relieved myself from the suspicion of having
misunderstood or misrepresented Mr. Spencer's views, I might, if I
could forget that I am writing a preface, proceed to the discussion
of the parallel which he elaborates, with much knowledge and power,
between the physiological and the social organisms. But this is not
the place for a controversy involving so many technicalities, and
I content myself with one remark, namely, that the whole course of
modern physiological discovery tends to show, with more and more
clearness, that the vascular system, or apparatus for distributing
commodities in the animal organism, is eminently under the control of
the cerebro-spinal nervous centres--a fact which, unless I am again
mistaken, is contrary to one of Mr. Spencer's fundamental assumptions.
In the animal organism, Government does meddle with trade, and even
goes so far as to tamper a good deal with the currency.

In the same number of the _Fortnightly Review_ as that which contains
Mr. Spencer's essay, Miss Helen Taylor assails me--though, I am bound
to admit, more in sorrow than in anger--for what she terms, my
"New Attack on Toleration." It is I, this time, who may complain of
misinterpretation, if the greater part of Miss Taylor's article
(with which I entirely sympathise) is supposed to be applicable to
my "intolerance." Let us have full-toleration, by all means, upon
all questions in which there is room for doubt, or which cannot be
distinctly proved to affect the welfare of mankind. But when Miss
Taylor has shown what basis exists for criminal legislation, except
the clear right of mankind not to tolerate that which is demonstrably
contrary to the welfare of society, I will admit that such
demonstration ought only to be believed in by the "curates and
old women" to whom she refers. Recent events have not weakened the
conviction I expressed in a much-abused speech at the London School
Board, that Ultramontanism is demonstrably the enemy of society; and
must be met with resistance, merely passive if possible, but active if
necessary, by "the whole power of the State."

Next in order, it seems proper that I should briefly refer to my
friend Mr. Mivart's onslaught upon my criticism of Mr. Darwin's
critics, himself among the number, which will be found in this
volume. In "Evolution and its Consequences"[1] I am accused of
misrepresentation, misquotation, misunderstanding, and numerous other
negative and positive literary and scientific sins; and much subtle
ingenuity is expended by Mr. Mivart in attempting to extricate himself
from the position in which my exposition of the real opinions of
Father Suarez has placed him. So much more, in fact, has Mr. Mivart's
ingenuity impressed me than any other feature of his reply, that I
shall take the liberty of re-stating the main issue between us; and,
for the present, leaving that issue alone to the judgment of the

[Footnote 1: _Contemporary Review_, January 1872.]

In his book on the "Genesis of Species" Mr. Mivart, after discussing
the opinions of sundry Catholic writers of authority, among whom he
especially includes St. Augustin, St. Thomas Aquinas, and the Jesuit
Suarez, proceeds to say: "It is then evident that ancient and most
venerable theological authorities distinctly assert _derivative_
creation, and thus their teachings harmonize with all that modern
science can possibly require."[1] By the "derivative creation" of
organic forms, Mr. Mivart understands, "that God created them by
conferring on the material world the power to evolve them under
suitable conditions."

[Footnote 1: Bunsen's "Outlines of the Philosophy of Universal
History," vol. i.p. 349. 1854.]

On the contrary, I proved by evidence, which Mr. Mivart does not
venture to impugn, that Suarez, in his "Tractatus de Opere sex
Dierum," expressly rejects St. Augustin's and St. Thomas' views; that
he vehemently advocates the literal interpretation of the account of
the creation given in the Book of Genesis; and that he treats with
utter scorn the notion that the Almighty could have used the language
of that Book, unless He meant it to be taken literally.

Mr. Mivart, therefore, either has read Suarez and has totally
misrepresented him--a hypothesis which, I hope I need hardly say, I do
not for a moment entertain: or, he has got his information at second
hand, and has himself been deceived. But in that case, it is surely
an imprudence on his part, to reproach me with having "read Suarez _ad
hoc_, and evidently without the guidance of anyone familiar with
that author." No doubt, in the matter of guidance, Mr. Mivart has the
advantage of me. Nevertheless, the guides who supplied him with his
references to Suarez' "Metaphysica," while they left him in ignorance
of the existence of the "Tractatus," are guides with whose services
it might be better to dispense; leaders who wilfully shut their eyes,
being even more liable to lodge one in a ditch, than blind leaders.

At the time when the essay on "Methods and Results of Ethnology" was
written, I had not met with a passage in Professor Max Mueller's "Last
Results of Turanian Researches"[1] which shows so appositely, that
the profoundest study of philology leads to conclusions respecting the
relation of Ethnology with Philology, similar to those at which I had
arrived in approaching the question from the Anatomist's side, that I
cannot refrain from quoting it:

[Footnote 1: LONDON, _April_ 1873.]

"Nor should we, in our phonological studies, either expect or
desire more than general hints from physical ethnology. The
proper and rational connection between the two sciences is
that of mutual advice and suggestion, but nothing more. Much
of the confusion of terms and indistinctness of principles,
both in Ethnology and Phonology, are due to the combined
study of these heterogeneous sciences. Ethnological race
and phonological race are not commensurate, except in
ante-historical times, or perhaps at the very dawn of history.
With the migration of tribes, their wars, their colonies,
their conquests and alliances, which, if we may judge from
their effects, must have been much more violent in the
ethnic, than even in the political, period of history, it is
impossible to imagine that race and language should continue
to run parallel. The physiologist should pursue his own
science unconcerned about language."

It is further desirable to remark that the statements in this Essay
respecting the forms of Native American crania need rectification. On
this point, I refer the reader who is interested in the subject to
my paper "On the Form of the Cranium among the Patagonians and the
Fuegians" published in the _Journal of Anatomy and Physiology_ for

If the problem discussed in my address to the British Association
in 1870 has not yet received its solution, it is not because the
champions of Abiogenesis have been idle, or wanting in confidence. But
every new assertion on their side has been met by a counter assertion;
and though the public may have been led to believe that so much noise
must indicate rapid progress, one way or the other, an impartial
critic will admit, with sorrow, that the question has been "marking
time" rather than marching. In mere sound, these two processes are not
so very different.



ADMINISTRATIVE NIHILISM. (An Address delivered to the Members of
the Midland Institute, on the 9th of October, 1871, and subsequently
published in the _Fortnightly Review_)


_Contemporary Review_, 1870)


ON MEDICAL EDUCATION. (An Address to the Students of the Faculty of
Medicine in University College, London, 1870)


YEAST. (The _Contemporary Review_, 1871)


ON THE FORMATION OF COAL. (A Lecture delivered before the Members of
the Bradford Philosophical Institution, and subsequently published in
the _Contemporary Review_)


ON CORAL AND CORAL REEFS. (_Good Words_, 1870)






to the Geological Society, 1870)


MR. DARWIN'S CRITICS. (The _Contemporary Review_, 1871)


THE GENEALOGY OF ANIMALS. (A Review of Haeckel's "Natuerliche
Schoepfungs-Geschichte." The _Academy_, 1869)


Magazine_, 1871)





To me, and, as I trust, to the great majority of those whom I address,
the great attempt to educate the people of England which has just been
set afoot, is one of the most satisfactory and hopeful events in our
modern history. But it is impossible, even if it were desirable,
to shut our eyes to the fact, that there is a minority, not
inconsiderable in numbers, nor deficient in supporters of weight and
authority, in whose judgment all this legislation is a step in the
wrong direction, false in principle, and consequently sure to produce
evil in practice.

The arguments employed by these objectors are of two kinds. The first
is what I will venture to term the caste argument; for, if logically
carried out, it would end in the separation of the people of this
country into castes, as permanent and as sharply defined, if not as
numerous, as those of India. It is maintained that the whole fabric
of society will be destroyed if the poor, as well as the rich, are
educated; that anything like sound and good education will only make
them discontented with their station and raise hopes which, in the
great majority of cases, will be bitterly disappointed. It is said:
There must be hewers of wood and drawers of water, scavengers and
coalheavers, day labourers and domestic servants, or the work of
society will come to a standstill. But, if you educate and refine
everybody, nobody will be content to assume these functions, and all
the world will want to be gentlemen and ladies.

One hears this argument most frequently from the representatives of
the well-to-do middle class; and, coming from them, it strikes me as
peculiarly inconsistent, as the one thing they admire, strive after,
and advise their own children to do, is to get on in the world, and,
if possible, rise out of the class in which they were born into that
above them. Society needs grocers and merchants as much as it needs
coalheavers; but if a merchant accumulates wealth and works his way to
a baronetcy, or if the son of a greengrocer becomes a lord chancellor,
or an archbishop, or, as a successful soldier, wins a peerage, all the
world admires them; and looks with pride upon the social system which
renders such achievements possible. Nobody suggests that there is
anything wrong in _their_ being discontented with _their_ station; or
that, in _their_ cases society suffers by men of ability reaching the
positions for which nature has fitted them.

But there are better replies than those of the _tu quoque_ sort to the
caste argument. In the first place, it is not true that education,
as such, unfits men for rough and laborious, or even disgusting,
occupations. The life of a sailor is rougher and harder than that of
nine landsmen out of ten, and yet, as every ship's captain knows, no
sailor was ever the worse for possessing a trained intelligence. The
life of a medical practitioner, especially in the country, is harder
and more laborious than that of most artisans, and he is constantly
obliged to do things which, in point of pleasantness, cannot be ranked
above scavengering--yet he always ought to be, and he frequently is,
a highly educated man. In the second place, though it may be granted
that the words of the catechism, which require a man to do his duty in
the station to which it has pleased God to call him, give an admirable
definition of our obligation to ourselves and to society; yet the
question remains, how is any given person to find out what is the
particular station to which it has pleased God to call him? A new-born
infant does not come into the world labelled scavenger, shopkeeper,
bishop, or duke. One mass of red pulp is just like another to all
outward appearance. And it is only by finding out what his faculties
are good for, and seeking, not for the sake of gratifying a paltry
vanity, but as the highest duty to himself and to his fellow-men,
to put himself into the position in which they can attain their full
development, that the man discovers his true station. That which is to
be lamented, I fancy, is not that society should do its utmost to help
capacity to ascend from the lower strata to the higher, but that it
has no machinery by which to facilitate the descent of incapacity from
the higher strata to the lower. In that noble romance, the "Republic"
(which is now, thanks to the Master of Balliol, as intelligible to
us all, as if it had been written in our mother tongue), Plato makes
Socrates say that he should like to inculcate upon the citizens of his
ideal state just one "royal lie."

