Typos p. xii: chapers [= chapters]; p. xiii: sciology [= sociology]; p. xvi: Federly [= Federley]
A Text Book for Tories
Anthony M. Ludovici
Constable & Company Ltd.
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To the Loving Memory of my Mother
Who until her Death Remained My
Chief Inspirer and Friend
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Preface to first edition
In view of the deep discontent prevailing in the modern world, and of the increasing unhappiness of all classes in Western Europe, it is no longer possible to turn a deaf ear even to the Socialist's plea for a hearing, and thousands of the possessing classes who, prompted by their self-preservative instinct alone, still retort that Socialism is an impossible and romantic Utopia, are beginning to wonder secretly in their innermost hearts whether, after all, this "vulgar" and "proletarian" remedy is not perhaps the only true and practical solution of modern difficulties. Having no other solution to offer, they are beginning to ask themselves, in private, whether this may not be the best way of extricating modern humanity from the tangle of exploitation and privilege, oppression and luxurious hedonism, in which they the top-dogs seem to be, but accidentally, the favoured few. In their
Now, in the present work, I outline the terms of a reply to Socialism and Democracy which I venture to hope is deeper than that usually made by their opponents. I offer a solution which I believe to be more fundamental, more consonant with the passions and foibles of human nature, more practical, and above all more vital and full of promise for the future, than anything Socialism or Democracy does and can bring forward.
I have entered exhaustively neither into the Democratic nor into the Socialistic solution of modern evils, but have confined myself closely to the statement of the true aristocrat's position, leaving the reader to see how fundamentally such a statement upsets the claims of both of the other parties.
Thus the book is not merely an argument in defence of true aristocracy; for, to all thinking men, who know it needs no defence, such an argument alone would be simply platitudinous. It is, in addition, an attempt at showing wherein hitherto the principles of a true Aristocracy have been misunderstood by the very aristocrats themselves, and that more than half the criticism directed against the Aristocratic principle to-day no more applies to a true Aristocracy than it does to the man in the moon.
I have called attention to a political and historical fact which too many writers appear to have overlooked: the fact that all political struggles, and all the fluctuations of fortune which have attended the history of aristocracies, have not consisted actually of a struggle between the principle of aristocracy and a better, nobler. and more desirable principle, which by its superior virtues has supplanted the former, but of a struggle between the principle of aristocracy and its representatives, or, in other words, of Aristocracy versus the Aristocrats.
My conclusion that Aristocracy means Life and that
The two chapters devoted to Charles I and the Puritan Rebellion, respectively, may seem to some a little irrelevant in a book of this nature; but when it is remembered that I needed a convincing example of the divergence of bad taste from good taste, and that this particular divergence of bad taste from good represents the most imposing instance of the kind which the history of England records so much so, indeed, that the act of murder committed in 1649 may be regarded as a decisive turning-point in the fortunes of the English people, and a choice of roads which has undoubtedly led to all the evils concerning the origin of which most of us are now consciously or unconsciously inquiring this excursion into the records of the past, and particularly into the records of the seventeenth century, will perhaps appear more justified and indispensable.
I do not claim to have adduced all the evidence possible for the support of my thesis most of it, probably, I do not even know but if I have succeeded in providing at least a stimulating introduction to the point of view taken in these pages, I shall feel that this is not altogether a superfluous book, or one that can be lightly set aside and ignored. For it is mot as if the subject of Aristocracy had been discussed ad nauseam by a large galaxy of able writers. A glance at the Subject Catalogue of the London Library alone shows how inadequately it has been treated compared with the long list of books which deal with the opposing principle of Democracy. There are in all only nine books mentioned under the heading Aristocracy in
1 The above, together with all the chapters that follow, was written at least a year before even the most prophetic amongst us could have had any premonition of the Great European War. Almost since the very beginning of the war I have been on active service, and not a line of the book has been altered. With regard to the relevancy of the work at the present juncture I feel that the message my book conveys has by no means been rendered superfluous by recent events. On the contrary, the fluid state that the beliefs, the hopes and the aspirations of the nation are likely to be in at the end of this long trial, allow me to hope that a work marking out so sharp and definite a point of view may not be altogether ineffectual in helping, however slightly, to mould and direct opinion, once we shall have begun to think of other things than submarines and Zeppelins.
British Expeditionary Force,
France, April 1915.
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Preface to second edition
The seventeen eventful years that have elapsed since A DEFENCE OF ARISTOCRACY was first published, with all they have brought in the way of radical change, disaster and unpleasant surprises, have, strange as it may seem, introduced us to nothing that has invalidated the principles and conclusions composing the message of this book.
On the contrary, hardly an event or a development has occurred, whether at home or abroad, which has not confirmed me in the position I adopted over twenty years ago, when I first sat down to write it.
In regard to those principles of politics and sociology which I had from the very inception of this work considered as eternally true, this result of the intervening years has, of course, not surprised me. Although in 1912, 1913 and 1914, the air was full of ideas, beliefs and strivings which were incompatible with my main thesis, which even made it seem fantastic to my contemporaries, and which ultimately led to their regarding the Great War as a fight "to make the world safe for democracy," events have wholly borne out what I then claimed that while from the standpoint of national affairs Aristocracy is the principle of life, Democracy is and cannot help being the principle of disintegration and decay.
The weekly journal which in 1915 (in fact, throughout the War) went under the name of LAND AND WATER, had a large circulation in France and was eagerly read by the officers of our Army because of its excellent accounts of the state on all Fronts. Now a copy of this journal, containing a review of A DEFENCE OF ARISTOCRACY happened to come into the hands of my Colonel, and I
As a contrast to this, I may mention that the same type of man has repeatedly asked me since the War how I could have written such a book as this before the War before, that is to say, this Age, our present Age, with all the lessons it has taught us, could possibly have been known to us.
But this confirmation of principles which, for over a quarter of a century, I have regarded as eternal, has not surprised me. Where, however, I do confess to feeling some unexpected satisfaction is in regard to those problems of genetics and anthropology which are involved in the hereditary principle arid in the practice of close in-breeding. When I planned Chapters VII and VIII, I drew regarding these problems certain extreme conclusions, which were far from being upheld by the science of the time, but which were pressed upon me by my invincible faith in those traditional beliefs and practices of past civilizations which have achieved greatness.
