Time and Tide by Weare and Tyne - Twenty-five Letters to a Working Man of Sunderland on the Laws of Work
by John Ruskin
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LETTER I. CO-OPERATION 1 The two kinds of Co-operation.—In its highest sense it is not yet thought of.

II. CONTENTMENT 4 Co-operation, as hitherto understood, is perhaps not expedient.

III. LEGISLATION 7 Of True Legislation.—That every Man may be a Law to himself.

IV. EXPENDITURE 11 The Expenses for Art and for War.

V. ENTERTAINMENT 13 The Corruption of Modern Pleasure.—(Covent Garden Pantomime.)

VI. DEXTERITY 18 The Corruption of Modern Pleasure.—(The Japanese Jugglers.)

VII. FESTIVITY 20 Of the Various Expressions of National Festivity.

VIII. THINGS WRITTEN 22 The Four Possible Theories respecting the Authority of the Bible.

IX. THANKSGIVING 27 The Use of Music and Dancing under the Jewish Theocracy, compared with their Use by the Modern French.

X. WHEAT-SIFTING 32 The Meaning, and Actual Operation, of Satanic or Demoniacal Influence.

XI. THE GOLDEN BOUGH 38 The Satanic Power is mainly Twofold: the Power of causing Falsehood and the Power of causing Pain. The Resistance is by Law of Honor and Law of Delight.

XII. DICTATORSHIP 41 The Necessity of Imperative Law to the Prosperity of States.

XIII. EPISCOPACY AND DUKEDOM 45 The Proper Offices of the Bishop and Duke; or, "Overseer" and "Leader."

XIV. TRADE-WARRANT 51 The First Group of Essential Laws.—Against Theft by False Work, and by Bankruptcy.—Necessary Publicity of Accounts.

XV. PER-CENTAGE 54 The Nature of Theft by Unjust Profits.—Crime can finally be arrested only by Education.

XVI. EDUCATION 59 Of Public Education irrespective of Class distinction. It consists essentially in giving Habits of Mercy, and Habits of Truth. (Gentleness and Justice.)

XVII. DIFFICULTIES 66 The Relations of Education to Position in Life.

XVIII. HUMILITY 68 The harmful Effects of Servile Employments. The possible Practice and Exhibition of sincere Humility by Religious Persons.

XIX. BROKEN REEDS 73 The General Pressure of Excessive and Improper Work, in English Life.

XX. ROSE-GARDENS 78 Of Improvidence in Marriage in the Middle Classes; and of the advisable Restrictions of it.

XXI. GENTILLESSE 83 Of the Dignity of the Four Fine Arts; and of the Proper System of Retail Trade.

XXII. THE MASTER 88 Of the Normal Position and Duties of the Upper Classes. General Statement of the Land Question.

XXIII. LANDMARKS 93 Of the Just Tenure of Lands; and the Proper Functions of high Public Officers.

XXIV. THE ROD AND HONEYCOMB 101 The Office of the Soldier.

XXV. HYSSOP 108 Of inevitable Distinction of Rank, and necessary Submission to Authority. The Meaning of Pure-Heartedness. Conclusion.


APPENDIX PAGE I. Expenditure on Science and Art 119 II. Legislation of Frederick the Great 120 III. Effect of Modern Entertainments on the Mind of Youth 124 IV. Drunkenness as the Cause of Crime 124 V. Abuse of Food 126 VI. Regulations of Trade 128 VII. Letter to the Editor of the Pall Mall Gazette 130


The following Letters were written to Mr. Thomas Dixon, a working cork-cutter of Sunderland, during the agitation for Reform in the spring of the present year. They contain, in the plainest terms I could use, the substance of what I then desired to say to our English workmen, which was briefly this:—"The reform you desire may give you more influence in Parliament; but your influence there will of course be useless to you,—perhaps worse than useless, until you have wisely made up your minds what you wish Parliament to do for you; and when you have made up your minds about that, you will find, not only that you can do it for yourselves, without the intervention of Parliament; but that eventually nobody but yourselves can do it. And to help you, as far as one of your old friends may, in so making up your minds, such and such things are what it seems to me you should ask for, and, moreover, strive for with your heart and might."

The letters now published relate only to one division of the laws which I desired to recommend to the consideration of our operatives,—those, namely, bearing upon honesty of work, and honesty of exchange. I hope in the course of next year that I may be able to complete the second part of the series, [I could not; but 'Fors Clavigera' is now (1872) answering the same end:] which will relate to the possible comforts and wholesome laws, of familiar household life, and the share which a laboring nation may attain in the skill, and the treasures, of the higher arts.

The letters are republished as they were written, with, here and there, correction of a phrase, and omission of one or two passages of merely personal or temporary interest; the headings only are added, in order to give the reader some clue to the general aim of necessarily desultory discussion; and the portions of Mr. Dixon's letters in reply, referred to in the text, are added in the Appendix, and will be found well deserving of attention.

DENMARK HILL, December 14, 1867.






DENMARK HILL, February 4, 1867.


