Typos p. 36: millenium [= millennium]
The English Aristocrat as a Failure in the Art of Protecting and Guiding the Ruled
The House of Lords has been deprived of much of its power. In the summer of 1911 it stood against the wall and emptied almost all its pockets on demand. With remarkable meekness it even assisted its opponents in fleecing it of its legitimate rights.
It is hard to picture a group of English schoolboys, however unnerved, however out-numbered, yielding passively, without showing fight, to a general raid on their pockets, especially if one or two neutral mates were looking on. And yet we have seen a group of English peers perform this unsporting feat before the eyes of an assembled nation and of the whole world! B. M. S., in the National Review for October 1911, spoke of it as "the extraordinary act of cowardice and folly committed in the House of Lords on August the 10th"; 1 but the fact that he ascribed the responsibility of the act to bad leaders, and to Mr. Balfour in particular, does not in the least exonerate the Peers themselves from all blame in regard to the wretched business.
The passing of the Parliament Act was indeed a bloodless revolution of the most fundamental kind. Examine it for an instant in the fierce light which, as Lord Willoughby de Broke pointed out, 2 a certain able writer in
1 Article: "The Champion Scuttler," p. 214.
2 National Review, "The Tory Tradition," p. 208.
The said writer declared
"In 1909 we had a House of Lords which we regarded as part of the bedrock of our constitution and its impregnable bulwark, whereas all the time it never rested on any more stable basis than this, that a Radical leader had only to come into office, to bring in a Bill for its abolition, to call upon the Crown to create Peers, and there was an end of its existence. So that, so far from being founded upon rock, it was not even founded upon sand, it was established upon straw."
It was all very well for Lord Willoughby de Broke to say that "the repeal of the Parliament Act . . . is the first duty of the Unionist Party when returned to power," 1 but, as B. M. S. in the same number of the journal rightly observed: "How can the Parliament Bill be repealed when all the machinery of the official Unionist organisation was utilised to induce certain renegade Unionist Peers to vote for it? Repeal in such circumstances will only add infamy to infamy." 2
Nor did Lord Willoughby de Broke entirely clear matters up when he spoke of the destruction of the House of Lords "as part of the class war that a certain type of Radical has waged for many generations," 3 or of the Radicals themselves as having "the whole field of bribery and corruption and class hatred that we (the Tories) cannot touch." 4
The best thing the noble Lord did say in his vigorous though to my mind somewhat shallow article, was that Tories should "drink copiously at the fount of Bolingbroke, Pitt and Beaconsfield." 5 In this sentence he really shows that he means business, and that he is vaguely
1 Op. cit., p. 208.
2 Op. cit., p. 215.
3 Op. cit., p. 202.
4 Op. cit., p. 210.
5 Op. cit., p. 208. The inclusion of Pitt, however, makes me feel doubtful whether the writer really knew anything about the matter.
For, in my opinion, it is inconceivable that a body of men could ever have been induced to connive, even for the purpose of strategy, in depriving themselves of a great and solemn right or privilege, unless a good deal of doubt had prevailed in their own minds concerning the sanctity and unassailability of that right or privilege.
It is true that, when the fell deed was about to be accomplished, a considerable amount of indignation and revolt was to be observed in the ranks of the Unionist Peerage; but the amputating operation was performed notwithstanding, and in a trice we all realised that the aristocrats that is to say, the hereditary rulers of the country the body of men who might have created a position for themselves so secure and so popular that nothing could have shaken it, had been given a smart congé, an unmistakable "Your services are no longer required!" and had been deprived of their full share in the determination of the nation's destiny.
Instinctively they must have felt that they did not deserve to keep the faith of those beneath them, otherwise, as I say, it is inconceivable that they should have shown no fight. They would have preferred to die, as Charles I did, rather than to relinquish an iota of their power, if they had really felt that they were ruling by Divine Right."
The problem which naturally confronts you, when you examine the event in detail is, how did the Lords grow sufficiently weak and doubtful of their superiority, sufficiently disliked and devoid of advocates among the people, to fall such an easy prey to the opposing party? This problem is neither so deep, nor so difficult as it would appear at first sight. If you have eyes to see, you can solve it by walking over Arundel Castle one summer's afternoon; you can solve it by reading the lives of the poets, the great prose-writers, painters, sculptors,
But however you may solve it, whatever your diagnosis may be, your conclusion is sure to be wrong, if, in company with the most stupid among the Tones, you set out with the assumption that class-hatred or class-envy was the starting-point of the recent attack on the Lords. For even supposing we acknowledge that Mr. Lloyd George has been unwarrantably bitter in a number of his speeches, does any reasonable man think that these speeches would have been of any avail if they had been pronounced among a people devoted to their rulers, and conscious of innumerable debts of gratitude to them? Does any one suppose that Mr. Lloyd George's eloquence could ever have succeeded in turning a loving child against its parents? The whole of human experience and human history denies this possibility.
Rulers who maintain their superiority and who make themselves indispensable to, and loved by, the community they rule, or whose beneficent power is so directly felt by the society over which they preside that there can be no doubt as to their value, stand almost quite immune from so-called class-hatred and class-envy; and even if such class-hatred and class-envy do exist among a small minority and lead to conspiracies, these can be treated very lightly. 1 Such rulers are just as immune as the good father from hatred or envy, and against them demagogues and revolutionary agitators can rant and rave to all eternity without succeeding in making a single convert. Rivals may arise against such rulers; but, generally speaking, in healthy communities, a subject movement to depose them cannot.
Now, looking at the present condition of England and
1 See Machiavelli, The Prince, Chapter XIX. "I consider a prince right to reckon conspiracies of little account when his people hold him in esteem."
We find a huge population of about forty millions, of which at least two-thirds are dissatisfied and resentful, and suffering from what might be termed genuine fear of what the future may bring; of which at least a third are either semi-sick or seriously sick, and of which at least a ninth are constantly on the threshold of starvation and unemployment. Labour troubles are not by any means the only signs which reveal the restless discontent of the subject masses to day. These troubles among the workers do indeed show that there is something very seriously wrong; but does not the vast number of reform movements and organisations from the Salvation Army to the Women's Suffrage societies prove the same thing? If for the moment we leave the spiritual side, alone, of the Salvation Army out of our reckoning, what can we possibly think of a community in which even the material and practical work of an independent and unofficial organisation such as the Salvation Army, can be urgently needed and readily employed in order to supplement the care which the true rulers should take of their subjects? For it cannot be repeated too often, or too emphatically, that the only possible justification of the non-labouring, non-productive class, lies in their efficient discharge of the duty of protecting and guiding the labouring and productive masses. Any aristocracy that denies this principle is rightly doomed.