It was only natural, therefore, that I should have written these chapers with some trepidation. Because although I felt safe regarding the source of my convictions, and felt that the mistake science too often makes is to promulgate its findings before it has made sure that they are on all fours with such traditional beliefs and practices, I was not unaware of the immense power and prestige that science now enjoys, or of the risk that is therefore incurred in opposing it.
The first fourteen years of the twentieth century, the period in which the Liberals and Radicals scored their greatest triumphs and, by borrowing the feathers of Fabianism, secured themselves a long spell of power, was
Everybody was speaking with enthusiasm of the immense power of environment, and of the negligible importance of heredity. Everybody who was anybody in politics or sciology was more or less convinced that it was environment that created the chief differences between men, and that to make all men equal it was only necessary to introduce equal conditions for all from birth upwards.
Politics, particularly the romantic tradition in politics, represented by Liberalism and Fabianism 1, eagerly took up the cry, and the rest of the world believed it and were prepared to pay for it. Everything was done, millions were spent, and are still being spent, in the attempt to realise precisely this end the equalisation of living conditions so that everybody could be either a Goethe or a Darwin. And although the principle was a flat denial of all that the great civilizations of the past had practised, although it was a reversal of their traditional beliefs in blood, lineage, and family; because it was not condemned by an authoritative fiat from the science of the day, it was regarded as inviolable and, above all, self-evident. Charity, legislation, and all those who were grateful to hear that the undesirability of their own persons could be ascribed to environmental conditions and not to any congenital taint, began a regular orgy of environmental reform. A change of pots and a dressing of phosphates and lime were expected to make figs grow on thistles. One or two exceptionally benighted scientists, influenced by the feminist movement, even argued that the characteristic mental and emotional nature of women was due more to their environment as children than to their constitution.
Heredity was proclaimed a superstition and inherited
1 For an explanation of the romantic roots of Liberalism and Fabianism see my DEFENCE OF CONSERVATISM (Faber and Gwyer, 1927). Chapter II.
This is not the conclusion of a few here and there, but the unanimous opinion of all responsible investigators.
Much work has been done in biology in the seventeen years that have elapsed since this book was first published. Elaborate investigations and experiments have been carried out, particularly with "identical" and "fraternal" twins a line of investigation originally suggested by Galton with the result that the body of authoritative scientific opinion is entirely on the side of the old aristocratic belief in the paramount importance of good blood, good stock, good lineage, in the production of a desirable human being 1.
"Nature withstands the impress of nurture to a remarkable degree," says Dr. F. A. E. Crew, the eminent biologist. "The same kind and degree of education, this word being used in its broadest sense, do not tend to produce equality among individuals exposed to them on the contrary, they emphasize the initial dissimilarity. Men are not born free and equal, but unequal and
1 See for instance RACIAL HYGIENE by D. J. B. Rice (Macmillan and Co., New York, 1929), pp. 11 and 16. See also HUMAN HEREDITY (translated by Eden and Cedar Paul, from the German by Drs. Erwin Bauer, Eugen Fischer and Fritz Lenz. George Allen and Unwin, London, 1931), p. 41; and, above all, ORGANIC INHERITANCE IN MAN by the great biological authority Dr. F. A. E. Crew (Oliver and Boyd, 1927), pp. 3, 4, 111; and N. D. M. Hirsch's study on TWINS (Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Mass., 1930), pp. 49, 147.
Nobody who reads my DEFENCE OF ARISTOCRACY with care can possibly conclude that I have not done full justice to the importance of environment. In emphasizing, as I do, the much greater importance of heredity, I was, scientifically speaking, ahead of my time, and it is, therefore, all the more gratifying to find this recent authoritative confirmation, not only of the standpoint adopted in this work, but also of the traditional beliefs and practices of all past great civilizations, upon which I had chiefly relied for my authority.
Turning now to the second very important contention in my book that in regard to in-breeding here again seventeen years of hard work in the biological field have certainly not led to results which have shaken my views; and, had I but possessed these results when I wrote Chapters VII and VIII, I should have been able to make out, if not a stronger, at least a more authoritative case from the standpoint of orthodox science.
At the time when I wrote about in-breeding, the opinion of all ill-informed people, supported by theological prejudice and by the unconscious bias of scientists, was distinctly against the policy of close in-breeding, although professional breeders never ceased to practice it with our domesticated animals. Even the incompetence of our aristocracy, and of some of the Royal Houses of Europe of that day, was popularly supposed to be due to the alleged "evil" results of too close consanguinity.
Now, however, we know that all that is claimed for in-breeding in Chapter VII of this book, was not only entirely justified, but was also stated much too moderately.
It has now been clearly shown that Charles Darwin with his supposed indispensability of crossing, and such investigators as Crampe, Ritzema-Bos, Weismann
1 Op. cit., p. 3.
"Consanguinity itself," says Dr. Crew, "is no bar to mating. If in-breeding results in disappointment, all that has happened is that that which previously was hidden in a heterozygous stock has now been brought to the surface. In-breeding is only disastrous if the ingredients of disaster are already in the stock. In-breeding will purify a stock but the process may be most expensive." 4
As these authoritative and recent conclusions of science abundantly confirm all the conclusions arrived at in the two most important chapters in this book, I saw no reason to make any alterations in them, and, in studying them, the reader may rest assured that, far from expressing extreme views on heredity and in-breeding, as they seemed to do in 1915, they now represent a moderate statement of.scientific fact.
This is all the more gratifying seeing that when they were written, as I have already said, I had to rely chiefly
1 See DAS INZUCHT PROBLEM (Berlin 1927), p. 9, and Crew, Op. cit., p. 94.
2 Op. cit., p. 153.
3 See Rice, Op. cit., pp. 154156. See also Federley, Op. cit., p. 136.
4 Op. cit., p. 97.
With regard to the rest of the book, I have not felt induced by any criticism I have received to make any substantial alterations of the original text. There seemed to be no need to bring the House of Lords statistics up to date, for instance; because, as I am obviously concerned with principles and not with history as such, and in the intervening years nothing has happened to modify the conclusions I originally drew, it did not matter whether the statistics covered the whole period to the present day, or only a part of it.