"'Citizens,' we shall say to them in our tale--'You are
brothers, yet God has framed you differently. Some of you
have the power of command, and these he has composed of
gold, wherefore also they have the greatest honour; others
of silver, to be auxiliaries; others again, who are to be
husbandmen and craftsmen, he has made of brass and iron; and
the species will generally be preserved in the children. But
as you are of the same original family, a golden parent will
sometimes have a silver son, or a silver parent a golden son.
And God proclaims to the rulers, as a first principle, that
before all they should watch over their offspring, and see
what elements mingle with their nature; for if the son of a
golden or silver parent has an admixture of brass and iron,
then nature orders a transposition of ranks, and the eye of
the ruler must not be pitiful towards his child because he has
to descend in the scale and become a husbandman or artisan;
just as there may be others sprung from the artisan class, who
are raised to honour, and become guardians and auxiliaries.
For an oracle says that when a man of brass or iron guards the
State, it will then be destroyed.'"[1]

[Footnote 1: "The Dialogues of Plato." Translated into English, with
Analysis and Introduction, by B. Jowett, M.A. Vol. ii. p. 243.]

Time, whose tooth gnaws away everything else, is powerless against
truth; and the lapse of more than two thousand years has not weakened
the force of these wise words. Nor is it necessary that, as Plato
suggests, society should provide functionaries expressly charged with
the performance of the difficult duty of picking out the men of brass
from those of silver and gold. Educate, and the latter will certainly
rise to the top; remove all those artificial props by which the brass
and iron folk are kept at the top, and, by a law as sure as that of
gravitation, they will gradually sink to the bottom. We have all
known noble lords who would have been coachmen, or gamekeepers, or
billiard-markers, if they had not been kept afloat by our social
corks; we have all known men among the lowest ranks, of whom everyone
has said, "What might not that man have become, if he had only had a
little education?"

And who that attends, even in the most superficial way, to the
conditions upon which the stability of modern society--and especially
of a society like ours, in which recent legislation has placed
sovereign authority in the hands of the masses, whenever they are
united enough to wield their power--can doubt that every man of high
natural ability, who is both ignorant and miserable, is as great a
danger to society as a rocket without a stick is to the people
who fire it? Misery is a match that never goes out; genius, as an
explosive power, beats gunpowder hollow; and if knowledge, which
should give that power guidance, is wanting, the chances are not small
that the rocket will simply run a-muck among friends and foes. What
gives force to the socialistic movement which is now stirring
European society to its depths, but a determination on the part of the
naturally able men among the proletariat, to put an end, somehow or
other, to the misery and degradation in which a large proportion of
their fellows are steeped? The question, whether the means by which
they purpose to achieve this end are adequate or not, is at this
moment the most important of all political questions--and it is beside
my present purpose to discuss it. All I desire to point out is, that
if the chance of the controversy being decided calmly and rationally,
and not by passion and force, looks miserably small to an impartial
bystander, the reason is that not one in ten thousand of those who
constitute the ultimate court of appeal, by which questions of the
utmost difficulty, as well as of the most momentous gravity, will have
to be decided, is prepared by education to comprehend the real nature
of the suit brought before their tribunal.

Finally, as to the ladies and gentlemen question, all I can say is,
would that every woman-child born into this world were trained to be
a lady, and every man-child a gentleman! But then I do not use those
much-abused words by way of distinguishing people who wear fine
clothes, and live in fine houses, and talk aristocratic slang, from
those who go about in fustian, and live in back slums, and talk gutter
slang. Some inborn plebeian blindness, in fact, prevents me from
understanding what advantage the former have over the latter. I have
never even been able to understand why pigeon-shooting at Hurlingham
should be refined and polite, while a rat-killing match in Whitechapel
is low; or why "What a lark" should be coarse, when one hears "How
awfully jolly" drop from the most refined lips twenty times in an

Thoughtfulness for others, generosity, modesty, and self-respect, are
the qualities which make a real gentleman, or lady, as distinguished
from the veneered article which commonly goes by that name. I by no
means wish to express any sentimental preference for Lazarus against
Dives, but, on the face of the matter, one does not see why the
practice of these virtues should be more difficult in one state of
life than another; and any one who has had a wide experience among all
sorts and conditions of men, will, I think, agree with me that they
are as common in the lower ranks of life as in the higher.

Leaving the caste argument aside then, as inconsistent with the
practice of those who employ it, as devoid of any justification in
theory, and as utterly mischievous if its logical consequences were
carried out, let us turn to the other class of objectors. To these
opponents, the Education Act is only one of a number of pieces of
legislation to which they object on principle; and they include under
like condemnation the Vaccination Act, the Contagious Diseases Act,
and all other sanitary Acts; all attempts on the part of the State to
prevent adulteration, or to regulate injurious trades; all legislative
interference with anything that bears directly or indirectly on
commerce, such as shipping, harbours, railways, roads, cab-fares, and
the carriage of letters; and all attempts to promote the spread of
knowledge by the establishment of teaching bodies, examining
bodies, libraries, or museums, or by the sending out of scientific
expeditions; all endeavours to advance art by the establishment of
schools of design, or picture galleries; or by spending money upon
an architectural public building when a brick box would answer the
purpose. According to their views, not a shilling of public money must
be bestowed upon a public park or pleasure-ground; not sixpence upon
the relief of starvation, or the cure of disease. Those who hold
these views support them by two lines of argument. They enforce them
deductively by arguing from an assumed axiom, that the State has no
right to do anything but protect its subjects from aggression. The
State is simply a policeman, and its duty is neither more nor less
than to prevent robbery and murder and enforce contracts. It is not to
promote good, nor even to do anything to prevent evil, except by the
enforcement of penalties upon those who have been guilty of obvious
and tangible assaults upon purses or persons. And, according to
this view, the proper form of government is neither a monarchy,
an aristocracy, nor a democracy, but an _astynomocracy_, or
police government. On the other hand, these views are supported _a
posteriori_, by an induction from observation, which professes to show
that whatever is done by a Government beyond these negative limits, is
not only sure to be done badly, but to be done much worse than private
enterprise would have done the same thing.

I am by no means clear as to the truth of the latter proposition. It
is generally supported by statements which prove clearly enough that
the State does a great many things very badly. But this is really
beside the question. The State lives in a glass house; we see what it
tries to do, and all its failures, partial or total, are made the most
of. But private enterprise is sheltered under good opaque bricks and
mortar. The public rarely knows what it tries to do, and only hears
of failures when they are gross and patent to all the world. Who is
to say how private enterprise would come out if it tried its hand
at State work? Those who have had most experience of joint-stock
companies and their management, will probably be least inclined to
believe in the innate superiority of private enterprise over State
management. If continental bureaucracy and centralization be fraught
with multitudinous evils, surely English beadleocracy and parochial
obstruction are not altogether lovely. If it be said that, as a matter
of political experience, it is found to be for the best interests,
including the healthy and free development, of a people, that the
State should restrict itself to what is absolutely necessary, and
should leave to the voluntary efforts of individuals as much as
voluntary effort can be got to do, nothing can be more just. But, on
the other hand, it seems to me that nothing can be less justifiable
than the dogmatic assertion that State interference, beyond the limits
of home and foreign police, must, under all circumstances, do harm.

Suppose, however, for the sake of argument, that we accept the
proposition that the functions of the State may be properly summed up
in the one great negative commandment,--"Thou shalt not allow any man
to interfere with the liberty of any other man,"--I am unable to see
that the logical consequence is any such restriction of the power of
Government, as its supporters imply. If my next-door neighbour
chooses to have his drains in such a state as to create a poisonous
atmosphere, which I breathe at the risk of typhus and diphtheria, he
restricts my just freedom to live just as much as if he went about
with a pistol, threatening my life; if he is to be allowed to let
his children go unvaccinated, he might as well be allowed to leave
strychnine lozenges about in the way of mine; and if he brings them up
untaught and untrained, to earn their living, he is doing his best
to restrict my freedom, by increasing the burden of taxation for the
support of gaols and workhouses, which I have to pay.

The higher the state of civilization, the more completely do the
actions of one member of the social body influence all the rest, and
the less possible is it for any one man to do a wrong thing
without interfering, more or less, with the freedom of all his
fellow-citizens. So that, even upon the narrowest view of the
functions of the State, it must be admitted to have wider powers than
the advocates of the police theory are disposed to admit.

It is urged, I am aware, that if the right of the State to step beyond
the assigned limits is admitted at all, there is no stopping; and that
the principle which justifies the State in enforcing vaccination or
education, will also justify it in prescribing my religious belief,
or my mode of carrying on my trade or profession; in determining the
number of courses I have for dinner, or the pattern of my waistcoat.

But surely the answer is obvious that, on similar grounds, the right
of a man to eat when he is hungry might be disputed, because if you
once allow that he may eat at all, there is no stopping him until he
gorges himself, and suffers all the ills of a surfeit. In practice,
the man leaves off when reason tells him he has had enough; and, in
a properly organized State, the Government, being nothing but the
corporate reason of the community, will soon find out when State
interference has been carried far enough. And, so far as my
acquaintance with those who carry on the business of Government goes,
I must say that I find them far less eager to interfere with the
people, than the people are to be interfered with. And the reason is
obvious. The people are keenly sensible of particular evils, and, like
a man suffering from pain, desire an immediate remedy. The statesman,
on the other hand, is like the physician, who knows that he can stop
the pain at once by an opiate; but who also knows that the opiate may
do more harm than good in the long run. In three cases out of four the
wisest thing he can do is to wait, and leave the case to nature. But
in the fourth case, in which the symptoms are unmistakable, and the
cause of the disease distinctly known, prompt remedy saves a life.
Is the fact that a wise physician will give as little medicine as
possible any argument for his abstaining from giving any at all?