In the space of two centuries life in England has grown so complicated, and unrestricted competition in the field of modern capitalistic enterprise has shown that it can grind so many workers down to the level of characterless, spiritless and dependent paupers, that the question which presses continually for an answer is, What has been done by the rulers of the State to regulate, to guide, and pari passu to weigh, the value of each item in the incessant inrush of industrial and commercial innovations, and to guard against their evils for the present and the future?
There is but one answer to this question Nobody!
According to the doctrine of experience which is sacrosanct in England and all countries like her, it would even have been considered sheer impudence on the part of any thinker to have prophesied, when, for instance, the machine began to show signs of mastering labour, that such and such a state of things would be the result of the innovation. 1
The whole of the newspaper-reading middle-classes of the British Isles would have cried indignantly, "What is this man saying? Who can tell what the machine's mastery over men may lead to? Possibly the millenium! This thinker is not speaking from experience, how can he tell?"
According to the doctrine of experience one may wait for a whole nation to go stark raving mad before one arrests a development which has not yet been tested by time!
And these people who possess no imagination, no knowledge of true social laws or of human nature, were able to look on with equanimity while the official rulers of England did nothing to guide or direct the tremendous movement, industrial and commercial, of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, with its accompanying accumulation of vast urban populations; simply because, like their rulers, they were not people of culture, but creatures reared behind the shop-counter.
There was, however, some excuse for the ignorant middle classes, upper and lower, if they were able to look on unalarmed at the appalling inrush of ill-considered innovations, especially during the nineteenth century. At
1 One of the few thinkers who did oppose machinery almost from its inception, the spirited William Cobbett, was regarded by those in power as an impudent upstart.
But there was absolutely no excuse for the aristocrats. They had a good many of the things which rendered men fit to grapple with problems sprouting up all about them. Moreover, they were once in a position when their word, if they had shown that it was prompted by a "respect for the burden," would have been listened to with interest and reverence. What happened?
They not only neglected the "craft" of governing, which as I have said is more often than not taken for granted by the subjects of a nation, even when they are well governed; but they also scouted the responsibility of the "tutorship" of governing. The character and spirit of the nation were allowed to rot from sheer neglect, or to be ministered to independently by ignorant subject minds (in no way representative of flourishing life), in the form of unguided religious maniacs and incompetent busybodies.
Foolishly, almost blindly, most of the rulers by birth in the British Isles actually regarded themselves merely as plutocrats whose peculiar privileges sent them by God implied no arduous duties, no responsibilities, and no cares beyond those of consolidating their position and rendering it as easy and as pleasurable as possible.
It should, of course, be remembered in this respect that about one half of the existing peerages were created in the nineteenth century, and for three hundred years at least the peers of the realm have been largely recruited
But this obligation is all the more binding upon large landowners, seeing that in times past the very condition of land-tenure involved certain duties that could not be neglected with impunity. "The essence of the Feudal polity was that of protector and protected." 1 As Rogers says: "The English landowner of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries did two things for the savage tenant. He guaranteed the King's peace, that is to say the continuity of the farmer's industry free from the risks of brigandage, and he taught him, by his own example and practice, the best system of agriculture which the age could develop." 2 Thus there was no suggestion of that unlimited possession without return or without proportionate protection or compensation to those not in possession, which is characteristic of the position of many of the landowners and plutocrats of the present day. On the contrary, as the same author argues, "It cannot be doubted,
1 Annals of the British Peasantry, by R. M. Garnier, p. 116.
2 See The Industrial and Commercial History of England, by James E. Thorold Rogers, p. 208.
When, however, the large private owner of land, accustomed to the conditions of agricultural tenants, suddenly found himself in the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries the possessor of extensive urban property, he seems to have regarded the changed condition as absolving him altogether from the ordinary duties of ownership, and there seems to have been no attempt on the part of the legislature to outline in any way a return in duty and protection to the urban tenant equivalent to that which was expected from the mediæval landowner. Thus, in the light of this aspect alone, the Parliament Bill of 1911 might well be regarded simply as a belated expression of revolt, on the part of urban populations, against powerful proprietors who had never done anything to justify their position of power over the industrial, commercial and in any case non-agricultural tenants on their estates. They did not even regard it as their incontrovertible duty to apply their thought assiduously to the solution of urban problems or to the guidance and direction of urban tendencies.
The rise of modern capitalism, therefore, with all its cruel lust of gain at all costs, not only met with no check from the legislature, as it had done in earlier Tudor and Stuart times; but it was left practically to perpetrate its worst crimes against the working proletariat under the very noses of the leisured classes, who had themselves degenerated into little more than sweaters and exploiters of labour upon the land. For, if the landowner omitted to perform his duties of protector among the city and town populations, which at least presented new problems, to how much greater a degree had he not already omitted to perform his duties of protector among the rural populations, where the problems were as old and older than his
1 Op cit., pp. 206207.
It takes a long time for such crimes to be realised by those whom they injure. In addition to the fact that the struggle for existence among the proletariat is sufficiently engrossing and preoccupying in itself, subject minds are much more likely, at first, to ascribe the evils about them to chance, to inexorable economic laws, to Providential punishments and to the inevitable scourges of civilisation, than to trace them to the rulers above. For it requires both knowledge and insight to trace a state of distress or oppression to its proper source. In time, however, the truth will out, and then it is discovered that all the benefits that these "superior" men have been deriving from their position of power have in no way recoiled to the advantage of the inferior, nor driven the former to a sense of the duties which they ought to perform in return.
Thus, happily, abuses cannot go on for ever, and as Mr. Arthur Ponsonby says, in a book which, though full of banalities and by no means profound, contains many a truth which Tories would do well to consider: ". . . the suspicion is growing that our aristocratic model is deteriorating, that our patricians are inadequately performing the duties which fall to them, that they are by no means alive to their responsibilities, and that democracy demands a higher level of trained, well-informed and, if necessary, specialised capacity in the agents which are required to perform its work. There is an increasing impatience against the existence of a class that merely vegetates, lives off the fat of the land, and squanders, according to their whim and fancy, the wealth that others have toiled to create." 1
I shall not refer to the obvious and direct crimes of exploitation, robbery and oppression which have been committed in the past by exalted and powerful ruling families, and which it could be easily shown have contributed greatly towards undermining that trust and faith
1 The Decline of Aristocracy, by Arthur Ponsonby, M.P. (1912).
Neither shall I refer to individuals. Everybody knows that there are men in the English, Scotch and Irish peerage, who, like those six Englishmen whom I mentioned in the preceding chapter, no more deserve to be put at the head of affairs than a party of South Sea Islanders; and who, by their sins of omission and commission against their dependents have forfeited all right to our respect. But I do not wish to revive bitter memories; though I am quite ready, if challenged, to provide the proof of my contention.