This book, therefore, I venture to hope, remains essentially up to date, nor in view of the eternal nature of its principles could it well be otherwise. For those of us who have never swerved from our faith in blood and tradition, hardly required a man of science, even as eminent as Dr. J. B. Rice, to assure us that "an aristocracy of blood is eternally right because it is natural." 1
London, Dec., 1932.
1 Op. cit., p. 328.
The Aristocrat as the Essential Ruler
It is not my intention in this essay to support any particular aristocracy or aristocrat. I wish merely to throw what light I can upon the principle of aristocracy itself. Often I shall seem as hostile to aristocracies in particular as the most confirmed Radical; albeit, wherever I reveal any abhorrent vice in an individual aristocracy it will be with the object rather of demonstrating how unessential and unnecessary that vice is to the true principle of aristocracy than of stirring up ill-feeling to no purpose.
When one contends that the hereditary principle, as one of the essential conditions of an aristocracy, is a good principle, it is a common thing to hear people reply by calling attention to the number of instances in which it has hopelessly failed. They say, "Look at the Bourbons, the Spanish Hapsburgs, the Braganzas, the House of Osman, the later Stuarts!" Perhaps the reader will follow me and attempt to bear with me for a while, if I preface all my remarks by saying that while I shall make no endeavour to vindicate either the Bourbons, the Spanish
I decline to abandon a principle simply because the attempts which have been made to realise it hitherto by most European nations have failed hopelessly. If a principle can be shown to be a good one, then, whatever stigma attaches to it, owing to European failures to approximate to all it can yield, surely reflects more discredit upon those who have shown themselves unequal to it than upon the principle itself.
Moreover, in this question, as in all others, there is a wrong view and a right view. It is not merely a "matter of opinion." That which is merely a "matter of opinion" as people are wont to say when they want to wash their hands of a thing, or to shirk the responsibility of solving a definite problem in a definite way that, as I say, which is merely a "matter of opinion" does not matter at all. For those things which are merely a matter of opinion can be decided right away by every Tom, Dick and Harry over tea and scones at a cake-shop, and cannot, therefore, be of any consequence.
In all things that really matter, however, there can be but two opinions the right opinion and the wrong opinion. And on the question of aristocracy the individual point of view of the man in the street simply does not matter.
There is a right way of looking at the question and a wrong way; and to those who look at it in the wrong way that is to say, to those who are opposed to the principle of aristocracy, and who support the principle of democracy in its stead all that we who support the principle of aristocracy can say is: that people and nations who believe in and act on our principles will have a longer
Human life, like all other kinds of life, cannot be the sport of foolish ideals. However nice and pleasant it may sound to say that the brotherhood of mankind, in which every man has a voice in the direction of human affairs, is the state of bliss, we who support the aristocratic ideal know that that state is one of decay, of doubt, of muddle and of mistakes. Now man cannot doubt, cannot be muddled and cannot make mistakes with impunity. Sooner or later he has to pay for these luxurious fads, by losses in the physique and the term of life of his nation.
Look about you now! Observe the myriads of ugly, plain and asymmetrical faces in our streets; observe the illness and the botchedness about you! Note, too, the innumerable societies founded in all the corners of the British Empire, with the object of "reforming" some erroneous policy, or of redressing some grievance. Is it not clear to you, when you see all these things, that something is wrong, and that that something which is wrong cannot be made right by the same class of mind which has given rise to all the muddle and confusion? Is it not clear to you that the men who know, the men of taste and sound instinct, no longer have any say in human affairs?
The principle of aristocracy is, that seeing that human life, like any other kind of life, produces some flourishing and some less flourishing, some fortunate and some less fortunate specimens; in order that flourishing, full and fortunate life may be prolonged, multiplied and, if possible, enhanced on earth, the wants of flourishing life, its optimum of conditions, must be made known and authoritatively imposed upon men by its representatives. Who are its representatives? The fanatics and followers of Science are not its representatives, for their taste is too indefinite; it is often pronounced too late to be of any good and it is not reached by an instinctive bodily impulse, but by long empirical research which often comes
If one's choice of ways and means, if one's taste, if one's wants, therefore, are such that when they become general wants and general tastes they lead to an ascent in the line of human life, then unconsciously one's body, which is a specimen of flourishing and fortunate life, is uttering the credo of flourishing and fortunate life. If, on the other hand, one's choice of ways and means, if one's tastes and wants are such that when they become general tastes and general wants they lead to a descent in the line of human life, then unconsciously one's body, which is a specimen of mediocre or impoverished life, is pronouncing the doctrine of decline and of Nemesis.
1 I do not use the word artist here to mean a painter or a musician or an actor. The word artist has been hopelessly vulgarised by the fact that a legion of inartistic painters, musicians and actors have used it as a designation of their ignoble class. By artist I mean a man of taste, a man who unhesitatingly knows what is right and what is wrong. Nowadays there are perhaps only two or three such men in every generation of painters, sculptors, musicians, writers, poets, legislators and actors.
What do those maintain who stand for the aristocratic principle? They simply hold a finger of warning up to their opponents and say, "Your foolish ideals will have a term; their end will come! You cannot with impunity turn a deaf ear to the voice of flourishing life. You must follow the men who know, the men of taste. If you do not your days are numbered. And the men who know, the men of taste, are simply those examples of flourishing. life, those lucky strokes of nature's dice, who, when in authority, lead to the multiplication of flourishing life and .an ascent in the line of life. No number of the mediocre or of the botched can hope to fill the place of one or of a few men of taste. Disbelieve in this principle and die. Believe in this principle and live to triumph over all those who do not believe in it!" l
This is not a "matter of opinion," it is not a matter concerning which every futile flâneur in Fleet Street can have his futile opinion. It is the Divine Truth of life. And the democrat who dares to deny it is not only a blind imbecile, he is not only a corrupt and sickly specimen of manhood, he is a rank blasphemer, whose hands are stained with the blood of his people's future.
