Page images

purely natural and rational connexion between the two. On the contrary, we must affirm that as in the case of religion the whole world is full of a spiritual Presence which the human mind can, and does, recognise as a fact, so in the case of morals the whole arrangements and adaptations of nature have a necessary and intelligible tendency to reward those who consciously obey her spiritual as well as her material laws. Nor can we admit for a moment that in this great adjustment the individual is forgotten, and some abstract conception, called 'society,' is alone regarded. We protest against all those dualistic dogmas which cut up the system under which we live not only into separate but into antagonistic parts, at variance with our reason, and to which we can only be reconciled by passive submission to a 'super'natural' rule which we can never recognise as rational, just, or righteous.

Once more, we find the same curious welding of incongruous ideas in the opposition which Mr. Kidd offers to socialism as well as to secularism and utilitarianism. He denounces the remedies suggested by the socialists for the evils of society as not only vain and useless, but as destructive of the very mainspring of all human progress, and as leading directly to decay and death. The shutting out of competition, the fending off as by some ring-fence of all the stress and strain of men striving to excel each other, he regards as the deliberate exclusion of the one only cause which can produce improvement. But here again he is willing to sacrifice the individual life to the evolution of what he conceives to be society. It is the natural and constant and ruthless rejection of all the weaker members that constitutes in his philosophy the only process by which advance can be secured. The idea of an organism so constituted that the welfare and co-operation of all its parts does in itself cause and make the welfare of the whole-this idea is foreign to his theory, and, as we have seen, he deliberately rejects it. In the same spirit he adopts language respecting the evils of our existing society, and indeed of all past societies, which is in harmony with the extremest railings of socialists against the prevailing condition of mankind. He admits moreover, and it is an essential part of his system to recognise, the innate and inborn inequalities of individual men, out of which-unless freedom is to be suppressedinequalities of condition must inevitably flow as a natural and necessary consequence. Yet he emphasises, most truly, the great influence which Christianity has had in establishing

[ocr errors]

in the world the supreme value and importance of the individual soul and mind. On the other hand, he speaks favourably of that passion for equality which is the animating spirit of socialism, and which logically infers that the only possible way to secure it is to suppress that individual freedom which works through competition and ceaseless rivalry to that system of natural rejection which Mr. Kidd loves so much. He does, indeed, also put forward as a legitimate and natural aspiration that the arrangements and conscious policy of society should be so directed as to secure to all individuals what he calls an equality of opportunity.' This doctrine seems to us to be either very good sense, or nonsense, according to the meaning given to the word opportunity. That in all civilised societies all individuals should be equal before the law-equally free to use their faculties in the circumstances in which each man is placed-this is a doctrine well established. But that the external circumstances in which all men are placed-and out of which opportunities generally arise-can be equalised, this seems to be an impossibility in the very nature of things. Mr. Kidd's favourite law of natural rejection has been too long at work in the world to allow such equality of all external conditions to be even conceivable, and even if such equality of purely external conditions were conceivable and possible, it would not constitute an equality of opportunity, for the simple reason that opportunity does not consist in such conditions alone. Outward circumstances, which constitute a splendid opportunity to a virtuous and clever man, constitute no opportunity at all to a vicious or to a stupid man. Mr. Kidd himself admits that the internal equipments of the individual man are all-powerful elements in opportunity. And therefore he mentions equality in education as the just demand of all men. But we all know that what is called education, which is instruction in acquired knowledge, cannot in itself constitute any equality of opportunity. The tools placed in the hands of two men may be the same. But if the brains and the eye to use them are totally unequal, the results must be as unequal as the widest disparities in the world. Yet the renewal, and indeed the aggravation of that internecine strife which constitutes the one great agency of natural rejection, is the only hope which Mr. Kidd suggests as the final causes of social evolution. Men so close together as to be outwardly indistinguishable are for ever to compete against each other with inborn inequalities of unseen gifts and powers, which

will continue for ever to kill off all the weaker members in the interests of some distant future.

