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reserving what was most tender and delicate spent with poor scholars, and artists, and men for the inner life, enjoying with moderation; of science, whose words remain in the memsuch for him was the dream of an intellectual ory and make us rich indeed. Then we disexistence in which things truly precious were like money because it rules and restrains us, valued according to their worth. And “above and because it is unintelligent and seems all," he said, above all his desire was not to hostile, so far as that which is unintelligent write too much, “surtout ne pas trop écrire." can be hostile. And yet the real truth is that And then comes the regret for this wise, well- money is the strong protector of the intellectordered life enjoyed by him only for a time. ual life. The student sits and studies, too “La nécessité depuis m'a saisi et m'a con- often despising the power that shelters him traint de renoncer à ce que je considérais from the wintry night, that gives him roof comme le seul bonheur ou la consolation ex- and walls, and lamp, and books, and fire. For quise du mélancolique et du sage."
money is simply the accumulated labor of the Auguste Comte lamented in like manner the past, guarding our peace as fleets and armies evil intellectual consequences of anxieties guard the industry of England, or like some about material needs. “There is nothing,"mighty fortress-wall within which men follow he said, “more mortal to my mind than the the most peaceful avocations. The art is to use necessity, pushed to a certain degree, to have money so that it shall be the protector and to think each day about a provision for the not the scatterer of our time, the body-guard next. Happily I think little and rarely about of the sovereign Intellect and Will. all that; but whenever this happens to me I pass through moments of discouragement and positive despair, which if the influence of them became habitual would make me re
LETTER III. nounce all my labors, all my philosophical projects, to end my days like an ass."
TO A STUDENT IN GREAT POVERTY. There are a hundred rules for getting rich, but the instinct of accumulation is worth all Poverty really a great obstacle--Difference between a thot
sand rich men and a thousand poor men taken from per such rules put together. This instinct is rarely
sons of average natural gifts- The Houses of Parliament found in combination with high intellectual -The English recognize the natural connection between gifts, and the reason is evident. To advance wealth and culture-Connection between ignorance and
parsimony in expenditure-What may be honestly said for from a hundred pounds to a thousand is not
the encouragement of a very poor student. an intellectual advance, and there is no intellectual interest in the addition of a cipher at As it seems to me that to make light of the the bankers'. Simply to accumulate money difficulties which lie in the path of another is that you are never to use is, from the intel- not to show true sympathy for him, even lectual point of view, as stupid an operation though it is done sometimes out of a sort of as can be imagined. We observe, too, that awkward kindness and for his encourage the great accumulators, the men who are ment, I will not begin by pretending that gifted by nature with the true instinct, are poverty is not a great obstacle to the perfecnot usually such persons as we feel any ambi- tion of the intellectual life. It is a great obtion to become. Their faculties are concen- stacle; it is one of the very greatest of all trated on one point, and that point, as it seems obstacles. Only observe how riches and porto us, of infinitely little importance. We can-erty operate upon mankind in the mass not see that it signifies much to the intellect. Here and there no doubt a very poor man atual well-being of humanity that John Smith tains intellectual distinction when he has exshould be worth his million when he dies, ceptional strength of will, and health enough since we know quite well that John Smith's to bear a great strain of extra labor that he mind will be just as ill-furnished then as it is imposes upon himself, and natural gifts so now. In places where much money is made brilliant that he can learn in an hour what we easily acquire a positive disgust for it, and common men learn in a day. But consider the curate seems the most distinguished gen- mankind in the mass. Look, for instance, at tleman in the community, with his old black our two Houses of Parliament. They are coat and his seventy pounds a year. We come composed of men taken from the average run to hate money-matters when we find that they of Englishmen with very little reference to exclude all thoughtful and disinterested con- ability, but almost all of them are rich men versation, and we fly to the society of people not one of them is poor, as you are poor with fixed incomes, not large enough for much not one of them has to contend against the saving, to escape the perpetual talk about in- stern realities of poverty. Then consider the vestments. Our happiest hours have been very high general level of intellectual attain