1 The Chinaman, Ku Hung-Ming, in his wonderful little book. The Story of a Chinese Oxford Movement (Shanghai, 1910), knew this to be so when, speaking of what the Englishman would discover if he studied the Chinese more carefully, he wrote (p. 60): "In the Chinaman, he (the Englishman) would find Confucianism with 'its way of the superior man' which, little as the Englishman suspects, will one day change the social order and break up the civilisation of Europe." Why? Because the civilisation of Europe is not based upon "the way of the superior man."
For it is not only in the matter of establishing order that good government excels. This might be called the simple "craft" of governing. But it is also in that quality of directing choice, in directing the likes and dislikes of a people, in fact in that great virtue of setting a "good tone" in a nation, that good government distinguishes itself. For to the mediocre, to the less gifted among men, a thousand paths lie open, a thousand goals all beckoning and signing to man to go their way. Many of these paths lead to destruction, a goodly number of these goals mark out the horizon of decadence. Unless, therefore, the taste and judgment of flourishing life intervene, by means of the voice of the superior man, these roads acquire their travellers and these goals obtain their aspirants. It is there, then, that the virtue of that second quality of good rulership can operate that virtue which sets the tone of a people, gives it a criterion of choice, and guides its passions. And this second virtue of good rulership might be called the "tutorship" of governing, as opposed to the "craft" above mentioned.
It must be obvious that when no check, coming from "superior man," Intervenes between ordinary men and the false roads and false goals that lure them continually;
1 Annals of Tacitus, Book IV, cap. 33. Translation by Church and Brodribb (p. 128). "For it is but the few who have the foresight to distinguish right from wrong, or what is sound from what is hurtful, while most men learn wisdom from the fortunes of others."
I have said that these men of taste and sound judgment are few; hence the high esteem in which an intelligent and life-loving mediocrity will hold them. Hence, too, the honours with which such a mediocrity usually lures them to rulership. For though they, the superior men, may instinctively incline to government, they must find a willing medium for their art, i. e. a people able to recognise superiority when it appears, or a people whose moral values actually hold rulership up as the only duty of superiority.
"It is certain," says Bolingbroke, "that the obligations under which we lie to serve our country Increase in proportion to the ranks we hold, and the other circumstances of birth, fortune and situation that call us to this service; and above all, to the talents which God has given us to perform it." 2
In a sound organisation of society, then, superiority implies, as it always should, the power of undertaking responsibilities. "Superior talents, and superior rank amongst our fellow-creatures," says Bolingbroke, "whether acquired by birth or by the course of accidents, and the success of our own industry, are noble prerogatives. Shall he who possesses them repine at the obligation they lay him under, of passing his whole life in the noblest occupation of which human nature is capable? To what higher station, to what greater glory can a mortal aspire than to be, during the whole course
1 Leviathan, Chapter XXIX.
2 On the Study of History (Davies, 1779), pp. 156157.
Thus superiority is inseparable from our idea of the ruler; because the ruler is essentially a protector, and only where men see or experience superiority do they always see and experience protection. Superior power is and always has been the shelter of the weak. Superior strength is and always has been something to cling to; while superior knowledge is and always has been something awakening trust and confidence. It is the marked superiority of the adult in strength, knowledge and power that first captivates and makes a voluntary slave of the child. It is the marked, though momentary, superiority of the Alpine guide which makes the tourists in his charge like unto menials doing his bidding.
Without superiority protection is impossible; it is a pretence, a farce. But to benefit from superiority presupposes an attitude of obedience. Not only does one honour superiority by obeying it, but obedience is actually the only way of using superiority, or of profiting by it.
The obedience which is of value, which is fruitful and which is lasting, is of that kind which redounds in some way to the advantage of those who obey. Where it is simply the outcome of coercing without benefiting the subject, it not only tends to become sterile, but also stands always on the brink of revolt. Great ruling castes have never failed to understand this. No ruling caste, perhaps, ever made a greater number of bloodless and victorious invasions than the Incas of ancient Peru. Again and again the tribes whose territories they overran laid down their arms and submitted to their rule, overcome by the persuasion of their superiority alone. But in support of the contention that the Incas understood, as all great
1 On the Spirit of Patriotism (Davies, 1775), pp. 2021. Let me also recall Charles I's comment on the Petition of Right, just after he had granted it: "It is my maxim that the people's liberties strengthen the King's prerogative, and the King's prerogative is to defend the people's libertie."
The Inca, Huay na-Capac, having invaded the territory of a very savage and bestial people, discovered that they had neither covering for their bodies nor homes to live in; that they were addicted to homo-sexual practices, and that they were horribly disfigured by labial ornaments such as the Botocudos of Brazil were wont to wear. He concluded from their habits and their general aspect that they were quite incapable of improvement, far less, therefore, of civilisation; and, turning away from them in disgust, he observed, "Here are a people who do not deserve to obey us!" 1
I need not labour this point. No ruler who did not earnestly believe that obedience to his rule must be an advantage, and must remain an advantage, to those who obeyed him could have used such language. These words were perhaps the finest ever pronounced by a powerful, conquering people, in turning away from an inferior race which it lay in their power to oppress or to exterminate, if not to improve. That one sentence involves a whole cosmogony, very strange to our modern notions; but it also implies an understanding of the relationship of the obedient to the obeyed, which is no less strange to us of the twentieth century than it is likewise unquestionably profound and correct.
As Thomas Hobbes wisely said, "The end of obedience is protection, wheresoever a man seeth it, either in his own or in another's sword, nature applieth his obedience to it, and his endeavour to maintain it." 2
Thus to disobey is not only to dishonour, but to deny superiority. 3
1 L'évolution de l'éducation, by Ch. Letourneau, p. 209. The italics are mine. A. M. L.
2 Leviathan, Chapter XXI.
3 Ibid., Chapter X, "To obey is to honour, because no man obeys
Admitting, therefore, that the ability to appreciate superiority is to hand, all insurrections and rebellions, when they are internal troubles and do not arise from sedition introduced from outside by a rival power, are always questions of the heart. They are but rarely even economical in their nature. They are always a sign that rulers have lost their essential quality superiority that the "craft" and "tutorship" of governing are inadequately exercised, and that the ruled no longer admit the divine right of those above them. 1 For as Bolingbroke justly observes, "A divine right to govern ill is an absurdity: to assert it is blasphemy. A people may raise a bad prince to the throne; but a good king alone can derive his right to govern from God." 2
them whom they think have no power to help or hurt them. And consequently to disobey is to dishonour."