The reason why I condemn these men in a body with warmth and indignation is simply because I regard the evils which they have brought about as in no way essential to an aristocratic régime, and because the slur they have thus cast upon a divine institution is all the more difficult to forgive.
For many years now vast changes have been coming over our world. Thanks to the influence of modern capitalistic enterprise and mechanical science, together with the kind of industrialism and commercialism to which they have given birth, new relations have cropped up between man and man; new occupations, some of which are most deleterious both to limb and to character, have been introduced; new ways of living and of spending leisure have been created, new portions of the community have been
Dr. Cunningham says, "In 1770 there was no Black Country, blighted by the conjunction of coal and iron trades; there were no canals, no railways and no factory towns with their masses of population. The differentiation of town and country had not been carried nearly so far as it is to-day. All the familiar features of our modern life and all its pressing problems have come to the front with the last century and a quarter." 1
This is very true; but it must not be supposed that the general exodus from the country into the towns was quite so recent in its origin. For hundreds of years there had been a steady flow on the part of the rural population to the urban centres, and it is impossible to separate this steady flow altogether from a certain dissatisfaction on the part of the peasantry with their lot. The number of measures passed during the Middle Ages to make it difficult for the peasant to take up his abode in the town shows that the evil of depopulating the country districts was recognised; but it is a significant fact that the legislation to remedy the evil consisted rather in increasing the constraints upon the peasantry, than in alleviating their lot. 2 Even as early as 1381 Wat Tyler's rising proves that there was already great discontent among the rural labourers; while Jack Cade's rising in Kent in 1450, the Lincolnshire rising in 1538, and Kett's in Norfolk in 1549, 3 furnish further evidence of the same nature. When
1 The Growth of English Industry and Commerce, Vol. III, p. 613.
2 See, for instance, the Statute 7 of Henry IV, cap. 17.
3 Among Kett's demands there was this significant clause: "That no landlord be allowed to keep Hocks and herds for purposes of trade, but merely for the use of his own household." Annals of the British Peasantry, p. 104.
Still, as Dr. Cunningham says, at the end of the first half of the eighteenth century, "the differentiation of town and country had not been carried nearly so far as it is to-day." It was effectively completed, however, between 1760 and 1845, when vast numbers of the rural population were dispossessed and herded like sheep into the slums of great towns. And how was this ultimately accomplished? "The misery of the poor," says Thorold Rogers, "was the deliberate act of the legislature, of the Justice's assessments, of the enclosures, the appropriation of commons, and the determination, as Mr. Mill has said, on the part of the landowners to appropriate everything, even the air we breathe, if it could only be brought about." 3
In the interval between 1770 and the. present day huge factories have been erected and vast armies of workers drawn within their gates. With the increasing growth of
1 See, for instance, the Statute of Labourers, Edward III (1349), 12 Richard II (1388), 4 Henry V, cap. 4 (1416), 6 Henry VI, cap. 3 (1423), 23 Henry VI, cap. 12 (1443), 11 Henry VII, cap. 2, 6 Henry VIII, cap. 3.
2 See A History of the English Poor Law, Vol. I, p. 82.
3 Op. cit., pp. 5455.
The economists' bodiless and abstract concepts Capital and Labour are no longer virtually, they are actually the only two classes of the community. "Capital," which has taken the place of the old master owner, has become merely a vague concept to the workman; and "Labour," which has taken the place of the old servant workman who was
1 "In 1834 we transported to Van Diemen's Land six Dorsetshire labourers for forming a Trades Union." Annals of the British Peasantry, p. 417.
And now let me put and answer a few questions
(1) How many of the hereditary rulers of the country, who had the leisure to meditate upon the problems to which all these innovations gave rise, and who had the opportunity for acquiring the knowledge and the insight for dealing with these problems, have attempted pari passu to take up, weigh and judge each change as it came about?
To this question I shall reply simply in the words of Mr. Arthur Ponsonby, because I deem them substantially correct and susceptible of proof. Mr. Ponsonby says: "To take only the last 300 years, we find the gradual and profound social and economic changes hardly touched the aristocracy in their sheltered position, and passed almost unnoticed by them. Their castle in the sand served their purpose perfectly, and was, in truth, solid enough so long as the tide was far enough out." 1
(2) How many of the hereditary rulers have attempted to face the question of capitalistic enterprise and mechanical science and the kind of Industrialism and commercialism to which they have given birth, and to guard against their possible evils?
The answer to this question is obvious. Capitalistic enterprise and mechanical science, together with the kind of industrialism and commercialism to which they have given rise, still flourish in our midst, and nobody in a
1 The Decline of Aristocracy, p. 30.
"No authoritative attempt," says Dr. Cunningham, "was made to recast the existing regulations so as to suit the changing conditions. . . . In the absence of any enforcement of the old restrictions, in regard to the hours and terms of employment, the difficulties of the transition were intensified; and the labourers, who had never been subjected to such misery under the old régime, agitated for a thorough enforcement of the Elizabethan laws. The working classes, for the most part, took their stand on the opinions as to industrial policy which had been traditional in this country, and were embodied in existing legislation. To the demand of the capitalist for perfect freedom for industrial progress, the labourers were inclined to reply by taking an attitude of impracticable conservatism." 1
But the workman's true protector, the real ruler, who cares for the "heart of the people" and who respects the burden-bearer, was no more. The little of him that had ever existed in England had been successfully exterminated, and the cruel capitalistic cry of "laissez-faire" rose like a threat of exploitation, worse than death, throughout the land.
The very formation of the Trades Unions by workmen, as a means of protecting themselves against the exploitation of capitalists and the undue influence of unrestricted competition, shows how necessary it seemed to the indus-
1 Op. cit., Vol. III, p. 613.
Maybe the problem has now grown so formidable that the possibility of its solution seems beyond the powers of a single generation of thinkers. This, however, does not exonerate those who watched its growth from infancy upwards from all blame in allowing it to attain such unwieldy proportions. Not only the hereditary rulers, therefore, but the political economists of the last century as well, have shown a lack of taste and of fine feeling, the evil results of which are now recoiling upon the nation as a whole in the form of ugliness, vulgarity, squalor and ill-health in every department of its life. Labour troubles can be adjusted, patched up temporarily, and slurred over for a while; but labour troubles will continue until the root of this inhuman system of separation, isolation and so-called independence is eradicated.