ment which distinguishes those two assem-to the market-town, and could not pardon the blies, and ask yourself candidly whether a extravagance of buying a book, or a candle thousand men taken from the beggars in the to read it by in the evening. Between these streets, or even from the far superior class of extremes we have various grades of the midour manufacturing operatives would be dle classes in which culture usually increases likely to understand, as the two Houses of very much in proportion to the expenditure. Parliament understand, the many compli- The rule is not without its exceptions; there cated questions of legislation and of policy are rich vulgar people who spend a great deal which are continually brought before them. without improving themselves at all—who We all know that the poor are too limited in only, by unlimited self-indulgence, succeed in knowledge and experience, from the want of making themselves so uncomfortably sensithe necessary opportunities, and too little tive to every bodily inconvenience that they accustomed to exercise their minds in the have no leisure, even in the midst of an untranquil investigations of great questions, to occupied life, to think of anything but their be competent for the work of Parliament. It own bellies and their own skins-people is scarcely necessary to insist upon this fact whose power of attention is so feeble that the to an Englishman, because the English have smallest external incident distracts it, and always recognized the natural connection be- who remember nothing of their travels but a tween wealth and culture, and have preferred catalogue of trivial annoyances. But people to be governed by the rich from the belief of this kind do not generally belong to famithat they are likely to be better informed, and lies on whom wealth has had time to produce better situated for intellectual activity of a its best effects. What I mean is, that a famdisinterested kind, than those members of the ily which has been for generations in the community whose time and thoughts are al- habit of spending four thousand a year will most entirely occupied in winning their daily usually be found to have a more cultivated bread by the incessant labor of their hands. tone than one that has only spent four hunAnd if you go out into the world, if you mix dred. with men of very different classes, you will I have come to the recognition of this truth find that in a broad average way (I am not very reluctantly indeed, not because I dislike speaking just now of the exceptions) the rich people, but merely because they are necricher classes are much more capable of enter-essarily a very small minority, and I should ing into the sort of thinking which may be like every human being to have the best benecalled intellectual than those whose money is fits of culture if it were only possible. The Jess plentiful, and whose opportunities have plain living and high thinking that Wordstherefore been less abundant. Indeed it may worth so much valued is a cheering ideal, for be asserted, roughly and generally, that the most men have to live plainly, and if they narrowness of men's ideas is in direct propor- could only think with a certain elevation we tion to their parsimony in expenditure. I do might hope to solve the great problem of hunot mean to affirm that all who spend largely man life, the reconciliation of poverty and attain large intellectual results, for of course the soul. There certainly is a slow movewe know that a man may spend vast sums on ment in that direction, and the shortening of pursuits which do not educate him in any- the hours of labor may afford some margin thing worth knowing, but the advantage is of leisure; but we who work for culture that with habits of free expenditure the germs every day and all day long, and still feel that of thought are well tillod and watered, where we know very little, and have bardly skill as parsimony denies them every external enough to make any effective use of the little help. The most spending class in Europe is the that we know, can scarcely indulge in very English gentry, it is also the class most strik-enthusiastic anticipations of the future cultingly characterized by a high general average ure of the poor. of information;* the most parsimonious class Still, there are some things that may be in Europe is the French peasantry; it is also rationally and truly said to a poor man who the class most strikingly characterized by ig- desires culture, and which are not without a norance and intellectual apathy. The Eng- sort of Spartan encouragement. You are relish gentleman has cultivated himself by va- stricted by your poverty, but it is not always rious reading and extensive travel, but the a bad thing to be restricted, even from the French peasant will not go anywhere except intellectual point of view. The intellectual
powers of well-to-do people are very common* The reader will please to bear in mind that I am speaking ly made ineffective by the enormous multibare of broad effects on great numbers. I do not think that I plicity of objects that are presented to their Eristocracy, in its spirit, is quite favorable to the exception-P Aly higheat intellectual life.