1 See Disraeli's Coningsby (Langdon Davies Edition), p. 290. "I think," said Sidonia, "that there is no error so vulgar as to believe that revolutions are occasioned by economical causes. They come in, doubtless, very often to precipitate a catastrophe, but rarely do they occasion one. I know no period, for example, when physical comfort was more diffused in England than in 1640. England had a moderate population, a very improved agriculture, a rich commerce; yet she was on the eve of the greatest and most violent changes that she has as yet experienced. . . . Admit it, the cause was not physical. The imagination of England rose against the Government. It proves that when that faculty is astir in a nation it will sacrifice even physical comfort to follow its impulses."
2 The Idea of a Patriot King (Davies, 1775), pp. 7879. See also Thomas Hobbes' Leviathan, Chapter XXI. "The obligation of subjects to the sovereign is understood to last as long, and no longer, than the power lasteth by which he is able to protect them." Here Hobbes does not even consider good or bad government, but simply "the power to protect," which, if failing, relieves the inferior of his attitude of subjection.
Are such men born to a nation? Do men who know what flourishing life wants, and who thus stand higher than their fellows men who are wise enough, strong enough and conscientious enough to undertake the appalling responsibility that ruling implies come into existence among ordinary mortals?
Most certainly they do. Every nation gets them. Not every nation, however, is wise enough to use them. It is true that they appear more frequently in ages of order and of long tradition than in ages of anarchy and constant change; because their very rule, which is a reflection of themselves, must, in order to be good, be the emanation of something square, symmetrical and harmonious. They themselves, therefore, must be something square, symmetrical and harmonious in body and spirit. But how is squareness in body and spirit, symmetry and harmony attained in one man? Only by long tradition, only by the long cultivation, through generations, of the same virtues, the same tastes and the same aversions; only by the steady and unremitting storing and garnering of strength, conscientiousness and honesty. It is only thus that a man can be produced who never hesitates between two alternatives, and whose "conscience" is the definite voice of his ancestors saying "yes" or "no," "we did like this," or "we did not do like this," every time he braces himself for action.
And that is why the true ruler, the true superior man, is always a beautiful man, according to the standard of beauty of his people. 1 Because regular features, strong
1 According to an early Peruvian legend, the first Incas who acquired a hold upon the uncivilised population of ancient Peru impressed and awed their subject people by their beauty. See Ch. Letourneau, L'évolution de l'éducation, p. 196.
He who doubts that this long tradition produces that beauty of body and grace of countenance and build which, when it expresses itself in the art of ruling or any other kind of art, must produce beauty, harmony and grace, contradicts not only one of the most fundamental beliefs of mankind, but also one of the most fundamental facts of science.
As early as the time of Mencius, one of the most noted of the followers of Confucius, this belief was already pronounced quite categorically, though unscientifically, as follows
"What belongs by his nature to the superior man are benevolence, righteousness, propriety and knowledge. These are rooted in his heart; their growth and manifestation are a mild harmony appearing in the countenance, a rich fulness in the back, and the character imparted by the four limbs. Those limbs understand to arrange themselves without being told." 1
And men like Dr. Reibmayr have since shown conclusively with what care and what scrupulous observance of traditional customs and rites the characteristic type of beauty of a race or a tribe, and therefore the superlative beauty of the superior individual in that race or tribe, are attained. 2
1 Chinese Classics, Vol. II, The Works of Mencius, Book VII, Chap. 21. The Jews also recognised this fact very early in their history. See the laws concerning the beauty of the body, or rather the faults of the body in regard to the ruling priesthood (Leviticus xxi. 1625), whilst there is an ancient Arab proverb which proves conclusively that the Arabs laid and still lay great store by the message that a face and body reveal. The proverb is: "When you do not know a man's parents look at his appearance."
2 See his Inzucht und Vermischung (Leipzig, 1897).
An ugly or repulsive aristocrat is, therefore, a contradiction in terms? Certainly!
What is the only creed that can be offended at such a doctrine? A creed that maintains not only that body and spirit are distinct, but also that the body is in any case ignoble, and that only a beautiful spirit can sanctify and justify a body, whether it be beautiful or botched.
But the definition of the true superior man or aristocrat which I gave at the beginning of the discussion that he was a fortunate stroke of nature's dice, a synopsis and digest of flourishing and full life precludes the very possibility of his being an ill-shaped or ugly man. It was, however, necessary to give a more detailed demonstration of the quality "beauty," as nowadays, strange as it may seem, the attitude I assume in this respect is not exactly taken for granted.
Now, in advancing the proposition that a community of men, whether numbering tens, or hundreds of thousands,
1 See Vol. II, Collected Essays, p. 387, "Personal Beauty." Schopenhauer, in his essay "Zur Physiognomlk" (Chapter XXIX of the second volume of the Parerga and Paralipomena), also upholds the doctrine of the fundamental agreement of body and spirit. See also p. 317 of this book (Chapter VII).
Nobody, however, would cavil at the idea of all government being carried on with the consent of the people. Of course, the people must watch that they are well governed. The very condition of rule by Divine Right, as I have stated above, involves this proviso. And aristocracies who imagine that they can rule hedonistically and egotistically without the consent of the people are bound to fail and to be swept away.
In regard to this matter, it is surely a significant fact that such very profound, though vastly different, thinkers as the Chinaman Mencius and the Italian St. Thomas Aquinas 2 thinkers separated from each other not only by centuries of time, but also by thousands of leagues of territory should both have conceded the right of revolution to a badly ruled people. Mencius, that wise follower of Confucius, in addition to justifying regicide in the case of an unjust sovereign, 3 stated as a principle that "if the
1 Representative Government, Chapter V. "Instead of the function of governing, for which it is so radically unfit, the proper office of a representative assembly is to watch and control the government; to throw the light of publicity on its acts; to compel a full exposition and justification of all of them which any one considers questionable, to censure them if found condemnable, and, if men who compose the government abuse their trust, or fulfil it in a manner which conflicts with the deliberate sense of the nation, to expel them from office, and either expressly or virtually appoint their successors."