Obedience on the part of labour necessarily implies protection on the part of capital. But where labour and capital are both phantoms to each other, where they have only the relationship of cash, where the faith of labour in the protective capacities of capital has been broken by barbarous cruelties in the past, and inhuman practices in
If all these evils, all this lack of warm human relationship and responsibility, are inseparable from capitalistic enterprise, then capitalistic enterprise must be wrong, in bad taste and contrary to the dictates of flourishing life. For it is not as if we had had no examples of a contrary tendency. I might almost say that I am at fault in maintaining that the change from the comparatively happy conditions of workmen during the Middle Ages, the Tudors and the early Stuarts 1 was blindly allowed to instal itself, without inquisition or protest. There was inquisition and there was protest. Machinery and capitalistic enterprise could never have conquered us if a large and influential portion of the nation had not shown a deliberate preference for, and pronounced taste in favour of, the innovation. Not that I mean to imply that capitalism and the machine, properly controlled and delimited, would
1 See Dr. Cunningham, op. cit., Vol. I, p. 552. "In our time the wealthy capitalist has been spoken of by men of the Manchester School with great enthusiasm as if he were a sort of national benefactor; in Tudor days he was regarded with grave suspicion." See also Vol. II, pp. 50, 9394, 170, for particulars concerning the same attitude on the part of the Stuarts.
The rule of the machine, or of a system of commerce and industry such as the one termed capitalistic, does not come from Heaven. It is not a visitation of Providence. If it comes at all, if it prevails at all, its ultimate triumph must be due to a deliberate act of taste and judgment on the part of some portion of the nation. The contention that it would have been in the interest of all concerned, and particularly of the landed aristocracy, to resist the ultimate complete triumph of the vulgar tradesman's taste, I for one heartily uphold; and when I look around me to-day and see the ugliness and appalling squalor of. our large cities, when I realise that the growing mass of useless dregs in the population, the growing unsavouriness and repulsiveness of mankind, are almost entirely the outcome of a change which is barely 150 years old, I cannot help thinking that those of the governing classes who allowed this change to come about showed a lack of fine feeling and of good judgment, for which they deserve to perish in the general Nemesis which threatens to overtake all societies that allow themselves to become the victims of the engineer's, the shopkeeper's and the stupid person's democratic mind.
The best instincts of the Tudors and the Stuarts were against this transformation of England from a garden into a slum, from "Merrie England" into a home of canting, snivelling, egotistical, greedy and unscrupulous plutocrats, standing upon a human foundation of half-besotted slaves. The best instincts, too, of the British workman were against the change, 1 and although I do not know of the theory ever having been advanced before from an authoritative source, I have gone sufficiently into this question
1 See Dr. Cunningham, op. cit., Vol. III, p. 611.
For many years the more vulgar and grasping portions of the community had made attempt after attempt to alter the quality and quantity of English industries, but had found in the Tudors and the Stuarts an insuperable barrier to their contemptible schemes. Edward IV and Elizabeth had prohibited the introduction of so-called time and labour saving engines, and James I and Charles I had been equally active in this respect. If all the peers of that day had also been tasteful and thoughtful, and had supported their sovereigns' policy, instead of indolently allowing matters to take their course, the triumph of modern trade and of the machine might have been successfully averted.
It was only after the vulgarest and most grasping of the nation had been driven to desperation by Charles I's constant interference with trade for the benefit of the consumer that things finally assumed a threatening aspect. For the wrath of a thwarted shopman bent on robbing at all costs is mightier than all the political or
1 I say "capitalistic" advisedly here, because the triumph of the machine and the increased expensiveness which it introduced in plant, make machinery and the capitalistic system almost inseparable associates.
In a subsequent chapter I shall attempt to throw some light upon this conception of the so-called Civil War; meanwhile, suffice it to say that all the squalor, all the ugliness and all the vulgarity from the sight of which the tasteful people of this nation are suffering at the present day were baptised Puritan and Nonconformist in the blood of the Cavaliers sacrificed on the battlefields of the Grand Rebellion. This was the last stand the old world of taste, consideration and quality made against the new world of vulgarity, unscrupulousness and quantity; and the part that religion played in the ultimate triumph of the baser instincts is one of the most interesting chapters in the history of pious frauds. 1
(3) How many of the hereditary rulers have examined new occupations in order, if they were bad, to be able to pronounce a veto upon their introduction? Or investigated the new kind of life and leisure among the masses to tell whether it was good or bad?
In reply to this question, it may be said that, with the exception of the seventh Earl of Shaftesbury (himself inspired by that noble Tory gentleman, Mr. Michael Thomas Sadler), and later on that other friend of factory legislation, Lord John Russell, not one of the hereditary rulers have ever troubled to examine pari passu, as they appeared, all the new occupations flung by unscrupulous inventors and industrials upon the working classes of England. And even the reforms that Shaftesbury instituted were so terribly belated not owing to his fault, of course that thousands were maimed, crippled and killed before the evils which he discovered were suppressed. 2
1 See Chapter IV.
2 With the exception of the regulations against truck, the wisdom of which, according to Mr. Russell M. Garnier (op. cit., pp. 415416) was somewhat doubtful, there was no protection for the miner before 1842, and before 1814 it was not even customary to hold an inquest on miners killed in mines!
(4) How many of the hereditary rulers, when women, girls and children began to be drawn into the mines and factories of England, paused to ask themselves what effect this would have upon the growing generation and the mothers of life in the masses? How many inquired into the effects that the innovation would have on the homes of the masses and therefore on the nursery of the character of the people?
To this question I can only answer violently, because any moderation in discussing such a topic would mean that I was not only a callous barbarian, but also that I took merely an academic interest in these questions. I have told you the tale of the six young Englishmen who were killed by the Chinese villagers for having overlooked the fundamental ruler principle, "Respect the burden!" But I wonder what punishment a party of Chinamen would have meted out to the savage criminals who, towards the end of the eighteenth and throughout the first three decades of the nineteenth century, were at the head of the cotton mills and collieries of England? I wonder also what punishment a party of Chinamen would have meted out to the hereditary rulers of a country where such savage criminals were allowed to be born and bred and to practise their atrocities? What with the besotted school of laissez-faire economists, the lazy indifference of the aristocracy, some of whom were drawing large profits both from the cotton mills and the collieries, and the natural unconcern of the Englishman who, with all those who are more or less like him on the Continent, has
It is impossible to exaggerate the brutal treatment that English industrial and commercial men dispensed to their dependents and helpers, or were allowed by their legislatures to dispense to their dependents and helpers, at the time to which I refer. A bald, impartial statement would exceed in horror anything that the imagination could picture, and the wonder is not that the trust of the lower classes in their "superiors" was not for ever broken in those days, but that the spirit of indignation kindled in their breasts did not lead to an implacable desire for vendetta, for revenge, which their progeny might have felt it their sacred duty to carry into effect. A nation that was able to melt into spinsterly tears during the first years of the nineteenth century over the negro slave-trade, a community which in 1824 had founded a Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, 1 and which in 1833 to 1834 had put an end to negro slavery, was yet able to endure within its midst a form of white slavery, the cruelties and horrors of which, practised as they were upon
1 It is characteristic of the delightfully negative attitude of the Englishman towards humanity that the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children was formed exactly sixty years after the foundation of the above mentioned organisation for the protection of beasts, birds and fishes; and that at the very time when, in the coal mines, unfortunate infants of six, seven and eight years of age were being made to drag trucks along narrow tunnels on all fours and half naked, the harnessing of dogs to carts was abolished in London (1839)! It is also characteristic of their dangerous and stupid policy of laissez-faire at home and of impudent interference abroad, that while the whole of the Black Country and of the cotton mill districts were the scenes of abuses unparalleled in the history of any other nation, Robert Morrison, of the London Missionary Society, smugly went to China to spread Christianity among the "heathens," and reached Canton in the year 1807 China, the country where we could have learnt at least a few of the principles and precepts of flourishing life!