attention, and which claim from them a sort of polite notice like the greeting of a great certainly not better occupied. When I open lady to each of her thousand guests. It re- a noble volume I say to myself, “ Now the quires the very rarest strength of mind, in a only Croesus that I envy is he who is reading rich man, to concentrate his attention on any-I a better book than this." thing—there are so many things that he is expected to make a pretence of knowing; but nobody expects you to know anything, and this is an incalculable advantage. I think that all poor men who have risen to subse
PART VI. quent distinction have been greatly indebted to this independence of public opinion as to
CUSTOM AND TRADITION. what they ought to know. In trying to satisfy that public opinion by getting up a pretence of various sorts of knowledge, which
LETTER I. is only a sham, we sacrifice not only much precious time, but we blunt our natural in- TO A YOUNG GENTLEMAN WHO HAD FIRMLY terest in things. That interest you preserve • RESOLVED NEVER TO WEAR ANYTHING BUT in all its virgin force, and this force carries a A GRAY COAT.* man far. Then, again, although the opportu
Secret enjoyment of rebellion against custom, and of the disnities of rich people are very superior to abilities resulting from it-Penalties imposed by Society yours, they are not altogether so superior as
and by Nature out of proportion to the offence-Instances they seem. There exists a great equalizing |
- What we consider penalties not really penalties, but
only consequences-Society likes harmony, and is of power, the limitation of human energy. A fended by dissonance-Utility of rebels against customrich man may sit down to an enormous ban
That they ought to reserve their power of rebellion for
great occasions-Uses of custom--Duty of the intellectquet, but he can only make a good use of the
ual class-Best way to procure the abolition of a custom little that he is able to digest. So it is with the
we disapprove-Bad customs--Eccentricity sometimes a splendid intellectual banquet that is spread duty. before the rich .man's eyes. He can only pos
WHEN I had the pleasure of staying at sess what he has energy to master, and too
your father's house, you told me, rather to my frequently the manifest impossibility of
surprise, that it was impossible for you to go mastering everything produces a feeling of
to balls and dinner-parties because you did discouragement that ends in his mastering
not possess such a thing as a dress-coat. The nothing. A poor student, especially if he
reason struck me as being scarcely a valid lives in an out-of-the-way place where there
one, considering the rather high scale of exare no big libraries to bewilder him, may
penditure adopted in the paternal mansion. apply his energy with effect in the study of a
It seemed clear that the eldest son of a family few authors.
which lived after the liberal fashion of YorkI used to believe a great deal more in op
shire country gentlemen could afford himself portunities and less in application than I do
a dress-coat if he liked. Then I wondered now. Time and health are needed, but with
whether you disliked dress-coats from a be these there are always opportunities. Rich
lief that they were unbecoming to your per people have a fancy for spending money very son: but a very little observation of your uselessly on their culture because it seems to character convinced me that whatever might them more valuable when it has been costly; but the truth is, that by the blessing of good
be your weaknesses (for everybody has some
weaknesses), anxiety about personal appear and cheap literature, intellectual light has
ance was not one of them. become almost as accessible as daylight. 1 The truth is, that you secretly enjoy this have a rich friend who travels more, and
little piece of disobedience to custom, and all buys more costly things, than I do, but he
the disabilities which result from it. This lit does not really learn more or advance farther the rebellion is connected with a larger rebel in the twelvemonth. If my days are fully lic
lion, and it is agreeable to you to demonstrati occupied, what has he to set against them? | only other well-occupied days, no more. If
the unreasonableness of society by incurring he is getting benefit at St. Petersburg he is
a very severe penalty for a very trifling of
fence. You are always dressed decently, you missing the benefit I am getting round my off
offend against no moral rule, you have cult house, and in it. The sum of the year's bene
vated your mind by study and reflection, an fit seems to be surprisingly alike in both cases. So if you are reading a piece of thor
* The title of this letter seems so odd, that it may be nece oughly good literature, Baron Rothschild may
har sary to inform the reader that it was addressed to a real pe possibly be as well occupied as you-he is son.
it rather pleases you to think that a young | prettier to see men in black coats regularly gentleman so well qualified for society in placed between ladies round a dinner-table everything of real importance should be ex-than men in gray coats or brown coats. The cluded from it because he has not purchased uniformity of costume appears to represent a permission from his tailor.