2 See Burckhardt, Die Kultur der Renaissance in Italien (10th Ed.), Vol. I, p. 6.
3 See The Chinese Classics (translated by James Legge, D.D.), Vol. II, Book I, Part II, Chap. 8.
I wish to lay no stress, therefore, upon the contention that government should be carried on by the few that seems to be generally accepted by the consensus of intelligent thinkers on this matter. I only wish to emphasise the point that the few who do govern should be of the stamp that I have described above.
Only on that condition can government be successful; for, as I have said, there is not only a "craft," but also a "tutorship," of governing.
I am, therefore, concerned to show that whoever these few may be to whom the government of a nation is entrusted, they should be able not only to manage the practical business of public affairs, but also to direct, inspire and animate the hearts and imagination of the people. The very fact that here in England we already hear some people ignorant and materialistic enough to clamour for a government of merely business men, and that no very great alarm or panic has been caused by the suggestion, shows how very far we have departed from the wise economy that never forgets that there is a "tutorship" as well as a "craft" of governing.
Since men are born unequal, and natural distinctions between them as regards nobility, strength, beauty, size, intelligence and elevation of spirit are undeniable, the wisest régime is the one in which these distinctions are not ignored or overlooked, but exploited, placed, used and turned to the best advantage. Admitting that some must and can rule, there will be others who will have to supply the community with the material needs of life, others who will be the servants of these, and so on, until that labourer is reached whose capacities fit him only for the plough or the spade. If, however, the society is to benefit from the rule of the superior man with taste and judgment, a certain spiritual tendency will have to be
1 Chinese Classics, Book IV, Chap. 3.
"With fear and trembling," said Confucius, "take care of the heart of the people: that is the root of the matter in education that is the highest education."
And who can supply this furniture of the heart who can direct and guide mere industry, if not the man of higher judgment, i. e. of good taste, who sets, as it were, "the tone" of his people?
In his Story of a Chinese Oxford Movement the Chinaman Ku Hung-Ming 2 says: "In a healthy and normal state of society in China, the nation has to depend first upon the power of industry of the people or working class to produce food and other necessary commodities for the national well-being. The nation has next to depend upon the power of intelligence of the Chinese literati to train, educate and regulate the power of industry of the people, and properly to distribute the product of that industry. Lastly, and most important of all, the nation has to depend upon the nobility of character of the Manchu Aristocracy
1 See Thomas Hobbes' Leviathan (Chapter XXIX). "Though nothing can be immortal which mortals make, yet, if men had the use of reason they pretend to, their commonwealth might be secured at least from perishing from internal disease. For by the nature of their institutions they are designed to live as long as mankind or as the laws of nature, or as justice itself which gives them life. Therefore, when they come to be dissolved, not by external violence but by intestine disorder, the fault is not in men, as they are the 'matter,' but as they are the 'makers' and orderers of men."
2 p. 4.
Hence it seems to be an essential part of the highest utility in a nation that there should be some members of it who stand much higher than the rest, and who can give a meaning and a direction to their inferiors' manual or mental labour. Thus, even admitting that the essential and most difficult task of general legislation has been already satisfactorily accomplished by an artist legislator, I maintain that those who continue the work must be cultured, tasteful and artistic men; otherwise that very humanity which insists upon the man bearing the hardest material burden of the community, being materially content and spiritually well-nourished, will be violated and spurned, to the glory of the Devil and of the Dragon of Anarchy.
But that flourishing life in body and spirit which is the sine qua non of the superior man, of the artist ruler, is not bred by struggle, manual labour, strenuous bodily exertions and the neglect of spiritual pursuits. The man who possesses this endowment of superlative vitality in body and spirit will be very largely dependent, as his
What they will not take for granted, however, will be his pains about their heart, if he really does take pains in this matter. This presupposes a divine element in him that all men do not possess it is the element which distinguishes the true ruler from that other kind of governor who is efficient only in the business or "craft" of ruling.
It would seem a perfectly natural thing that the ruler who was very much in earnest about the craft and the tutorship of his calling could not possibly be a very happy man, as people understand such a creature nowadays. The ordinary pleasures of common human life would, by virtue of his very office and of his vast knowledge, fall rather short of his concept of what constituted happiness. He would have to be content with the secret toys that attend the artist at his work that is the utmost
The fact that this concern about the contentedness and comfort of the man who does the rough work of the State constitutes an important part of that sense of responsibility which all true rulers must feel, finds an excellent formula in one of my favourite anecdotes about Napoleon.
It is given by Emerson in his essay Napoleon, or the Man of the World, and is as follows: "When walking with Mrs. Balcombe, some servants carrying heavy boxes passed on the road, and Mrs. Balcombe desired them, in rather an angry tone, to keep back. Napoleon interfered, saying, 'Respect the burden, madam!'"
"Respect the burden!" This is what all noble and successful rulers have done. A less noble nature, a nature unfitted for the task of ruling, such, for instance, as the
1 See Madame de Rémusat's Mémoires, Vol. I, p. 101. Speaking of Napoleon she says: "La gravité était le fond de son caractère; non celle qui vient de la noblesse et de la dignité des habitudes, mais celle que donne la profondeur des méditations. Dans sa jeunesse it était viveur; plus tard il devint triste . . ." See also Bolingbroke, On the Spirit of Patriotism (Davies, 1775), pp. 56. Speaking of the two kinds of men, the Vulgar and the Few, Bolingbroke says: "The latter come into the world, or at least continue in it after the effects of surprise and inexperience are over, like men who are sent on more important errands. They observe with distinction, they admire with knowledge. They may indulge themselves in pleasure; but as their industry is not employed about trifles, so their amusements are not made the business of their lives."
