Reflections and Comments 1865-1895
Edwin Lawrence Godkin

Part 2 out of 4

and especially for purposes of personal enjoyment, can hardly
persuade themselves that other persons who do so, spend it honestly.
And then behind these come the large army of lovers of simplicity
and frugality on moral and religious grounds, who believe that
material luxury contains a snare for the soul, and that true
happiness and real virtue are not to be found in gilded saloons.
They write to the newspapers denouncing the reluctance of young
people to marry on small incomes, and urging girls to begin life as
their mothers began it, and despise the silly chatter of those who
think luxurious surroundings more important than the union of

The occurrence of a panic fills the breasts of all these with
various degrees of rejoicing. They always take a very dark view of
it, and laugh contemptuously at those who consider it a "Wall-Street
flurry," or ascribe it to any vice in the currency or in the banking
system. Extravagant living they believe to be at the bottom of it,
and, like the hard-money men, they are only surprised that it has
not come sooner, and they believe most firmly that it is going to
effect a sort of social revolution, and bring the world more nearly
to their own ideal of what it ought to be. The amount of
"rottenness" which they expect it to reveal is always enormous, and
they look forward to the exposure and the general coming-down of
their guilty neighbors to "the hard pan" with the keenest relish.
They have long, for instance, been unable to imagine where the
multitude of people who live in brown-stone houses get the money to
keep them. There was something wrong about it, they felt satisfied,
though they could not tell what, and when the panic comes they half
fancy that the murder will out, and that there will be a great
migration of fraudulent bankrupts from Fifth Avenue and its
neighborhood into tenement-houses on the East and North Rivers. How
Mrs. Smith, too, dressed as she did, and where Smith got the money
to take her to Sharon every summer, and how Jones managed to
entertain as he was doing, have often been puzzling problems, which
"the crash" in the money market is at last going to solve. It is
also highly gratifying to those who consider yachting a senseless
amusement to reflect that the panic will probably diminish the
number of yachts, and they even flatter themselves that it may stop
yachting in future, and reduce the general style of living among
rich young men. "We shall now," they say, "have fewer fast horses,
and less champagne, and less gaudy furniture, and more honest, hard
work, and plain, wholesome food." They accordingly rejoice in the
panic as a means adopted by Providence to bring a gluttonous and
ungodly generation to its senses, and lead it back to that state of
things which is known, as "republican simplicity."

The curious thing about this expectation is that it has survived
innumerable disappointments without apparently losing any of its
vigor. It was strong after 1837, and strong after 1857, and stronger
than ever after 1861. The war was surely, people said, to bring back
the golden age, when all the men were prudent, sober, and
industrious, and all the women simple, modest, and homekeeping. The
war did nothing of the kind. In fact, it left us more extravagant
and lavish and self-indulgent than ever; yet the ancient and tough
belief in the purifying influence of a stringent money market still
lasts, and is at this moment cropping out in the moral department of
a thousand newspapers.

The belief belongs to what may be called the cataclysmal theory of
progress, which improves the world by sudden starts, and clings so
fondly to liquor-laws, and has profound faith in specific remedies
for moral and political diseases. What commercial panics and great
national misfortunes do not do, particular bits of legislation are
sure to do. You put something in the Constitution, or forbid
something, or lose a battle, or have a "shrinkage of values," or
have a cholera season, and forthwith the community turns over a new
leaf, and becomes moral, economical, and sober-minded. We doubt
whether this theory will ever die out, however much philosophers may
preach against it, or however often facts may refute it, because it
gratifies, or promises to gratify, one of the deepest longings of
the human heart--the desire which each man feels to have a great
deal of history crowded into his own little day. None of us can bear
to quit the scene without witnessing the solution of the problems by
which his own life has been vexed or over which he has long labored.
Indeed a great many men would find it impossible to work with any
zeal to bring about results which would probably not be witnessed
until they had been centuries in the tomb.

We accordingly find that the most eager reformers are apt to be
those who look for the triumph of virtue by the close of the current
year. Of all dreams of eager reformers, however, there is probably
none more substantial than that which looks for a restoration of
that vague thing called "simplicity of manners." Simplicity and
economy are, of course, relative terms. The luxurious gentleman in
the fourteenth century lived in a way which the well-to-do artisan
in our own time would not tolerate; and when we undertake to carry
people back to ancient ways of living we find that there is hardly a
point short of barbarism at which we can consistently stop. A
country in which money is easily made and abounds, will be one in
which money will always be freely spent, and in which personal
comfort and even display will occupy men's and women's thoughts a
great deal. We can no more prevent this than we can prevent the
growth of wealth itself; and our duty is, instead of wasting our
breath in denouncing extravagance, or hailing panics as purging
fires, to do what in us lies to give rich people more taste, more
conscience, more sense of responsibility for curable ills, and a
keener relish of the higher forms of pleasure. Extravagance--or, in
other words, the waste of money on sensual enjoyment, the production
of hideous furniture or jewelry, or of barbarous display--has to be
checked not by the preaching of poor people, but by the rich man's
own superiority to these things, and his own repugnance for them.
This repugnance can only be inspired by education, whether that of
school and college, or that of a refined and cultivated social
atmosphere. Much would be done in this direction if public opinion
exacted of the owners of large fortunes that they should give their
sons the best education the country affords; or, in other words,
send them to college, instead of setting them up in the dry-goods
business or the grocery business. A man who has made a large fortune
in honest trade or industry has not contributed his share to moral
and intellectual interests by merely making donations. It is his
duty, also, if he leaves children behind him, to see to it, as far
as he can, that they are men who will be an addition to the general
culture and taste of the nation, and who will stimulate its nobler
ambition, raise its intellectual standard, quicken its love of
excellence in all fields, and deepen its faith in the value of
things not seen.


Our readers and those of _The Galaxy_ are familiar with the
controversy between Dr. Fitzedward Hall and Mr. Grant White
(November, 1873). When one comes to inquire what it was all about,
and why Mr. White was led to consider Dr. Hall a "yahoo of
literature," and "a man born without a sense of decency," one finds
himself engaged in an investigation of great difficulty, but of
considerable interest. The controversy between these two gentlemen
by no means brings up the problem for the first time. That verbal
criticism, such as Mr. White has been producing for some time back,
is sure to end, sooner or later, in one or more savage quarrels, is
one of the most familiar facts of the literary life of our day.
Indeed, so far as our observation has gone, the rule has no
exceptions. Whenever we see a gentleman, no matter how great his
accomplishments or sweet his temper, announcing that he is about to
write articles or deliver lectures on "Words and their Uses," or on
the "English of Every-day Life," or on "Familiar Faults of
Conversation," or "Newspaper English," or any cognate theme, we feel
all but certain that we shall soon see him engaged in an encounter
with another laborer in the same field, in which all dignity will be
laid aside, and in which, figuratively speaking, clothes, hair, and
features will suffer terribly, and out of which, unless he is very
lucky, he will issue with the gravest imputations resting on his
character in every relation of life.

Now why is it that attempts to get one's fellow-men to talk
correctly, to frame their sentences in accordance with good usage,
and take their words from the best authors, have this tendency to
arouse some of the worst passions of our nature, and predispose even
eminent philologists--men of dainty language, and soft manners, and
lofty aims--to assail each other in the rough vernacular of the
fish-market and the forecastle? A careless observer will be apt to
say that it is an ordinary result of disputation; that when men
differ or argue on any subject they are apt to get angry and indulge
in "personalities." But this is not true. Lawyers, for instance,
live by controversy, and their controversies touch interests of the
gravest and most delicate character--such as fortune and reputation;
and yet the spectacle of two lawyers abusing each other in cold
blood, in print, is almost unknown. Currency and banking are, at
certain seasons, subjects of absorbing interest, and, for the last
seventy years, the discussions over them have been numerous and
voluminous almost beyond example, and yet we remember no case in
which a bullionist called a paper-money man bad names, or in which a
friend of free banking accused a restrictionist of defrauding the
poor or defacing tombstones. Politics, too, home and foreign, is a
fertile source of difference of opinion; and yet gross abuse, on
paper, of each other, by political disputants, discussing abstract
questions having no present relation to power or pay, are very rare

It seems, at first blush, as if an examination of the well-known
_odium theologicum_, or the traditional bitterness which has been
apt to characterize controversies about points of doctrine, from the
Middle Ages down to a period within our own memory, would throw some
light on the matter. But a little consideration will show that
there are special causes for the rancor of theologians for which
word-criticism has no parallel. The _odium theologicum_ was the
natural and inevitable result of the general belief that the holding
of certain opinions was necessary to salvation, and that the
formation of opinions could be wholly regulated by the will. This
belief, pushed to its extreme limits and embodied in legislation,
led to the burning of heretics in nearly all Christian countries.
When B's failure to adopt A's conclusions was by A regarded as a
sign of depravity of nature which, would lead to B's damnation,
nothing was more natural than that when they came into collision in
pamphlets or sermons they should have attributed to each other the
worst motives. A man who was deliberately getting himself ready for
perdition was not a person to whom anybody owed courtesy or
consideration, or whose arguments, being probably supplied by Satan,
deserved respectful examination. We accordingly find that as the
list of "essential" opinions has become shortened, and as doubts as
to men's responsibility for their opinions have made their way from
the world into the church, theological controversy has lost its
acrimony and indeed has almost ceased. No theologian of high
standing or character now permits himself to show bad temper in a
doctrinal or hermeneutical discussion, and a large and increasing
proportion of theologians acknowledge that the road to heaven is so
hard for us all that the less quarrelling and jostling there is in
it, the better for everybody.

Nor does the _odium scientificum_, of which we have now happily but
occasional manifestations, furnish us with any suggestions.
Controversy between scientific men begins to be bitter and frequent,
as the field of investigation grows wider and the investigation
itself grows deeper. But then this is easily accounted for.
All scientific men of the first rank are engaged in original
research--that is, in attempts to discover laws and phenomena
previously unknown. The workers in all departments are very
numerous, and are scattered over various countries, and as one
discovery, however slight, is very apt to help in some degree in the
making of another, scientific men are constantly exposed to having
their claims to originality contested, either as regards priority in
point of time or as regards completeness. Consequently, they may be
said to stand in delicate relations to each other, and are more than
usually sensitive about the recognition of their achievements by
their brethren--a state of things which, while it cultivates a very
nice sense of honor, leads occasionally to encounters in which
free-will seems for the moment to get the better of law. The
differences of the scientific world, too, are complicated by the
theological bearing of a good deal of scientific discovery and
discussion, and many a scientific man finds himself either compelled
to defend himself against theologians, or to aid theologians in
bringing an erring brother to reason.

The true source of the _odium philologicum_ is, we think, to be
found in the fact that a man's speech is apt to be, or to be
considered, an indication of the manner in which he has been bred,
and of the character of the company he keeps. Criticism of his mode
of using words, or his pronunciation, or the manner in which he
compounds his sentences, almost inevitably takes the character of an
attack on his birth, parentage, education, and social position; or,
in other words, on everything which he feels most sensitive about or
holds most dear. If you say that his pronunciation is bad, or that
his language is slangy or ill-chosen, you insinuate that when he
lived at home with his papa and mamma he was surrounded by bad
models, or, in plain English, that his parents were vulgar or
ignorant people; when you say that he writes bad grammar, or is
guilty of glaring solecisms, or displays want of etymological
knowledge, you insinuate that his education was neglected, or that
he has not associated with correct speakers. Usually, too, you do
all this in the most provoking way by selecting passages from his
writings on which he probably prided himself, and separating them
totally from the thought of which he was full when he produced them,
and then examining them mechanically, as if they were algebraic
signs, which he used without knowing what they meant or where they
would bring him out. Nobody stands this process very long with
equanimity, because nobody can be subjected to it without being
presented to the public somewhat in the light of an ignorant,
careless, and pretentious donkey. Nor will it do to cite your
examples from deceased authors. You cannot do so without assailing
some form of expression which an eager, listening enemy is himself
in the habit of using, and is waiting for you to take up, and
through which he hopes to bring you to shame.

