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through which it has been handed down, he surely must be con. sidered its truest friend who points out, with a reverent hand, its imperfections and additions,-not to destroy it, but to build it up in the higher and holier thought of men. Happily, this spirit of intelligent and serious inquiry is receiving the sanction of “the lords spiritual." The Bishop of London, in his recent charge, said, " As to free inquiry, what should we do with it? Should we frown upon it, denounce it, try to stifle it? This would do no good, even if it were right. But, after all, we were Protestants. We had been accustomed to speak a good deal of the right and duty of private judgment. . . . . Was he convinced of the heavenly origin of those great truths for which the Church of Eng. land had been appointed by the Lord Jesus as the chief witness upon earth? And should he, from a craven fear lest these truths be shaken, disparage the use of the great instrument of reason which God had given to man for the investigation and defence of truth? ... He would set himself to work as being conscious of the value of that priceless gift of reason, to discipline himself and help others, that they might use it as God directed, and he should feel confident that its investigations, rightly and reverently conducted, must result in furthering the cause of the God of truth." As members of the guild of British Controversialists, we hail these words of the good Bishop. They might well form the motto of the British Controversialist itself, and entitle their author to a cherished place amongst that band of brothers, ay, and of sisters, who "agree to differ.”
E. H. K.
IS AN AGE OF GENERAL INTELLECTUAL CULTURE
UNFAVOURABLE TO THE DEVELOPMENT OF GREAT MEN?
AFFIRMATIVE ARTICLE.-1. GREATNESS is, of course, a relative term. “The distant hill, Primrose," is called by a novelist, “the Mont Blanc to which London is the Chamouni.” Snowdon is a lofty hill in Wales, Ben Nevis in Scotland, and the Peak in England; but what are they compared with the awe-inspiring Alps, the heights of Dhawalagiri, or the sky-reaching Chimborazo ?
“The strawberry grows underneath the nettle,
Neighboured by fruit of baser quality." So, in the old times of the world, “blind Mæonides" sung his matchless epic regarding the relentless wrath of Peleus' son, while
the world was little learned. Socrates, too, in an age of ignorance, gave profound impulses to philosophy. In an age of barbaric mobs and unreflecting crowds, Sophocles graced the stage of Greece with stately spectacle. In the Middle Ages the great schoolmen acquired fame by learning at which a member of a country mechanics' insti. tute laughs. In America, where common schools abound and everybody does verses, there are no great poets; and in Scotland, where everybody dabbles in Latin and Greek, there are no great scholars, or at least they are few and far between. In the days of railway invention there was scope for the display of originality of mind, and we had the Stephensons and Locke; but now that the laws and limits of engineering have been, as it were, made into a sort of orthodoxy, ingenuity is at a discount, and Scott Russell or Brunel are thought unsafe. In the days when new feats are in many paths possible, the opportunity for distinction is manifold, and in many ways fame may be attained. To start out from the beaten track is itself a certain kind of greatness; a greatness which, however, in settled times is called oddity, eccentricity, or madness. When all the avenues of industry and effort are filled with plodding, safe men, men who go by the rules of former great men, and therefore prove themselves to be only second-rate ones,-there is a positive risk in trying anything new or beneficial. The intense conservatism of the human mind, which dwells with complacency alone on the safe, the usual, the customary, the tried, acts as a Bramah press upon the minds of men, to pack them down to the common level, and to keep them there. In the days when few men could read, the “benefit of clergy" was granted to all who could manage to mumble over a paternoster on a book. They were great because all was little. In the years when monks alone could write, and even lords knew no way of signing their own names, the monks were great, and gained the fat and riches of the land, because of their skill. Now, when every man can scribble, who thinks mere penmanship-unless of a very high class indeed-a ground for admiration ? Every single power or attribute that grows common among men increases the difficulty of becoming great, just as in an age of extensively distributed wealth it is difficult to become rich. The nobleman whose lands afforded him a lofty place among moneyed men, is now no longer reckoned wealthy; for there are many millionaires and millowners who can look down on his immense rent-roll as a paltry pittance compared with their magnificent incomes,-incomes which make them princes, while the other remains-only a lord.
The widest induction possible inakes the truth of this statement indubitable. The olden times were the days of notables. The gun in warfare levels distinctions of beight and muscular fibre; the cannon sweeps its vast circuit, whatever opposes it; and modern heroism is less and less remarkable. The opportunity is wanting. Individual bravery is a rare thing; the bravery of masses now most distinguishes men. In the workshop men are wrought far more into a levelness of power by the division of labour, and yet, though all human skill is employed to refine and train that single sense engaged in the execution of the day's work, who ever hears of great men being developed in the workshop at their particular arts ? Individuality of power, thought, labour, aspiration, become rarer and rarer every day. Fashion places an extinguisher upon the human spirit, and every original mind puts its light under the bushel of routine, custom, and payableness. To be original is to be suspected, is to make life's pathway uphill and arduous; to be an ordinary individual is to be safe, sure, and respectable.
Look at the long, dreary days of apprenticeship served by Dickens before fame and fortune reached him. Take Thackeray as another instance; read his minor works, and reckon the task-work he performed prior to his success. Jerrold is an instance still more german. Compare Tennyson and Alexander Smith; the one aequired his fame after nearly twenty years of toilsome effort-the other flashed into a bauble reputation before the number of his years were much more than twenty. Take the essays of Brimley, and the portrait galleries of George Gilfillan, and try their worth seriously; and then poll heads for those who know the megalo. therium of metaphorists, and those who have heard or read the ehoicest English criticism of our age. Spurgeon and Trench, R. H. Horne and Mr. Tupper, Cumming and Mansell, Dixon and Spedding-where can more singular contrasts be found? and do not these contrasts emphatically prove, that, in an age of general intellectual culture such as ours, to be a mere average patronageable man is far easier than to gain a due reputation ?