1. You have now everything I have yet published on political economy; but there are several points in these books of mine which I intended to add notes to, and it seems little likely I shall get that soon done. So I think the best way of making up for the want of these is to write you a few simple letters, which you can read to other people, or send to be printed, if you like, in any of your journals where you think they may be useful.

I especially want you, for one thing, to understand the sense in which the word "co-operation" is used in my books. You will find I am always pleading for it; and yet I don't at all mean the co-operation of partnership (as opposed to the system of wages) which is now so gradually extending itself among our great firms. I am glad to see it doing so, yet not altogether glad: for none of you who are engaged in the immediate struggle between the system of co-operation and the system of mastership know how much the dispute involves; and none of us know the results to which it may finally lead. For the alternative is not, in reality, only between two modes of conducting business—it is between two different states of society. It is not the question whether an amount of wages, no greater in the end than that at present received by the men, may be paid to them in a way which shall give them share in the risks and interest in the prosperity of the business. The question is, really, whether the profits which are at present taken, as his own right, by the person whose capital, or energy, or ingenuity, has made him head of the firm, are not in some proportion to be divided among the subordinates of it.

2. I do not wish, for the moment, to enter into any inquiry as to the just claims of capital, or as to the proportions in which profits ought to be, or are in actually existing firms, divided. I merely take the one assured and essential condition, that a somewhat larger income will be in co-operative firms secured to the subordinates, by the diminution of the income of the chief. And the general tendency of such a system is to increase the facilities of advancement among the subordinates; to stimulate their ambition; to enable them to lay by, if they are provident, more ample and more early provision for declining years; and to form in the end a vast class of persons wholly different from the existing operative:—members of society, possessing each a moderate competence; able to procure, therefore, not indeed many of the luxuries, but all the comforts of life; and to devote some leisure to the attainments of liberal education, and to the other objects of free life. On the other hand, by the exact sum which is divided among them, more than their present wages, the fortune of the man who, under the present system, takes all the profits of the business, will be diminished; and the acquirement of large private fortune by regular means, and all the conditions of life belonging to such fortune, will be rendered impossible in the mercantile community.

3. Now, the magnitude of the social change hereby involved, and the consequent differences in the moral relations between individuals, have not as yet been thought of,—much less estimated,—by any of your writers on commercial subjects; and it is because I do not yet feel able to grapple with them that I have left untouched, in the books I send you, the question of co-operative labor. When I use the word "co-operation," it is not meant to refer to these new constitutions of firms at all. I use the word in a far wider sense, as opposed, not to masterhood, but to competition. I do not mean, for instance, by co-operation, that all the master bakers in a town are to give a share of their profits to the men who go out with the bread; but that the masters are not to try to undersell each other, nor seek each to get the other's business, but are all to form one society, selling to the public under a common law of severe penalty for unjust dealing, and at an established price. I do not mean that all bankers' clerks should be partners in the bank; but I do mean that all bankers should be members of a great national body, answerable as a society for all deposits; and that the private business of speculating with other people's money should take another name than that of "banking." And, for final instance, I mean by "co-operation" not only fellowships between trading firms, but between trading nations; so that it shall no more be thought (as it is now, with ludicrous and vain selfishness) an advantage for one nation to undersell another; and take its occupation away from it; but that the primal and eternal law of vital commerce shall be of all men understood—namely, that every nation is fitted by its character, and the nature of its territories, for some particular employments or manufactures; and that it is the true interest of every other nation to encourage it in such speciality, and by no means to interfere with, but in all ways forward and protect, its efforts, ceasing all rivalship with it, so soon as it is strong enough to occupy its proper place. You see, therefore, that the idea of co-operation, in the sense in which I employ it, has hardly yet entered into the minds of political inquirers; and I will not pursue it at present; but return to that system which is beginning to obtain credence and practice among us. This, however, must be in a following letter.



February 4, 1867.

4. Limiting the inquiry, then, for the present, as proposed in the close of my last letter, to the form of co-operation which is now upon its trial in practice, I would beg of you to observe that the points at issue, in the comparison of this system with that of mastership, are by no means hitherto frankly stated; still less can they as yet be fairly brought to test. For all mastership is not alike in principle; there are just and unjust masterships; and while, on the one hand, there can be no question but that co-operation is better than unjust and tyrannous mastership, there is very great room for doubt whether it be better than a just and benignant mastership.

5. At present you—every one of you—speak, and act, as if there were only one alternative; namely, between a system in which profits shall be divided in due proportion among all; and the present one, in which the workman is paid the least wages he will take, under the pressure of competition in the labor-market. But an intermediate method is conceivable; a method which appears to me more prudent, and in its ultimate results more just, than the co-operative one. An arrangement may be supposed, and I have good hope also may one day be effected, by which every subordinate shall be paid sufficient and regular wages, according to his rank; by which due provision shall be made out of the profits of the business for sick and superannuated workers; and by which the master, being held responsible, as a minor king or governor, for the conduct as well as the comfort of all those under his rule, shall, on that condition, be permitted to retain to his own use the surplus profits of the business which the fact of his being its master may be assumed to prove that he has organized by superior intellect and energy. And I think this principle of regular wage-paying, whether it be in the abstract more just, or not, is at all events the more prudent; for this reason mainly, that in spite of all the cant which is continually talked by cruel, foolish, or designing persons about "the duty of remaining content in the position in which Providence has placed you," there is a root of the very deepest and holiest truth in the saying, which gives to it such power as it still retains, even uttered by unkind and unwise lips, and received into doubtful and embittered hearts.

