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It may be taken for granted that to a mind pen to present itself, without passionately de constituted as yours is, no profession will be siring that one doctrine may turn out to be satisfactory which does not afford free play strong in evidence and another unsupported. to the intellectual powers. You might no And so we find the clergy, as a class, anxious doubt exercise resolution enough to bind rather to discover aids to faith, than the simyourself down to uncongenial work for a ple scientific truth; and the more the special term of years, but it would be with the inten- priestly character develops itself, the more tion of retiring as soon as you had realized a we find them disposed to use their intellects competency. The happiest life is that which for the triumph of principles that are decided constantly exercises and educates what is upon beforehand. Sometimes this disposition best in us.
| leads them to see the acts of laymen in a colYou had thoughts, at one time, of the ored light and to speak of them without strict Church, and the Church would have suited accuracy. Here is an example of what I you in many respects very happily, yet not, mean. A Jesuit priest preached a sermon in I think, in all respects. The clerical profes- London very recently, in which he said that sion has many great felicities and advan- " in Germany, France, Italy, and England, tages: it educates and develops, by its mild but gigantic efforts were being made to rob Chrisregular discipline, much of our higher nature; tian children of the blessing of a Christian it sets before us an elevated ideal, worth striv-education." "Herod, though dead," the ing for at the cost of every sacrifice but one, preacher continued, “has left his mantle beof which I intend to say something farther hind him; and I wish that the soldiers of on; and it offers just that mixture of public Herod in those countries would plunge their and private life which best affords the alter- swords into the breasts of little children while nation of activity and rest. It is an existence they were innocent, rather than have their in many respects most favorable to the no- souls destroyed by means of an unchristian blest studies. It offers the happiest combina- and uncatholic education." No doubt this is tion of duties that satisfy the conscience with very earnest and sincere, but it is not acculeisure for the cultivation of the mind; it rate and just thinking. The laity in the gives the easiest atcess to all classes of society, countries the preacher mentioned have cerproviding for the parson himself a neutral tainly a strong tendency to exclude theology and independent position, so safe that he need from State schools, because it is so difficult only conduct himself properly to preserve it. for a modern State to impose any kind of theHow superior, from the intellectual point of ological teaching without injustice to minoriview, is this liberal existence to the narrower ties; but the laity do not desire to deprive one of a French curé de campagne! I cer- children of whatever instruction may be tainly think that if a good curé has an excep-given to them by the clergy of their retional genius for sancitity, his chances of be- spective communions. May I add, that to coming a perfect saint are better than those the mind of a layman it seems a sanguinary of a comfortable English incumbent, who is desire that all little children should have at the same time a gentleman and man of the swords plunged into their breasts rather than world, but he is not nearly so well situated be taught in schools not clerically directed? for leading the intellectual life. Our own The exact truth is, that the powerful lay eleclergy have a sort of middle position between ment is certainly separating itself from the the curé and the layman, which without at ecclesiastical element all over Europe, beall interfering with their spiritual vocation, cause it is found by experience that the two makes them better judges of the character of have a great and increasing difficulty in laymen and more completely in sympathy working harmoniously together, but the ecwith it.
clesiastical element is detached and not deAnd yet, although the life of a clergyman stroyed. . is favorable to culture in many ways, it is The quotation I have just made is in itself a not wholly favorable to it. There exists, in sufficient illustration of that very peculiarity clerical thinking generally, just one restric- in the more exalted ecclesiastical temperation or impediment, which is the overwhelm- ment, which often makes it so difficult for ing importance of the professional point of priests and governments, in these times, to view. Of all the professions the ecclesiasti- get on comfortably together. Here is first a cal one is that which most decidedly and most very inaccurate statement, and then an outconstantly affects the judgment of persons burst of most passionate feeling, whereas the and opinions. It is peculiarly difficult for a intellect desires the strictest truth and the clergyman to attain disinterestedness in his most complete disinterestedness. As the temthinking, to accept truth just as it may hap- per of the laity becomes more and more intellectual (and that is the direction of its move- disinterested than clergymen.* Sometimes ment), the sacerdotal habit will become more they take up some study outside of their proand more remote from it.