uniformity of sentiment and to ensure a sort The penalties imposed by society for the in- of harmony amongst the convives. What sofraction of very trifling details of custom are ciety really cares for is harmony; what it disoften, as it seems, out of all proportion to the likes is dissent and nonconformity. It wants offence; but so are the penalties of nature. peace in the dining-room, peace in the drawOnly three days before the date of this letter, ing-room, peace everywhere in its realm of an intimate friend of mine was coming home tranquil pleasure. You come in your shoot from a day's shooting. His nephew, a fine ing-coat, which was in tune upon the moors, young man in the full enjoyment of exist- but is a dissonance amongst ladies in full ence, was walking ten paces in advance. Adress. Do you not perceive that fustian and covey of partridges suddenly cross the road: velveteen, which were natural amongst gamemy friend in shouldering his gun touches the keepers, are not so natural on gilded chairs trigger just a second too soon, and kills his covered with silk, with lace and diamonds at nephew. Now, think of the long years of a distance of three feet? You don't perceive mental misery that will be the punishment of it? Very well: society does not argue the that very trifling piece of carelessness! My point with you, but only excludes you. poor friend has passed, in the space of a single It has been said that in the life of every in-. instant, from a joyous life to a life that is per- tellectual man there comes a time when he manently and irremediably saddened. It is questions custom at all points. This seems to as if he had left the summer sunshine to be a provision of nature for the reform and enter a gloomy dungeon and begin a perpet-progress of custom itself, which without such ual imprisonment. And for what? For hav- questioning would remain absolutely stationing touched a trigger, without evil intention, ary and irresistibly despotic. You rebels a little too precipitately. It seems harder against the established custom have your still for the victim, who is sent out of the place in the great work of progressive civilizworld in the bloom of perfect manhood be-ation. Without you, Western Europe would cause his uncle was not quite so cool as he have been a second China. It is to the continought to have been. Again, not far from ual rebellion of such persons as yourself that where I live, thirty-five men were killed last we owe whatever progress has been accomweek in a coal-pit from an explosion of fire-plished since the times of our remotest foredamp. One of their number had struck a fathers. There have been rebels always, and lucifer to light his pipe: for doing this in a the rebels have not been, generally speaking, place where he'ought not to have done it, the the most stupid part of the nation. man suffers the penalty of death, and thirty-! But what is the use of wasting this benefifour others with him. The fact is simply cial power of rebellion on matters too trivial that Nature will be obeyed, and makes no at- to be worth attention? Does it hurt your contempt to proportion punishments to offences: science to appear in a dress-coat? Certainly indeed, what in our human way we call pun- not, and you would be as good-looking in it as ishments are not punishments, but simple you are in your velveteen shooting-jacket consequences. So it is with the great social with the pointers on the bronze buttons. Let penalties. Society will be obeyed: if you re-us conform in these trivial matters, which nofuse obedience, you must take the consequen- body except a tailor ought to consider worth a Des. Society has only one law, and that is moment's attention, in order to reserve our custom. Even religion itself is socially power- strength for the protection of intellectual libful only just so far as it has custom on its side. erty. Let society arrange your dress for you
Nature does not desire that thirty-five men it will save you infinite trouble), but never should be destroyed because one could not re-permit it to stifle the expression of your sist the temptation of a pipe; but fire-damp is thought. You find it convenient, because you highly inflammable, and the explosion is a are timid, to exclude yourself from the world simple consequence. Society does not desire by refusing to wear its costume; but a bolder toexclude you because you will not wear even- man would let the tailor do his worst, and ing dress; but the dress is customary, and then go into the world and courageously deyour exclusion is merely a consequence of your fend there the persons and causes that are Donconformity. The view of society goes no misunderstood and slanderously misreprefarther in this than the artistic conception sented. The fables of Spenser are fables only (not very delicately artistic, perhaps) that it is in form, and a noble knight may at any time go forth, armed in the panoply of a tail-coat, gradually, whilst affecting submission i to a dress waistcoat, and a manly moral courage, Iters altogether indifferent, still there are other to do battle across the dinner-table and in the matters on which the only attitude worthy of drawing-room for those who have none to de-a man is the most bold and open resistance to fend them.