But the argument may be met directly. It may be granted that the
State, or corporate authority of the people, might with perfect
propriety order my religion, or my waistcoat, if as good grounds
could be assigned for such an order as for the command to educate my
children. And this leads us to the question which lies at the root of
the whole discussion--the question, namely, upon what foundation
does the authority of the State rest, and how are the limits of that
authority to be determined?

One of the oldest and profoundest of English philosophers, Hobbes of
Malmesbury, writes thus:--

"The office of the sovereign, be it monarch or an assembly,
consisteth in the end for which he was entrusted with the
sovereign power, namely, the procuration of _the safety_ of
the people: to which he is obliged by the law of nature, and
to render an account thereof to God, the author of that law,
and to none but Him. But by safety, here, is not meant a bare
preservation, but also all other contentments of life, which
every man by lawful industry, without danger or hurt to the
commonwealth, shall acquire to himself."

At first sight this may appear to be a statement of the police-theory
of government, pure and simple; but it is not so. For Hobbes goes on
to say:--

"And this is intended should be done, not by care applied to
individuals, further than their protection from injuries, when
they shall complain; but by a general providence contained in
public instruction both of doctrine and example; and in the
making and executing of good laws to which individual persons
may apply their own cases."[1]

[Footnote 1: "Leviathan," Molesworth's ed. p. 322.]

To a witness of the civil war between Charles I. and the Parliament,
it is not wonderful that the dissolution of the bonds of society which
is involved in such strife should appear to be "the greatest evil that
can happen in this life;" and all who have read the "Leviathan" know
to what length Hobbes's anxiety for the preservation of the authority
of the representative of the sovereign power, whatever its shape,
leads him. But the justice of his conception of the duties of the
sovereign power does not seem to me to be invalidated by his monstrous
doctrines respecting the sacredness of that power.

To Hobbes, who lived during the break-up of the sovereign power by
popular force, society appeared to be threatened by everything which
weakened that power: but, to John Locke, who witnessed the evils which
flow from the attempt of the sovereign power to destroy the rights
of the people by fraud and violence, the danger lay in the other

The safety of the representative of the sovereign power itself is to
Locke a matter of very small moment, and he contemplates its abolition
when it ceases to do its duty, and its replacement by another, as a
matter of course. The great champion of the revolution of 1688 could
do no less. Nor is it otherwise than natural that he should seek to
limit, rather than to enlarge, the powers of the State, though in
substance he entirely agrees with Hobbes's view of its duties:--

"But though men," says he, "when they enter into society, give
up the equality, liberty, and executive power they had in the
state of nature, into the hands of the society, to be so far
disposed of by the Legislature as the good of society shall
require; yet it being only with an intention in every one the
better to preserve himself, his liberty and property (for no
rational creature can be supposed to change his condition
with an intention to be worse), the power of the society,
or legislation, constituted by them can never be supposed to
extend further than the common good, but is obliged to secure
every one's property by providing against those three defects
above mentioned, that made the state of nature so unsafe and
uneasy. And so, whoever has the legislative or supreme
power of any commonwealth, is bound to govern by established
standing laws, promulgated and known to the people, and not
by extemporary decrees; by indifferent and upright judges, who
are to decide controversies by those laws: and to employ the
force of the community at home only in the execution of such
laws; or abroad, to prevent or redress foreign injuries, and
secure the community from inroads and invasion. And all this
to be directed to no other end than the peace, safety, and
public good of the people."[1]

[Footnote 1: Locke's Essay, "Of Civil Government," Sec. 131.]

Just as in the case of Hobbes, so in that of Locke, it may at first
sight appear from this passage that the latter philosopher's views of
the functions of Government incline to the negative, rather than the
positive, side. But a further study of Locke's writings will at
once remove this misconception. In the famous "Letter concerning
Toleration," Locke says:--

"The commonwealth seems to me to be a society of men
constituted only for the procuring, preserving, and
_advancing_ their own civil interests.

"Civil interests I call life, liberty, health, and indolency
of body; and the possession of outward things, such as money,
lands, houses, furniture, and the like.

"It is the duty of the civil magistrate, by the impartial
execution of equal laws, to secure unto all the people in
general, and to every one of his subjects in particular, the
just possession of those things belonging to this life.

"... The whole jurisdiction of the magistrate reaches only
to these civil concernments.... All civil power, right,
and dominion, is bounded and confined to the only care of
promoting these things."

Elsewhere in the same "Letter," Locke lays down the proposition that
if the magistrate understand washing a child "to be profitable to the
curing or preventing any disease that children are subject unto, and
esteem the matter weighty enough to be taken care of by a law, in that
case he may order it to be done."

Locke seems to differ most widely from Hobbes by his strong advocacy
of a certain measure of toleration in religious matters. But the
reason why the civil magistrate ought to leave religion alone is,
according to Locke, simply this, that "true and saving religion
consists in the inward persuasion of the mind." And since "such is the
nature of the understanding that it cannot be compelled to the belief
of anything by outward force," it is absurd to attempt to make men
religious by compulsion. I cannot discover that Locke fathers the pet
doctrine of modern Liberalism, that the toleration of error is a good
thing in itself, and to be reckoned among the cardinal virtues; on
the contrary, in this very "Letter on Toleration" he states in the
clearest language that "No opinion contrary to human society, or to
those moral rules which are necessary to the preservation of civil
society, are to be tolerated by the magistrate." And the practical
corollary which he draws from this proposition is that there ought to
be no toleration for either Papists or Atheists.

After Locke's time the negative view of the functions of Government
gradually grew in strength, until it obtained systematic and able
expression in Wilhelm von Humboldt's "Ideen,"[1] the essence of which
is the denial that the State has a right to be anything more than
chief policeman. And, of late years, the belief in the efficacy of
doing nothing, thus formulated, has acquired considerable popularity
for several reasons. In the first place, men's speculative convictions
have become less and less real; their tolerance is large because their
belief is small; they know that the State had better leave things
alone unless it has a clear knowledge about them; and, with reason,
they suspect that the knowledge of the governing power may stand no
higher than the very low watermark of their own.

[Footnote 1: An English translation has been published under the title
of "Essay on the Sphere and Duties of Government."]

In the second place, men have become largely absorbed in the mere
accumulation of wealth; and as this is a matter in which the plainest
and strongest form of self-interest is intensely concerned, science
(in the shape of Political Economy) has readily demonstrated that
self-interest may be safely left to find the best way of attaining
its ends. Rapidity and certainty of intercourse between different
countries, the enormous development of the powers of machinery, and
general peace (however interrupted by brief periods of warfare), have
changed the face of commerce as completely as modern artillery has
changed that of war. The merchant found himself as much burdened by
ancient protective measures as the soldier by his armour--and negative
legislation has been of as much use to the one as the stripping off
of breast-plates, greaves, and buff-coat to the other. But because the
soldier is better without his armour it does not exactly follow that
it is desirable that our defenders should strip themselves stark
naked; and it is not more apparent why _laissez-faire_--great and
beneficial as it may be in all that relates to the accumulation of
wealth--should be the one great commandment which the State is to
obey in all other matters; and especially in those in which the
justification of _laissez-faire_, namely, the keen insight given by
the strong stimulus of direct personal interest, in matters clearly
understood, is entirely absent.

Thirdly, to the indifference generated by the absence of fixed
beliefs, and to the confidence in the efficacy of _laissez-faire_,
apparently justified by experience of the value of that principle when
applied to the pursuit of wealth, there must be added that nobler and
better reason for a profound distrust of legislative interference,
which animates Von Humboldt and shines forth in the pages of Mr.
Mill's famous Essay on Liberty--I mean the just fear lest the end
should be sacrificed to the means; lest freedom and variety should be
drilled and disciplined out of human life in order that the great mill
of the State should grind smoothly.

One of the profoundest of living English philosophers, who is at the
same time the most thoroughgoing and consistent of the champions of
astynomocracy, has devoted a very able and ingenious essay[1] to the
drawing out of a comparison between the process by which men have
advanced from the savage state to the highest civilization, and that
by which an animal passes from the condition of an almost shapeless
and structureless germ, to that in which it exhibits a highly
complicated structure and a corresponding diversity of powers. Mr.
Spencer says with great justice--

[Footnote 1: "The Social Organism:" Essays. Second Series.]

"That they gradually increase in mass; that they become,
little by little, more complex; that, at the same time, their
parts grow more mutually dependent; and that they continue to
live and grow as wholes, while successive generations of their
units appear and disappear,--are broad peculiarities which
bodies politic display, in common with all living bodies, and
in which they and living bodies differ from everything else."

In a very striking passage of this essay Mr. Spencer shows with what
singular closeness a parallel between the development of a nervous
system, which is the governing power of the body in the series of
animal organisms, and that of government, in the series of social
organisms, can be drawn:--

"Strange as the assertion, will be thought," says Mr. Spencer,
"our Houses of Parliament discharge in the social economy
functions that are, in sundry respects, comparable to those
discharged by the cerebral masses in a vertebrate animal....
The cerebrum co-ordinates the countless heterogeneous
considerations which affect the present and future welfare of
the individual as a whole; and the Legislature co-ordinates
the countless heterogeneous considerations which affect the
immediate and remote welfare of the whole community. We may
describe the office of the brain as that of _averaging_ the
interests of life, physical, intellectual, moral, social; and
a good brain is one in which the desires answering to their
respective interests are so balanced, that the conduct they
jointly dictate sacrifice none of them. Similarly we may
describe the office of Parliament as that of _averaging_ the
interests of the various classes in a community; and a good
Parliament is one in which the parties answering to these
respective interests are so balanced, that their united
legislation concedes to each class as much as consists with
the claims of the rest."

All this appears to be very just. But if the resemblances between the
body physiological and the body politic are any indication, not only
of what the latter is, and how it has become what it is, but of what
it ought to be, and what it is tending to become, I cannot but think
that the real force of the analogy is totally opposed to the negative
view of State function.

Suppose that, in accordance with this view, each muscle were to
maintain that the nervous system had no right to interfere with its
contraction, except to prevent it from hindering the contraction of
another muscle; or each gland, that it had a right to secrete, so long
as its secretion interfered with no other; suppose every separate cell
left free to follow its own "interests," and _laissez-faire_ lord of
all, what would become of the body physiological?