fession and follow it disinterestedly, but this The clerical life has many strong attrac- is rare. A busy lawyer is much more likely tions for the intellectual, and just one draw-than a clergyman to become entirely absorbed back to counterbalance them. , It offers tran- in his professional life, because it requires so quillity, shelter from the interruptions and much more intellectual exertion. I remember anxieties of the more active professions, and asking a very clever lawyer who lived in Lonpowerful means of influence ready to hand; don, whether he ever visited an exhibition of but it is compatible with intellectual freedom pictures, and he answered me by the counterand with the satisfaction of the conscience, inquiry whether I had read Chitty on Cononly just so long as the priest really remains a tracts, Collier on Partnerships, Taylor on Evbeliever in the details of his religion. Now, al-idence, Cruse's Digest, or Smith's Mercantile though we may reasonably hope to retain the Law? This seemed to me at the time a good chief elements of our belief, although what a instance of the way a professional habit may man believes at twenty-five is always what narrow one's views of things, for these lawhe will most probably believe at fifty, still, in books were written for lawyers alone, whilst an age when free inquiry is the common the picture exhibitions were intended for the habit of cultivated people of our sex, we may public generally. My friend's answer would well hesitate before taking upon ourselves have been more to the point if I had inquired any formal engagement for the future, es- whether he had read Linton on Colors, and pecially in matters of detail. The intellectual Burnet on Chiaroscuro. spirit does not regard its conclusions as being. There is just one situation in which we all at any time final, but always provisional; we may feel for a short time as lawyers feel hahold what we believe to be the truth until we bitually. Suppose that two inexperienced | can replace it by some more perfect truth, I players sit down to a game of chess, and that
but cannot tell how much of to-day's beliefs each is backed by a clever person who is contomorrow will retain or reject. It may be stantly giving him hints. The two backers observed, however, that the regular perform-represent the lawyers, and the players repreance of priestly functions is in itself a great sent their clients. There is not much disinhelp to permanence in belief by connecting it terested thought in a situation of this kind, closely with practical habit, so that the clergy but there is a strong stimulus to acutedo really and honestly often retain through ness. life their hold on early beliefs which as lay. I think that lawyers are often superior to men they might have lost.
philo sophers in their sense of what is relatively The profession of the law provides ample important in human affairs with reference to opportunities for a critical intellect with a limited spaces of time, such as half a century. strong love of accuracy and a robust capac- They especially know the enormous impority for hard work, besides which it is the best tance of custom, which the speculative mind of worldly educations. Some lawyers love very readily forgets, and they have in the their work as passionately as artists do highest degree that peculiar sense which fits theirs, others dislike it very heartily, most of men for dealing with others in the affairs of them seem to take it as a simple business to ordinary life. In this respect they are remarkbe done for daily bread. Lawyers whose ably superior to clergymen, and superior also heart is in their work are invariably men of to artists and men of science. superior ability, which proves that there is The profession of medicine is, of all fairly something in it that affords gratification to lucrative professions, the one best suited to the the intellectual powers. However, in speak- development of the intellectual life. Having ing of lawyers, I feel ignorant and on the out- to deal continually with science, being conside, because their profession is one of which stantly engaged in following and observing the interior feelings can be known to no one the operation of natural laws, it produces a who has not practised. One thing seems sense of the working of those laws which preclear, they get the habit of employing the pares the mind for bold and original speculawhole strength and energy of their minds for tion, and a reliance upon their unfailing reguespecial and temporary ends, the purpose be-larity, which gives it great firmness and asing the service of the client, certainly not the surance. A medical education is the best revelation of pure truth. Hence, although possible preparation for philosophical purthey become very acute, and keen judges of that side of human nature which they habitu
| * The word “disinterested " is used here in the sense exally see (not the best side), they are not more plained in Part II. Letter III.