1 See Edwin Hodder's The Seventh Earl of Shaftesbury, K.G. (1897), p. 21. "Any one who studies the question of the deep misery of the English poor which commenced after the Peace of Paris, increased to an alarming degree after the Reform Act, and attained its maximum daring the first years of the present reign [Queen Victoria] will find ample confirmation in general literature, in the pages of fiction, in poetry and, above all, in the cold, hard statistics of Blue Books, as to the state of women and children who worked in factories and mines, and whose condition was so appalling that it cried for legislation."
It is no answer to this charge against the industrial abuses in England to point to similar evils in other countries. For, apart from the fact that two blacks do not make a white, in the first place, these evils never attained to the same proportions either in France or in Germany as they did in England; and secondly, these two last-mentioned countries, which I happen to know very well, do not boast, as England invariably does, of humanity and of humanitarian principles. They are even compared by Englishmen themselves, unfavourably to England, precisely in this respect. And there is another consideration which must not be overlooked. England led in the industrial, commercial and mechanical world. She, therefore, set the example. As Dr. Cunningham says: "England was the pioneer of the application of mechanism to industry, and thus became the workshop of the world, so that other countries have been inspired by her example." 1
Moreover, in so far as the employment of women and children in collieries was concerned, England had under her very nose the constant example of a more humane and more considerate community the Irish. This was an advantage which other countries did not possess. The Irish, to their credit be it said, allowed neither children of tender years nor females of any age to be employed in underground operations.
But to show how inextricably sorrow and oppression are entangled with the English commercial man and his influence, let me refer you to the evils of the factory system in India at the present day, where apparently it is easier to evade the home laws. 2 Let me also refer you to
1 Op. cit., Vol. III, p. 609.
2 See the excellent work Art and Swadeshi, by that profound Indian writer Ananda R. Coomaraswamy, D.Sc. (p. 20), where, in speaking of the Indian factory system, and after having enumerated its abuses, he says: "It is not that we learn too much from foreign countries. We
But to return to the question under consideration, one might imagine that these early abuses in our industrial and mining centres lasted only for a decade that is to say, only for so long as it would take to call the attention of the whole nation to the facts. One might also imagine that, once the horrible conditions were revealed, they were immediately swept away by Act of Parliament. Nothing of the kind! It was a serious outbreak of fever in the cotton mills near Manchester which first drew widespread attention to the overwork and ill-treatment of children in factories in 1784; but it was not until 1833 that the first really important Factory Act was passed that is to say, therefore, only after the brutal and cowardly torture of helpless children had been knowingly tolerated for half a century. And even when, thanks to the devoted efforts of Mr. Michael Thomas Sadler, a Tory, and the subsequent untiring work of Lord Ashley, measures were taken to induce Parliament to pass urgently needed reforms, the representations of the agitators were met with the most bitter and most intolerant opposition. And it is interesting to note, en passant, that one of Lord Ashley's most determined opponents in the matter of the Factory Legislation was none other than that canting Nonconformist Liberal and democrat, enemy of capital punishment, church-rates and the Irish Established Church, John Bright the mill-owner, and the supporter of the Reform Bill of 1866. 1
I need hardly reply to the second part of question four.
learn too little. If we learnt more, we should not want to repeat the experiments in laissez-faire of early Victorian England."
1 Among Lord Ashley's other opponents were: Sir James Graham, Lord Brougham (who, by the by, had taken an active part in the abolition of negro slavery), Mr. Gladstone and Richard Cobden!
(5) How many of the hereditary rulers attempted to calculate the desirability or the reverse of the new type which was bound to be developed among the new and unwieldy urban masses?
In reply to this question, we all know what has happened. Nothing has happened! It is only just recently, with the formation of the Eugenic Society inspired and organised by commoners that the question has arisen as to whether the type that is being bred by modern industrial and commercial conditions is a desirable or even promising one. It is only just recently since, that is to say, Darwin's Evolutionary Hypothesis awakened general interest in such questions as Heredity, Race and Survival that the grave question of Breeding under unfavourable conditions has so much as been mooted. Almost every one of the hereditary rulers, or people of power in the nation, watched with equanimity the gradual transformation of England from an agricultural and more or less home-industrial nation into a nation of giant cities and factories. (I say "or people of power" in this case
The subject of the depopulation of rural districts, its causes, and the grave consequences it involved for the spirit and health of the nation, is too vast to be entered into here in any detail. To any one who has studied the history of the English peasant not only in the Statutes of the Realm, but also in the works of such writers as Garnier, Rogers, Sir Frederick Eden, Sir George Nicholls and others, the long story will have seemed painful and tragic enough; But what must strike him with ever greater force, the more he reads, is the levity, the appalling frivolity, with which a life so healthy, so conducive to fine, manly courage, perseverance and spirit, and, in short, so fruitful in all the most desirable qualities that a nation could desire, should have been allowed to be forsaken by millions of the nations best people for a life which is known to lead in every respect to the reverse of these qualities. And for this change, for this loss in exchange, nobody is more responsible than the British landowner and legislator.