No man, moreover, can perform the process without taking on airs
which rouse his victim to madness, because he assumes a position not
only of grammatical, but, as we have said, of social superiority. He
says plainly enough, no matter how polite or scientific he may try
to seem, "I was better born and bred than you, and acquired these
correct turns of expression, of which you know nothing, from
cultivated relatives;" or, "I live in cultivated circles, and am
consequently familiar with the best usage, which you, poor fellow!
are not. I am therefore able to decide this matter without argument
or citations, and your best course is to take my corrections in
silence or with thankfulness." It is easy to understand how all
interest in orthography, etymology, syntax, and prosody speedily
disappears in a controversy of this sort, and how the disputants
begin to burn with mutual dislike, and how each longs to inflict
pain and anguish on his opponent, and make him, no matter by what
means, an object of popular pity and contempt, and make his parts of
speech odious and ridiculous. The influence of all good men ought to
be directed either to repressing verbal criticism, or restricting
indulgence in it to the family circle or to schools and colleges.


Biologist like Professor Huxley have, as popular lecturers, the
advantage over scientific men in other fields, of occupying
themselves with what is to ninety-nine men and women out of a
hundred the most momentous of all problems--the manner in which life
on this globe began, and in which men and other animals came to be
what they are. The doctrine of evolution as a solution of these
problems, or of one of them, derives additional interest from the
fact that in many minds it runs counter to ideas which a very large
proportion of the population above the age of thirty imbibed with
the earliest and most impressive portion of their education. Down to
1850 the bulk of intelligent men and women believed that the world,
and all that is therein, originated in the precise manner described
in the first chapter of Genesis, and about six thousand years ago.
Most of the adaptations, or attempts at adaptation, of what is
called the Mosaic account of the creation, of the chronological
theories of the geologists and evolutionists by theologians and
Biblical scholars have been made within that period, and it may be
safely said that it is only within ten or fifteen years that any
clear knowledge of the "conflict between science and religion" has
reached that portion of the people who take a lively or, indeed, any
interest, in religious matters. It would not, in fact, be rash to
say that little or nothing is known about this conflict to this hour
among the great body of Methodists or Catholics, or the evangelical
portion of other denominations, and that their religious outlook is
little, if at all, affected by it. One would never detect, for
instance, in Mr. Moody's preaching, any indication that he had ever
heard of any such conflict, or that the doctrines of the orthodox
Protestant Church had undergone any sensible modification within a
hundred years. Professor Huxley and men like him, therefore, make
their appearance now not simply as manipulators of a most
interesting subject, but as disturbers of beliefs which are widely
spread, deeply rooted, and surrounded by the tenderest and most
sacred associations of human existence.

That under such circumstances he has met with so little opposition
is, on the whole, rather surprising. As far as our observation has
gone, no strong hostility whatever to himself or his teachings has
been shown, except in one or two instances, by either the clergy or
the religious press. Indeed, ministers formed a very prominent and
attentive portion of his audience at the recent lectures at
Chickering Hall. But it has been made very apparent by the articles
and letters which these lectures have called out in the newspapers
that the religious public has hardly understood him. The collision
between the theologians and the scientific men has been very slight
among us; and, indeed, the waves of the controversy hardly reached
this country until the storm had passed away in Europe, so that it
is difficult for Americans to appreciate the combative tone of Mr.
Huxley's oratory. Of this difficulty the effect of his substitution
of Milton for Moses as the historian of the creation, on the night
of his first lecture, has furnished an amusing illustration. The
audience, or at least that portion of it which was gifted with any
sense of humor, saw the joke and laughed over it heartily. It was
simply a telling rhetorical device, intended to point a sarcasm
directed against the biblical commentators who have been trying to
extract the doctrines of evolution from the first chapter of
Genesis. But many of the newspapers all over the country took it up
seriously, and the professor must, if he saw them, have enjoyed
mightily the various letters and articles which have endeavored in
solemn earnest to show that Milton was not justly entitled to the
rank of a scientific expositor, and that it was a cowardly thing in
the lecturer to attack Moses over Milton's shoulders. Whenever
Professor Huxley enters on the defence of his science, as
distinguished from the exposition of it, there are traces in his
language of the _gaudium certaminis_ which has found expression in
so many hard-fought fields in his own country, and which has made
him perhaps the most formidable antagonist, in so far as dialectics
go, that the transcendental philosophers have ever encountered. He
is, _par excellence_, a fighting man, but certainly his pugnacity
diminishes neither his worth nor his capacity.

In many of the comments which his lectures have called out in the
newspapers one meets every now and then with a curious failure to
comprehend the position which an average non-scientific man occupies
in such a conflict as in now going on over the doctrines of
evolution. Professor Huxley was very careful not to repeat the error
which delivered Professor Tyndall into the hands of the enemy at
Belfast. He expressed no opinion as to the nature of the causal
force which called the world into existence. He did not profess to
know anything about the sources of life. He consequently did not
once place himself on the level of the theologian or the
unscientific spectator. What he undertook to do and did was to
present to the audience some specimens of the evidence by which
evolutionists have been led to the conclusion that their theory is
correct. Now, the mistake which a good many newspaper writers--some
of them ministers--have made in passing judgment on the lectures
lies in their supposing that this evidence must be weak and
incomplete because _they_ have not been convinced. There is
probably no more widely diffused fallacy, or one which works more
mischief in all walks of life, than the notion that it is only those
whose business it is to persuade who need to be trained in the art
of proof, and that those who are to be persuaded need no process of
preparation at all.

The fact is that skill in reasoning is as necessary on the one side
as the other. He cannot be fully and rightly convinced who does not
himself know how to convince, and no man is competent to judge in
the last resort of the force of an argument who is not on something
like an equality of knowledge and dialectical skill with the
person using it. This is true in all fields of discussion; it is
pre-eminently true in scientific fields. Of course, therefore, the
real public of the scientific man--the public which settles finally
whether he has made out his case--is a small one. Outside of it
there is another and larger one on which his reasoning may act with
irresistible force; but just as the fact that it does so act does
not prove that his hypothesis is true, so also the fact that it has
failed to convince proves nothing against its soundness. In other
words, a man's occupying the position of a listener does not
necessarily clothe him with the attributes of a judge, and there may
be as much folly and impertinence in his going about saying, "I do
not agree with Huxley; he has not satisfied me; he will have to
produce more proof than that before I believe in evolution," as in
going about saying, "I know as much about evolution as Huxley and
could give as good a lecture on it as he any day." And yet a good
many people are guilty of the one who would blush at the mere
thought of the other.

Another fertile source of confusion in this and similar
controversies is the habit which transcendentalists, theological and
other, have of using the term "truth" in two different senses, the
scientific sense and the religious or spiritual sense. The
scientific man only uses it in one. Truth to him is something
capable of demonstration by some one of the canons of induction. He
knows nothing of any truth which cannot be proved. The religious
man, on the other hand, and especially the minister, has been bred
in the application of the term to facts of an entirely different
order--that is, to emotions produced by certain beliefs which he
cannot justify by any arguments, and about which to him no argument
is necessary. These are the "spiritual truths" which are said to be
perceptible often to the simple-minded and unlearned, though hidden
from the wise and prudent. Now there is no decently educated
religious man who does not perceive the distinction between these
two kinds of truths, and few who do not think they keep this
distinction in mind when passing upon the great problems of the
origin and growth of the universe. But, as a matter of fact, we see
the distinction ignored every day. People go to scientific lectures
and read scientific books with their heads filled with spiritual
truths, which have come they know not whence, and which give them
infinite comfort in all the trying passages of life, and in view of
this comfort must, they think, connect them by invisible lines of
communication with the great Secret of the Universe, toward which
philosophers try to make their way by visible lines. When, then,
they find that the scientific man's induction makes no impression on
this other truth, and that he cannot dislodge any theory of the
growth or government of the world which has become firmly imbedded
in it, they are apt to conclude that there is something faulty in
his methods, or rash and presumptuous in his conclusions. But there
is only one course for the leaders of religious thought to follow in
order to prevent the disastrous confusion which comes of the sudden
and complete break-down of the moral standards and sanctions by
which the mass of mankind live, and that is to put an end at once,
and gracefully, to the theory that the spiritual truth which brings
the peace which passeth understanding has any necessary connection
with any theory of the physical universe, or can be used to refute
it or used as a substitute for it, or is dependent on the
authenticity or interpretation of any book. They must not flatter
themselves because a scientific man here and there doubts or
gainsays, or because some learned theologian is still unconvinced,
or because the mental habits of which faith is born seem to hold
their ground or show signs of revival, that the philosophy of which
Huxley is a master is not slowly but surely gaining ground. The
proofs may not yet be complete, but they grow day by day; some of
the elder scientific men may scout, but no young ones are appearing
to take their places and preach their creed. The tide seems
sometimes to ebb from month to month, but it rises from year to
year. The true course of spiritually minded men under these
circumstances is to separate their faith from all theories of the
precise manner in which the world originated, or of the length of
time it has lasted, as matters, for their purposes, of little or no
moment. The secret springs of hope and courage from which each of us
draws strength in the great crises of existence would flow all the
same whether life appeared on the planet ten million or ten thousand
years ago, and whether the present forms of life were the product of
one day or of many ages. And we doubt very much whether anyone has
ever listened in a candid and dispassionate frame of mind to the
evolutionist's history of the globe without finding that it had
deepened for him the mystery of the universe, and magnified the
Power which stands behind it.

Not the least interesting feature in the discussion about the theory
of evolution is the prominent part taken in it by clergymen of
various denominations. There is hardly one of them who, since
Huxley's lectures, has not preached a sermon bearing on the matter
in some way, and several have made it the topic of special articles
or lectures. In fact, we do not think we exaggerate when we say that
three-fourths of all that has been recently said or written about
the hypothesis in this country has been said or written by
ministers. There is no denying that the theory, if true, does, in
appearance at least, militate against the account of the creation
given in the first chapter of Genesis, or, in other words, against
the view of the origin of life on the globe which has been held
by the Christian world for seventeen centuries. It would, therefore,
be by no means surprising that ministers should meet it, either
by showing that the Mosaic account of the creation was really
inspired--was, in short, the account given by the Creator
himself--or that the modern interpretations of it were incorrect,
and that it was really, when perfectly understood, easily reconciled
with the conclusions reached of late years by geologists and
biologists. This is the way in which a great many ministers have
hitherto met the evolutionists, and for this sort of work they are
undoubtedly fitted by education and experience. If it can be done by
anyone, they are the men to do it. If it be maintained that the
biblical account is literally true, they are more familiar than any
other class of men with the evidence and arguments accumulated by
the Church in favor of the inspiration of the Scriptures; or if, on
the other hand, it be desired to reconcile the Bible with evolution,
they are more familiar than any other class of men with the
exegetical process by which this reconciliation can be effected.
They are specially trained in ecclesiastical history and tradition,
in Greek and Hebrew religious literature, and in the methods of
interpretation which have been for ages in use among theologians.