suits, because it gives them a solid basis in dition to Egypt, notwithstanding the prosthe ascertainable. The estimation in which pects of advantage that it offered. The reathese studies are held is an accurate meter of son he gave for this refusal was, that he the intellectual advancement of a community. could do more for science in the tranquillity When the priest is reverenced as a being above of the Jardin des Plantes. He was a strict ordinary humanity, and the physician slightly economist of time, and dreaded the loss of it esteemed, the condition of society is sure to involved in following an army, even though be that of comparative ignorance and barba- his mission would have been purely scientific. rism; and it is one of several signs which in- How much more would Cuvier have dreaded dicate barbarian feeling in our own aristocra- the interruptions of a really military existcy, that it has a contempt for the study of ence! It is these interruptions, and not any medicine. The progress of society towards want of natural ability, that are the true exenlightenment is marked by the steady social planation of the intellectual poverty which rise of the surgeon and the physician, a rise characterizes the military profession, Of all which still continues, even in Western Europe. the liberal professions it is the least studious. It is probable that before very long the medi. Let me say a word in conclusion about the cal profession will exercise a powerful influ- practical pursuit of the fine arts. Painters ence upon general education, and take an are often remarkable for pleasant conversaactive share in it. There are very strong rea- tional power, and a degree of intelligence sons for the opinion that schoolmasters edu- strikingly superior to their literary culture. cated in medicine would be peculiarly well This is because the processes of their art can qualified to train both body and mind for a be followed, at least under certain circum. vigorous and active manhood. An immense stances, by the exercise of hand and eye, advantage, even from the intellectual point of directed merely by artistic taste and experiview, in the pursuit of medicine and surgery, ence, whilst the intellect is left free either for is that they supply a discipline in mental reflection or conversation. Rubens liked to heroism. Other professions do this also, but be read to when he painted; many artists not to the same degree. The combination of like to hear people talk, and to take a share an accurate training in positive science with occasionally in the conversation. The truth the habitual contempt of danger and contem- is that artists, even when they work very as plation of suffering and death, is the finest siduously, do in fact enjoy great spaces of possible preparation for noble studies and intellectual leisure, and often profit by them. arduous discoveries. I ought to add, however, Painting itself is also a fine discipline for that medical men in the provinces, when they some of the best faculties of the mind, though have not any special enthusiasm for their it is well known that the most gifted artists work, seem peculiarly liable to the deadening think least about their art. Still there is a influences of routine, and easily fall behind large class of painters, including many emitheir age. The medical periodicals provide nent ones, who proceed intellectually in the the best remedy for this.
execution of their works, who reason them The military and naval professions are too out philosophically step by step, and exercise active, and too much bound to obedience in a continual criticism upon their manual labor their activity, for the highest intellectual pur- as it goes forward. I find, as I know art and suits; but their greatest evil in this respect is artists better, that this class is more numerous the continual privation of solitude, and the than is commonly suspected, and that the frequency of interruption. A soldier's life in charming effects which we believe to be the the higher ranks, when there is great respon- result of pure inspiration have often been sibility and the necessity for personal decision, elaborately reasoned out like a problem in undoubtedly leads to the most brilliant em- mathematics. We are very apt to forget that ployment of the mental powers, and develops art includes a great science, the science of a manliness of character which is often of the natural appearances, and that the technical greatest use in intellectual work; so that a work of painters and engravers cannot go man of science may find his force augmented, forward safely without the profoundest knowland better under control, for having passed edge of certain delicate materials, this being through a military experience; but the life of also a science, and a difficult one. The combarracks and camps is destructive to contin- mon tendency is to underrate (from ignorance) uity of thinking. The incompatibility be- what is intellectual in the practice of the comes strikingly manifest when we reflect how fine arts; and yet the artists of past times impossible it would have been for Ney or Mas- have left evidence enough that they thought sena to do the work of Cuvier or Comte. about art, and thought deeply. Artists are Cuvier even declined to accompany the expe-I often illiterate; but it is possible to be at the same time illiterate and intellectual; as we every man has some two or three or more acsee frequent examples of book-learning in complishments which he fancies would be people who have scarcely a single idea of quite adequate to his support; and rememtheir own.