Garnier says: "If the ethnic idiosyncrasies of the Anglo-Saxon had been identical with those of the African, it is not to be doubted that he would have been more uniformly comfortable under the cordial relationship existing betwixt an indulgent master and a faithful slave, than under that modern business etiquette which now freezes the sympathies between employer and employé." 1 This may be so. It may be true that the Englishman, whether peasant or potentate, has within him that fatal element of
1 Op. cit., p. 28.
1 Op. cit., pp. 5960.
2 Op. cit., p. 63.
3 Op. cit., Chapter VIII.
4 Op. cit., p. 60.
5 Op. cit., pp. 6263.
6 "The fresh owners of the Church lands (in Henry VIII's reign) had introduced a commercial spirit into the English soil. . . . Our landed gentry had never before and never since sunk so low in public estimation.
A class or an individual is in dire circumstances when society considers them past praying for. But in the reign of Edward VI the landowners had arrived at that still more desperate stage when they had to be prayed against." Garnier, op. cit., p. 90.
For, to come to more recent times, do we find things very much better?
What whim, what passing fancy, are we to suppose led a fine English peasant like William Cobbett to say in the early years of the nineteenth century: "There is in the men calling themselves English country gentlemen 'something' superlatively base. They are, I sincerely believe, the most cruel, the most unfeeling, the most brutally insolent: but I know, I can prove, I can safely take my oath, that they are the most base of all the creatures that God ever suffered to disgrace the human shape." 1
Cobbett was not a demagogue; neither was he a Radical Reformer. He was a plain, level-headed English Tory who believed, as I do, in aristocracy, and in a landed aristocracy into the bargain. He was a man who could honestly say of himself: "My whole life has been a life of sobriety and labour. . . . I have invariably shown that I loved and honoured my country, and that I preferred its greatness and happiness far beyond my own." 2 And yet, after a most painstaking and exhaustive examination of the condition of the rural districts during the early years of the nineteenth century, he was able to say on September 29, 1826: "Of all the mean, all the cowardly reptiles that ever crawled on the face of the earth, the English landowners are the most mean and most cowardly." 3 In his Rural Rides he undertakes to supply the elaborate proof of this statement, but to the inquiring reader such proof is also abundantly accessible in the works
1 Rural Rides (Edition Dent), Vol. II, p. 46.
2 Ibid., Vol. II, p. 187.
3 Ibid., pp. 121123.
Let me, however, quote what Garnier says concerning the same period. And let it be remembered that if Garnier may be suspected of any bias at all, that bias is in favour of the landed proprietors rather than against them. In his Annals of the British Peasantry the author says: "In fact, towards the close of the last century, he (the peasant) was starving amidst plenty, unable to live except by becoming a beggar, and unable to combine and agitate for higher pay except by becoming a criminal. Not the least bitter drop in his cup of woe was to see on all sides of him his employers enjoying the luxuries of an abnormal prosperity." 1
It was thus that these men, the very heart of the British Empire, were treated! the men who won our victories at Crécy and Poictiers, and later at Trafalgar and Vittoria; for, as Garnier says, "the spirit of the peasant at both epochs was the subject of mingled dread and admiration throughout the armies of Europe. . . . The men-at-arms, who came of the mediæval common fields, carried a quiver which, in the language of Scripture, was an open sepulchre. The man-of-war's man, kidnapped by the press-gang from amidst some group of parochial roundsmen, wielded his cutlass with no less deadly results." 2 These were not the men to clamour for a two-to-one standard against a foreign Power. Their food, and. therefore their independence, lay in the land which they cultivated. England required to be populated by a herd of non producing, undersized clerks and shopmen before this cry of a two-to-one standard in ships of war could become a loud one in the land.
And now listen to the stirring words of good old Cobbett on the same subject. In addressing a "Landlord Distress Meeting" in Norwich on December 22, 1821, he spoke as follows
"What a thing to contemplate, gentlemen! What a
1 p. 70.
2 Op. cit., p. 31.
No wonder poor Cobbett thought, as I think, that the nobility were "in a long trance," 2 and no wonder he cried in despair, "What a system it must be to make people wretched in a country like this!" 3
For, in spite of that which this grand old man said he "still had in reserve," 4 there is nothing to show that his teaching was followed. In the end, as we know, the starvation of the millions was relieved by a capitalistic solution, the Repeal of the Corn Laws; and this was not the triumph, but the defeat, of the farming classes, to the advantage of uncontrolled Industry and Commerce 5 that is to say, to the advantage of a type of life and a type of man which never has and never can build up a great empire, although it may accumulate great temporary wealth upon the foundations of a great empire, once the latter has been built up by other and sounder men. And though we might suppose that by now the govern-
1 Op. cit., Vol. I, pp. 5556.
2 Op. cit., Vol. I, p. 67.
3 Op. cit., Vol. I, p. 52.
4 Op. cit., Vol. I, p. 55.
5 See Garnier, Op. cit., p. 338.
"It would be hard to say," says Mr. F. E. Green, "whether it is the large farmer, in his desire to add field to field and to prevent the agricultural labourer from getting land or living in cottages independent of him as landlord; or the huge landowner, in his insatiable lust to obtain huge pheasant preserves, vast deer forests and multitudinous rabbit warrens, who has done the greater harm to our most virile class of workers, and through them struck a blow at the heart of our Empire." 1 And Mr. Green concludes a book in which he rightly lays claim to having "established beyond a doubt that agricultural labour is a sweated industry" 2 with the following words of warning: "If reform does not come quickly to repeople our empty country-side, either we shall lose our bold peasantry altogether, and with it our virility as a race, or a swift retribution will overtake the governing classes."
Like William Cobbett, Mr. Green also deprecates very strongly the cowardice of the professional classes country lawyers, parsons and doctors. He shows, just as Cobbett had shown before him (though Cobbett dealt only with the ecclesiastical gentlemen), how sneakishly these public-school-bred and cricket-field-trained "gentlemen" grovel before the potentates of the land, and prefer to allow the
1 Op. cit., p. 17.
2 Op. cit., p. 249.
So thus it goes on, year after year. True ruling grows more and more scarce, greed and gain tend more and more to become the only motives actuating all classes of the community, and nobody asks, nobody cares, how the spirit and the physique of the nation is faring. For if what doctors tell us be a fact that, after three generations, born and bred cockneys become sterile then it requires no more words of mine to remind the reader of the essential relationship between good rule and the voice of flourishing life, on which I laid such stress in my first chapter. No good rule leads to death. When death is the outcome of any system of government or life, it is a sure sign that the voice of flourishing life is no longer audible or obeyed in a nation; it means, therefore, that there is no longer any true aristocracy, and that there has not been any true aristocracy in the land for many years past.
(6) How many of the hereditary rulers foresaw the dehumanising and besotting influence of the machine and the modern factory upon the workman? How many of them attempted to "place" the machine to determine the limits of its healthy development, or to warn the nation against its abuse?