Of late, however, they have shown a decided inclination to abandon
the purely ecclesiastical approach to the controversy altogether,
and this is especially remarkable in the discussion now pending over
Huxley. They do not seek to defend the biblical account of the
creation, or to reconcile it with the theory of the evolutionists.
Far from it, they have come down, in most of the recent cases, into
the scientific arena, and are meeting the men of science with their
own weapons. They tell Huxley and Darwin and Tyndall that their
evidence is imperfect, and their reasoning from it faulty. Noticing
their activity in this new field, and the marked contrast which this
activity presents to the modesty or indifference of the other
professions--the lawyers and doctors, for instance, who on general
grounds have fully as much reason to be interested in evolution as
the ministers, and have hitherto been at least as well fitted to
discuss it--we asked ourselves whether it was possible that, without
our knowledge, any change had of late years been made in the
curriculum of the divinity schools or theological seminaries with
the view of fitting ministers to take a prominent part in the
solution of the increasingly important and startling problems raised
by physical science. In order to satisfy ourselves, we lately turned
over the catalogues of all the principal divinity schools in the
country, to see if any chairs of natural science had been
established, or if candidates for the ministry had to undergo any
compulsory instruction in geology or physics, or the higher
mathematics, or biology, or palaeontology, or astronomy, or had to
become versed in the methods of scientific investigation in the
laboratory or in the dissecting-room, or were subjected to any
unusually severe discipline in the use of the inductive process. Not
much to our surprise, we found nothing of the kind. We found that,
to all appearance, not even the smallest smattering of natural
science in any of its branches is considered necessary to a
minister's education; no astronomy, no chemistry, no biology, no
geology, no higher mathematics, no comparative anatomy, and nothing
severe in logic. In fact, of special preparation for the discussion
of such a theme as the origin of life on the earth, there does not
appear to be in the ordinary course of our divinity schools any

We then said to ourselves, But ministers are modest, truthful men;
they would not knowingly pass themselves off as competent on a
subject with which they were unfitted to deal. They are no less
candid and self-distrustful, for instance, than lawyers and doctors,
and a lawyer or doctor who ventured to tackle a professed scientist
on a scientific subject to which he had given no systematic study
would be laughed at by his professional brethren, and would suffer
from it even in his professional reputation, as it would be taken to
indicate a dangerous want of self-knowledge. Perhaps, then, the
training given in the divinity schools, though it does not touch
special fields of science, is such as to prepare the mind for the
work of induction by some course of intellectual gymnastics.
Perhaps, though it does not familiarize a man with the facts of
geology and biology and astronomy, it so disciplines him in the work
of collecting and arranging facts of any kind, and reasoning from
them, that he will be a master in the art of proof, and that, in
short, though he may not have a scientific man's knowledge, he will
have his mental habits.

But we found this second supposition as far from the truth as the
first one was. Moreover, the mental constitution of the young men
who choose the ministry as a profession is not apt to be of a kind
well fitted for scientific investigation. Reverence is one of their
prominent characteristics, and reverence predisposes them to accept
things on authority. They are inclined to seek truth rather as a
means of repose than for its own sake, and to fancy that it is
associated closely with spiritual comfort, and that they have
secured the truth when they feel the comfort. Though, last not
least, they enter the seminary with a strong bias in favor of one
particular theory of the origin of life and of the history of the
race, and their subsequent studies are marked out and pursued with
the set purpose of strengthening this bias and of qualifying them to
defend it and spread it, and of associating in their minds the doubt
or rejection of it with moral evil. The consequence is that they go
forth, trained not as investigators or inquirers, but as advocates,
charged with the defence against all comers of a view of the
universe which they have accepted ready-made from teachers. A worse
preparation for scientific pursuits of any kind can hardly be
imagined. The slightest trace of such a state of mind in a
scientific man--that is, of a disposition to believe a thing on
grounds of feeling or interest, or with reference to practical
consequences, or to jump over gaps in proof in order to reach
pleasant conclusions--discredits him with his fellows, and throws
doubt on his statements.

We are not condemning this state of mind for all purposes. Indeed,
we think the wide-spread prevalence of the philosophic way of
looking at things would be in many respects a great misfortune for
the race, and we acknowledge that a rigidly trained philosopher
would be unfit for most of a minister's functions; but we have only
to describe a minister's education in order to show his exceeding
unreadiness for contentions such as some of his brethren are
carrying on with geologists and physicists and biologists. In fact,
there is no educated calling whose members are not, on the whole,
better equipped for fighting in scientific fields over the
hypothesis of evolution. Our surprise at seeing lawyers and doctors
engaged in it would be very much less justifiable, for a portion at
least of the training received in these professions is of a
scientific cast, and concerns the selection and classification of
facts, while a clergyman's is almost wholly devoted to the study of
the opinions and sayings of other men. In truth, theology, properly
so called, is a collection of opinions. Nor do these objections to a
clergyman's mingling in scientific disputes arise out of his belief
about the origin and government of the world _per se_, because one
does not think of making them to trained religious philosophers; for
instance, to Principal Dawson or Mr. St. George Mivart. Some may
think or say that the religious prepossessions of these gentlemen
lessen the weight of their opinions on a certain class of scientific
questions, but no one would question their right to share in
scientific discussions.


Some of the letters from clergymen which have been called out by our
article on the part recently taken by them in scientific discussion
maintain that, although ministers may not be familiar with the facts
of science, many of them are fully competent to weigh the arguments
founded on these facts put forward by scientific men, and decide
whether they have proved their case or not; or, in other words, that
we were mistaken in saying that the theological seminaries did not
afford severe training in the use of the inductive process, and that
it could not be used effectively without knowledge of the matters on
which it was used. More than one of these letters points, in support
of this view, to the answer of the Rev. Dr. Taylor, of this city,
to Professor Huxley's lectures, published some weeks ago in the
_Tribune_, and we believe the _Tribune_ presented the author to the
public as "a trained logician."

We have accordingly turned to Dr. Taylor's letter and given it a
much more attentive reading than we confess we gave it when it first
appeared, for the purpose of seeing whether it was really true that
ministers were such dexterous and highly taught dialecticians that
they could overthrow a scientific man, even on a subject of which
they knew little or nothing--whether, in short, they could really
treat the question of evolution algebraically, and, by the mere aid
of signs of the meaning of which they were ignorant, put the Huxleys
and Darwins to confusion. For Dr. Taylor opens in this way:

"Let it be understood, then, that I have no fault to find with
Mr. Huxley as a discoverer of facts or as an exponent of
comparative anatomy. In both of these respects he is beyond all
praise of mine, and I am ready to sit at his feet; but when he
begins to reason from the facts which he sets forth, then, like
every other reasoner, he is amenable to the laws of
argumentation, and his conclusions are to be tested by the
relation which they bear to the premises which he has advanced,
and by the proof which he furnishes for the premises

We pass over, as of no consequence for our present purpose, the
various exceptions which he then takes to Huxley's arrangement of
his lectures, to the tone of his exceptions, and to his mode of
referring to the biblical hypothesis, and come to what he has to say
of Huxley's evidence, which he truly calls "circumstantial
evidence." The first thing he does is to define circumstantial
evidence; but here, at the very outset, we have been surprised to
find a logician who conceives himself capable of overhauling the
argumentation of the masters of science, going to a lawyer to get
"a statement of the principles which regulate the value of
circumstantial evidence." This is a matter which lay logicians
usually have at their fingers' ends, and we have never known one yet
who would not be puzzled by a suggestion that he should do as Dr.
Taylor did--go to a "distinguished legal friend" for information as
to the conditions of this kind of proof. For, as we have more than
once pointed out, lawyers, as such, have no special skill or
training in the use of circumstantial evidence as scientific men
know it--that is, as evidence which derives all its force from
the laws of the human mind. The circumstantial evidence with
which lawyers, _qua_ lawyers, are familiar under our system of
jurisprudence is an artificial thing created by legislation or
custom, with the object of preventing the minds of the jury--
presumably a body of untrained and unlearned men--from being
confused or led astray. Moreover, they are only familiar with its
use in one very narrow field--human conduct under one set of social
conditions. For example, a lawyer might be a very good judge of
circumstantial evidence in America, and a very poor one in India or
China; might have a keen eye for the probable or improbable in a New
England village, and none at all in a Prussian barrack.

A familiar illustration of the restrictions on his experience of it
is to be found in the rule which compels the calling of "experts"
when there is a question as to any point of science or art. "The
words science or art," says Mr. Fitzjames Stephen, "include all
subjects on which a _course of special study or experience is
necessary to the formation of an opinion_," and the opinion of such
an expert is a "relevant fact." So that Dr. Taylor's "distinguished
legal friend," if a good lawyer, would not, in spite of his
proficiency in circumstantial evidence, undertake to dispute with
Professor Huxley about the relation of the anchitherium, hipparion,
and horse; and if Dr. Taylor offered himself for examination on such
a point he would be laughed out of court. In none of our courts is
the presentation allowed of _all_ the circumstances which strengthen
or weaken a probability.

A lawyer, therefore, though he might not be as ill fitted for a
scientific discussion as a minister, is, _as such_, hardly more of
an authority on the force and limits of that portion of scientific
proof which is drawn from simple observation. Dr. Taylor's
consulting one as a final authority as to the very nature of the
argument on which he was himself about to sit in judgment is at the
outset a suspicious incident. The definition of circumstantial
evidence which he got from his legal friend was this:

"The process of proof by circumstantial evidence consists in
reasoning from such facts as are known or proved, and thence
establishing such as are conjectured to exist. The process is
fatally vicious, first, if any material circumstance from which
we seek to deduce the conclusion depends itself on conjecture;
and, second, if the known facts are not such as to exclude to a
reasonable degree of certainty every other hypothesis."

"Now, tried by these two tests," says Dr. Taylor, "the professor's
argument was a failure." Taking this definition as it stands,
however, we think it will not be difficult to show that Dr. Taylor
is not competent to apply the tests, or to say whether the
professor's argument is a failure or not.

It is hardly necessary to say that all the evidence in our
possession or attainable, with regard to the history of the earth
and of animal and vegetable life on its surface, is circumstantial
evidence. The sciences of geology, palaeontology, and, to a certain
extent, biology are sciences of observation, and but few of their
conclusions can be reached or tested by experimentation. They are
the result of a collection of facts, observed in various places, at
various times, and by various persons, and variously related to
other facts; and the collection of these facts, and the arrangement
of them, and the formation of a judgment as to their value both
positive and relative, form the greater portion of the work of a
scientific man in these fields. Professor Huxley's argument, which
Dr. Taylor disposes of so summarily, consists of a series of
inferences from facts so collected and arranged. They are the things
"known or proved," on which, as his legal friend truly says, the
reasoning in the process of proof by circumstantial evidence must

Now, Dr. Taylor, by his own confession, is no authority in either
geology, biology, or palaeontology. He has neither collected,
observed, nor experimented in these fields. He does not know how
many facts have been discovered in them, or what bearing they have
on other facts in other fields. Therefore, he is entirely unable to
say whether Huxley is arguing from things "known or proved" or not.
Moreover, he does not, for similar reasons, know whether Huxley's
process has been "fatally vitiated" by the dependence of any
"material circumstance" on conjecture, or by the insufficiency of
the "known facts" to exclude every other hypothesis; for, first, he
does not know what is in geological, biological, or palaeontological
induction a "material circumstance"--nor does any man know except by
prolonged study and observation--and, second, he does not know
whether "the known or proved facts" are sufficient to exclude every
other hypothesis, because he neither knows what facts are known nor
what is the probative force of such as are known. We can, however,
make Dr. Taylor's position still clearer by a homely illustration. A
wild Indian will, owing to prolonged observation and great acuteness
of the senses, tell by a simple inspection of grass or leaf-covered
ground, on which a scholar will perceive nothing unusual whatever,
that a man has recently passed over it. He will tell whether he was
walking or running, whether he carried a burden, whether he was
young or old, and how long ago and what hour of the day he went by.
He reaches all his conclusions by circumstantial evidence of
precisely the same character as that used by the geologist, though
he knows nothing about the formal logic or the process of induction.
Now, what Dr. Taylor would have us believe is that he can come out
of his study and pass judgment on the Indian's reasoning without
being able to see one of the "known facts" on which the reasoning
rests, or appreciate in any degree which of them is material to the
conclusion and which is not, or even to conjecture whether, taken
together, they exclude the hypothesis that it was not a man but a
cow or a dog which passed over the ground, and not to-day but
yesterday that the marks were made.