6. If, indeed, no effort be made to discover, in the course of their early training, for what services the youths of a nation are individually qualified; nor any care taken to place those who have unquestionably proved their fitness for certain functions, in the offices they could best fulfil,—then, to call the confused wreck of social order and life brought about by malicious collision and competition, an arrangement of Providence, is quite one of the most insolent and wicked ways in which it is possible to take the name of God in vain. But if, at the proper time, some earnest effort be made to place youths, according to their capacities, in the occupations for which they are fitted, I think the system of organization will be finally found the best, which gives the least encouragement to thoughts of any great future advance in social life.

7. The healthy sense of progress, which is necessary to the strength and happiness of men, does not consist in the anxiety of a struggle to attain higher place, or rank, but in gradually perfecting the manner, and accomplishing the ends, of the life which we have chosen, or which circumstances have determined for us. Thus, I think the object of a workman's ambition should not be to become a master; but to attain daily more subtle and exemplary skill in his own craft, to save from his wages enough to enrich and complete his home gradually with more delicate and substantial comforts; and to lay by such store as shall be sufficient for the happy maintenance of his old age (rendering him independent of the help provided for the sick and indigent by the arrangement pre-supposed), and sufficient also for the starting of his children in a rank of life equal to his own. If his wages are not enough to enable him to do this, they are unjustly low; if they are once raised to this adequate standard, I do not think that by the possible increase of his gains under contingencies of trade, or by divisions of profits with his master, he should be enticed into feverish hope of an entire change of condition; and as an almost necessary consequence, pass his days in an anxious discontent with immediate circumstances, and a comfortless scorn of his daily life, for which no subsequent success could indemnify him. And I am the more confident in this belief, because, even supposing a gradual rise in social rank possible for all well-conducted persons, my experience does not lead me to think the elevation itself, when attained, would be conducive to their happiness.

8. The grounds of this opinion I will give you in a future letter; in the present one, I must pass to a more important point—namely, that if this stability of condition be indeed desirable for those in whom existing circumstances might seem to justify discontent, much more must it be good and desirable for those who already possess everything which can be conceived necessary to happiness. It is the merest insolence of selfishness to preach contentment to a laborer who gets thirty shillings a week, while we suppose an active and plotting covetousness to be meritorious in a man who has three thousand a year. In this, as in all other points of mental discipline, it is the duty of the upper classes to set an example to the lower; and to recommend and justify the restraint of the ambition of their inferiors, chiefly by severe and timely limitation of their own. And, without at present inquiring into the greater or less convenience of the possible methods of accomplishing such an object, (every detail in suggestions of this kind necessarily furnishing separate matter of dispute,) I will merely state my long-fixed conviction, that one of the most important conditions of a healthful system of social economy, would be the restraint of the properties and incomes of the upper classes within certain fixed limits. The temptation to use every energy in the accumulation of wealth being thus removed, another, and a higher ideal of the duties of advanced life would be necessarily created in the national mind; by withdrawal of those who had attained the prescribed limits of wealth from commercial competition, earlier worldly success, and earlier marriage, with all its beneficent moral results, would become possible to the young; while the older men of active intellect, whose sagacity is now lost or warped in the furtherance of their own meanest interests, would be induced unselfishly to occupy themselves in the superintendence of public institutions, or furtherance of public advantage. And out of this class it would be found natural and prudent always to choose the members of the legislative body of the Commons; and to attach to the order also some peculiar honors, in the possession of which such complacency would be felt as would more than replace the unworthy satisfaction of being supposed richer than others, which to many men is the principal charm of their wealth. And although no law of this purport would ever be imposed on themselves by the actual upper classes, there is no hindrance to its being gradually brought into force from beneath, without any violent or impatient proceedings; and this I will endeavor to show you in my next letter.



February 17, 1867.

9. No, I have not been much worse in health; but I was asked by a friend to look over some work in which you will all be deeply interested one day, so that I could not write again till now. I was the more sorry, because there were several things I wished to note in your last letter; one especially leads me directly to what I in any case was desirous of urging upon you. You say, "In vol. 6th of 'Frederick the Great' I find a great deal that I feel quite certain, if our Queen or Government could make law, thousands of our English workmen would hail with a shout of joy and gladness." I do not remember to what you especially allude, but whatever the rules you speak of may be, unless there be anything in them contrary to the rights of present English property, why should you care whether the Government makes them law or not? Can you not, you thousands of English workmen, simply make them a law to yourselves, by practising them?