The fact is that the sovereign power of the body thinks for the
physiological organism, acts for it, and rules the individual
components with a rod of iron. Even the blood-corpuscles can't hold a
public meeting without being accused of "congestion"--and the brain,
like other despots whom we have known, calls out at once for the
use of sharp steel against them. As in Hobbes's "Leviathan," the
representative of the sovereign authority in the living organism,
though he derives all his powers from the mass which he rules, is
above the law. The questioning of his authority involves death, or
that partial death which we call paralysis. Hence, if the analogy of
the body politic with the body physiological counts for anything, it
seems to me to be in favour of a much larger amount of governmental
interference than exists at present, or than I, for one, at all desire
to see. But, tempting as the opportunity is, I am not disposed to
build up any argument in favour of my own case upon this analogy,
curious, interesting, and in many respects close, as it is, for it
takes no cognizance of certain profound and essential differences
between the physiological and the political bodies.

Much as the notion of a "social contract" has been ridiculed, it
nevertheless seems to be clear enough, that all social organization
whatever depends upon what is substantially a contract, whether
expressed or implied, between the members of the society. No society
ever was, or ever can be, really held together by force. It may seem
a paradox to say that a slaveholder does not make his slaves work
by force, but by agreement. And yet it is true. There is a contract
between the two which, if it were written out, would run in these
terms:--"I undertake to feed, clothe, house, and not to kill, flog,
or otherwise maltreat you, Quashie, if you perform a certain amount of
work." Quashie, seeing no better terms to be had, accepts the bargain,
and goes to work accordingly. A highwayman who garottes me, and then
clears out my pockets, robs me by force in the strict sense of the
words; but if he puts a pistol to my head and demands my money or
my life, and I, preferring the latter, hand over my purse, we have
virtually made a contract, and I perform one of the terms of that
contract. If, nevertheless, the highwayman subsequently shoots me,
everybody will see that, in addition to the crimes of murder and
theft, he has been guilty of a breach of contract.

A despotic Government, therefore, though often a mere combination
of slaveholding and highway robbery, nevertheless implies a contract
between governor and governed, with voluntary submission on the part
of the latter; and _a fortiori_, all other forms of government are in
like case.

Now a contract between any two men implies a restriction of the
freedom of each in certain particulars. The highwayman gives up his
freedom to shoot me, on condition of my giving up my freedom to do
as I like with my money: I give up my freedom to kill Quashie, on
condition of Quashie's giving up his freedom to be idle. And the
essence and foundation of every social organization, whether simple
or complex, is the fact that each member of the society voluntarily
renounces his freedom in certain directions, in return for the
advantages which he expects from association with the other members
of that society. Nor are constitutions, laws, or manners, in ultimate
analysis, anything but so many expressed or implied contracts between
the members of a society to do this, or abstain from that.

It appears to me that this feature constitutes the difference
between the social and the physiological organism. Among the higher
physiological organisms, there is none which is developed by the
conjunction of a number of primitively independent existences into
a complex whole. The process of social organization appears to be
comparable, not so much to the process of organic development, as
to the synthesis of the chemist, by which independent elements are
gradually built up into complex aggregations--in which each element
retains an independent individuality, though held in subordination to
the whole. The atoms of carbon and hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, which
enter into a complex molecule, do not lose the powers originally
inherent in them, when they unite to form that molecule, the
properties of which express those forces of the whole aggregation
which are not neutralized and balanced by one another. Each atom has
given up something, in order that the atomic society, or molecule, may
subsist. And as soon as any one or more of the atoms thus associated
resumes the freedom which it has renounced, and follows some external
attraction, the molecule is broken up, and all the peculiar properties
which depended upon its constitution vanish.

Every society, great or small, resembles such a complex molecule,
in which the atoms are represented by men, possessed of all those
multifarious attractions and repulsions which are manifested in their
desires and volitions, the unlimited power of satisfying which, we
call freedom. The social molecule exists in virtue of the renunciation
of more or less of this freedom by every individual. It is decomposed,
when the attraction of desire leads to the resumption of that freedom,
the suppression of which is essential to the existence of the social
molecule. And the great problem of that social chemistry we call
politics, is to discover what desires of mankind may be gratified, and
what must be suppressed, if the highly complex compound, society,
is to avoid decomposition. That the gratification of some of
men's desires shall be renounced is essential to order; that the
satisfaction of others shall be permitted is no less essential to
progress; and the business of the sovereign authority--which is, or
ought-to be, simply a delegation of the people appointed to act for
its good--appears to me to be, not only to enforce the renunciation of
the anti-social desires, but, wherever it may be necessary, to promote
the satisfaction of those which are conducive to progress.

The great metaphysician, Immanuel Kant, who is at his greatest when
he discusses questions which are not metaphysical, wrote, nearly a
century ago, a wonderfully instructive essay entitled "A Conception of
Universal History in relation to Universal Citizenship,"[1] from which
I will borrow a few pregnant sentences:--

[Footnote 1: "Idee zu einer allgemeinen Geschichte in weltbuergerlichen
Absicht," 1784. This paper has been translated by De Quincey, and
attention has been recently drawn to its "signal merits" by the Editor
of the _Fortnightly Review_ in his Essay on Condorcet. (_Fortnightly
Review_, No. xxxviii. N.S. pp. 136, 137.)]

"The means of which Nature has availed herself, in order to
bring about the development of all the capacities of man, is
the antagonism of those capacities to social organization,
so far as the latter does in the long run necessitate their
definite correlation. By antagonism, I here mean the unsocial
sociability of mankind--that is, the combination in them of
an impulse to enter into society, with a thorough spirit
of opposition which constantly threatens to break up this
society. The ground of this lies in human nature. Man has an
inclination to enter into society, because in that state he
feels that he becomes more a man, or, in other words, that his
natural faculties develop. But he has also a great tendency to
isolate himself, because he is, at the same time, aware of the
unsocial peculiarity of desiring to have everything his own
way; and thus, being conscious of an inclination to oppose
others, he is naturally led to expect opposition from them.

"Now it is this opposition which awakens all the dormant
powers of men, stimulates them to overcome their inclination
to be idle, and, spurred by the love of honour, or power, or
wealth, to make themselves a place among their fellows, whom
they can neither do with, nor do without.

"Thus they make the first steps from brutishness towards
culture, of which the social value of man is the measure. Thus
all talents become gradually developed, taste is formed,
and by continual enlightenment the foundations of a way of
thinking are laid, which gradually changes the mere rude
capacity of moral perception into determinate practical
principles; and thus society, which is originated by a sort
of pathological compulsion, becomes metamorphosed into a moral
unity." (_Loc. cit_. p. 147.)

"All the culture and art which adorn humanity, the most
refined social order, are produced by that unsociability which
is compelled by its own existence to discipline itself, and
so by enforced art to bring the seeds implanted by nature into
full flower." (_Loc. cit_. p. 148.)

In these passages, as in others of this remarkable tract, Kant
anticipates the application of the "struggle for existence" to
politics, and indicates the manner in which the evolution of society
has resulted from the constant attempt of individuals to strain its
bonds. If individuality has no play, society does not advance; if
individuality breaks out of all bounds, society perishes.

But when men living in society once become aware that their welfare
depends upon, two opposing tendencies of equal importance--the one
restraining, the other encouraging, individual freedom--the
question "What are the functions of Government?" is translated into
another--namely, What ought we men, in our corporate capacity, to do,
not only in the way of restraining that free individuality which is
inconsistent with the existence of society, but in encouraging that
free individuality which is essential to the evolution of the
social organization? The formula which truly defines the function of
Government must contain the solution of both the problems involved,
and not merely of one of them.

Locke has furnished us with such a formula, in the noblest, and at the
same time briefest, statement of the purpose of Government known to


[Footnote 1: "Of Civil Government," Sec. 229.]

But the good of mankind is not a something which is absolute and
fixed for all men, whatever their capacities or state of civilization.
Doubtless it is possible to imagine a true "Civitas Dei," in which
every man's moral faculty shall be such as leads him to control all
those desires which run counter to the good of mankind, and to cherish
only those which conduce to the welfare of society; and in which every
man's native intellect shall be sufficiently strong, and his culture
sufficiently extensive, to enable him to know what he ought to do and
to seek after. And, in that blessed State, police will be as much a
superfluity as every other kind of government.

But the eye of man has not beheld that State, and is not likely to
behold it for some time to come. What we do see, in fact, is that
States are made up of a considerable number of the ignorant and
foolish, a small proportion of genuine knaves, and a sprinkling of
capable and honest men, by whose efforts the former are kept in a
reasonable state of guidance, and the latter of repression. And, such
being the case, I do not see how any limit whatever can be laid down
as to the extent to which, under some circumstances, the action of
Government may be rightfully carried.

Was our own Government wrong in suppressing Thuggee in India? If not,
would it be wrong in putting down any enthusiast who attempted to set
up the worship of Astarte in the Haymarket? Has the State no right to
put a stop to gross and open violations of common decency? And if
the State has, as I believe it has, a perfect right to do all these
things, are we not bound to admit, with Locke, that it may have a
right to interfere with "Popery" and "Atheism," if it be really true
that the practical consequences of such beliefs con be proved to
be injurious to civil society? The question where to draw the line
between those things with which the State ought, and those with which
it ought not, to interfere, then, is one which must be left to be
decided separately for each individual case. The difficulty which
meets the statesman is the same as that which meets us all in
individual life, in which our abstract rights are generally clear
enough, though it is frequently extremely hard to say at what point it
is wise to cease our attempts to enforce them.

The notion that the social body should be organized in such a manner
as to advance the welfare of its members, is as old as political
thought; and the schemes of Plato, More, Robert Owen, St. Simon,
Comte, and the modern socialists, bear witness that, in every age, men
whose capacity is of no mean order, and whose desire to benefit
their fellows has rarely been excelled, have been strongly, nay,
enthusiastically, convinced that Government may attain its end--the
good of the people--by some more effectual process than the very
simple and easy one of putting its hands in its pockets, and letting
them alone.