Dr. Taylor further on makes a display of this inability to
appreciate the logical value of scientific facts by asking: "Where
is the evidence, scientific or other, that there was evolution? We
see these fossils (those of the horse). Huxley _says_ they are as
they are because the higher evolved itself out of the lower; we
_say_ they are as they are because God created them in series." To
recur to the former illustration, it is as if the Indian should show
Dr. Taylor the marks on which he relied in his induction, and the
doctor should calmly reply: "I see the marks; you _say_ they were
made by a man's foot in walking; I, who have never given any
attention to the subject, and have never been in the woods before,
_say_ they were made by the rain." The fact is that if there were
any weight whatever in this kind of talk--if no equality of
knowledge were necessary between two disputants--it would enable an
ignorant field-hand to sweep away in one sentence the whole science
of geology and palaeontology, and even astronomy, and to dispose of
every conclusion on any subject drawn from a skilled and experienced
balancing of probabilities, or nice mathematical calculation, by
simply saying that he was not satisfied with the proofs.

Dr. Taylor's reasons for believing that the appearance of fossil
horses with a diminishing number of toes is caused by the creation
at separate periods of a four-, a three-, a two-, and a one-toed
horse are, he says, "personal, philosophical, historical," and he
opposes them with the utmost apparent sincerity to Huxley's
assertion that "there can be no scientific evidence" of such
creation. The "personal reason" for believing in successive
creations of sets of horses with a varying number of toes can,
of course, only be the reason so often urged in ball-room
disputation--that "I _feel_ it must be so;" the "philosophic reason"
can only be the one with which those who have frequented the society
of metaphysicians are very familiar, namely, a deduction from some
eminent speculator's opinion about the nature of the Supreme Being,
the conclusion being apparently that if the Creator wished to
diminish the number of a horse's toes, it would not do for him to
let one drop into disuse and so gradually disappear, but he would
have to make a new horse, on a new design. What Dr. Taylor means by
the "historical reason" we can only conjecture from his saying that
it is of the same order as his historical reason for believing "that
the Bible is the Word of God." The historical reason for this, we
presume, is that there are various literary and traditional proofs
that the Old Testament was held to be the Word of God by the Jewish
nation at a very early period, and was by them transmitted as such
to the modern Christian world, and that many of the prophecies
contained in it have received partial or a complete fulfilment. But
how by a process of this kind, partly literary and partly
conjectural, and attended by great difficulties at every step, he
would reach a fact of _prehistoric times_ of so much gravity as
creation in series, we think it would puzzle Dr. Taylor to explain.
Indeed, the mere production in a controversy of this nature of these
vague fancies, half pious, half poetical, conjured up in most cases
as a help to mental peace, by a leading minister in the character of
a logician, is a very remarkable proof of the extent of those
defects in clerical education to which we recently called attention.


The recent address delivered by Professor Tyndall before the British
Association at Belfast, in which he "confessed" that he "prolonged
the vision backward across the boundary of experimental evidence,
and discerned in matter the promise and potency of every quality and
form of life," produced one by no means very surprising result. Dr.
Watts, a professor of theology in the Presbyterian College in that
city, was led by it to offer to read before the Biological Section
of the Association a paper containing a plan of his own for the
establishment of "peace and co-operation between science and
religion." The paper was, as might have been expected, declined. The
author then read it before a large body of religious people, who
apparently liked it, and they passed him a vote of thanks. The whole
religious world, indeed, is greatly excited against both Tyndall and
Huxley for their performances on this occasion, and papers by no
means in sympathy with the religious world--the _Pall Mall Gazette_,
for instance--are very severe on them for having "recourse to a
style of oratory and disquisition more appropriate to the chapel
than the lecture-room," or, in other words, for using the meetings
of the Association for a sort of propagandism not much superior in
method to that of theological missionaries, and thus challenging the
theologians to a conflict which may make it necessary, in the
interest of fair play, to add a theological section to the
Association. Of course, when Professor Tyndall passed "beyond the
boundary of experimental evidence," and began to see with his
"mind's eye" instead of with the microscope and telescope, he got
into a region in which the theologian is not only more at home than
he, but which theology claims as its exclusive domain, and in which
ministers look on physicists as intruders.

But then, Dr. Watts's "plea for peace and co-operation between
science and religion" is one of many signs that theologians are, in
spite of all that has as yet been said, hardly alive to the exact
nature of the attitude they occupy toward science. They evidently
look upon scientific men as they look on a hostile school of
theologians--as the Princeton men look on the Yale men, for
instance, or the New looked on the Old School Presbyterians, or the
Calvinists on the Arminians--that is, as persons having a common
standard of orthodoxy, but differing somewhat in their method of
applying it, and who may, therefore, be induced from considerations
of expediency to suppress all outward marks of divergence and work
together harmoniously for the common end. All schools of theology
seek the glory of God and salvation of souls, and, this being the
case, differences on points of doctrine do seem trifling and capable
of being put aside.

It is this way of regarding the matter which has led Dr. Watts to
propose an alliance between religion and science, and which produces
the arguments one sometimes sees in defence of Christianity against
Positivism, drawn from a consideration of the services which
Christianity has rendered to the race, and of the gloomy and
desolate condition in which its disappearance would leave the world.
Tyndall and Huxley do not, however, occupy the position of religious
prophets or fathers. They preside over no church or other
organization. They have no power or authority to draft any creed or
articles which will bind anybody else, or which would have any
claims on anybody's reverence or adhesion. No person, in short, is
authorized to bring science into an alliance with religion or with
anything else. Such "peace and co-operation" as Dr. Watts proposed
would be peace and co-operation between him and Professor Tyndall,
or between the theologians and the British Association, but "peace
and co-operation between science and religion" is a term which
carries absurdity on its face. Science is simply a body of facts
which lead people familiar with them to infer the existence of
certain laws. How can it, therefore, be either at peace or war with
anybody, or co-operate with anybody? What Professor Tyndall might
promise would be either not to discover any more facts, or to
discover only certain classes of facts, or to draw no inferences
from facts which would be unfavorable to Dr. Watts's theory of the
universe; but the only result of this would be that Tyndall would
lose his place as a scientific man, and others would go on
discovering the facts and drawing the inferences.

In like manner, the supposition that Christianity can be defended
against Positivism on grounds of expediency implies a singular
conception of the mental operations of those persons who are
affected by Positivist theories, and indeed, we might add, of the
thinking world generally. No man believes in a religion simply
because he thinks it useful, and therefore no man's real adhesion to
the Christian creed can be secured by showing him how human
happiness would suffer by its extinction. This argument, if it had
any weight at all, would only induce persons either to pretend to be
Christians when they were not, or to refrain from assailing
Christianity, or to avoid all inquiries which might possibly lead to
sceptical conclusions. It is therefore, perhaps, a good argument to
address to believers, because it may induce them to suppress doubts
and avoid lines of thought or social relations likely to beget
doubt; but it is an utterly futile argument to address to those who
have already lost their faith. Men believe because they are
convinced; it is not in their power to believe from motives of
prudence or from public spirit.

However, the complaints of the theologians excited by Professor
Tyndall's last utterances are not wholly unreasonable. Science has
done nothing hitherto to give it any authority in the region of the
unseen. "Beyond the boundary of experimental evidence" one man's
vision is about as good as another's. It is interesting to know that
Professor Tyndall there "discerns in matter the potency and promise
of every quality and form of life," but only because he is a
distinguished man, who gives much thought to this class of subjects
and occupies a very prominent place in the public eye. As a basis
for belief of any kind, his vision is of no more value than that of
the Archbishop of Canterbury, who would probably in that region
discern the promise and potency of every form of life in a supreme
and creative intelligence. Scientific men are continually pushing
back the limits of our knowledge of the material universe. They have
during the last eighty years made an enormous addition to the sum of
that knowledge, but they have not, since Democritus, taken away one
hair's-breadth from the Mystery which lies behind. In fact, their
labors have in many ways deepened this Mystery. We can appeal
confidently to any candid man to say, for instance, whether Darwin's
theory of the origin of life and the evolution of species does not
make this globe and its inhabitants a problem vastly darker and more
inscrutable than the Mosaic account of the creation. Take, again,
the light thrown on the constitution of the sun by the spectroscope;
it is a marvellous addition to our knowledge of our environment, but
then, does it not make our ignorance as to the origin of the sun
seem deeper? No scientific man pretends that any success in
discovery will ever lead the human mind beyond the resolution of the
number of laws which now seem to govern phenomena into a smaller
number; but if we reached the limit of the possible in that
direction to-morrow, we should be as far from the secret of the
universe as ever. When we have all got to the blank wall which
everybody admits lies at the boundary of experimental evidence, the
philosopher will know no more about what lies beyond than the
peasant, though the peasant will probably do then what he does
now--people it with the creatures of his imagination. If a
philosopher in our day likes to anticipate that period, and hazards
the conjecture that matter lies beyond, he is welcome to his guess,
but it ought to be understood that it is only a guess.

The danger to society from the men of science does not, we imagine,
lie in the direction in which the theologians look for it. We do not
think they need feel particularly troubled by Professor Tyndall's
speculations as to the origin of things, for these speculations are
very old, and have, after all, only a remote connection with human
affairs. But there are signs both in his and Professor Huxley's
methods of popularizing science, and in those of a good many of
their followers, that we may fear the growth of something in the
nature of a scientific priesthood, who, tempted by the great
facilities for addressing the public which our age affords, and to
which nearly every other profession has fallen a victim, will no
longer confine themselves to their laboratories and museums and
scientific journals, but serve as "ministers of nature" before great
crowds of persons, for the most part of small knowledge and limited
capacity, on whom their hints, suggestions, and denunciations will
have a dangerously stimulating effect, particularly as the contempt
of scientific men for what is called "literature"--that is, the
recorded experience of the human race and the recorded expression of
human feelings--grows every year stronger, and exerts more and more
influence on the masses. The number of dabblers in science--of
persons with a slight smattering of chemistry, geology, botany, and
so on--too, promises to be largely increased for some time to come
by the arrangements of one sort or another made by colleges and
schools for scientific education; and though there is reason to
expect from this education a considerable improvement in knowledge
of the art of reasoning, there is also reason to fear a considerable
increase of dogmatic temper, of eagerness for experimentation in all
fields, and of scorn for the experience of persons who have never
worked in the laboratory or done any deep-sea dredging. Now,
whatever views we may hold as to the value of science in general and
in the long run to the human race, and in particular its value for
purposes of legislation and social economy, which we are far from
denying, there is some risk that lectures like Professor Huxley's at
Belfast, dressed up for promiscuous crowds, and produced with the
polite scorn of infallibility, in which the destruction of moral
responsibility is broadly hinted at as one of the probable results
of researches in biology, will do great mischief. For what does it
matter, or rather ought it to matter, for social purposes, in what
part of a man's system his conscience lies, or whether pressure on a
particular portion of the brain may convert him into a thief, when
we know, as of experience, that the establishment of good courts and
police turns a robbers' den into a hive of peaceful industry, and
when we see the wonders which discipline works in an ignorant crowd?