"More than forty years ago, a party of six young Englishmen went out for an excursion in the country in the neighbourhood of one of the Treaty Ports [of China]. They were entirely ignorant of Chinese etiquette and custom, and while walking along one of the narrow paths at the side of a paddy field they met an old man carrying a load, whom they thought very rudely insisted on the path being given up to him and his burden, until he had passed with it. They. pushed him .out of the way, and struck him with their sticks for his rudeness, entirely unaware that they were the offenders, and gross offenders too. The path being narrow and there being no room for the encumbered and unencumbered to pass at the same time, the Chinese, with commendable common sense, allow the burden-bearer in such cases the right of way, while the unencumbered, who can easily step off the way, do so. . . . The villagers, indignant at the insult, rose, took the young Englishmen into custody, and avenged their wrongs by putting them to death, after some days of imprisonment." 1
In my opinion, of course, the execution of these six Englishmen was entirely justified. Why? Because they had sinned against a divine precept. Those representatives of flourishing life, Confucius and Napoleon, had taught independently that the burden must be respected. 2 This, then, was a law of flourishing life itself. To flout the
1 Things Chinese, by J. Dyer Ball, pp. 253254.
2 Petrarch is another good instance of a profound thinker who was no less exacting in the demands he made upon the wise ruler. Addressing his patron, the Lord of Padua, he said: "Thou must not be the master but the father of thy subjects, and must love them as thy children; yea, as members of thy body." See Burckhardt, op. cit., p. 9.
The Chinese burden-bearer was accustomed to live in a country where some true ruler spirit was rife; he, therefore, felt justified in enforcing that principle of flourishing life which reads "Respect the burden." The Englishmen, on the other hand, came from a country where puling sentimental charity towards the burden-bearer went hand in hand with brutal exploitation of him. They were, therefore, dangerous; the blood of millions of burden-bearers was already on their hands before they touched that Chinese workman, and it was right that they should be slaughtered like blasphemers.
The light that the moral of these two anecdotes throws upon the downfall of the aristocracies in Europe is very interesting indeed. The omission to "respect the burden" is a violation not only of the "craft," but also of the "tutorship," of governing.
And what is there that is not included under the head of "respect the burden"? 1 How many problems, socio-
1 Many instances could be given of Napoleon's unswerving adherence to this principle, and, in his Memoirs to serve for the History of Napoleon I the Baron de Ménéval (English translation) gives two interesting anecdotes, which, though not important in themselves, reveal the consistency of Napoleon's ruler instincts. The first, on p. 126, is as follows: "M. Amédee Jaubert, who had been General Bonaparte's interpreter
Indeed, if rulers take their task to heart, the mere "craft" of governing, apart from the "tutorship" of governing, is enough to tax the energies of the greatest, and to make them pay very, very dearly for the privilege of being at the head of the social pyramid.
There seems to be very convincing evidence to show that the commercial aristocracy of Venice approximated very nearly to the ideal rule of the best. 2 It consisted of men of great taste, courage, honour and intelligence, of men who could be, and were, both rigorous and kind. "Care of the people, in peace as well as in war," says Burckhardt, "was characteristic of this government, and
[in the Egyptian campaign], said that one day seeing the General returning from the trenches, harassed with fatigue and dying with thirst, he had told him that a Christian had just brought a skin of wine as a present, and that Bonaparte ordered it to be immediately carried to the ambulance." The second (pp. 127128) tells how Napoleon, during his sojourn in Cairo, arranged for a military band to play various national airs "every day at noon, on the squares opposite the hospitals," to "inspire the sick with gaiety, and recall to their memory the most beautiful moments of their past campaigns." And here is Meneval's comment on the anecdote: "This mark of interest given to poor sick men, to unhappy wounded soldiers, sad and discouraged at the thought of their distant homes, reveals a delicate attention, a maternal solicitude, as Comte d'Orsay expressed it, and that provident goodness which was the basis of Napoleon's character" See also the Duke of Rovigo's Memoirs, which is full of instances of Napoleon's generous good-nature where his inferiors or dependants were concerned.
1 See note on p. 19.
2 Interesting confirmation of this view is given by E. A. Freeman in his Comparative Politics, p. 266.
If a race, or a nation, or a people be blessed with a few such rulers, then its security, comfort and heart will be in safe keeping. And not only will the industry of the people reward the ruler and make him great and powerful, but their character, which is the most important of all, by becoming an approximation to the type dictated by the voice of flourishing life, will constitute a sound and stable basis upon which an almost permanent creation may be built by the aristocrat if he chooses.
And the converse of this condition gives the exact formula of decadence and degeneration. For what are decadence and degeneration? Decadence and degeneration are states in a nation's career in which it has forgotten the precepts and values of flourishing life, and in which the voice of flourishing life can no longer make itself heard in its midst. Why, then, are England, France, Germany and almost the whole of Europe decadent to-day? Because for many hundreds of years now the precepts and principles of flourishing life have been neglected, forgotten and even scorned in the Western world. Decadence means practically that the voice of flourishing life has been silenced, that the true aristocrat is dethroned or no longer bred.
You must not, however, suppose that in a decadent or degenerate State the people, the masses, are guided by no taste, by no values. Because nothing could be more plain to-day than the fact that they are so guided or prompted.
1 Op. cit., p. 67.
With Guicciardini, Disraeli also realised the importance of this matter of the heart and character of a nation, and in Coningsby we read: "A political institution is a machine; the motive power is in the national character with that it rests whether the machine will benefit society, or destroy it." 1
Thus all attempts at ruling a people on purely materialistic lines all attempts at exploiting their industry without tending their heart, their imagination and their character must and do invariably fail. A people that is going to flourish must be taught a certain fastidiousness in the manner in which it works and spends the fruit of its labour; 2 it must be given a sound taste for discerning good from bad, that which is beneficial from that which is harmful, and healthy, vital conduct from sick, degenerate conduct. I do not mean that they must have that spontaneous and unerring taste which is the possession of nature's "lucky strokes" the incarnations of full and flourishing life who are the true aristocrats; but I mean that they should have a taste founded on likes and dislikes, points of view and opinions, acquired from a higher,
1 Langdon Davies Edition, p. 290.
2 See Ku Hung-Ming, The Story of a Chinese Oxford Moment, pp. 13 and 14: "When the power of industry of a people in a community or nation is nobly directed and not wasted, then the community or nation is truly rich, not in money or possession of big ugly houses, but rich in the health of the body and beauty of the soul of the people. . . . For without these things which Goethe calls the beautiful, there is no nobility of character, and without nobility of character, as we have seen, the power of industry of the people in a nation will be wasted in ignoble and wasteful consumption."