It may be, that all the schemes of social organization which have
hitherto been propounded are impracticable follies. But if this be so,
the fact proves, not that the idea which underlies them is worthless,
but only that the science of politics is in a very rudimentary and
imperfect state. Politics, as a science, is not older than astronomy;
but though the subject-matter of the latter is vastly less complex
than that of the former, the theory of the moon's motions is not quite
settled yet.

Perhaps it may help us a little way towards getting clearer notions of
what the State may and what it may not do, if, assuming the truth of
Locke's maxim that "the end of Government is the good of mankind," we
consider a little what the good, of mankind is.

I take it that the good of mankind means the attainment, by every
man, of all the happiness which he can enjoy without diminishing the
happiness of his fellow-men.[1]

[Footnote 1: "Hie est itaque finis ad quem tendo, talem scilicet
Naturam acquirere, et ut multi mecum eam acquirant, conari hoc est
de mea felicitate etiam operam dare, ut alii multi idem atque ego
intelligant, ut eorum intellectus et cupiditas prorsus cum meo
intellectu et cupiditate convenient: atque hoc fiat, necesse est
tantum de Natura intelligere, quantum sufficit ad talem naturam
acquirendam; deinde formare talem societatem qualis est desideranda,
ut quam plurimi quam facillime et secure eo perveniant."--B. SPINOZA,
_De Intellectus Emendatione Tractatus._]

If we inquire what kinds of happiness come under this definition, we
find those derived from the sense of security or peace; from
wealth, or commodity, obtained by commerce; from Art--whether it
be architecture, sculpture, painting, music, or literature; from
knowledge, or science; and, finally, from sympathy or friendship. No
man is injured, but the contrary, by peace. No man is any the worse
off because another acquires wealth by trade, or by the exercise of
a profession; on the contrary, he cannot have acquired his wealth,
except by benefiting others to the full extent of what they considered
to be its value; and his wealth is no more than fairy gold if he does
not go on benefiting others in the same way. A thousand men may enjoy
the pleasure derived from a picture, a symphony, or a poem, without
lessening the happiness of the most devoted connoisseur. The
investigation of nature is an infinite pasture-ground, where all
may graze, and where the more bite, the longer the grass grows, the
sweeter is its flavour, and the more it nourishes. If I love a friend,
it is no damage to me, but rather a pleasure, if all the world also
love him and think of him as highly as I do.

It appears to be universally agreed, for the reasons already
mentioned, that it is unnecessary and undesirable for the State
to attempt to promote the acquisition of wealth by any direct
interference with commerce. But there is no such agreement as to the
further question whether the State may not promote the acquisition of
wealth by indirect means. For example, may the State make a road, or
build a harbour, when it is quite clear that by so doing it will open
up a productive district, and thereby add enormously to the total
wealth of the community? And if so, may the State, acting for the
general good, take charge of the means of communication between its
members, or of the postal and telegraph services? I have not yet met
with any valid, argument against the propriety of the State doing
what our Government does in this matter; except the assumption, which
remains to be proved, that Government will manage these things worse
than private enterprise would do. Nor is there any agreement upon the
still more important question whether the State ought, or ought not,
to regulate the distribution of wealth. If it ought not, then all
legislation which regulates inheritance--the statute of Mortmain, and
the like--is wrong in principle; and, when a rich man dies, we
ought to return to the state of nature, and have a scramble for
his property. If, on the other hand, the authority of the State is
legitimately employed in regulating these matters, then it is an open
question, to be decided entirely by evidence as to what tends to
the highest good of the people, whether we keep our present laws,
or whether we modify them. At present the State protects men in the
possession and enjoyment of their property, and defines what that
property is. The justification for its so doing is that its action
promotes the good of the people. If it can be clearly proved that the
abolition of property would tend still, more to promote the good of
the people, the State will have the same justification for abolishing
property that it now has for maintaining it.

Again, I suppose it is universally agreed that it would be useless
and absurd for the State to attempt to promote friendship and sympathy
between man and man directly. But I see no reason why, if it be
otherwise expedient, the State may not do something towards that
end indirectly. For example, I can conceive the existence of an
Established Church which should be a blessing to the community. A
Church in which, week by week, services should be devoted, not to the
iteration of abstract propositions in theology, but to the setting
before men's minds of an ideal of true, just, and pure living; a place
in which those who are weary of the burden of daily cares, should
find a moment's rest in the contemplation of the higher life which is
possible for all, though attained by so few; a place in which the man
of strife and of business should have time to think how small, after
all, are the rewards he covets compared with peace and charity. Depend
upon it, if such a Church existed, no one would seek to disestablish

Whatever the State may not do, however, it is universally agreed that
it may take charge of the maintenance of internal and external peace.
Even the strongest advocate of administrative nihilism admits that
Government may prevent aggression of one man on another. But this
implies the maintenance of an army and navy, as much as of a body of
police; it implies a diplomatic as well as a detective force; and it
implies, further, that the State, as a corporate whole, shall have
distinct and definite views as to its wants, powers, and obligations.

For independent States stand in the same relation to one another as
men in a state of nature, or unlimited freedom. Each endeavours to
get all it can, until the inconvenience of the state of war suggests
either the formation of those express contracts we call treaties,
or mutual consent to those implied contracts which are expressed by
international law. The moral rights of a State rest upon the same
basis as those of an individual. If any number of States agree to
observe a common set of international laws, they have, in fact, set up
a sovereign authority or supra-national government, the end of
which, like that of all governments, is the good of mankind; and the
possession of as much freedom by each State, as is consistent with
the attainment of that end. But there is this difference: that the
government thus set up over nations is ideal, and has no concrete
representative of the sovereign power; whence the only way of settling
any dispute finally is to fight it out. Thus the supra-national
society is continually in danger of returning to the state of nature,
in which contracts are void; and the possibility of this contingency
justifies a government in restricting the liberty of its subjects in
many ways that would otherwise be unjustifiable.

Finally, with respect to the advancement of science and art. I have
never yet had the good fortune to hear any valid reason alleged why
that corporation of individuals we call the State may not do what
voluntary effort fails in doing, either from want of intelligence or
lack of will. And here it cannot be alleged that the action of the
State is always hurtful. On the contrary, in every country in Europe,
universities, public libraries, picture galleries, museums, and
laboratories, have been established by the State, and have done
infinite service to the intellectual and moral progress and the
refinement of mankind.

A few days ago I received from one of the most eminent members of the
Institut of France a pamphlet entitled "Pourquoi la France n'a
pas trouve d'hommes superieurs au moment du peril." The writer, M.
Pasteur, has no doubt that the cause of the astounding collapse of
his countrymen is to be sought in the miserable neglect of the higher
branches of culture, which has been one of the many disgraces of the
Second Empire, if not of its predecessors.

"Au point ou nous sommes arrives de ce qu'on appelle la
_civilisation moderne_, la culture des sciences dans leur
expression la plus elevee est peut-etre plus necessaire encore
a l'etat moral d'une nation qu'a sa prosperite materielle.

"Les grandes decouvertes, les meditations de la pensee dans
les arts, dans les sciences et dans les lettres, en un mot les
travaux desinteresses de l'esprit dans tous les genres,
les centres d'enseignement propres a les faire connaitre,
introduisent dans le corps social tout entier l'esprit
philosophique ou scientifique, cet esprit de discernement qui
soumet tout a une raison severe, condamne l'ignorance,
dissipe les prejuges et les erreurs. Ils elevent le niveau
intellectuel, le sentiment moral; par eux, l'idee divine
elle-meme se repand et s'exalte.... Si, au moment du peril
supreme, la France n'a pas trouve des hommes superieurs pour
mettre en oeuvre ses ressources et le courage de ses enfants,
il faut l'attribuer, j'en ai la conviction, a ce que la France
EST desinteressee, depuis un demi-siecle, des grands travaux
de la pensee, particulierement dans les sciences exactes."

Individually, I have no love for academies on the continental model,
and still less for the system of decorating men of distinction in
science, letters, or art, with orders and titles, or enriching them
with sinecures. What men of science want is only a fair day's wages
for more than a fair day's work; and most of us, I suspect, would be
well content if, for our days and nights of unremitting toil, we could
secure the pay which a first-class Treasury clerk earns without any
obviously trying strain upon his faculties. The sole order of nobility
which, in my judgment, becomes a philosopher, is that rank which
he holds in the estimation of his fellow-workers, who are the only
competent judges in such matters. Newton and Cuvier lowered themselves
when the one accepted an idle knighthood, and the other became a
baron of the empire. The great men who went to their graves as Michael
Faraday and George Grote seem to me to have understood the dignity of
knowledge better when they declined all such meretricious trappings.

But it is one thing for the State to appeal to the vanity and ambition
which are to be found in philosophical as in other breasts, and
another to offer men who desire to do the hardest of work for the most
modest of tangible rewards, the means of making themselves useful to
their age and generation. And this is just what the State does when it
founds a public library or museum, or provides the means of scientific
research by such grants of money as that administered by the Royal

It is one thing, again, for the State to take all the higher education
of the nation into its own hands; it is another to stimulate and to
aid, while they are yet young and weak, local efforts to the same
end. The Midland Institute, Owens College in Manchester, the newly
instituted Science College in Newcastle, are all noble products of
local energy and munificence. But the good they are doing is not
local--the commonwealth, to its uttermost limits, shares in the
benefits they confer; and I am at a loss to understand upon what
principle of equity the State, which admits the principle of payment
on results, refuses to give a fair equivalent for these benefits; or
on what principle of justice the State, which admits the obligation
of sharing the duty of primary education with a locality, denies the
existence of that obligation when the higher education is in question.

To sum up: If the positive advancement of the peace, wealth, and the
intellectual and moral development of its members, are objects which
the Government, as the representative of the corporate authority of
society, may justly strive after, in fulfilment of its end--the good
of mankind; then it is clear that the Government may undertake to
educate the people. For education promotes peace by teaching men the
realities of life and the obligations which are involved in the very
existence of society; it promotes intellectual development, not only
by training the individual intellect, but by sifting out from the
masses of ordinary or inferior capacities, those who are competent
to increase the general welfare by occupying higher positions; and,
lastly, it promotes morality and refinement, by teaching men to
discipline themselves, and by leading them to see that the highest, as
it is the only permanent, content is to be attained, not by grovelling
in the rank and steaming valleys of sense, but by continual striving
towards those high peaks, where, resting in eternal calm, reason
discerns the undefined but bright ideal of the highest Good--"a cloud
by day, a pillar of fire by night."