It is now some five or six years since I first had occasion to speak to the members of the London Working Men's College on the subject of Reform, and the substance of what I said to them was this: "You are all agape, my friends, for this mighty privilege of having your opinions represented in Parliament. The concession might be desirable,—at all events courteous,—if only it were quite certain you had got any opinions to represent. But have you? Are you agreed on any single thing you systematically want? Less work and more wages, of course; but how much lessening of work do you suppose is possible? Do you think the time will ever come for everybody to have no work and all wages? Or have you yet taken the trouble so much as to think out the nature of the true connection between wages and work, and to determine, even approximately, the real quantity of the one, that can, according to the laws of God and nature, be given for the other; for, rely on it, make what laws you like, that quantity only can you at last get.

10. "Do you know how many mouths can be fed on an acre of land, or how fast those mouths multiply? and have you considered what is to be done finally with unfeedable mouths? 'Send them to be fed elsewhere,' do you say? Have you, then, formed any opinion as to the time at which emigration should begin, or the countries to which it should preferably take place, or the kind of population which should be left at home? Have you planned the permanent state which you would wish England to hold, emigrating over her edges, like a full well, constantly? How full would you have her be of people, first? and of what sort of people? Do you want her to be nothing but a large workshop and forge, so that the name of 'Englishman' shall be synonymous with 'ironmonger,' all over the world? or would you like to keep some of your lords and landed gentry still, and a few green fields and trees?

11. "You know well enough that there is not one of these questions, I do not say which you can answer, but which you have ever thought of answering; and yet you want to have voices in Parliament! Your voices are not worth a rat's squeak, either in Parliament or out of it, till you have some ideas to utter with them; and when you have the thoughts, you will not want to utter them, for you will see that your way to the fulfilling of them does not lie through speech. You think such matters need debating about? By all means debate about them; but debate among yourselves, and with such honest helpers of your thoughts as you can find; if by that way you cannot get at the truth, do you suppose you could get at it sooner in the House of Commons, where the only aim of many of the members would be to refute every word uttered in your favor; and where the settlement of any question whatever depends merely on the perturbations of the balance of conflicting interests?"

12. That was, in main particulars, what I then said to the men of the Working Men's College; and in this recurrent agitation about Reform, that is what I would steadfastly say again. Do you think it is only under the lacquered splendors of Westminster,—you working men of England,—that your affairs can be rationally talked over? You have perfect liberty and power to talk over, and establish for yourselves, whatever laws you please; so long as you do not interfere with other people's liberties or properties. Elect a parliament of your own. Choose the best men among you, the best at least you can find, by whatever system of election you think likeliest to secure such desirable result. Invite trustworthy persons of other classes to join your council; appoint time and place for its stated sittings, and let this parliament, chosen after your own hearts, deliberate upon the possible modes of the regulation of industry, and advisablest schemes for helpful discipline of life; and so lay before you the best laws they can devise, which such of you as were wise might submit to, and teach their children to obey. And if any of the laws thus determined appear to be inconsistent with the present circumstances or customs of trade, do not make a noise about them, nor try to enforce them suddenly on others, nor embroider them on flags, nor call meetings in parks about them, in spite of railings and police; but keep them in your thoughts and sight, as objects of patient purpose and future achievement by peaceful strength.

13. For you need not think that even if you obtained a majority of representatives in the existing parliament, you could immediately compel any system of business, broadly contrary to that now established by custom. If you could pass laws to-morrow, wholly favorable to yourselves, as you might think, because unfavorable to your masters, and to the upper classes of society,—the only result would be that the riches of the country would at once leave it, and you would perish in riot and famine. Be assured that no great change for the better can ever be easily accomplished, or quickly; nor by impulsive, ill-regulated effort, nor by bad men; nor even by good men, without much suffering. The suffering must, indeed, come, one way or another, in all greatly critical periods; the only question, for us, is whether we will reach our ends (if we ever reach them) through a chain of involuntary miseries, many of them useless, and all ignoble; or whether we will know the worst at once, and deal with it by the wisely sharp methods of Godsped courage.

14. This, I repeat to you, it is wholly in your own power to do, but it is in your power on one condition only, that of steadfast truth to yourselves, and to all men. If there is not, in the sum of it, honesty enough among you to teach you to frame, and strengthen you to obey, just laws of trade, there is no hope left for you. No political constitution can ennoble knaves; no privileges can assist them; no possessions enrich them. Their gains are occult curses; comfortless loss their truest blessing; failure and pain Nature's only mercy to them. Look to it, therefore, first that you get some wholesome honesty for the foundation of all things. Without the resolution in your hearts to do good work, so long as your right hands have motion in them; and to do it whether the issue be that you die or live, no life worthy the name will ever be possible to you, while, in once forming the resolution that your work is to be well done, life is really won, here and for ever. And to make your children capable of such resolution, is the beginning of all true education, of which I have more to say in a future letter.



February 19, 1867.