A considerable body of the graduates of the Irish Catholic
University, including members of the legal and medical professions,
presented a long and solemn memorial to Cardinal Cullen and the
other Catholic bishops at the late commencement of that institution,
which throws a good deal of light not only on the vexed question of
Catholic education in Ireland, but on the relations of the Catholic
Church to education everywhere. The memorial examined in detail the
management of the university, which it pronounces so bad as to
endanger the existence of the college. But what it most complains of
is the all but total absence of instruction in science. The
memorialists say that the neglect of science by the university has
afforded a very plausible argument to the enemies of the university,
who never tire of repeating that the Catholic Church is the enemy of
science, and that she will carry out her usual policy in Ireland
with respect to it; that "no one can deny that the Irish Catholics
are miserably deficient in scientific education, and that this
deficiency is extremely galling to them; and, in a commercial sense,
involves a loss to them, while, in an intellectual sense, it
involves a positive degradation." They speak regretfully of the
secession of Professor Sullivan, to take the presidency of the
Queen's College, Cork, and declare that "no Irish-Catholic man of
science can be found to take his place." They then go on to make
several astounding charges. The lecture-list of the university does
not include for the faculty of arts a single professor of the
physical or natural sciences, or the name of a solitary teacher in
descriptive geometry, geology, zoology, comparative anatomy,
mineralogy, mining, astronomy, philology, ethnology, mechanics,
electricity, or optics. Of the prizes and exhibitions, the number
offered in classics equals that of those offered in all other
studies put together, while in other universities the classical
prizes do not exceed one-fourth of the whole. They wind up their
melancholy recital by declaring that they are determined that the
scientific inferiority of Irish Catholics shall not last any longer;
and that if they cannot obtain a scientific education in their own
universities, they will seek it at Trinity or the Queen's Colleges,
or study it for themselves in the works of Haeckel, Darwin, Huxley,
Tyndall, and Lyell. They make one other singular complaint, viz.,
that no provision is made for supplying the lay students with
instruction in theology.

It ought to be said in defence of the cardinal and the bishops,
though the memorialists probably could not venture to say it, that
the church hardly pretends that the university is an efficient or
complete instrument of education. It has been in existence, it is
true, twenty years, but the main object of its promoters during this
period has apparently been to harass or frighten the government by
means of it into granting them an endowment, or giving them control
of the Queen's Colleges. Had they succeeded in this, they would
doubtless before now have made a show of readiness to afford
something in the nature of scientific instruction, because, as the
memorialists remark, there is no denying "that the physical and
natural sciences have become the chief studies of the age." But the
memorialists must be either very simple-minded or very ignorant
Catholics, if they suppose that any endowment or any pressure from
public opinion would ever induce the Catholic hierarchy to undertake
to turn out students who would make a respectable figure among the
scientific graduates of other universities, or even hold their own
among the common run of amateur readers of Huxley and Darwin and
Tyndall. There is no excuse for any misunderstanding as regards the
policy of the church on this point. She has never given the
slightest encouragement or sanction to the idea which so many
Protestant divines have of late years embraced, that theology is a
progressive science, capable of continued development in the light
of newly discovered facts, and of gradual adaptation to the changing
phases of our knowledge of the physical universe. She has hundreds
of times given out as absolute truth a certain theory of the origin
of man and of the globe he lives on, and she cannot either abandon
it or encourage any study or habit of mind which would naturally or
probably lead to doubt of the correctness of this theory, or of the
church's authority in enunciating it. In fact, the Pope, who is now
an infallible judge in all matters of faith and discipline, has,
within the last five years, in the famous "Syllabus" of modern
follies, pronounced damnable and erroneous nearly all the methods
and opinions by which Irish or any other Catholics could escape the
deficiency in scientific knowledge which they say they find so
injurious and so degrading. It is safe to say, therefore, that a
Catholic cannot receive an education which would fit him to acquire
distinction among scientific men in our day, without either
incurring everlasting damnation or running the risk of it. Beside a
danger of this kind, of course, as any priest will tell him,
commercial loss and social inferiority are small matters.

Of course, if we take the facts of a great many branches of physical
science by themselves, it would be easy enough to show that a good
Catholic might safely accept them. But no man can reach these facts
by investigations of his own, or hold to them intelligently and
fruitfully, without acquiring intellectual habits and making use of
tests which the church considers signs of a rebellious and therefore
sinful temper. Moreover, nobody who has attained the limits of our
present knowledge in chemistry, geology, comparative anatomy,
ethnography, philology, and mythology can stand there with closed
eyes. He must inevitably peer into the void beyond, and would be
more than human if he did not indulge in speculations as to the
history of the universe and its destiny which the church must treat
as endangering his salvation. This is so well known that one reads
the lamentations of these Catholic laymen with considerable
surprise. They may be fairly supposed to know something of church
history, and, even if they do not, they must profess some knowledge
of the teaching given by the church in those universities of other
countries which she controls. She does not encourage the study of
natural science anywhere. Mathematics and astronomy she looks on
with some favor, though we do not know how the spectroscope may have
affected her toward the latter; and we venture to assert that these
are the only fields of science in which any Catholic layman attains
distinction without forfeiting his standing in the eyes of the
clergy. We do not now speak of the French, Italian, and German
Catholic laymen who go on with their investigations without caring
whether the clergy like them or not, and without taking the trouble
to make any formal repudiation of the church's authority over their
intellects. We simply say there are no pious Catholic scientific men
of any note, and never will be if the Catholic clergy can help it,
and the lamentations of Catholics over the fact are logically

The legislation which Prussia is now putting into force on the
subject of clerical education is founded on a candid recognition of
the church's position on this matter. Prince Bismarck is well aware
that in no seminary or college controlled by priests is there any
chance that a young man will receive the best instruction of the day
on the subjects in which the modern world is most interested, and by
which the affairs of the State are most influenced. He has,
therefore, wisely decided that it is the duty of the State to see
that men who still exert as much power over popular thought as
priests do, and are to receive State pay as popular instructors,
shall also receive the best obtainable secular education before
being subjected to purely professional training in the theological
seminaries. The desperation of the fight made against him by the
clergy is due to their well-grounded belief that in order to get a
young man in our time to swallow a fair amount of Catholic theology,
he must be caught early and kept close. The warfare which is raging
in Prussia is one which has broken out in every country in which the
government has formal relations with the church.

The appearance of a mutinous spirit among the Irish laity, and this
not on political but scientific subjects, shows that the poison has
sunk very deep and is very virulent; for the Irish laity have been
until now the foremost Catholics in the world in silence and
submissiveness, and there is nothing in ecclesiastical history which
can equal in absurdity a request, addressed to Cardinal Cullen, that
he would supply them with the kind of teaching which other men get
from Tyndall and Huxley. With ecclesiastical insubordination arising
out of differences on matters of doctrine or discipline, such as
that manifested by the Old Catholics, it is comparatively easy to
deal. Schismatics can be excommunicated by an authority which they
have themselves venerated, and from an organization in which they
loved to live and would fain have died. But over wanderers into the
fields of science the church loses all hold. Her weapons are the
jest of the museum and the laboratory, and her lore the babbling of
the ignorant or blind.


The Episcopal Church, at the late Triennial Convention, took up and
determined to make a more vigorous effort to deal with the problem
presented by the irreligion of the poor and the dishonesty of
church-members. It is an unfortunate and, at first sight, somewhat
puzzling circumstance, that so many of the culprits in the late
cases of fraud and defalcation should have been professing
Christians, and in some cases persons of unusual ecclesiastical
activity, and that this activity should apparently have furnished no
check whatever to the moral descent. It is proposed to meet the
difficulty by more preaching, more prayer, and greater use of lay
assistance in church-work. There is nothing very new, however,
about the difficulty. There is hardly a year in which it is not
deplored at meetings of church organizations, and in which solemn
promises are not made to devise some mode of keeping church-members
up to their professions, and gathering more of the church-less
working-classes into the fold; but somehow there is not much
visible progress to be recorded. The church scandals multiply in
spite of pastors and people, and the workingmen decline to show
themselves at places of worship, although the number of places of
worship and of church-members steadily increases.

We are sorry not to notice in any of the discussions on the subject
a more frank and searching examination of the reason why religion
does not act more powerfully as a rule of conduct. Until such an
examination is made, and its certain results boldly faced by church
reformers, the church cannot become any more of a help to right
living than it is now, be this little or much. The first thing which
such an examination would reveal is a thing which is in everybody's
mind and on everybody's tongue in private, but which is apt to be
evaded or only slightly alluded to at ecclesiastical synods and
conventions--we mean the loss of faith in the dogmatic part of
Christianity. People do not believe in the fall, the atonement, the
resurrection, and a future state of reward and punishment at all, or
do not believe in them with the certainty and vividness which are
needed to make faith a constant influence on man's daily life. They
do not believe they will be damned for sin with the assurance they
once did, and they are consequently indifferent to most of what is
said to them of the need of repentance. They do not believe the
story of Christ's life and the theory of his character and
attributes given in the New Testament, or they regard them as merely
a picturesque background to his moral teachings, about which a
Christian may avoid coming to any positive conclusion.

No man who keeps himself familiar with the intellectual and
scientific movements of the day, however devout a Christian he may
be, likes to question himself as to his beliefs about these matters,
or would like to have to define accurately where his faith ended and
his doubts began. If he is assailed in discussion by a sceptic and
his combativeness roused, he will probably proclaim himself an
implicit and literal acceptor of the gospel narratives; but he will
not be able to maintain this mental attitude alone in his own room.
The effort that has been made by Unitarians and others to meet this
difficulty by making Christ's influence and authority rest on his
moral teachings and example, without the support of a divine nature
or mission or sacrifice, has failed. The Christian Church cannot be
held together as a great social force by his teaching or example as
a moral philosopher. A church organized on this theory speedily
becomes a lecture association or a philanthropic club, of about as
much aid to conduct as Freemasonry. Christ's sermons need the touch
of supernatural authority to make them impressive enough for the
work of social regeneration, and his life was too uneventful and the
society in which he lived too simple, to give his example real power
over the imagination of a modern man who regards him simply as a
social reformer.

This decline of faith in Christian dogma and history has not,
however, produced by any means a decline in religious sentiment, but
it has deprived religion of a good deal of its power as a means of
moral discipline. Moral discipline is acquired mainly by the
practice of doing what one does not like to do, under the influence
of mastering fear or hope. The conquest of one's self, of which
Christian moralists speak so much, is simply the acquisition of the
power of doing easily things to which one's natural inclinations
are opposed; and in this work the mass of mankind are powerfully
aided--indeed, we may say, have to be aided--by the prospect of
reward or punishment. The wonderful results which are achieved in
the army, by military authority, in inspiring coarse and common
natures with a spirit of the loftiest devotion, are simply due to
the steady application by day and by night of a punishing and
rewarding authority. The loss of this, or its great enfeeblement,
undoubtedly has deprived the church of a large portion of its means
of discipline, and reduced it more nearly to the __role_ of a
stimulater and gratifier of certain tender emotions. It contains a
large body of persons whose religious life consists simply of a
succession of sensations not far removed from one's enjoyment of
music and poetry; and another large body, to whom it furnishes
refuge and consolation of a vague and ill-defined sort in times of
sorrow and disappointment. To these persons the church prayers and
hymns are not trumpet-calls to the battle-field, but soothing
melodies, which give additional zest to home comforts and luxuries,
and make the sharper demands of a life of the highest integrity less
unbearable. Nay, the case is rather worse than this. We have little
doubt that this sentimental religion, as we may call it, in many
cases deceives a man as to his own moral condition, and hides from
him the true character and direction of the road he is travelling,
and furnishes his conscience with a false bottom. The revelations of
the last few years as to its value as a guide in the conduct of life
have certainly been plain and deplorable.