An electioneering manifesto would be out of place in the pages of this
Review; but any suspicion that may arise in the mind of the reader
that the following pages partake of that nature, will be dispelled,
if he reflect that they cannot be published[1] until after the day
on which the ratepayers of the metropolis will have decided which
candidates for seats upon the Metropolitan School Board they will
take, and which they will leave.

[Footnote 1: Notwithstanding Mr. Huxley's intentions, the Editor took
upon himself, in what seemed to him to be the public interest, to send
an extract from this article to the newspapers--before the day of the
election of the School Board.--EDITOR of the _Contemporary Review_.]

As one of those candidates, I may be permitted to say, that I feel
much in the frame of mind of the Irish bricklayer's labourer, who bet
another that he could not carry him to the top of the ladder in his
hod. The challenged hodman won his wager, but as the stakes were
handed over, the challenger wistfully remarked, "I'd great hopes of
falling at the third round from the top." And, in view of the work
and the worry which awaits the members of the School Boards, I must
confess to an occasional ungrateful hope that the friends who are
toiling upwards with me in their hod, may, when they reach "the third
round from the top," let me fall back into peace and quietness.

But whether fortune befriend me in this rough method, or not, I should
like to submit to those of whom I am a potential, but of whom I may
not be an actual, colleague, and to others who may be interested in
this most important problem--how to get the Education Act to work
efficiently--some considerations as to what are the duties of the
members of the School Boards, and what are the limits of their power.

I suppose no one will be disposed to dispute the proposition, that
the prime duty of every member of such a Board is to endeavour to
administer the Act honestly; or in accordance, not only with its
letter, but with its spirit. And if so, it would seem that the first
step towards this very desirable end is, to obtain a clear notion of
what that letter signifies, and what that spirit implies; or, in
other words, what the clauses of the Act are intended to enjoin and to
forbid. So that it is really not admissible, except for factious and
abusive purposes, to assume that any one who endeavours to get at
this clear meaning is desirous only of raising quibbles and making

Reading the Act with this desire to understand it, I find that its
provisions may be classified, as might naturally be expected, under
two heads: the one set relating to the subject-matter of education;
the other to the establishment, maintenance, and administration of the
schools in which that education is to be conducted.

Now it is a most important circumstance, that all the sections of the
Act, except four, belong to the latter division; that is, they refer
to mere matters of administration. The four sections in question are
the seventh, the fourteenth, the sixteenth, and the ninety-seventh. Of
these, the seventh, the fourteenth, and the ninety-seventh deal with
the subject-matter of education, while the sixteenth defines the
nature of the relations which are to exist between the "Education
Department" (an euphemism for the future Minister of Education)
and the School Boards. It is the sixteenth clause which is the most
important, and, in some respects, the most remarkable of all. It runs

"If the School Board do, or permit, any act in contravention
of, or fail to comply with, the regulations, according to
which a school provided by them is required by this Act to
be conducted, the Education Department may declare the School
Board to be, and such Board shall accordingly be deemed to be,
a Board in default, and the Education Department may proceed
accordingly; and every act, or omission, of any member of
the School Board, or manager appointed by them, or any
person under the control of the Board, shall be deemed to be
_permitted_ by the Board, unless the contrary be proved.

"If any dispute arises as to whether the School Board have
done, or permitted, any act in contravention of, or have
failed to comply with, the said regulations, _the matter
shall be referred to the Education Department, whose decision
thereon shall be final_."

It will be observed that this clause gives the Minister of Education
absolute power over the doings of the School Boards. He is not
only the administrator of the Act, but he is its interpreter. I
had imagined that on the occurrence of a dispute, not as regards a
question of pure administration, but as to the meaning of a clause of
the Act, a case might be taken and referred to a court of justice. But
I am led to believe that the Legislature has, in the present instance,
deliberately taken this power out of the hands of the judges and
lodged it in those of the Minister of Education, who, in accordance
with our method of making Ministers, will necessarily be a political
partisan, and who may be a strong theological sectary into the
bargain. And I am informed by members of Parliament who watched the
progress of the Act, that the responsibility for this unusual state of
things rests, not with the Government, but with the Legislature, which
exhibited a singular disposition to accumulate power in the hands of
the future Minister of Education, and to evade the more troublesome
difficulties of the education question by leaving them to be settled
between that Minister and the School Boards.

I express no opinion whether it is, or is not, desirable that such
powers of controlling all the School Boards in the country should be
possessed by a person who may be, like Mr. Forster, eminently likely
to use these powers justly and wisely, but who also may be quite the
reverse. I merely wish to draw attention to the fact that such powers
are given to the Minister, whether he be fit or unfit. The extent
of these powers becomes apparent when the other sections of the Act
referred to are considered. The fourth clause of the seventh section

"The school shall be conducted in accordance with the
conditions required to be fulfilled by an elementary school in
order to obtain an annual Parliamentary grant."

What these conditions are appears from the following clauses of the
ninety-seventh section:--

"The conditions required to be fulfilled by an elementary
school in order to obtain an annual Parliamentary grant shall
be those contained in the minutes of the Education Department
in force for the time being.... Provided that no such minute
of the Education Department, not in force at the time of the
passing of this Act, shall be deemed to be in force until
it has lain for not less than one month on the table of both
Houses of Parliament."

Let us consider how this will work in practice. A school established
by a School Board may receive support from three sources--from the
rates, the school fees, and the Parliamentary grant. The latter may be
as great as the two former taken together; and as it may be assumed,
without much risk of error, that a constant pressure will be exerted
by the ratepayers on the members who represent them, to get as much
out of the Government, and as little out of the rates, as possible,
the School Boards will have a very strong motive for shaping the
education they give, as nearly as may be, on the model which the
Education Minister offers for their imitation, and for the copying of
which he is prepared to pay.

The Revised Code did not compel any schoolmaster to leave off teaching
anything; but, by the very simple process of refusing to pay for many
kinds of teaching, it has practically put an end to them. Mr. Forster
is said to be engaged in revising the Revised Code; a successor of
his may re-revise it--and there will be no sort of check upon
these revisions and counter-revisions, except the possibility of a
Parliamentary debate, when the revised, or added, minutes are laid
upon the table. What chance is there that any such debate will take
place on a matter of detail relating to elementary education--a
subject with which members of the Legislature, having been, for the
most part, sent to our public schools thirty years ago, have not the
least practical acquaintance, and for which they care nothing, unless
it derives a political value from its connection with sectarian

I cannot but think, then, that the School Boards will have the
appearance, but not the reality, of freedom of action, in regard to
the subject-matter of what is commonly called "secular" education.

As respects what is commonly called "religious" education, the power
of the Minister of Education is even more despotic. An interest,
almost amounting to pathos, attaches itself, in my mind, to the
frantic exertions which are at present going on in almost every school
division, to elect certain candidates whose names have never before
been heard of in connection with education, and who are either
sectarian partisans, or nothing. In my own particular division, a body
organized _ad hoc_ is moving heaven and earth to get the seven seats
filled by seven gentlemen, four of whom are good Churchmen, and three
no less good Dissenters. But why should this seven times heated fiery
furnace of theological zeal be so desirous to shed its genial warmth
over the London School Board? Can it be that these zealous sectaries
mean to evade the solemn pledge given in the Act?

"No religious catechism or religious formulary which is
distinctive of any particular denomination shall be taught in
the school."

I confess I should have thought it my duty to reject any such
suggestion, as dishonouring to a number of worthy persons, if it had
not been for a leading article and some correspondence which appeared
in the _Guardian_ of November 9th, 1870.

The _Guardian_ is, as everybody knows, one of the best of the
"religious" newspapers; and, personally. I have every reason to speak
highly of the fairness, and indeed kindness, with which the editor
is good enough to deal with a writer who must, in many ways, be so
objectionable to him as myself. I quote the following passages from a
leading article on a letter of mine, therefore, with all respect, and
with a genuine conviction that the course of conduct advocated by the
writer must appear to him in a very different light from that under
which I see it:--

"The first of these points is the interpretation which
Professor Huxley puts on the 'Cowper-Temple clause.' It is,
in fact, that which we foretold some time ago as likely to be
forced upon it by those who think with him. The clause itself
was one of those compromises which it is very difficult to
define or to maintain logically. On the one side was the
simple freedom to School Boards to establish what schools they
pleased, which Mr. Forster originally gave, but against
which the Nonconformists lifted up their voices, because they
conceived it likely to give too much power to the Church. On
the other side there was the proposition to make the schools
secular--intelligible enough, but in the consideration of
public opinion simply impossible--and there was the vague
impracticable idea, which Mr. Gladstone thoroughly tore to
pieces, of enacting that the teaching of all schoolmasters
in the new schools should be strictly 'undenominational.' The
Cowper-Temple clause was, we repeat, proposed simply to tide
over the difficulty. It was to satisfy the Nonconformists and
the 'unsectarian,' as distinct from the secular party of
the League, by forbidding all distinctive 'catechisms and
formularies,' which might have the effect of openly assigning
the schools to this or that religious body. It refused, at the
same time, to attempt the impossible task of defining what
was undenominational; and its author even contended, if
we understood him correctly, that it would in no way, even
indirectly, interfere with the substantial teaching of any
master in any school. This assertion we always believed to be
untenable; we could not see how, in the face of this clause,
a distinctly denominational tone could be honestly given to
schools nominally general. But beyond this mere suggestion of
an attempt at a general tone of comprehensiveness in religious
teaching it was not intended to go, and only because such was
its limitation was it accepted by the Government and by the