The same unsatisfactory reply must be given to this question. In a very interesting article by Mr. Edward Spencer, entitled "The Use and Abuse of Machinery," in the Fortnightly Review of November 1911, the author argues that the condition of affairs at the present day ought to have been foreseen and provided against by the
1 See The Tyranny of the Country Side, pp. 2526 and all Chapter IX.
2 Op. cit., p. 25.
Of course these economists were "hypnotised" by the distress in the lower ranks of labour; for they possessed subject minds and could not possibly see deeper than the distress itself.
When we read in the Majority Report of the Poor Law Commission that the total cost of poor relief per annum in the British Isles amounts to £60,000,000, and when we hear that, excluding the sick, the aged, the insane and the very young, 50,000 able-bodied indoor paupers are supported throughout the year at a cost of about £1,387,239, 2 that the number of these able-bodied paupers is rather increasing than decreasing; furthermore, when we learn that these paupers are mostly depraved, undisciplined and hopeless, how can we, as thinking men, divorce their condition entirely from their antecedents? How can we exonerate ourselves, and those of our predecessors who had the requisite leisure and the knowledge for facing problems and solving them how, I say, can we exonerate ourselves and our predecessors from all blame in regard to the lives led by the parents, grandparents and great-grandparents of these characterless and poor-spirited people? How can we forget the besotting, the dehumanising, influence of turning a lever all day from
1 The italics are mine. A. M. L.
2 My figures are taken from the Nineteenth Century of November 1911. Article: "The Idle Poor."
For, as Mr. Edward Spencer rightly and profoundly observes in the article already quoted, the machine, with all the inestimable advantages it was supposed to bring to the community at large, has not yet been "placed," either by economists or by the rulers of this nation; and, he adds very wisely, "to place it to the best human advantage, it is necessary to start from a sound estimate of human character, its needs and its capacities."
In fact, for nearly two centuries now the lower classes have been absolutely at the mercy of science, and particularly mechanical science, both of which have been working quite unscrupulously and indiscriminately, without the suggestion of a ruler-mind at their backs. My quarrel with modern science, and modern mechanical science particularly, is not based upon the mere fact that they are complicating life without beautifying or improving it, but that, once more, behind science, and mechanical science above all, there is no ruler-spirit which is able to say, with the full knowledge of the limits of a certain collective human scheme, what place and what power they are to take in our midst.
If at any moment an unscrupulous inventor appeared who had discovered a means of making us travel at fifty times our present maximum speed, not a single voice would be raised to say, "Before we accept this man's idea,
1 See W. Cobbett, op. cit., Vol. I, p. 179, where the author, referring to the workers in the factories in the early years of the last century, expresses himself as follows: "Talk of vassals! Talk of villains! Talk of serfs! Are there any of these, or did feudal times ever see any of them, so debased, so absolutely slaves, as the poor creatures who, in the 'enlightened' north, are compelled to work fourteen hours in a day, in a heat of eighty-four degrees; and who are liable to punishment for looking out at a window of the factory!"
Unquestioningly, unhesitatingly, almost with the assurance and self-composure of complete knowledge, practically all innovations introduced since Tudor and Stuart times 1 have been acquiesced in as if they must necessarily be improvements. Again and again mere change has falsely been welcomed as Progress; mechanical revolutions have falsely been embraced as desirable evolutions, and. uncontrolled new tendencies have been falsely acclaimed as inevitable developments. Only when it was too late, only when the evil results of novelties became strikingly obvious, did these novelties begin, to be problems. And all this muddle and confusion were sanctified by the doctrine of "experience," which treats as impudence any presbyopic or prophetic glance into the near or distant future. Ananda K. Coomaraswamy says hopefully: "Already it is being recognised in Europe that the general substitution of machines for men must invariably lower the whole intellectual and moral status of the working population, and we need not hope to avoid this result by tinkering at compulsory education." 2 But I question very much whether this is not far too optimistic a statement of the case. It is very doubtful whether even the sociological thinkers, not to speak of the peoples of Western Europe themselves, are more than half aware of the gravity of this question; and to suppose that they would have the courage to solve it as it ought to be solved, even granting they ever faced it fairly and squarely, is quite unwarrantable. For there is a terrible feeling abroad that things have already gone too far. 3
1 See Dr. Cunningham, op. cit., Vol. II, p. 295. "Machinery was viewed (in Tudor and Stuart times) with suspicion, not only on account of the quality of the work done, but because of its injurious effects upon handicraftsmen."
2 Art and Swadeshi, p. 19.
3 The first thinker to express this fear that things had already gone
too far where machinery was concerned was Samuel Butler. See his letter to "The Press" (Christchurch, N.Z., June 13, 1863), from which I take the following passage. "Day by day, however, the machines are gaining ground upon us; day by day, we are becoming more subservient to them; more men are daily bound down as slaves to tend them, more men are daily devoting the energies of their whole lives to the development of mechanical life. The upshot is simply a question of time, but that the time will come when the machines will hold the real supremacy over the world and its inhabitants is what no person of a truly philosophical mind can for a moment question. Our opinion is that war to the death should be instantly proclaimed against them. Every machine of every sort should be destroyed by the well-wisher of his species. Let there be no exceptions made, no quarter shown. . . . If it be urged that this is impossible under the present conditions of human affairs, this at once proves that the mischief is already done, that our servitude has commenced in good earnest, that we have raised a race of beings whom it is beyond our power to destroy, and that we are not only enslaved, but absolutely acquiescent in our bondage."
But in regard to this matter it would be unfair to the aristocratic class I am criticising were I to omit all mention. of the wonderful speech Lord Byron delivered in the House of Lords on February 27, 1812, while opposing the measure making frame-breaking a capital offence introduced by that cold-blooded and matter-of-fact lawyer Lord Erskine. This speech was one of the only three Lord Byron ever delivered in the higher legislative chamber, and it was certainly the best of the three.
After explaining the difficulties of the unfortunate workmen concerned in these riots for Lord Byron had recently visited the scene of the trouble in order to acquire first-hand knowledge and after laying stress upon the poor quality of the work done by the machines, he proceeded
"You call these men a mob, degenerate, dangerous and ignorant, and seem to think that the only way to quiet the Bellua multorum capitum is to lop off a few of its superfluous heads. But even a mob may be better reduced to reason by a mixture of conciliation and firmness than by additional and redoubled penalties. Are we aware of our obligations to that mob? It is the mob that labour in the fields and serve in your houses, that man your navy and recruit your army, that have enabled you to defy all the world, and can also defy you when neglect and calamity have driven them to despair. You may call the people a mob, but do not forget that a mob too often speaks the sentiments of the people." 2
To their credit be it said that Lord Holland, Lord Grosvenor and Lord Grenville supported Lord Byron in opposing the Bill; but, as we have seen, the measure became law notwithstanding, and the harshness of its
1 See The Political History of England, Vol. XI (by the Hon. George C. Brodrick, D.C.L.), p. 83.
2 Hansard's Parliamentary Debates, Vol. XXI, pp. 966969.
(7) In the face of the acceleration of life's pace, in the face of the fact that the population was becoming fluid, how many hereditary legislators were cautious enough to foretell that when a population became fluid since "local" public opinion is the severest censor of conduct morality, however stern and rigid it might be, would also tend to become fluid and therefore lax?