We see no help for the difficulties of the world in this philosophy considered as a whole. But we are deeply indebted to Mr. Kidd for not a few of its separate parts. We cannot put the pieces together into any consistent, or even into any coherent, system. But there is much that is most valuable in his argument for religion against secularism—in his argument for an independent morality against utilitarianism-in his argument for individual freedom against socialism. Above all we thank him for the testimony he gives to the influence which Christianity alone has had among the religions of the world, in breathing into human society the redeeming influences of charity, benevolence, and love. This pre-eminence in results can only be due to a corresponding pre-eminence in revealing objective truth. We forgive him for the conventional cover which he deems it necessary to throw over these old and familiar ideas by adopting the modern jargon of calling them altruism. Above all we thank him for that conception of Christianity which points to the personal life and teaching of Christ as the seat and centre of all power. We have been of necessity compelled to dwell chiefly on those other parts of his book from which we differ profoundly, and we are not sure that we have done full justice to all its separate parts. But with this reservewhich we make with sincere anxiety--we must record our opinion against Mr. Kidd's view of social evolution as one which is essentially crude, unsatisfactory, ill-digested, and in many ways open to the most serious objection as dangerous and deceptive.

ART. IX.-Speech delivered at Edinburgh on March 10, 1894, by the Right Hon. the Earl of Rosebery, K.G., First Lord of the Treasury.


N Saturday, March 3, Mr. Gladstone resigned the office of First Lord of the Treasury. That this act was not due to the causes which ordinarily produce the fall of Ministries, and that Mr. Gladstone has an almost unexampled record as regards length of public service, have rendered the event not a little pathetic. Even if there had been no decline of the late Prime Minister's physical powers, the country could not but have been touched by the thought that it was witnessing the last scene of the last act of a great and memorable drama. The knowledge that the ground of Mr. Gladstone's resignation is the failure of his eyesight added a touch which appealed to every man and woman in the nation. Foes felt as keenly as friends the pitifulness of the event. A veil of mist across an old man's eyes had shaken a powerful and historic party to the centre, and dethroned its leader in the plenitude of his influence and authority. As long as mortal minds are moved by the inexorable march of destiny, as long as men feel the sense of tears in mortal things,' so long will such an event as Mr. Gladstone's resignation call forth a profound emotion among those who have brains to understand and hearts to feel.

That portion of the Liberal party which agrees with the scheme of public policy consistently advocated in these pages may regret that Mr. Gladstone's political career did not close when he first intended, and when he wrote as he did in 1874:

I see no public advantage in my continuing as the leader of the Liberal party, and at the age of sixty-five, and after forty-two years of a laborious public life, I think myself entitled to retire on the present opportunity. This retirement is dictated to me by personal views as to the best method of spending the closing years of my life.'

They will not, however, make this a reason for withholding their tribute of respect and sympathy on the present occasion. We may regret that the last nine years of Mr. Gladstone's public life were devoted to what we dare not describe except as unpatriotic ends, but this does not make us forget that in the previous portion of his career he did the State some service.' The ill cannot blot out the good, especially as in the ill he was unsuccessful. The people of England have a very tenacious memory of the past services of a veteran

statesman, and a very short one of his errors and failures. Too often statesmen in retirement have found it difficult, nay impossible, to discover topics of sufficient interest to occupy their minds. Mr. Gladstone should suffer from no such vacuity. His devotion to classical literature may occasionally have been as reckless as were his incursions into the realms of theological disquisition, but he will at any rate be able to find in the Iliad or in the Odes of Horace a real and not a formal subject of relaxation. These studies will provide a peaceful occupation for his thoughts, and from Mr. Gladstone's example future statesmen may learn the wisdom of maintaining an open and receptive mind. Those who, like Mr. Gladstone, remain alive to the movements of letters, of historical study, and of theological argument, may leave the conduct of public affairs without regret. They know that they carry with them the priceless consolations of literature and learning.

Though the time has not yet come for fully analysing Mr. Gladstone's career-that time must be separated from the present by a very considerable period-it may be profitable to use this opportunity for noticing some of the characteristics of the statesman whose public life is ended. In doing this we shall make no attempt to hide or to gloze over what seem to us Mr. Gladstone's defects as a politician. As long as animus and malignity are banished from the delineation it is both right and necessary that Mr. Gladstone's deeds and attitude of mind should be dealt with frankly and openly. His faults were not only faults to which party politicians are peculiarly liable, but were committed so cleverly and were covered so successfully that they tempt towards imitation with almost resistless force. The latter part of his life is a school in which may be studied to perfection the capital arts of the party politician; the art of making changes of front which are, in his own words, 'sudden and precipitate, or systematically timed and tuned to the interests of personal advancement,' appear either natural and inevitable or else merely developements of the former attitude; the art of combining inconsistent schemes under some vague and rhetorical formula; the art of inducing several independent and semi-hostile groups to agree in rolling each other's legislative logs; the art of saying one thing and meaning another; the art of confusing the public mind with phrases, and of weakening the public conscience by feeding it on empty abstractions and impertinent platitudes. It is a disagreeable task to write thus of Mr.

« PreviousContinue »