"But now we are told that it is to be construed as doing
precisely that which it refused to do. A 'formulary,' it
seems, is a collection of formulas, and formulas are simply
propositions of whatever kind touching religious faith. All
such propositions, if they cannot be accepted by all
Christian denominations, are to be proscribed; and it is added
significantly that the Jews also are a denomination, and so
that any teaching distinctively Christian is perhaps to be
excluded, lest it should interfere with their freedom and
rights. Are we then to fall back on the simple reading of
the letter of the Bible? No! this, it is granted, would be
an 'unworthy pretence.' The teacher is to give 'grammatical,
geographical, or historical explanations;' but he is to keep
clear of 'theology proper,' because, as Professor Huxley takes
great pains to prove, there is no theological teaching which
is not opposed by some sect or other, from Roman Catholicism
on the one hand to Unitarianism on the other. It was not,
perhaps, hard to see that this difficulty would be started;
and to those who, like Professor Huxley, look at it
theoretically, without much practical experience of schools,
it may appear serious or unanswerable. But there is very
little in it practically; when it is faced determinately and
handled firmly, it will soon shrink into its true
dimensions. The class who are least frightened at it are the
school-teachers, simply because they know most about it. It is
quite clear that the school-managers must be cautioned against
allowing their schools to be made places of proselytism:
but when this is done, the case is simple enough. Leave the
masters under this general understanding to teach freely; if
there is ground of complaint, let it be made, but leave the
_onus pro-bandi_ on the objectors. For extreme peculiarities
of belief or unbelief there is the Conscience Clause; as
to the mass of parents, they will be more anxious to have
religion taught than afraid of its assuming this or that
particular shade. They will trust the school-managers
and teachers till they have reason to distrust them, and
experience has shown that they may trust them safely enough.
Any attempt to throw the burden of making the teaching
undenominational upon the managers must be sternly resisted:
it is simply evading the intentions of the Act in an elaborate
attempt to carry them out. We thank Professor Huxley for the
warning. To be forewarned is to be forearmed."

A good deal of light seems to me to be thrown on the practical
significance of the opinions expressed in the foregoing extract by the
following interesting letter, which appeared in the same paper:--

"Sir,--I venture to send to you the substance of a
correspondence with the Education Department upon the question
of the lawfulness of religious teaching in rate schools under
section 14 (2) of the Act. I asked whether the words 'which
is distinctive,' &c., taken grammatically as limiting the
prohibition of any religious formulary, might be construed
as allowing (subject, however, to the other provisions of the
Act) any religious formulary common to any two denominations
anywhere in England to be taught in such schools; and if
practically the limit could not be so extended, but would have
to be fixed according to the special circumstances of each
district, then what degree of general acceptance in a district
would exempt such a formulary from the prohibition? The answer
to this was as follows:--'It was understood, when clause 14 of
the Education Act was discussed in the House of Commons,
that, according to a well-known rule of interpreting Acts
of Parliament, "denomination" must be held to include
"denominations." When any dispute is referred to the Education
Department under the last paragraph of section 16, it will be
dealt with according to the circumstances of the case.'

"Upon my asking further if I might hence infer that the
lawfulness of teaching any religious formulary in a rate
school would thus depend _exclusively_ on local circumstances,
and would accordingly be so decided by the Education
Department in case of dispute, I was informed in explanation
that 'their lordships'' letter was intended to convey to
me that no general rule, beyond that stated in the first
paragraph of their letter, could at present be laid down by
them; and that their decision in each particular case must
depend on the special circumstances accompanying it.

"I think it would appear from this that it may yet be in many
cases both lawful and expedient to teach religious formularies
in rate schools.

"H.I. Steyning, _November_ 5, 1870."

Of course I do not mean to suggest that the editor of the _Guardian_
is bound by the opinions of his correspondent; but I cannot help
thinking that I do not misrepresent him, when I say that he also
thinks "that it may yet be, in many cases, both lawful and
expedient to teach religious formularies in rate schools under these

It is not uncharitable, therefore, to assume that, the express words
of the Act of Parliament notwithstanding, all the sectaries who are
toiling so hard for seats in the London School Board have the lively
hope of the gentleman from Steyning, that it may be "both lawful and
expedient to teach religious formularies in rate schools;" and
that they mean to do their utmost to bring this happy consummation

[Footnote 1: A passage in an article on the "Working of the Education
Act," in the _Saturday Review_ for Nov. 19, 1870, completely justifies
this anticipation of the line of action which the sectaries mean to
take. After commending the Liverpool compromise, the writer goes on to

"If this plan is fairly adopted in Liverpool, the fourteenth clause
of the Act will in effect be restored to its original form, and the
majority of the ratepayers in each district be permitted to decide to
what denomination the school shall belong."

In a previous paragraph the writer speaks of a possible "mistrust"
of one another by the members of the Board, and seems to anticipate
"accusations of dishonesty." If any of the members of the Board adopt
his views, I think it highly probable that he may turn out to be a
true prophet.]

Now the pathetic emotion to which I have referred, as accompanying my
contemplations of the violent struggles of so many excellent persons,
is caused by the circumstance that, so far as I can judge, their
labour is in vain.

Supposing that the London School Board contains, as it probably will
do, a majority of sectaries; and that they carry over the heads of a
minority, a resolution that certain theological formulas, about which
they all happen to agree,--say, for example, the doctrine of the
Trinity,--shall be taught in the schools. Do they fondly imagine that
the minority will not at once dispute their interpretation of the Act,
and appeal to the Education Department to settle that dispute? And if
so, do they suppose that any Minister of Education, who wants to keep
his place, will tighten boundaries which the Legislature has left
loose; and will give a "final decision" which shall be offensive to
every Unitarian and to every Jew in the House of Commons, besides
creating a precedent which will afterwards be used to the injury of
every Nonconformist? The editor of the _Guardian_ tells his friends
sternly to resist every attempt to throw the burden of making the
teaching undenominational on the managers, and thanks me for the
warning I have given him. I return the thanks, with interest, for
_his_ warning, as to the course the party he represents intends
to pursue, and for enabling me thus to draw public attention to a
perfectly constitutional and effectual mode of checkmating them.

And, in truth, it is wonderful to note the surprising entanglement
into which our able editor gets himself in the struggle between his
native honesty and judgment and the necessities of his party. "We
could not see," says he, "in the face of this clause how a distinct
denominational tone could be honestly given to schools nominally
general." There speaks the honest and clearheaded man. "Any attempt
to throw the burden of making the teaching undenominational must be
sternly resisted." There speaks the advocate holding a brief for his
party. "Verily," as Trinculo says, "the monster hath two mouths:" the
one, the forward mouth, tells us very justly that the teaching cannot
"honestly" be "distinctly denominational;" but the other, the
backward mouth, asserts that it must by no manner of means be
"undenominational." Putting the two utterances together, I can only
interpret them to mean that the teaching is to be "indistinctly
denominational." If the editor of the _Guardian_ had not shown signs
of anger at my use of the term "theological fog," I should have been
tempted to suppose it must have been what he had in his mind, under
the name of "indistinct denominationalism." But this reading being
plainly inadmissible, I can only imagine that he inculcates the
teaching of formulas common to a number of denominations.

But the Education Department has already told the gentleman from
Steyning that any such proceeding will be illegal. "According to a
well-known rule of interpreting Acts of Parliament, 'denomination'
would be held to include 'denominations.'" In other words, we must
read the Act thus:--

"No religious catechism or religious formulary which is distinctive of
any particular _denominations_ shall be taught."

Thus we are really very much indebted to the editor of the _Guardian_
and his correspondent. The one has shown us that the sectaries mean
to try to get as much denominational teaching as they can agree upon
among themselves, forced into the elementary schools; while the other
has obtained a formal declaration from the Education Department that
any such attempt will contravene the Act of Parliament, and that,
therefore, the unsectarian, law-abiding members of the School Boards
may safely reckon upon, bringing down upon their opponents the heavy
hand of the Minister of Education.[1]

[Footnote 1: Since this paragraph was written, Mr. Forster, in
speaking at the Birkbeck Institution, has removed all doubt as to
what his "final decision" will be in the case of such disputes being
referred to him:--"I have the fullest confidence that in the reading
and explaining of the Bible, what the children will be taught will be
the great truths of Christian life and conduct, which all of us desire
they should know, and that no effort will be made to cram into their
poor little minds, theological dogmas which their tender age prevents
them from understanding."]

So much for the powers of the School Boards. Limited as they seem to
be, it by no means follows that such Boards, if they are composed of
intelligent and practical men, really more in earnest about education
than about sectarian squabbles, may not exert a very great amount of
influence. And, from many circumstances, this is especially likely to
be the case with the London School Board, which, if it conducts itself
wisely, may become a true educational parliament, as subordinate
in authority to the Minister of Education, theoretically, as the
Legislature is to the Crown, and yet, like the Legislature, possessed
of great practical authority. And I suppose that no Minister
of Education would be other than glad to have the aid of the
deliberations of such a body, or fail to pay careful attention to its

What, then, ought to be the nature and scope of the education which
a School Board should endeavour to give to every child under its
influence, and for which it should try to obtain the aid of the
Parliamentary grants? In my judgment it should include at least the
following kinds of instruction and of discipline:--

1. Physical training and drill, as part of the regular business of the

It is impossible to insist too much on the importance of this part
of education for the children of the poor of great towns. All
the conditions of their lives are unfavourable to their physical
well-being. They are badly lodged, badly housed, badly fed, and live
from one year's end to another in bad air, without chance of a change.
They have no play-grounds; they amuse themselves with marbles and
chuck-farthing, instead of cricket or hare-and-hounds; and if it were
not for the wonderful instinct which leads all poor children of tender
years to run under the feet of cab-horses whenever they can, I know
not how they would learn to use their limbs with agility.

Now there is no real difficulty about teaching drill and the simpler
kinds of gymnastics. It is done admirably well, for example, in the
North Surrey Union schools; and a year or two ago, when I had an
opportunity of inspecting these schools, I was greatly struck with
the effect of such training upon the poor little waifs and strays of
humanity, mostly picked out of the gutter, who are being made into
cleanly, healthy, and useful members of society in that excellent

Whatever doubts people may entertain about the efficacy of natural
selection, there can be none about artificial selection; and the
breeder who should attempt to make, or keep up, a fine stock of pigs,
or sheep, under the conditions to which the children of the poor
are exposed, would be the laughing-stock even of the bucolic mind.
Parliament has already done something in this direction, by declining
to be an accomplice in the asphyxiation of school children. It refuses
to make any grant to a school in which the cubical contents of the
school-room are inadequate to allow of proper respiration. I should
like to see it make another step in the same direction, and either
refuse to give a grant to a school in which physical training is not
a part of the programme, or, at any rate, offer to pay upon such
training. If something of the kind is not done, the English physique,
which has been, and is still, on the whole, a grand one, will become
as extinct as the dodo, in the great towns.