General intellectual culture manufactures mediocrities: mediocrities are almost always safe, often well connected ; and so the places, encouragements, and honours of an age are heaped on them. This depresses the great man. He is voted a Bohemian. So strange, wayward, fantastic, and unstable-are the words applied to him. He is held aloof from place and power ; he is kept in a continual struggle, and he often dies in the midst of that harsh fight, forced upon him by the mediocrity-loving world in which he lives. Who cares about encouraging a young lawyer, a new author, an untested actor, a fresh statesman, an ingenious engineer, an unknown inventor, or even an unrecognized clerk? Who would Dot rather trust an octogenarian, palsied in heart, brain, and body, rather than a brisk, bran-new, studious lawyer to conduct a case in the Court of Chancery? The age is not pliable upon topics of this sort; nothing can make it consent to new men, unless the power they bring is so intense as to astound, and perhaps frighten the world. Currer Bell's life shows how hard the world is to striving merit.
Everybody sees the tendency of the present age to monotonize life,-to dress, educate, and train all women alike, to fix men into peculiar sects, sets, parties, lines of business, forms of speech, and habits of life; to make even the reading of a man of a class description. All this is inimical to true greatness-to greatness of any kind-except that of rascality, which has been wondrously rampant of late. To make men herd in gregarious flocks of like-minded, similar-positioned, same-professioned men ; to frown upon indepen. dence of feeling, thought, or action; to scowl upon self-assertion; to treasure up the wrath of church or club against the man who does not mouth the same shibboleth-religious, artistic, literary, or professional-are all so many pegs to fasten down human life to sameness of pattern, and to turn them out in a like fashion. There is no provision in our daily existence for great men-men of intense convictions, personality, and force-men
“Strong in will To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield," — to out-face fashion, and out-brave the low cunning of the times. Modest worth is not recognized ; it must grow immodest by tooting for the world's notice—in fact, cease to be worth-before the recognition of the age can be acquired.
Besides all this, there are several other principles, each one of which tends to make “ an age of general intellectual culture unfavourable to the development of great men."
“Experience is not transmissible," and hence all requires to be done by oneself. One has, therefore, to exhaust a large proportion of personal power and effort to bring himself up to the foremost mark, and it is only what is done after that that counts for greatness. The excess of the leap beyond that of others is all that is credited to the winner; the majority, not the whole sum of votes, is calculated when we tell the victor in an election contest. Similarly, it is only so far as a man excels the foremost of the mediocrities out of whom he flings himself, that he is reckoned great. The more, therefore, the forefront advances, the less spring there is left in the energies of the soul to carry it beyond others. Hence the difficulty increases with the diffusion of culture.
“When there is no difference in men's worths,
Titles are jests." It is beyond debate that a great deal of show goes on in the world, and that that show is often mistaken for reality. The average man plies his task, and is lauded as a great one by those who feel that they also are in need of a little of the Sam Slick ointment so common in this age of shams; and how seldom it is that the world becomes wise enough to discover and confess its error, and say,
u Till now I knew thee not;
But mads me that I ever thought thee fair "! In the case of a Dean Paul, a Robson, a Sadleir, or an Andrews, it does occur; but in how many cases do inefficient men pass as efficient, and men seared against all improvement hold seats of office! Every instance of such a sort bars the way for some more deserving, abler, greater man ; shuts up an avenue to progress; closes up one of the influences of life; and turns off the steam of Hope from some engine-like mind, which could carry away the train of the world after it, to new and more splendid activities and profits.
The more widely spread culture is, the fewer fields lie open to the labourer who would endeavour to try a new crop ; possibilities are lessened, and discouragements become effective. The efforts of the human mind are limited, and every new success achieved leaves less for others to accomplish. Thus, each life that is spent in the effecting of anything new, diminishes the whole sum of the accomplishable, and, in proportion, is unfavourable to the attainment of greatness,-if greatness be the quality by which men do other and better Forks than the ordinary run of men can effect. We cannot see one single argument in the negative of this question. We think it must be decidedly a one-sided debate. We cannot conceive it possible that any one can assert the contrary of the thesis that an age of general intellectual culture is unfavourable to the development of great men,
TOUCHSTONE. NEGATIVE ARTICLE.-1. It is not easy to open the debate on the negative side of this question. The position is 80 essentially defensive as almost wholly to preclude us from using any positive argument in its support. Our legitimate work being, therefore, to repel the attacks of opponents, We propose shortly to state those arguments in favour of the affirmative side which appear most obvious and weighty, and then to examine what they are really worth. In adopting this course we, no doubt, lay ourselves open to the cavil of resting the strength of our position on no better basis than a victory over enemies of our own creation, but the nature of the question admits of no present alternative.
The supporters of the affirmative side must argue either (1) from some tendency inherent in the nature of general intellectual culture, or (2) from facts. Like the scientific agriculturist on the one hand, they must, as the result of an analysis, announce that certain ground cannot possibly nourish and develop certain plants, in respect that it is destitute of the very elements which these plants require, or that it possesses positively injurious properties; or, like the practical farmer, on the other hand, they must point to the stunted crops grown out of it as evidence of the unsuitableness of the soil.
I. Their first, or let us call it their à priori argument, may be of this nature. In an age of general intellectual culture there are certain conventional modes of thought, certain grooves along which the mind runs, certain well-worn channels in which intelligence flows. The social element in human nature, the imitative tendency in man, works with great vigour in the sphere of education. By the recognized authority of teachers, and the less obtrusive, though