15. In the 'Pall Mall Gazette' of yesterday, second column of second page, you will find, close to each other, two sentences which bear closely on matters in hand. The first of these is the statement, that in the debate on the grant for the Blacas collection, "Mr. Bernal Osborne got an assenting cheer, when he said that 'whenever science and art were mentioned it was a sign to look after the national pockets.'" I want you to notice this fact, i. e., (the debate in question being on a total grant of 164,000l., of which 48,000l. only were truly for art's sake, and the rest for shop's sake,) in illustration of a passage in my 'Sesame and Lilies' (pp. 69, 70 of the small edition, and pp. 46, 47 of Vol. I. of the Revised Series of the Entire Works),[A] to which I shall have again to refer you, with some further comments, in the sequel of these letters. The second passage is to the effect that "The Trades' Union Bill was read a second time, after a claim from Mr. Hadfield, Mr. Osborne, and Mr. Samuelson, to admit working men into the commission; to which Mr. Watkin answered 'that the working men's friend was too conspicuous in the body;' and Mr. Roebuck, 'that when a butcher was tried for murder it was not necessary to have butchers on the jury.'"

[A] Appendix I.

16. Note this second passage with respect to what I said in my last letter, as to the impossibility of the laws of work being investigated in the House of Commons. What admixture of elements, think you, would avail to obtain so much as decent hearing (how should we then speak of impartial judgment?) of the cause of working men, in an assembly which permits to one of its principal members this insolent discourtesy of language, in dealing with a preliminary question of the highest importance; and permits it as so far expressive of the whole color and tone of its own thoughts, that the sentence is quoted by one of the most temperate and accurate of our daily journals, as representing the total answer of the opposite side in the debate? No! be assured you can do nothing yet at Westminster. You must have your own parliament, and if you cannot detect enough honesty among you to constitute a justly minded one, for the present matters must take their course, and that will be, yet awhile, to the worse.

17. I meant to have continued this subject, but I see two other statements in the 'Pall Mall Gazette' of to-day, with which, and a single remark upon them, I think it will be well to close my present letter.

(1) "The total sum asked for in the army estimates, published this morning, is 14,752,200l., being an increase of 412,000l. over the previous year."

(2) "Yesterday the annual account of the navy receipts and expenditure for the year ending 31st March, 1866, was issued from the Admiralty. The expenditure was 10,268,115l. 7s."

Omitting the seven shillings, and even the odd hundred-thousands of pounds, the net annual expenditure for army and navy appears to be twenty-four millions.

The "grant in science and art," two-thirds of which was not in reality for either, but for amusement and shop interests in the Paris Exhibition—the grant which the House of Commons feels to be indicative of general danger to the national pockets—is, as above stated, 164,000l. Now, I believe the three additional ciphers which turn thousands into millions produce on the intelligent English mind usually the effect of—three ciphers. But calculate the proportion of these two sums, and then imagine to yourself the beautiful state of rationality of any private gentleman, who, having regretfully spent 164l. on pictures for his walls, paid willingly 24,000l. annually to the policeman who looked after his shutters! You practical English!—will you ever unbar the shutters of your brains, and hang a picture or two in those state-chambers?



February 25, 1867.

18. There is this great advantage in the writing real letters, that the direct correspondence is a sufficient reason for saying, in or out of order, everything that the chances of the day bring into one's head, in connection with the matter in hand; and as such things very usually go out of one's head again, after they get tired of their lodging, they would otherwise never get said at all. And thus to-day, quite out of order, but in very close connection with another part of our subject, I am going to tell you what I was thinking on Friday evening last, in Covent Garden Theater, as I was looking, and not laughing, at the pantomime of 'Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves.'

When you begin seriously to consider the question referred to in my second letter, of the essential, and in the outcome inviolable, connection between quantity of wages, and quantity of work, you will see that "wages" in the full sense don't mean "pay" merely, but the reward, whatever it may be, of pleasure as well as profit, and of various other advantages, which a man is meant by Providence to get during life, for work well done. Even limiting the idea to "pay," the question is not so much what quantity of coin you get, as—what you can get for it when you have it. Whether a shilling a day be good pay or not, depends wholly on what a "shilling's worth" is; that is to say, what quantity of the things you want may be had for a shilling. And that again depends, and a great deal more than that depends, on what you do want. If only drink, and foul clothes, such and such pay may be enough for you; if you want good meat and good clothes, you must have larger wage; if clean rooms and fresh air, larger still, and so on. You say, perhaps, "every one wants these better things." So far from that, a wholesome taste for cleanliness and fresh air is one of the final attainments of humanity. There are now not many European gentlemen, even in the highest classes, who have a pure and right love of fresh air. They would put the filth of tobacco even into the first breeze of a May morning.

19. But there are better things even than these, which one may want. Grant that one has good food, clothes, lodging, and breathing, is that all the pay one ought to have for one's work? Wholesome means of existence and nothing more? Enough, perhaps, you think, if everybody could get these. It may be so; I will not, at this moment, dispute it; nevertheless, I will boldly say that you should sometimes want more than these; and for one of many things more, you should want occasionally to be amused!

You know, the upper classes, most of them, want to be amused all day long. They think

"One moment unamused a misery Not made for feeble men."

Perhaps you have been in the habit of despising them for this; and thinking how much worthier and nobler it was to work all day, and care at night only for food and rest, than to do no useful thing all day, eat unearned food, and spend the evening, as the morning, in "change of follies and relays of joy." No, my good friend, that is one of the fatalest deceptions. It is not a noble thing, in sum and issue of it, not to care to be amused. It is indeed a far higher moral state, but is a much lower creature state, than that of the upper classes.