It is for this reason that I believe that the factor which has largely contributed to the downfall of the European aristocracies has been the relegation of the care of the people's character to a body distinct from and often hostile to the actual governors. 2 For apart from the fact that the credo of this independent body, the Church, happens to be hostile to sharp distinctions between man and man, and irrespective of the undoubted truth that to it all men, whether aristocrats or plebeians, have always appeared more or less as equals, or at least as subordinates who, when the interests of the Church were at stake, might, if necessary, be treated as a mass without distinctions of rank, there is this feature in the influence of the Church which should not be forgotten: it robbed the rulers of that active exercise of the "tutorship" of governing by which the people, as we have seen, lay such great store, and which is the most potent medium for binding a people and their rulers together. Because, as Hobbes says, "Benefits oblige, and obligation is thraldom, and unrequitable obligation perpetual thraldom." 3 And no benefit is more unrequitable than that gift to the heart which makes a man conscious of a higher purpose and aim in life than the mere material round of everyday existence. The idea of an ecclesiastical body ministering to the spiritual wants of the people is not, however, necessarily anti aristocratic in itself, for the Church might have been conducted and controlled absolutely by the aristocracy, as it was in Venice in the hey-day of her power. It is the fact that it was not so controlled by the majority of aristocracies that proved harmful to them, and Machiavelli
1 Leviathan, Chapter XVIII.
2 See Palgrave's History of the Anglo-Saxons, where the Church is shown to have been "the corner-stone of English liberty."
3 Leviathan, Chapter XI.
But the relation of the ecclesiastical body to the people in Europe had another and perhaps still more deleterious influence, though, maybe, it was more indirect than the first. For by undertaking independently to minister to the hearts of the people, not for a national or racial purpose, but for a purpose that lay beyond races and nations, it not only undermined the jealous love of race and nationality which we find so constructive a force in the Greeks of the seventh and sixth centuries B.C., but also gradually divorced the very idea of aristocracy from that noble duty of caring for the hearts of the masses, which was the very task that gave all the gravity and higher responsibility to the calling of the ruler aristocrat. By doing this, it destroyed in part his conscientiousness and his earnestness, and left him only the "craft" or business of governing, which, as I have pointed out, is much more often taken for granted by a people, even when it is done with the most consummate skill, than that more delicate and artistic duty of firing their imaginations and filling their hearts, which constitutes the divine element of rulership.
"I say it seems to me," says Bolingbroke, 2 "that the Author of nature has thought fit to mingle from time to time, among the societies of men, a few, and but a few of those, on whom He is graciously pleased to bestow a larger proportion of the ethereal spirit than is given in the ordinary course of His providence to the sons of men. These are they who engross almost the whole reason of the species, who are born to instruct, to guide and to preserve; who are designed to be the tutors and the guardians of human kind. When they prove such, they exhibit to us example of the highest virtue and the truest piety; and they deserve to have their festivals kept,
1 See his reply to Cardinal Rouen in Chapter III of The Prince.
2 On the Spirit of Patriotism (Davies, 1775), p. 2.
And now, apart from the broad and general advantages to which I have already referred, what other real and lasting benefits does human society derive from these divine missionaries sent direct from flourishing life who occasionally descend among us, as Bolingbroke says, and who are much more deserving of a place in the Calendar than all the neurotic, exasperated and bitter saints who now figure there?
By the order and stability they establish, by their instinctive avoidance of those by-paths which lead to degeneration, and their deliberate choice of those highways leading to the ascent of their fellows, they give rise to everything which is of value on earth and which makes life a boon instead of a bane.
Beauty, Art, Will, Conscience and Spiritual Strength to face and to endure even the inevitable pangs and pains of a full life nay, the very willingness to embrace them, because they are known to have a vital purpose these are some of the things that can be reared by long tradition and careful discipline alone, and these are some of the things that depend for their existence on the aristocratic rule. For real Beauty is impossible without regular and stable living, lasting over generations; real Art is impossible without surplus health and energy, the outcome of generations of careful storing and garnering of vital forces, and without that direction and purpose which the supreme artist the tasteful legislator alone can give to the minor
For all these things to be reared, even for the unbroken tradition, on which these things depend, to be established, there must, however, be great stability and permanence in the institutions of a race or a people, and it is the direction of flourishing life, alone, speaking through her representatives, that can reveal the good taste and the good judgment necessary for the preservation of such stability and permanence. For stability and permanence are desired only when beauty is present. When, therefore, we see things constantly changing, as they are to-day, when every day brings a new custom and a new curse, we may feel sure not only that the voice of the real ruler is silent in our midst, but that life is growing conscious of her ugliness. For, like a beautiful woman looking into a mirror, a people who have once achieved beauty, real beauty, and caught a glimpse of this beauty in all the departments of their social life, must cry for permanence rather than change, stability rather than flux. It is only then that change is the most dreaded catastrophe of all;
But there is one more problem, and a very important one, which finds its best solution in the rule, not of all men by their equals, but of the mass of men by the aristocrat as I have attempted to sketch him in the preceding pages.
In all civilised human communities there have been and always will be a certain number of menial offices that some have to perform for others offices which do not necessarily debase, but which may on occasion humiliate. It is, therefore, clear that in order that even the menial office may seem to have a sheen of gold upon it, the personality for whom it is performed must be such as to glorify it and transfigure it in the eyes of the servant. It is not only foolish, it is actually brutal to lose sight of this fact. Look into yourselves and inquire when it is that you feel humiliated by the performance of menial offices. You know perfectly well that for some people you perform them quite cheerfully, willingly; for others you resolutely decline to do so. What makes the difference in your attitude? It is useless to point to the menial office itself, for we can imagine that as remaining the same for all cases. What is it, then, that effects the change in your attitude? Obviously it is the quality of the person for whom the menial office is performed.
When men exist, therefore, whose characters and achievements shed a glamour upon everything that surrounds them, no duty they can impose upon their immediate entourage, no effort they can demand of it, whether it be the bearing of children or the building of a pyramid, can be felt as a humiliation or as an act of oppression. And it is only in such conditions that menial offices are