bering with what success the exercise of these gifts has ever been hailed in the society of his friends, he has a sort of generous dis
like to be obliged to eclipse some poor drudge LETTER II.
of a professional, who, of course, will be conTO A YOUNG GENTLEMAN WHO HAD LITERARY signed to utter oblivion after his own perAND ARTISTIC TASTES, BUT NO PROFESSION. formance. Augustus Bramleigh was certain
ly not a conceited or a vain man, and yet he The world only recognizes performance-Uselessness of botch. I had often in his palmy days imagined how
work-Vastness of the interval between botch-work and handicraft-Delusions of the well-to-do-Quotation from
neasy it would be for him to provide for his Charles Lever-Indifference, and even contempt, for skill own support. He was something of a musi- Moral contempt for skill-The contempt which comes cian; he sang pleasingly; he drew a little; he from the pride of knowledge-Intellectual value of skill
knew something of three or four modern lanand of professional di: ciplin. .
guages; he had that sort of smattering acIt is not a graceful thing for me to say, nor quaintance with questions of religion, polipleasant for you to hear, that what you have tics, and literature which the world calls bedone hitherto in art and literature is neither ing 'well-informed,' and yet nothing short of of any value in itself nor likely to lead you the grave necessity revealed to him that tow. to that which is truly and permanently satis-ards the object of securing a livelihood a fying. I believe you have natural ability, cobbler in his bulk was out-and-out his masthough it would not be easy for any critic to ter. The world has no need of the man o1 measure its degree when it has never been small acquirements, and would rather have. developed by properly-directed work. Most its shoes mended by the veriest botch of a critics would probably err on the unfavorable professional than by the cleverest amateur side, for we are easily blind to powers that that ever studied a Greek sandal." are little more than latent. To see anything Something of this illusion, which Charles encouraging in your present performance, it Lever has touched so truly, may be due to a would need the sympathy and intelligence of peculiarity of the English mind in its present the American sculptor Greenough, of whom (not quite satisfactory) stage of development, it was said that “his recognition was not lim la peculiarity which I am not the first to point ited to achievement, but extended to latent out, since it has been already indicated by powers." The world, however, recognizes Mr. Pointer, the distinguished artist; and I nothing short of performance, because the think that this peculiarity is to be found in performance is what it needs, and promises very great force, perhaps in greater force than are of no use to it.
elsewhere, in that well-to-do English middle In this rough justice of the world there is a class in which you have been born and edunatural distribution of rewards. You will be cated. It consists in a sort of indifference to paid, in fame and money, for all excellent skill of all kinds, which passes into something work; and you will be paid, in money, though not very far from active contempt when a not in fame, for all work that is even simply call is made for attention, recognition, admigood, provided it be of a kind that the world ration. The source of this feeling will probaneeds, or fancies that it needs. But you will bly be found in the inordinate respect for never be paid at all for botch-work, neither wealth, between which and highly developed in money nor in fame, nor by your own in- personal skill, in anything, there is a certain ward approval.