20. Yonder poor horse, calm slave in daily chains at the railroad siding, who drags the detached rear of the train to the front again, and slips aside so deftly as the buffers meet; and, within eighteen inches of death every ten minutes, fulfils his changeless duty all day long, content, for eternal reward, with his night's rest, and his champed mouthful of hay;—anything more earnestly moral and beautiful one cannot image—I never see the creature without a kind of worship. And yonder musician, who used the greatest power which (in the art he knew) the Father of spirits ever yet breathed into the clay of this world;—who used it, I say, to follow and fit with perfect sound the words of the 'Zauberfloete' and of 'Don Giovanni'—foolishest and most monstrous of conceivable human words and subjects of thought—for the future "amusement" of his race!—No such spectacle of unconscious (and in that unconsciousness all the more fearful) moral degradation of the highest faculty to the lowest purpose can be found in history. But Mozart is nevertheless a nobler creature than the horse at the siding; nor would it be the least nearer the purpose of his Maker that he, and all his frivolous audiences, should evade the degradation of the profitless piping, only by living, like horses, in daily physical labor for daily bread.

21. There are three things to which man is born[A]—labor, and sorrow, and joy. Each of these three things has its baseness and its nobleness. There is base labor, and noble labor. There is base sorrow, and noble sorrow. There is base joy, and noble joy. But you must not think to avoid the corruption of these things by doing without the things themselves. Nor can any life be right that has not all three. Labor without joy is base. Labor without sorrow is base. Sorrow without labor is base. Joy without labor is base.

[A] I ask the reader's thoughtful attention to this paragraph, on which much of what else I have to say depends.

22. I dare say you think I am a long time in coming to the pantomime; I am not ready to come to it yet in due course, for we ought to go and see the Japanese jugglers first, in order to let me fully explain to you what I mean. But I can't write much more to-day; so I shall merely tell you what part of the play set me thinking of all this, and leave you to consider of it yourself, till I can send you another letter. The pantomime was, as I said, 'Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves.' The forty thieves were girls. The forty thieves had forty companions, who were girls. The forty thieves and their forty companions were in some way mixed up with about four hundred and forty fairies, who were girls. There was an Oxford and Cambridge boat-race, in which the Oxford and Cambridge men were girls. There was a transformation scene, with a forest, in which the flowers were girls, and a chandelier, in which the lamps were girls, and a great rainbow which was all of girls.

23. Mingled incongruously with these seraphic, and, as far as my boyish experience extends, novel, elements of pantomime, there were yet some of its old and fast-expiring elements. There were, in speciality, two thoroughly good pantomime actors—Mr. W. H. Payne and Mr. Frederick Payne. All that these two did, was done admirably. There were two subordinate actors, who played, subordinately well, the fore and hind legs of a donkey. And there was a little actress of whom I have chiefly to speak, who played exquisitely the little part she had to play. The scene in which she appeared was the only one in the whole pantomime in which there was any dramatic effort, or, with a few rare exceptions, any dramatic possibility. It was the home scene, in which Ali Baba's wife, on washing day, is called upon by butcher, baker, and milkman, with unpaid bills; and in the extremity of her distress hears her husband's knock at the door, and opens it for him to drive in his donkey, laden with gold. The children who have been beaten instead of getting breakfast, presently share in the raptures of their father and mother; and the little lady I spoke of, eight or nine years old,—dances a pas-de-deux with the donkey.

24. She did it beautifully and simply, as a child ought to dance. She was not an infant prodigy; there was no evidence, in the finish or strength of her motion, that she had been put to continual torture through half her eight or nine years. She did nothing more than any child well taught, but painlessly, might easily do. She caricatured no older person,—attempted no curious or fantastic skill. She was dressed decently,—she moved decently,—she looked and behaved innocently,—and she danced her joyful dance with perfect grace, spirit, sweetness, and self-forgetfulness. And through all the vast theater, full of English fathers and mothers and children, there was not one hand lifted to give her sign of praise but mine.

Presently after this, came on the forty thieves, who, as I told you, were girls; and, there being no thieving to be presently done, and time hanging heavy on their hands, arms, and legs, the forty thief-girls proceeded to light forty cigars. Whereupon the British public gave them a round of applause. Whereupon I fell a thinking; and saw little more of the piece, except as an ugly and disturbing dream.



February 28, 1867.

25. I have your pleasant letter with references to Frederick. I will look at them carefully.[A] Mr. Carlyle himself will be pleased to hear this letter when he comes home. I heard from him last week at Mentone. He is well, and glad of the light and calm of Italy. I must get back to the evil light and uncalm, of the places I was taking you through.

[A] Appendix 2.

(Parenthetically, did you see the article in the 'Times' of yesterday on bribery, and the conclusion of the commission—"No one sold any opinions, for no one had any opinions to sell"?)

Both on Thursday and Friday last I had been tormented by many things, and wanted to disturb my course of thought any way I could. I have told you what entertainment I got on Friday, first, for it was then that I began meditating over these letters; let me tell you now what entertainment I found on Thursday.