The evil in some degree suggests the remedy, though we do not mean
to say that we know of any complete remedy. Church-membership ought
to involve discipline of some kind in order to furnish moral aid. It
ought, that is to say, to impose some restraint on people's
inclinations, the operation of which will be visible, and enforced
by some external sanction. If, in short, Christians are to be
regarded as more trustworthy and as living on a higher moral plane
than the rest of the world, they must furnish stronger evidence of
their sincerity than is now exacted from them, in the shape of plain
and open self-denial. The church, in short, must be an organization
held together by some stronger ties than enjoyment of weekly music
and oratory in a pretty building, and alms-giving which entails no
sacrifice and is often only a tickler of social vanity. There is in
monasticism a suggestion of the way in which it must retain its
power over men's lives, and be enabled to furnish them with a
certificate of character. Its members will have to have a good deal
of the ascetic about them, but without any withdrawal from the

How to attain this without sacrificing the claims of art, and
denying the legitimacy of honestly acquired material power, and, in
fact, restricting individual freedom to a degree which the habits
and social theories of the day would make very odious, is the
problem to be solved, and, it is, no doubt, a very tough one.
General inculcation of "plain living" will not solve it, as long as
"plain living" is not defined and the "self-made man" who has made a
great fortune and spends it lavishly is held up to the admiration of
every school-boy. The church has been making of late years a gallant
effort to provide accommodation for the successful, and enable them
to be good Christians without sacrificing any of the good things of
this life, and, in fact, without surrendering anything they enjoy,
or favoring the outside public with any recognizable proof of their
sincerity. We do not say that this is reprehensible, but it is easy
to see that it has the seeds of a great crop of scandals in it.
Donations in an age of great munificence, and horror of far-off or
unattractive sins, like the slaveholding of Southerners and the
intemperance of the miserable poor, are not, and ought not to be,
accepted as signs of inward and spiritual grace, and of readiness to
scale "the toppling crags of duty."

The conversion of the working-classes, too, it is safe to say, will
never be accomplished by any ecclesiastical organization which sells
cushioned pews at auction, or rents them at high rates, and builds
million-dollar churches for the accommodation of one thousand
worshippers. The passion for equality has taken too strong hold of
the workingman to make it possible to catch him with cheap chapels
and assistant pastors. He will not seek salvation _in forma
pauperis_, and thinks the best talent in the ministerial market not
a whit too good for him. He not unnaturally doubts the sincerity of
Christians who are not willing to kneel beside badly dressed persons
in prayer on the one day of the week when prayer is public. In fact,
to fit the Protestant Church in this country to lay hold of the
laboring population a great process of reconstruction would be
necessary. The congregational system would have to be abandoned or
greatly modified, the common fund made larger and administered in a
different way. There would have, in short, to be a close approach to
the Roman Catholic organization, and the churches would have to lose
the character of social clubs, which now makes them so comfortable
and attractive. Well-to-do Christians would have to sacrifice their
tastes in a dozen ways, and give up the expectation of aesthetic
pleasure in public worship. There cannot be a vast Gothic cathedral
for the multitude in every city. The practice of the church would
have to be forced up to its own theory of its character and mission,
which would involve serious collision with some of the most deeply
rooted habits and ideas of modern social and political life. That
there is any immediate probability of this we do not believe. Until
it is brought about, its members must make up their minds to have
religious professions treated by some as but slight guarantees of
character, and by others as but cloaks of wrong-doing, hard as this
may be for that large majority to whom they are an honest expression
of sure hopes and noble aims.


Mr. Galton, in his work on "Hereditary Genius," has drawn attention
in a striking chapter to the effect which the systematic destruction
and expatriation, by the Inquisition or the religious intolerance of
the government, of the leading men of the nation--its boldest
thinkers, most ardent investigators, most prudent and careful and
ingenious workers, in generation after generation--had in bringing
about the moral and political decline of the three great Latin
countries, France, Spain, and Italy--a decline of which, in the case
of the two former at least, we have probably not seen the end. The
persons killed or banished amounted only to a few thousands every
year, but they were--no matter from what rank they came--the flower
of the population: the men whose labor and whose influence enabled
the State to keep its place in the march of civilization. The
picture is very valuable (particularly just now, when there is so
great a disposition to revel in the consciousness of vast numbers),
as calling attention to the smallness of the area within which,
after all, the sources of national greatness and progress are to be
sought. The mind which keeps the mass in motion, which saves and
glorifies it, would most probably, if we could lay bare the secret
of national life, be found in the possession of a very small
proportion of the people, though not in any class in particular--
neither among the rich nor the poor, the learned nor simple,
capitalists nor laborers; but the abstraction of these few from the
sum of national existence, though it would hardly be noticed in the
census, would produce a fatal languor, were the nation not
constantly receiving fresh blood from other countries.

This element was singled out with considerable accuracy in France
and Spain by religious persecution. It would happily be impossible
to devise any process of selection one-quarter as efficient in our
age or in this country. The one we have been using for the last
twenty years, and on which a good deal of popular reliance has been
placed, is the accumulation of wealth; and under this "the self-made
man"--that is, the man who, starting in life ignorant and poor, has
made a large fortune, and got control of a great many railroads and
mines and factories--has risen into the front rank of eminence. The
events of the last five years, however, have had a damaging effect
on his reputation, and he now stands as low as his worst enemies
could desire. As he declines, the man of some kind of training
naturally rises; and it would be running no great risk to affirm
that the popular mind inclines more than it has usually done to the
belief that trained men--that is, men who have been prepared for
their work by teaching on approved methods--are after all the most
valuable possession a country can have, and that a country is well
or ill off in proportion as they are numerous or the reverse. One
does not need to travel very far from this position to reach the
conclusion that there is probably no way in which we could strike so
deadly a blow at the happiness and progress of the United States as
by sweeping away, by some process of proscription kept up during a
few generations, the graduates of the principal colleges. In no
other way could we make so great a drain on the reserved force of
character, ambition, and mental culture which constitutes so large a
portion of the national vitality. They would not be missed at the
polls, it is true, and if they were to run a candidate for the
Presidency to-morrow their vote would excite great merriment among
the politicians; but if they were got rid of regularly for forty or
fifty years in the manner we have suggested, and nothing came in
from the outside to supply their places, the politicians would
somehow find that they themselves had less public money to vote or
steal, less national aspiration to trade upon, less national force
to direct, less national dignity to maintain or lose, and that, in
fact, by some mysterious process, they were getting to be of no more
account in the world than their fellows in Guatemala or Costa Rica.

There will come to the colleges of the United States during the next
fifty years a larger and larger number of men who either strongly
desire training for themselves or are the sons of men who are deeply
sensible of its advantages, and therefore are at the head of
families which possess and appreciate the traditions of high
civilization, and would like to live in them and contribute their
share to perpetuating them--and they will not come from any one
portion of the country. There are, unhappily, "universities" in all
parts of the Union, but there is hardly a doubt that as the means of
communication are improved and cheapened, and as the real nature and
value of the university education become better understood, the
tendency to use the small local institutions passing by this name
as, what they really are, high schools, and resort to the half-dozen
colleges which can honestly call themselves universities, will
increase. The demands which modern culture, owing to the advance of
science and research in every field, now makes on a university, in
the shape of professors, books, apparatus, are so great that only
the largest and wealthiest institutions can pretend to meet them,
and in fact there is something very like false pretence in the
promise to do so held out to poor students by many of the smaller
colleges. These colleges doubtless do a certain amount of work very
creditably; but they are uncandid in saying that they give a
university education, and in issuing diplomas purporting to be
certificates that any such education has either been sought or
received. The idea of maintaining a university for the sake of the
local glory of it is a form of folly which ought not to be
associated with education in any stage. These considerations are now
felt to be so powerful in other countries that they threaten the
destruction of a whole batch of universities in Italy which have
come down famous and honored from the Middle Ages and have sent out
twenty generations of students, and they are causing even the very
best of the smaller universities in Germany, great and efficient as
many of them are, to tremble for their existence.

There is no interest of learning, therefore, which would not be
served by the greater concentration of the resources of the country
as regards university education, still less is there any interest of
society or politics. It is of the last importance that the class of
men from all parts of the country whom the universities send out
into the world should as far as possible be educated together, and
start on their careers with a common stock of traditions, tastes,
and associations. Much as steam and the telegraph have done, and
will do, to diminish for administrative purposes the size of the
Republic, and to simplify the work of government, they cannot
prevent the creation of a certain diversity of interests, and even
of temperament and manners, through differences of climate and soil
and productions. There will never come a time when we shall not have
more or less of such folly as the notion that the South and West
need more money than the East, because they have less capital, or
the struggle of some parts of the country for a close market against
other parts which seek an open one. Nothing but a reign of knowledge
and wisdom, such as centuries will not bring, will prevent States on
the Gulf or on the Pacific from fancying that their interests are
not identical with those of the Northern Atlantic, and nothing but
profound modifications in the human constitution will ever bring the
California wheat-raiser into complete sympathy with the New England

The work of our political system for ages to come will consist
largely in keeping these differences in check; and in doing it, it
will need all the help it can get from social and educational
influences. It ought to be the aim, therefore, of the larger
institutions of learning to offer every inducement in their power to
students from all parts of the Union, and more especially from the
South, as the region which is most seriously threatened by
barbarism, and in which the sense of national unity and the hold of
national traditions on the popular mind are now feeblest. We at the
North owe to the civilized men at the South who are now, no matter
what their past faults or delusions may have been, struggling to
save a large portion of the Union from descent into heathen darkness
and disorder, the utmost help and consideration. We owe them above
all a free and generous welcome to a share in whatever means of
culture we have at our disposal, and ought to offer it, as far as is
consistent with our self-respect, in a shape that will not wound

The question of the manner of doing this came up incidentally at
Harvard the other day, at the dedication of the great hall erected
in memory of the graduates of the university who died in the war.
The hall is to be used for general college purposes, for
examinations, and some of the ceremonial of commencement, as well as
for dinner, and a portion of the walls is covered with tablets
bearing the names of those to whose memory it is dedicated. The
question whether the building would keep alive the remembrance of
the civil war in any way in which it is inexpedient to keep it
alive, or in any way which would tend to keep Southern students away
from the university, has been often asked, and by some answered in
the affirmative. General Devens, who presided at the alumni dinner,
gave full and sufficient answer to those who find fault with the
rendering of honor on the Northern side to those who fell in its
cause; but General Bartlett--who perhaps more than any man living is
qualified to speak for those who died in the war--uttered, in a
burst of unpremeditated eloquence, at the close of the proceedings,
the real reason why no Southern man need, and we hope will never,
feel hurt by Northern memorials of the valor and constancy of
Northern soldiers. It is not altogether the cause which ennobles
fighting; it is the spirit in which men fight; and no horror of the
objects of the Southern insurrection need prevent anybody from
admiring or lamenting the gallant men who honestly, loyally, and
from a sense of duty perished in its service. It is not given to the
wisest and best man to choose the right side; but the simplest and
humblest knows whether it is his conscience which bids him lay down
his life. And this test may be applied by each side to all the
victims of the late conflict without diminishing by one particle its
faith in the justice of its own cause. Moreover, as General Bartlett
suggested, the view of the nature of the struggle which is sure to
gain ground all over the country as the years roll on is that it was
a fierce and passionate but inevitable attempt to settle at any cost
a controversy which could be settled in no other way; and that all
who shared in it, victors or vanquished, helped to save the country
and establish its government on sure and lasting foundations. This
feeling cannot grow without bringing forcibly to mind the fact that
the country was saved through the war that virtue might increase,
that freedom might spread and endure, and that knowledge might rule,
and not that politicians might have a treasury to plunder and marble
halls to exchange their vituperation in; thus uniting the best
elements of Northern and Southern society by the bonds of honest
indignation as well as of noble hopes.