antagonism or incompatibility. The men of For we all of us either know that our botch-real skill are almost always men who earn work is worthless, or else have serious mis- their living by their skill. The feeling of the givings about it. That which is less common- middle-class capitalists concerning the skilful ly realized by those who have not undergone man may be expressed, not unjustly, as folthe test of professional labor is the vastness lows: “Yes, he is very clever; he may well of the interval that separates botch-work be clever-it is his trade; he gets his living from handicraft, and the difficulty of getting by it.” This is held to exonerate us from the over it. “There are few delusions," Charles burden of admiration, and there is not any se Lever said in “ The Bramleighs," “more rious interest in the achievements of human common with well-to-do people than the be- endeavor as evidence of the marvellous natural lief that if put to it' they could earn their endowments and capabilities of the human own livelihood in a variety of ways. Almost I organism. In some minds the indifference to skill is more active and grows into very real, being “at the head of the profession"? Bythough not openly expressed contempt. This ron's vexation was not entirely due to jealcontempt is partly moral, The skilful man ousy of Wordsworth, though that may have always rejoices in his skill with a heaven-be- had something to do with it, nor was it due stowed joy and delight-one of the purest and either to an aristocratic dislike of being in a most divine pleasures given by God to man, “profession" himself, though this feeling may an encouragement to labor, and a reward, the have had a certain influence; it was due to best reward, after his arduous apprenticeship. a proper sense of the dignity of the intellectBut there is a sour and severe spirit, hating ual life. Buffon could not bear to be called a all innocent pleasures, which despises the glad-“naturalist,” and Cuvier in the same way ness of the skilful as so much personal vanity. disliked the title of Hellenist, because it
There is also the contempt for skill which sounded professional: he said that though he comes from the pride of knowledge. To at- knew more Greek than all the Academy he tain skill in anything a degree of application was not a Hellenist as Gail was, because he is necessary which absorbs more time than did not live by Greek. the acquisition of knowledge about the thing, Now, if this feeling had arisen merely from so that the remarkably skilful man is not a dislike to having it supposed that one is likely to be the erudite man. There have obliged to earn his own living, it would have been instances of men who possessed both been a contemptibly vulgar sentiment, whoskill and learning. The American sculptor ever professed it. Nothing can be more bonGreenough, and the English painter Dyce, orable to a man than to earn his bread by were at the same time both eminently skilful honest industry of any kind, whether it be in their craft and eminently learned out of manual or intellectual, and still I feel with it; but the combination is very rare. There- Byron, and Buffon, and Cuvier, that the great fore the possession of skill has come to be con- instruments of the world's intellectual culture sidered presumptive evidence of a want of ought not to be, in the ordinary sense, profesgeneral information.
sions. Byron said that poetry, as he underBut the truth is that professional skill is stood it, was “an art, an attribute," but not knowledge tested and perfected by practical what is understood by a “profession." Surely application, and therefore has a great intel- the same is true of all the highest intellectual lectual value. Professional life is to private work, in whatever kind. You could scarcely individuals what active warfare is to a mili- consider Faraday's life to be what is comtary state. It brings to light every deficiency, monly understood by a professional life. Tynand reveals our truest needs. And therefore dall says that if Faraday had chosen to emit seems to me a matter for regret that you ploy his talents in analytical chemistry he should pass your existence in irresponsible might have realized a fortune of 150,0001. privacy, and not have your attainments Now that would have been a professional extested by the exigencies of some professional istence; but the career which Faraday chose career. The discipline which such a career (happily for science) was not professional, but affords, and which no private resolution can intellectual. The distinction between the ever adequately replace, may be all that is professional and the intellectual lives is perwanting to your development
fectly clear in my own mind, and therefore I ought to be able to express it clearly. Let
me make the attempt. LETTER III.
The purpose of a profession, of a profession
pure and simple, is to turn knowledge and TO A YOUNG GENTLEMAN WHO WISHED TO DE- talent to pecuniary profit. On the other hand, VOTE HIMSELF TO LITERATURE AS A PROFES- the purpose of cultivated men, or men of gen
ius, who work in an unprofessional spirit, is Byron's vexation at the idea of poetry being considered a Vomcrease knowleuse, ormak
to increase knowledge, or make it more accuprofession-Buffon could not bear to be called a naturalist-Cuvier would not be called a Hellenist--Faraday's life not professional--The intellectual life frequently protected by professions outside of it-Professional work | tion is so clear and trenchant that most intelought to be plain business work-Michelet's account of lectual men, whose private fortunes are not the incubation of a book-Necessity for too great rapidity large, prefer to have a profession distinct of production in professional literature-It does not pay to do your best-Journalism and magazine-writing-Illustra
from their higher intellectual work, in order tion from a sister art-Privilege of an author to be allowed to secure the perfect independence of the lat. to write little.
ter. Mr. Smiles, in his valuable book on Do you remember how put out Byron was “Character," gives'a list of eminent intellectwhen some reviewer spoke of Wordsworth as lual men who have pursued real professional