And then the moral and intellectual effect of drill, as an
introduction to, and aid of, all other sorts of training, must not be
overlooked. If you want to break in a colt, surely the first thing to
do is to catch him and get him quietly to face his trainer; to know
his voice and bear his hand; to learn that colts have something else
to do with their heels than to kick them up whenever they feel so
inclined; and to discover that the dreadful human figure has no desire
to devour, or even to beat him, but that, in case of attention and
obedience, he may hope for patting and even a sieve of oats.

But, your "street Arabs," and other neglected poor children, are
rather worse and wilder than colts; for the reason that the horse-colt
has only his animal instincts in him, and his mother, the mare, has
been always tender over him, and never came home drunk and kicked him
in her life; while the man-colt is inspired by that very real devil,
perverted manhood, and _his_ mother may have done all that and more.
So, on the whole, it may probably be even more expedient to begin your
attempt to get at the higher nature of the child, than at that of the
colt, from the physical side.

2. Next in order to physical training I put the instruction of
children, and especially of girls, in the elements of household work
and of domestic economy; in the first place for their own sakes, and
in the second for that of their future employers.

Everyone who knows anything of the life of the English poor is aware
of the misery and waste caused by their want of knowledge of domestic
economy, and by their lack of habits of frugality and method. I
suppose it is no exaggeration to say that a poor Frenchwoman would
make the money which the wife of a poor Englishman spends in food
go twice as far, and at the same time turn out twice as palatable a
dinner. Why Englishmen, who are so notoriously fond of good living,
should be so helplessly incompetent in the art of cookery, is one of
the great mysteries of nature; but from the varied abominations of
the railway refreshment-rooms to the monotonous dinners of the poor,
English feeding is either wasteful or nasty, or both.

And as to domestic service, the groans of the housewives of England
ascend to heaven! In five cases out of six, the girl who takes a
"place" has to be trained by her mistress in the first rudiments of
decency and order; and it is a mercy if she does not turn up her
nose at anything like the mention of an honest and proper economy.
Thousands of young girls are said to starve, or worse, yearly in
London; and at the same time thousands of mistresses of households
are ready to pay high wages for a decent housemaid, or cook, or a fair
workwoman; and can by no means get what they want.

Surely, if the elementary schools are worth anything, they may put an
end to a state of things which is demoralizing the poor, while it is
wasting the lives of those better off in small worries and annoyances.

3. But the boys and girls for whose education the School Boards have
to provide, have not merely to discharge domestic duties, but each
of them is a member of a social and political organization of
great complexity, and has, in future life, to fit himself into that
organization, or be crushed by it. To this end it is surely needful,
not only that they should be made acquainted with the elementary laws
of conduct, but that their affections should be trained, so as to love
with all their hearts that conduct which tends to the attainment of
the highest good for themselves and their fellow-men, and to hate with
all their hearts that opposite course of action which is fraught with

So far as the laws of conduct are determined by the intellect, I
apprehend that they belong to science, and to that part of science
which is called morality. But the engagement of the affections in
favour of that particular kind of conduct which we call good, seems to
me to be something quite beyond mere science. And I cannot but think
that it, together with the awe and reverence, which have no kinship
with base fear, but arise whenever one tries to pierce below the
surface of things, whether they be material or spiritual, constitutes
all that has any unchangeable reality in religion.

And just as I think it would, be a mistake to confound the science,
morality, with the affection, religion; so do I conceive it to be a
most lamentable and mischievous error, that the science, theology,
is so confounded in the minds of many--indeed, I might say, of the
majority of men.

I do not express any opinion as to whether theology is a true science,
or whether it does not come under the apostolic definition of "science
falsely so called;" though I may be permitted to express the belief
that if the Apostle to whom that much misapplied phrase is due
could make the acquaintance of much of modern theology, he would not
hesitate a moment in declaring that it is exactly what he meant the
words to denote.

But it is at any rate conceivable, that the nature of the Deity, and
His relations to the universe, and more especially to mankind, are
capable of being ascertained, either inductively or deductively, or
by both processes. And, if they have been ascertained, then a body of
science has been formed which is very properly called theology.

Further, there can be no doubt that affection for the Being thus
defined and described by theologic science would be properly termed
religion; but it would not be the whole of religion. The affection for
the ethical ideal defined by moral science would claim equal if not
superior rights. For suppose theology established the existence of an
evil deity--and some theologies, even Christian ones, have come very
near this,--is the religious affection to be transferred from the
ethical ideal to any such omnipotent demon? I trow not. Better
a thousand times that the human race should perish under his
thunderbolts than it should say, "Evil, be thou my good."

There is nothing new, that I know of, in this statement of the
relations of religion with the science of morality on the one hand and
that of theology on the other. But I believe it to be altogether
true, and very needful, at this time, to be clearly and emphatically
recognized as such, by those who have to deal with the education

We are divided into two parties--the advocates of so-called
"religious" teaching on the one hand, and those of so-called "secular"
teaching on the other. And both parties seem to me to be not only
hopelessly wrong, but in such a position that if either succeeded
completely, it would discover, before many years were over, that
it had made a great mistake and done serious evil to the cause of

For, leaving aside the more far-seeing minority on each side, what the
"religious" party is crying for is mere theology, under the name
of religion; while the "secularists" have unwisely and wrongfully
admitted the assumption of their opponents, and demand the abolition
of all "religious" teaching, when they only want to be free of
theology--Burning your ship to get rid of the cockroaches!

But my belief is, that no human being, and no society composed of
human beings, ever did, or ever will, come to much, unless their
conduct was governed and guided by the love of some ethical ideal.
Undoubtedly, your gutter child may be converted by mere intellectual
drill into "the subtlest of all the beasts of the field;" but we know
what has become of the original of that description, and there is
no need to increase the number of those who imitate him successfully
without being aided by the rates. And if I were compelled to choose
for one of my own children, between a school in which real religious
instruction is given, and one without it, I should prefer the former,
even though the child might have to take a good deal of theology with
it. Nine-tenths of a dose of bark is mere half-rotten wood; but one
swallows it for the sake of the particles of quinine, the beneficial
effect of which may be weakened, but is not destroyed, by the wooden
dilution, unless in a few cases of exceptionally tender stomachs.

Hence, when the great mass of the English people declare that they
want to have the children in the elementary schools taught the Bible,
and when it is plain from the terms of the Act, the debates in and
out of Parliament, and especially the emphatic declarations of
the Vice-President of the Council, that it was intended that such
Bible-reading should be permitted, unless good cause for prohibiting
it could be shown, I do not see what reason there is for opposing that
wish. Certainly, I, individually, could with no shadow of consistency
oppose the teaching of the children of other people to do that which
my own children are taught to do. And, even if the reading the Bible
were not, as I think it is, consonant with political reason and
justice, and with a desire to act in the spirit of the education
measure, I am disposed to think it might still be well to read that
book in the elementary schools.

I have always been strongly in favour of secular education, in the
sense of education without theology; but I must confess I have been
no less seriously perplexed to know by what practical measures the
religious feeling, which is the essential basis of conduct, was to
be kept up, in the present utterly chaotic state of opinion on these
matters, without the use of the Bible. The Pagan moralists lack life
and colour, and even the noble Stoic, Marcus Antoninus, is too high
and refined for an ordinary child. Take the Bible as a whole; make the
severest deductions which fair criticism can dictate for shortcomings
and positive errors; eliminate, as a sensible lay-teacher would do, if
left to himself, all that it is not desirable for children to occupy
themselves with; and there still remains in this old literature a vast
residuum of moral beauty and grandeur. And then consider the great
historical fact that, for three centuries, this book has been woven
into the life of all that is best and noblest in English history;
that it has become the national epic of Britain, and is as familiar to
noble and simple, from John-o'-Groat's House to Land's End, as Dante
and Tasso once were to the Italians; that it is written in the noblest
and purest English, and abounds in exquisite beauties of mere literary
form; and, finally, that it forbids the veriest hind who never left
his village to be ignorant of the existence of other countries and
other civilizations, and of a great past, stretching back to the
furthest limits of the oldest nations in the world. By the study of
what other book could children be so much humanized and made to
feel that each figure in that vast historical procession fills,
like themselves, but a momentary space in the interval between
two eternities; and earns the blessings or the curses of all time,
according to its effort to do good and hate evil, even as they also
are earning their payment for their work?

On the whole, then, I am in favour of reading the Bible, with
such grammatical, geographical, and historical explanations by a
lay-teacher as may be needful, with rigid exclusion of any further
theological teaching than that contained in the Bible itself. And in
stating what this is, the teacher would do well not to go beyond the
precise words of the Bible; for if he does, he will, in the first
place, undertake a task beyond his strength, seeing that all the
Jewish and Christian sects have been at work upon that subject for
more than two thousand years, and have not yet arrived, and are not in
the least likely to arrive, at an agreement; and, in the second
place, he will certainly begin to teach something distinctively
denominational, and thereby come into violent collision with the Act
of Parliament.

4. The intellectual training to be given in the elementary schools
must of course, in the first place, consist in learning to use the
means of acquiring knowledge, or reading, writing, and arithmetic; and
it will be a great matter to teach reading so completely that the act
shall have become easy and pleasant. If reading remains "hard," that
accomplishment will not be much resorted to for instruction, and still
less for amusement--which last is one of its most valuable uses to
hard-worked people.

But along with a due proficiency in the use of the means of learning,
a certain amount of knowledge, of intellectual discipline, and of
artistic training should be conveyed in the elementary schools; and in
this direction--for reasons which I am afraid to repeat, having
urged them so often--I can conceive no subject-matter of education
so appropriate and so important as the rudiments of physical science,
with drawing, modelling, and singing. Not only would such teaching
afford the best possible preparation for the technical schools about
which so much is now said, but the organization for carrying it into


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