The _Baltimore American_, discussing the plan of the Hopkins
University in that city, says: "The _Nation_ suggests to the Board
of Trustees a university that would leave Latin, Greek, mathematics,
and the elements of natural science out of its curriculum." This is
so great a mistake that we are at a loss to understand how it could
have been made. The _Nation_ has never suggested anything of the
kind. The university which the _Nation_ has expressed the hope the
trustees would found is simply a university with such a high
standard for admission on all subjects that the professors would be
saved the necessity of teaching the rudiments of either Latin,
Greek, mathematics, or natural science; or, in other words, that the
country would be saved considerable waste of skilled labor. The
reason why we have ventured to expect this of the Hopkins trustees
is that they enjoy the all but unprecedented advantage of being left
in possession of a very large bequest, with complete liberty, within
very wide limits, as to the disposition of it. In other words, they
are to found a university with it, but as to the kind of university
they may exercise their discretion.

That this is a very exceptional position everybody familiar with the
history of American colleges knows. All the older colleges are bound
to the state, or to certain religious denominations, by laws or
usages or precedents which impose a certain tolerably fixed
character either on the subjects or on the mode of teaching them, or
on both. They have traditions to uphold, or denominational interests
to care for, or political prejudices to satisfy. The newer ones, on
the other hand, are apt to have incurred a bondage even worse still,
in having to carry out the wishes of a founder who, in ninety-nine
cases out of a hundred, had only a faint notion of the nature and
needs of a university, and in endowing one sought rather to erect a
monument to his memory than to found a seat of learning. In so far
as he was interested in the curriculum, he probably desired that it
should be such as would satisfy some want which he himself felt, or
thought he felt, in early life, or should diffuse some social or
religious or political crotchet on which his fancy had secretly fed
during his years of active exertion, and on the success of which he
came to think, in the latter part of his life, that the best
interests of the community were dependent. The number of these
honorably ambitious but ill-informed and somewhat eccentric
testators increases every year, as the country grows in wealth and
the habit of giving to public objects gains in strength.

The consequence is that we are threatened with the spectacle during
the coming century of a great waste of money by well-meaning persons
in the establishment all over the country of institutions calling
themselves "universities," which are either so feebly equipped as
rather to hinder than help the cause of education, or so completely
committed by their organization to the propagation of certain social
or religious theories as to deserve the appellation of mission
stations rather than of colleges. Education is now an art of
exceeding delicacy and complexity. To master it, so as to have a
trustworthy opinion as to the relative value of studies and as to
the best mode of pursuing them, and as to the organization of
institutions devoted to the work of instruction, a man needs both
learning and experience. The giving him money to employ in his
special work, therefore, without leaving him discretion as to the
manner in which he shall use it, is to prepare almost certainly for
its waste in more than one direction. To make the most of the
resources of the country for educational purposes, it is necessary
above all things that they should be placed at the disposal of those
who have made education a special study, and who are free, as we
understand the Hopkins trustees to be, from any special bias or bond,
and are ready or willing to look at the subject from every side.
Their liberty, of course, brings with it great responsibility--all
the greater for the reasons we have been enumerating.

Now, as to the use which they should make of this liberty, the
_Baltimore American_ fears that if they found a university of the
class sketched by us some weeks ago, "the people of Maryland would
be greatly disappointed--there would not be over fifty students,"
and "there would be a great outcry against the investment of three
and a half millions of dollars for the benefit of so small a
number." Whether the people of Maryland will be disappointed or not,
depends on the amount of consideration they give the matter. If they
are satisfied that the foundation of such a university as is now
talked of is the best use that can be made of the money, they will
not be disappointed, and there will be no "outcry" at all. Being an
intelligent people, they will on reflection see that the value of a
university by no means depends solely on the proportion borne by the
number of its students to the amount of its revenues, because,
judged in this way--that is, as instruments of direct popular
benefit--all the universities in the country might be pronounced
failures. The bulk of the community derives no direct benefit from
them at all. Harvard, for instance, has an endowment of about five
million dollars, we believe, and the total number of the students is
only 1,200, while the population of the State of Massachusetts is
1,500,000, so that, even supposing all the students to come from
Massachusetts, which they do not, less than one person in every
thousand profits by the university.

The same story might be told of Yale or any other college.
Considered as what are called popular institutions--that is,
institutions from which everybody can or does derive some
calculable, palpable benefit--the universities of this and every
other country are useless, and there ought on this theory to be a
prodigious "outcry" against them, and they ought, on the principle
of equality, if allowed to exist at all, to be allowed to exist only
on condition that they will give a degree, or at least offer an
education, to every male citizen of sound mind. But nobody takes
this view of them. The poorest and most ignorant hod-carrier would
not hold, if asked, that because he cannot go to college there ought
to be no colleges. Sensible people in every country acknowledge that
a high education can in the nature of things be only obtained by a
very small proportion of the population; but that the few who seek
it, and can afford to take it, should get it, and should get it of
the best quality, they hold to be a public benefit. Now, why a
public benefit? The service that Harvard or Yale renders to the
community certainly does not lie simply in the fact that it
qualifies a thousand young men every year to earn a livelihood. They
would earn a livelihood whether they went to college or not. The
vast majority of men earn a livelihood without going to college or
thinking of it. Indeed, it is doubted by many persons, and with much
show of reason, whether a man does not earn it all the more readily
for not going to college at all; and as regards the work of the
world of all kinds, the great bulk of it is done, and well done, by
persons who have not received a university education and do not
regret it. So that the benefits which the country derives from the
universities consists mainly in the refining and elevating
influences which they create, in the taste for study and research
which they diffuse, in the social and political ideals which they
frame and hold up for admiration, in the confidence in the power of
knowledge which they indirectly spread among the people, and in the
small though steady contributions they make to that reverence for
"things not seen" in which the soul of the state may be said to lie,
and without which it is nothing better than a factory or an
insurance company.

There is nothing novel about the considerations we are here urging.
The problem over which university reformers have been laboring in
every country during the past forty years has been, how to rid the
universities, properly so called, of the care of the feeble,
inefficient, and poorly prepared students, and reserve their
teaching for the better-fitted, older, and more matured; or, in
other words, how, in the interest both of economy and culture, to
reserve the highest teaching power of the community for the most
promising material. It is forty years since John Stuart Mill wrote a
celebrated attack on the English universities, then in a very low
condition, in which he laid it down broadly that the end above all
for which endowed universities ought to exist was "to keep alive
philosophy," leaving "the education of common minds for the common
business of life" for the most part to private enterprise. This
seemed at the time exacting too much, and it doubtless seems so
still; but it is nevertheless true that ever since that period
universities of the highest class, both in Europe and in this
country, have been working in that direction--striving, that is to
say, either to sift the applicants for admission, by imposing
increasingly severe tests, and thus presenting to the professors
only pupils of the highest grade to work upon; or, at all events, if
not repelling the ill-fitted, expending all their strength in
furnishing the highest educational advantages to the well-fitted. In
the last century, Harvard and Yale were doing just the kind of work
that the high schools now do--that is, taking young lads and
teaching them the elements of literature. At the present day they
are throwing this work as far as possible on the primary schools,
and reserving their professors and libraries and apparatus, as far
as the state of the country and the conditions of their organization
will permit, for those older and more advanced students who bring to
the work of learning both real ardor and real preparation. A boy has
to know more to get into either of them to-day than his grandfather
knew when he graduated. Nevertheless, with all the efforts they can
make after this true economy of power and resources, there is in
both of them a large amount of waste of labor. There are men in both
of them, and in various other colleges, much of whose work is almost
as much a misuse of energy and time as if they were employed so many
hours a day in carrying hods of mortar, simply because they are
doing what the masters of primary schools ought to do, and what no
man at a university ought to be asked to do. It is a kind of work,
too, which, if it have to be done in colleges at all, is already
abundantly provided for by endowment. No Maryland youth who desires
to learn a little mathematics, get a smattering of classics, and
some faint notions of natural science, or even to support himself by
manual labor while doing this, will suffer if the Hopkins endowment
is used for higher work. The country swarms already with
institutions which meet his needs, and in which he can graduate with
ease to himself and credit to his State. The trustees of this one
will do him and the State and the whole country most service,
therefore, by providing a place to which, after he has got hold of
the rudiments at some other college, he can come, if he has the
right stuff in him, and pursue to the end the studies for which all
universities should really be reserved.



September 8, 1877.

Having just returned from a few weeks' stay in Virginia it has
occurred to me as probable that your readers would be interested in
hearing how such changes in Southern manners and tone of thought and
economical outlook as could be noted in a brief visit strike one who
had travelled in that region before the war had revolutionized it.
It is now twenty years since I spent a winter traversing the Cotton
States on horseback, sleeping at the house which happened to be
nearest when the night caught me. Buchanan had just been elected;
the friends of slavery, though anxious, were exultant and defiant,
and the possibility of a separate political future had begun to take
definite shape in the public mind, at least in the Gulf States. I am
unable to compare the economical condition of that part of the
country at that time with its condition to-day, because both slavery
and agriculture in Virginia differed then in many important respects
from slavery and agriculture farther south. But the habits and modes
of thought and feeling bred by slavery were essentially the same all
over the South; and I do not think that I shall go far astray in
assuming that the changes in these which I have noticed in Virginia
would be found to-day in all the other States.

The first which struck me, and it was a most agreeable one, was what
I may call the emancipation which conversation and social
intercourse with Northerners had undergone. In 1857 the tone of
nearly everybody with whom I came in contact, however veiled by
politeness, was in some degree irritable and defiant. My host and I
were never long before the evening fire without my finding that he
was impatient to talk about slavery, that he suspected me of
disliking it, and yet that he wished to have me understand that he
did not care, and that nobody at the South cared two cents what I
thought about it, and that it was a little impertinent in me, who
knew so little of the negro, to have any opinion about it at all. I
was obliged, too, to confess inwardly that there was a good deal of
justification for his bad temper. There was I, a curious stranger,
roving through his country and eating at his board, and all the
while secretly or openly criticising or condemning his relations
with his laborers and servants, and, in fact, the whole scheme of
his domestic life. I was not a pleasant companion, and nothing could
make me one, and no matter on what themes our talk ran, it was
colored by our opinions on the institution. He looked at nearly
everything in politics and society from what might be called the
slaveholder's point of view, and suspected me, on the other hand, of
disguising reprobation of the South and its institutions in any
praise of the North or of France or England which I might utter. So
that there was a certain acridity and a sense of strong and deep
limitations and reserves in our discussions, somewhat like those
which are felt in the talk of a pious evangelical Protestant with a
pious Catholic.