lits dictates. Custom may have a right to auIt is unphilosophical to set ourselves obsti- thority over your wardrobe, but it cannot nately against custom in the mass, for it mul- have any right to ruin your self-respect. Not tiplies the power of men by settling useless only the virtues most advantageous to welldiscussion and clearing the ground for our being, but also the most contemptible and de best and most prolific activity. The business grading vices, have at various periods of the of the world could not be carried forward one world's history been sustained by the full auday without a most complex code of customs; thority of custom. There are places where and law itself is little more than custom slight- forty years ago drunkenness was conformity to ly improved upon by men reflecting together custom, and sobriety an eccentricity. There at their leisure, and reduced to codes and sys- are societies, even at the present day, where tems. We ought to think of custom as a most licentiousness is the rule of custom, and precious legacy of the past, saving us infinite chastity the sign of weakness or want of spirit. perplexity, yet not as an infallible rule. The There are communities (it cannot be necessary most intelligent community would be conser- to name them) in which successful fraud, esvative in its habits, yet not obstinately con- pecially on a large scale, is respected as the servative, but willing to hear and adopt the proof of smartness, whilst a man who remains suggestions of advancing reason. The great poor because he is honest is despised for slowduty of the intellectual class, and its especial ness and incapacity. There are whole nations function, is to confirm what is reasonable in in which religious hypocrisy is strongly apthe customs that have been handed down to proved by custom, and honesty severely conus, and so maintain their authority, yet at the demned. The Wahabee Arabs may be mensame time to show that custom is not final, tioned as an instance of this, but the Wahabee but merely a form suited to the world's con- Arabs are not the only people, nor is Nejed venience. And whenever you are convinced the only place, where it is held to be more that a custom is no longer serviceable, the way virtuous to lie on the side of custom than to be to procure the abolition of it is to lead men an honorable man in independence of it. In very gradually away from it, by offering a all communities where vice and hypocrisy are substitute at first very slightly different from sustained by the authority of custom, eccenwhat they have been long used to. If the tricity is a moral duty. In all communities English had been in the habit of tattooing, the where a low standard of thinking is received best way to procure its abolition would have as infallible common sense, eccentricity bebeen to admit that it was quite necessary to comes an intellectual duty. There are huncover the face with elaborate patterns, yet dreds of places in the provinces where it is imgently to suggest that these patterns would possible for any man to lead the intellectual be still more elegant if delicately painted in life without being condemned as an eccentric. water-colors. Then you might have gone on It is the duty of intellectual men who are thus arguing-still admitting, of course, the ab- isolated to set the example of that which their solute necessity for ornament of some kind neighbors call eccentricity, but which may be that good taste demanded only a moderate more accurately described as superiority. amount of it; and so you would have brought people gradually to a little flourish on the nose or forehead, when the most advanced reform
LETTER II. ers might have set the example of dispensing with ornament altogether. Many of our TO A CONSERVATIVE WHO HAD ACCUSED THE contemporaries have abandoned shaving in AUTHOR OF A WANT OF RESPECT FOR TRAthis gradual way, allowing the whiskers to DITION. encroach imperceptibly, till at last the razor
Transition from the ages of tradition to that of experiment lay in the dressing-case unused. The abomi
Attraction of the future-Joubert-Saint-Marc Girardinnable black cylinders that covered our heads Solved and unsolved problems--The introduction of a a few years ago were vainly resisted by radi new element--Inapplicability of past experience-An ar
gument against Republics-The lessons of history-Mista cals in custom, but the moderate reformers
ken predictions that have been based on them-Morality gradually reduced their elevation, and now and ecclesiastical authority-Compatibility of hopes for they are things of the past.
the future with gratitude to the past-That we are more
respectful to the past than previous ages have beenOu Though I think we ought to submit to cus
feelings towards tradition-An incident at Warsaw--The tom in matters of indifference, and to reform it!
reconstruction of the navy.