In answer to this question, it may be said that bustle and hurry to nowhere, to nothing, was arrested neither by the hereditary rulers nor by the spiritual guardians of the nation. On the contrary, frantic and meaningless haste became the order of the day. People never halted to think or to consider; they merely followed the shortest road to the main chance. Presbyopic views, views concerning the morrow or the future, began to yield before the immediate concern about the best trick, the most expedient ruse, wherewith men could outwit or oust their neighbours. Motion became more rapid; the very increase of motion began to be looked upon as "progress," and to deny this was tantamount to confessing oneself insane.
"Every one, indeed," says Mr. Ponsonby, "supposes he is 'doing more' because he can move more rapidly. Whereas it would be nearer the truth to say we accomplish less, because our nervous energy and vitality are being seriously impaired by the whirl and rush of ceaseless mechanical motion." 1
And it must not be supposed that this feverish rush is characteristic only of the lower classes, where, at least, it is excusable; for, to slaves, time is indeed money. On the contrary, once rapid movement became the ideal, the means to move soon led to moves being made for the sheer love of moving, and the richer you became the faster you moved. The mushroom success achieved by the motor-car is a proof of this. In a better, nobler,
1 The Decline of Aristocracy, p. 80.
"There are people of the highest rank in the England of to day," says Mr. Ponsonby, "whose existence is as much nomadic as that of Red Indians in the reserved territories of North America. . . . The existence of a monk in a cloister, of a prisoner in a fortress, is more favourable to the intellect than theirs." 1
Not one of the members of the governing classes, and least of all the Church, halted in order to inquire what influence this fluid condition of society would tend to exercise over morality, over the sounder traditions of the nation, and over families and other ties. The profound value of local opinion and local censure in maintaining the customs and virtues of a nation was utterly forgotten. Again, from the standpoint of experience, mere travelling was regarded as a good thing in itself. No thought was given to the fact that to a man without backbone or balance and without rigorous principles travelling and varied experience are the unsoundest things of all. 2 On the contrary, everybody applauded, everybody cried "Progress!" everybody got drunk with the mere sensation of speed until nothing became too stupid, too preposterous or too insane for society to think or to do. Hedonism, blatant and unscrupulous, was left as the refuge of the prosperous and to the poor. Revolt!
1 The Decline of Aristocracy, p. 140.
2 See W. Cobbett, op. cit., Vol. II, p. 31, where the author says he is "convinced that the facilities which now exist of moving human bodies from place to place are amongst the curses of the country, the destroyers of industry, of morals, and, of course, of happiness. It is a great error to suppose that people are rendered stupid by remaining always in the same place." And Cobbett wrote this on August 27, 1826! What would he say to-day!
The difference between the two orders of society which are now ranged against one another is, unfortunately, merely a difference of balance at the bank. Give the indignant masses, groaning under the traditional yoke of modern industry, the banking account of those against whom they inveigh, and what would happen? We all know what would happen. Certainly no constructive or regenerating policy or régime would ensue. The whole crowd would simply rush to provide themselves with cars and cards, and whirl and play away their existence in a round of pleasure. No longer a mere section of society, no longer a mere privileged minority, but everybody would play golf, everybody would sup at the Carlton and the Savoy, and everybody would attend the winter sports in Switzerland. While even from those who were more sober in the enjoyment of their newly acquired leisure, nothing of permanent or genuine value could be expected. And for the simple reason that at the present moment there is nothing to induce one to believe that the voice of flourishing life which is the only voice that can possibly lead in the proper direction is any more alive in the struggling and oppressed masses than it is in the leisured classes. If it is silent above, it is pretty hopeless to seek for it below; because, as I pointed out in the preceding chapter, the conditions below are the
But apart from the fact that there is nothing absolutely nothing either in history, anthropology or psychology to show that when a people get the rule into their own hands they can be, and are, a substitute for those rare spokesmen of flourishing life whose taste knows what and how to choose; apart from the fact, therefore, that you cannot supply the place of a few artists by a number, however large, of people who are not artists, what grounds are there for supposing that the rule of the people would even be more beneficent than that of the aristocrats beneficent, I mean, towards those whom they have in their power? Because I take it that the rule of a people by themselves always must be the rule of a community, different sections of which are pursuing different aims and different interests, although the whole may be animated by a national idea when an enemy comes on the scene. It may come to pass, therefore, that one section, considering its own interests, as the governing classes have for many generations done in this country, will have power over the other section, or over several other sections. Are there any reasonable grounds for supposing that such a section, simply because they are of the people,
Hear what that philosophic demagogue John Stuart Mill said on this very question
"Experience, however, proves that the depositories of power who are mere delegates of the people that is, of the majority are quite as ready (when they think they can count on popular support) as any organs of oligarchy to assume arbitrary power, and encroach unduly on the liberty of private life. The public collectively is abundantly ready to impose, not only its generally narrow views of its interests, but its abstract opinions, and even its tastes, as laws binding upon individuals." 1
These words, coming as they do from such an inveterate democrat as the writer of Liberty, are particularly significant, and ought to make every one pause before he speaks too eloquently or too sentimentally about all being well with the world because the People are at the helm!
Herbert Spencer held the same view. In his Essay on Parliamentary Reform 2 he says: "While we do not
1 Principles of Political Economy (Ed. 1865), Book V, Chapter XI,
2 First published in The Westminster Review for April 1860.
Here there is no mention of the born artist-ruler, the spokesman of flourishing life. But we should scarcely expect such an idea from Herbert Spencer. Still, the passage shows the hopeless dilemma a nation is in when it has to choose only between its top and its bottom dogs, when there is none superior to the dog in the whole population.
I, however, maintain that every nation always produces a crop of those who are superior to the top and the bottom dogs, if only those values and those selective means are prevalent within it which lead to the recognition and promotion of such superior men. Confucius knew this fact, and with his doctrine of the superior man he paved the way to its general acceptation by the whole world.
I am, however, digressing. These considerations belong to another chapter, and for the present I must continue my criticism of the English governing classes, but on another and higher plane, i.e. in the Tutorship of Ruling.