26. You may have heard that a company of Japanese jugglers has come over to exhibit in London. There has long been an increasing interest in Japanese art, which has been very harmful to many of our own painters, and I greatly desired to see what these people were, and what they did. Well, I have seen Blondin, and various English and French circus work, but never yet anything that surprised me so much as one of these men's exercises on a suspended pole. Its special character was a close approximation to the action and power of the monkey; even to the prehensile power in the foot; so that I asked a sculptor-friend who sat in front of me, whether he thought such a grasp could be acquired by practice, or indicated difference in race. He said he thought it might be got by practice. There was also much inconceivably dexterous work in spinning of tops,—making them pass in balanced motion along the edge of a sword, and along a level string, and the like;—the father performing in the presence of his two children, who encouraged him continually with short, sharp cries, like those of animals. Then there was some fairly good sleight-of-hand juggling of little interest; ending with a dance by the juggler, first as an animal, and then as a goblin, Now, there was this great difference between the Japanese masks used in this dance and our common pantomime masks for beasts and demons,—that our English masks are only stupidly and loathsomely ugly, by exaggeration of feature, or of defect of feature. But the Japanese masks (like the frequent monsters of Japanese art) were inventively frightful, like fearful dreams; and whatever power it is that acts on human minds, enabling them to invent such, appears to me not only to deserve the term "demoniacal," as the only word expressive of its character; but to be logically capable of no other definition.

27. The impression, therefore, produced upon me by the whole scene, was that of being in the presence of human creatures of a partially inferior race, but not without great human gentleness, domestic affection, and ingenious intellect; who were, nevertheless, as a nation, afflicted by an evil spirit, and driven by it to recreate themselves in achieving, or beholding the achievement, through years of patience, of a certain correspondence with the nature of the lower animals.

28. These, then, were the two forms of diversion or recreation of my mind possible to me, in two days, when I needed such help, in this metropolis of England. I might, as a rich man, have had better music, if I had so chosen, though, even so, not rational or helpful; but a poor man could only have these, or worse than these, if he cared for any manner of spectacle. (I am not at present, observe, speaking of pure acting, which is a study, and recreative only as a noble book is; but of means of mere amusement.)

Now, lastly, in illustration of the effect of these and other such "amusements," and of the desire to obtain them, on the minds of our youth, read the 'Times' correspondent's letter from Paris, in the tenth page of the paper, to-day;[A] and that will be quite enough for you to read, for the present, I believe.

[A] Appendix 3.



March 4, 1867.

29. The subject which I want to bring before you is now branched, and worse than branched, reticulated, in so many directions, that I hardly know which shoot of it to trace, or which knot to lay hold of first.

I had intended to return to those Japanese jugglers, after a visit to a theater in Paris; but I had better, perhaps, at once tell you the piece of the performance which, in connection with the scene in the English pantomime, bears most on matters in hand.

It was also a dance by a little girl—though one older than Ali Baba's daughter, (I suppose a girl of twelve or fourteen). A dance, so called, which consisted only in a series of short, sharp contractions and jerks of the body and limbs, resulting in attitudes of distorted and quaint ugliness, such as might be produced in a puppet by sharp twitching of strings at its joints: these movements being made to the sound of two instruments, which between them accomplished only a quick vibratory beating and strumming, in nearly the time of a hearth-cricket's song, but much harsher, and of course louder, and without any sweetness; only in the monotony and unintended aimless construction of it, reminding one of various other insect and reptile cries or warnings: partly of the cicala's hiss; partly of the little melancholy German frog which says "Mu, mu, mu," all summer-day long, with its nose out of the pools by Dresden and Leipsic; and partly of the deadened quivering and intense continuousness of the alarm of the rattlesnake.

While this was going on, there was a Bible text repeating itself over and over again in my head, whether I would or no:—"And Miriam the prophetess, the sister of Aaron, took a timbrel in her hand, and all the women went out after her with timbrels and with dances." To which text and some others, I shall ask your attention presently; but I must go to Paris first.

30. Not at once, however, to the theater, but to a bookseller's shop, No. 4, Rue Voltaire, where, in the year 1858, was published the fifth edition of Balzac's 'Contes Drolatiques,' illustrated by 425 designs by Gustave Dore.

Both text and illustrations are as powerful as it is ever in the nature of evil things to be (there is no final strength but in rightness). Nothing more witty, nor more inventively horrible, has yet been produced in the evil literature, or by the evil art, of man: nor can I conceive it possible to go beyond either in their specialities of corruption. The text is full of blasphemies, subtle, tremendous, hideous in shamelessness, some put into the mouths of priests; the illustrations are, in a word, one continuous revelry in the most loathsome and monstrous aspects of death and sin, enlarged into fantastic ghastliness of caricature, as if seen through the distortion and trembling of the hot smoke of the mouth of hell. Take this following for a general type of what they seek in death: one of the most labored designs is of a man cut in two, downwards, by the sweep of a sword—one half of him falls toward the spectator; the other half is elaborately drawn in its section—giving the profile of the divided nose and lips; cleft jaw—breast—and entrails; and this is done with farther pollution and horror of intent in the circumstances, which I do not choose to describe—still less some other of the designs which seek for fantastic extreme of sin, as this for the utmost horror of death. But of all the 425, there is not one, which does not violate every instinct of decency and law of virtue or life, written in the human soul.