In Virginia of to-day I was conscious of a curious change in the
atmosphere, as if the windows of a close room had been suddenly
opened. I found that I was in a country where all things were
debatable, and where I had not to be on the lookout for
susceptibilities. The negro, too, about whom I used to have to be so
careful, with whom I used to make it a point of honor not to talk
privately or apart from his master when I was staying on a
plantation, was wandering about loose, as it were, and nobody seemed
to care anything about him any more than about any poor man. I found
every Southerner I spoke to as ready to discuss him as to discuss
sheep or oxen, to let you have your own views about him just as you
had them about sheep or oxen. Moreover, I found instead of the
stereotyped orthodox view of his place and capacity which prevailed
in 1857, a great variety of opinions about him, mostly depreciatory,
it is true, but still varying in degree as well as in kind. It is
difficult to give anyone who has never had any experience of the old
slave society an idea of the difference this makes in a stranger's
position at the South. In short, as one Southerner expressed it to
me on my mentioning the change, "Yes, sir, we have been brought into
intellectual and moral relations with the rest of the civilized
world." All subjects are now open at the South in conversation.

Is this true? it will probably be asked, with regard to the late
war. Can you talk freely about that? Not exactly; but then the
limitations on your discourse on this point are not peculiar to the
South; they are such as would be put upon the discourse of two
parties to a bloody contest in any civilized country among well-bred
men or women. The events of the war you can discuss freely, but you
are hardly at liberty to denounce Southern soldiers or officers, or
accuse them of "rebellion," or to assume that they fought for base
or wicked motives. Moreover, in a certain sense, all Southerners are
still "unrepentant rebels." Doubtless, in view of the result, they
will acknowledge that the war was a gigantic mistake; but I found
that if I sought for an admission that, if it was all to do over
again, they would not fight, I was touching on a very tender point,
and I was gently but firmly repelled. The reason is plain enough. In
confessing this, they would, they think, be confessing that their
sons and brothers and fathers had perished miserably in a causeless
struggle on which they ought never to have entered, and this, of
course, would look like a slur on their memory, and their memory is
still, after the lapse of twelve years, very sacred and very dear. I
doubt if many people at the North have an adequate notion of the
intensity of the emotions with which Southerners look back on the
war; and I mean tender and not revengeful or malignant emotions. The
losses of the battle-field were deeply felt at the North--in many
households down to the very roots of life; but on the whole they
fell on a large and prosperous population, on a community which in
the very thick of the fray seemed to be rolling up wealth, which
revelled as it fought, and came out of the battle triumphant,
exultant, and powerful. At the South they swept through a scanty
population with the most searching destructiveness, and when all was
over they had to be wept over in ruined homes and in the midst of a
society which was wrecked from top to bottom, and in which all
relatives and friends had sunk together to common perdition. There
has been no other such cataclysm in history. Great states have been
conquered before now, but conquest did not mean a sudden and
desolating social revolution; so that to a Southerner the loss of
relatives on the battle-field or in the hospital is associated with
the loss of everything else. A gentleman told me of his going, at
the close of the war, into a little church in South Carolina on
Sunday, and finding it filled with women, who were all in black, and
who cried during the singing. It reminded one of the scene in the
cathedral at Leyden, when the people got together to chant a _Te
Deum_ on hearing that the besieging army was gone; but, the music
suddenly dying out, the air was filled with the sounds of sobbing.
The Leydeners, however, were weak and half-starved people, weeping
over a great deliverance; these South Carolinians were weeping
before endless bereavement and hopeless poverty. I doubt much if any
community in the modern world was ever so ruthlessly brought face to
face with what is sternest and hardest in human life; and those of
them who have looked at it without flinching have something which
any of us may envy them.

But then I think it would be a mistake to suppose that Southerners
came out of the war simply sorrowful. At the close, and for some
time afterward, they undoubtedly felt fiercely and bitterly, and
hated while they wept; and this was the primal difficulty of
reconstruction. Frequently in conversation I heard some violent
speech or act occurring soon after the war mentioned with the
parenthetical explanation, "You know, I felt very bitterly at that
time." But, then, I have always heard it from persons who are to day
good-tempered, conciliatory, and hopeful, and desirous of
cultivating good relations with Northerners; from which the
inference, which so many Northern politicians find it so hard to
swallow, is easy--viz., that time produces on Southerners its usual
effects. What Mr. Boutwell and Mr. Blaine would have us believe is
that Southerners are a peculiar breed of men, on whom time produces
no effect whatever, and who feel about things that happened twenty
years ago just as they feel about things which happened a month ago.

The fact is, however, that they are in this respect like the rest of
the human race. Time has done for their hearts and heads what it has
done for the old Virginia battle-fields. There was not in 1865 a
fence standing between the Potomac and Gordonsville, and but few, if
any, undamaged houses. When I passed Manassas Junction the other day
there was a hospitable-looking tavern and several houses at the
station; the flowers were blooming in the yard, and crowds of young
men and women in their Sunday clothes were gathered from the country
around to see a base-ball match, and a well-tilled and well-fenced
and smiling farming country stretched before my eyes in every
direction. The only trace of the old fights was a rude graveyard
filled, as a large sign informed us, with "the Confederate dead."
All the rest of the way down to the springs the road ran through
farms which looked as prosperous and peaceful as if the tide of war
had not rolled over them inside a hundred years, and it is
impossible to talk with the farmers ten minutes without seeing how
thoroughly human and Anglo-Saxon they are. With them the war is
history--tender, touching, and heroic history if you will, but
having no sort of connection with the practical life of to-day. Some
of us at the North think their minds are occupied with schemes for
the assassination and spoliation of negroes, and for a "new
rebellion." Their minds are really occupied with making money, and
the farms show it, and their designs on the negro are confined to
getting him to work for low wages. His wages are low--forty cents a
day and rations, which cost ten cents--but he is content with it. I
saw negroes seeking employment at this rate, and glad to get it; and
in the making of the bargain nothing could be more commercial,
apparently, than the relations of the parties. They were evidently
laborer and employer to each other, and nothing more.

The state of things on two farms which I visited may serve as
illustrations of the process of regeneration which is going on all
over Virginia. They are two hundred miles apart. On one of two
thousand acres there were, before the war, about one hundred and
fifty slaves of all ages. The owner, at emancipation, put them in
wagons and deposited them in Ohio. His successor now works the
plantation with twelve hired men, who see to his cattle, of which he
raises and feeds large herds. His cultivation is carried on on
shares by white tenants. He has an overseer, makes a snug income,
and spends a good part of his winters in Baltimore and New York. He
laughs when you ask him if he regrets slavery. Nothing would induce
him to take care of one hundred and fifty men, women, and children,
furnishing perhaps thirty able-bodied men, littering the house with
a swarm of lazy servants, and making heavy drafts on the meat-house
and corn-crib, and running up doctor's bills.

The other was owned at the close of the war by a regular "Virginia
gentleman," with the usual swarm of negroes, and who was in debt.
He sold it to an enterprising young farmer from another county,
paid his debts, and retired to a small place, where, with two or
three hired men, he makes a living. The young farmer, instead of
seventy-five slaves, works it with twelve hands in the busy season
and three in winter, is up at five o'clock in the morning
superintending them himself, raises all raisable crops, and is as
intent on the markets and the experiments made by his neighbors as
if he lived in Illinois or the Carse of Gowrie. He was led by
Colonel Waring's book to try tile-draining, and made the tiles for
the purpose on his own land. He was so successful that he now
manufactures and soils tiles extensively to others. It would be
difficult to meet at the North or in England two men with their
faces turned away from the old times more completely than these,
more averse from the old plantation ways; and, as far as I could
learn or hear, they are fair specimens of the kind of men who are
taking possession of the Old Dominion. Their neighbors consist of
three classes: men who had by extraordinary exertions saved some or
all of their land after the war, and had by borrowing or economizing
managed to stock it, and are now prospering, by dint of close
management and constant attention, on the Northern plan; young and
enterprising men who had bought at low rates from original
proprietors whom the war left hopelessly involved, and too old or
incapable to recover; and a sprinkling of Northern and English


The part played by the Virginia springs in the political and social
life of "the States lately in rebellion," is to a traveller most
interesting. The attraction of these springs to Southerners has been
in times past, and is still, largely due to the fact that the South
has, properly speaking, no other watering-places. Seaside resorts
there are none worth mention, from Norfolk down to Mexico, and there
are but few points of the long, level, dull, and sandy coast-line
which are not more or less unhealthy. Suspicion on this point even
hangs around the places in Florida now frequented by Northerners for
the sake of the mild winter temperature. But oven if the sea-coast
were healthy, it is in summer too hot to be attractive, and offers
no relief to persons whose livers and kidneys have got out of order
in the lowlands. These naturally seek the hills for coolness, and
they go to the sulphur springs of Virginia because the sulphur
waters are very powerful and efficacious in their effects on people
afflicted with what the doctors call "hepatic troubles." But then
they never would or could have gone from the Southern seaboard to
places so far off if it had not been for the inestimable negro. The
extent to which he contributed to the rapid pushing out of the
scanty white population of the slave States to the Mississippi has
never, I think, received due attention. He robbed pioneering,
indeed, at the South of most of the hardship with which it is
associated in the Northern mind--I was going to say discomfort as
well as hardship, but this would be going too far. To the Southern
planter, however, who could go West with a party of stalwart negroes
to do the clearing, building, ploughing, and cooking and washing,
the wilderness had but few of the terrors it presented to the
Northern frontiersman. He was speedily provided with a very
tolerable home; not certainly the kind of home which the taste of a
man as well off at the North would be satisfied with, but a vastly
better one than any new settler in the Northwestern States ever had.
The springs in the Virginia mountains became popular a century ago,
and were greatly resorted to in much the same way. They were remote
and in the woods, but, owing to slavery, they swarmed from the very
first with servants who could not "give notice" if they did not like
the place, or felt lonesome.

The first accommodation at the springs consisted of a circle of
log-cabins with a dining-hall and ball-room in the centre, and this
constitutes the fundamental plan of a spring to this day. There is
now always a hotel in which a considerable number of the visitors
both sleep and eat, but the bulk of them, or a very large proportion
of them, still live in the long rows of one-storied wooden huts,
with galleries running along in front of the doors, which are
dignified with the name of "cottages," but are in reality simply the
log-cabin in the next stage of evolution; and the hotel has taken the
place of the original dining and ball-rooms to which all resorted.
In looking at the cottages, and thinking of the log-cabins which
preceded them, and seeing what rude places they are, one wonders
a little how people could ever have been, or can now be, induced to
leave comfortable homes for the purpose of spending long summers in
them. But this brings up one of the marked characteristics of Southern
life, namely, the extent to which nearly all Southern men and women
were led in the slavery days to associate comfort not with the
trimness and order of Northern or English homes, but with an
abundance of service. Well-to-do Northerners used to be surprised,
in fact, at the amount of what they would consider discomfort in the
way of rude or unfinished surroundings, hard beds, poor fare, want of
order of all sorts, which even Southerners in easy circumstances were
willing to put up with; but the explanation lay in the fact that
Southerners placed their luxury in having plenty of servants at
command. All the ladies had maids and the men "body servants"
wherever they went, and this saved them, even on the frontier, from
a great deal of drudgery and inconvenience. Even a log-cabin is not
a bad place to lodge in if you have a valet (who cannot leave you)
to dress you, and brush your boots and your clothes, and light your
fire, and bring you ice-water and juleps and cocktails, and anything
else you happen to think of, who sleeps comfortably in a blanket
across your door. In fact, without this the Virginia springs could
never have become a popular resort until railroads were opened.
People used to take twenty days in reaching them from the coast--
some in their own carriages with four horses, and a wagon for the
baggage and "darkies," and some in stages, sleeping in taverns on the
roadside; but nothing could have made this practicable or tolerable
but the band of negroes by whom they were always accompanied.
This, too, enabled them to make their plans with certainty for
staying at the springs all summer, which they could not have done


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