31. Now, my friend, among the many "Signs of the Times" the production of a book like this is a significant one: but it becomes more significant still when connected with the farther fact, that M. Gustave Dore, the designer of this series of plates, has just been received with loud acclaim by the British Evangelical Public, as the fittest and most able person whom they could at present find to illustrate, to their minds, and recommend with grace of sacred art, their hitherto unadorned Bible for them.

Of which Bible, and of the use we at present make of it in England, having a grave word or two to say in my next letter (preparatory to the examination of that verse which haunted me through the Japanese juggling, and of some others also), I leave you first this sign of the public esteem of it to consider at your leisure.



March 7, 1867.

32. I have your yesterday's letter, but must not allow myself to be diverted from the business in hand for this once, for it is the most important of which I have to write to you.

You must have seen long ago that the essential difference between the political economy I am trying to teach, and the popular science, is, that mine is based on presumably attainable honesty in men, and conceivable respect in them for the interests of others, while the popular science founds itself wholly on their supposed constant regard for their own, and on their honesty only so far as thereby likely to be secured.

It becomes, therefore, for me, and for all who believe anything I say, a great primal question on what this presumably attainable honesty is to be based.

33. "Is it to be based on religion?" you may ask. "Are we to be honest for fear of losing heaven if we are dishonest, or (to put it as generously as we may) for fear of displeasing God? Or, are we to be honest on speculation, because honesty is the best policy; and to invest in virtue as in an undepreciable stock?"

And my answer is—not in any hesitating or diffident way (and you know, my friend, that whatever people may say of me, I often do speak diffidently; though, when I am diffident of things, I like to avoid speaking of them, if it may be; but here I say with no shadow of doubt)—your honesty is not to be based either on religion or policy. Both your religion and policy must be based on it. Your honesty must be based, as the sun is, in vacant heaven; poised, as the lights in the firmament, which have rule over the day and over the night. If you ask why you are to be honest—you are, in the question itself, dishonored. "Because you are a man," is the only answer; and therefore I said in a former letter that to make your children capable of honesty is the beginning of education. Make them men first, and religious men afterwards, and all will be sound; but a knave's religion is always the rottenest thing about him.

34. It is not, therefore, because I am endeavoring to lay down a foundation of religious concrete, on which to build piers of policy, that you so often find me quoting Bible texts in defense of this or that principle or assertion. But the fact that such references are an offense, as I know them to be, to many of the readers of these political essays, is one among many others, which I would desire you to reflect upon (whether you are yourself one of the offended or not), as expressive of the singular position which the mind of the British public has at present taken with respect to its worshiped Book. The positions, honestly tenable, before I use any more of its texts, I must try to define for you.

35. All the theories possible to theological disputants respecting the Bible are resolvable into four, and four only.

(1.) The first is that of the illiterate modern religious world, that every word of the book known to them as "The Bible" was dictated by the Supreme Being, and is in every syllable of it His "Word."

This theory is of course tenable by no ordinarily well-educated person.

(2.) The second theory is, that, although admitting verbal error, the substance of the whole collection of books called the Bible is absolutely true, and furnished to man by Divine inspiration of the speakers and writers of it; and that every one who honestly and prayerfully seeks for such truth in it as is necessary for his salvation, will infallibly find it there.

This theory is that held by most of our good and upright clergymen, and the better class of the professedly religious laity.

(3.) The third theory is that the group of books which we call the Bible were neither written nor collected under any Divine guidance, securing them from substantial error; and that they contain, like all other human writings, false statements mixed with true, and erring thoughts mixed with just thoughts; but that they nevertheless relate, on the whole, faithfully, the dealings of the one God with the first races of man, and His dealings with them in aftertime through Christ: that they record true miracles, and bear true witness to the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come.

This is a theory held by many of the active leaders of modern thought.

(4.) The fourth, and last possible, theory is that the mass of religious Scripture contains merely the best efforts which we hitherto know to have been made by any of the races of men towards the discovery of some relations with the spiritual world; that they are only trustworthy as expressions of the enthusiastic visions or beliefs of earnest men oppressed by the world's darkness, and have no more authoritative claim on our faith than the religious speculations and histories of the Egyptians, Greeks, Persians, and Indians; but are, in common with all these, to be reverently studied, as containing a portion, divinely appointed, of the best wisdom which human intellect, earnestly seeking for help from God, has hitherto been able to gather between birth and death.

This has been, for the last half-century, the theory of the soundest scholars and thinkers of Europe.

36. There is yet indeed one farther condition of incredulity attainable, and sorrowfully attained, by many men of powerful intellect—the incredulity, namely, of inspiration in any sense, or of help given by any Divine power to the thoughts of men. But this form of infidelity merely indicates a natural incapacity for receiving certain emotions; though many honest and good men belong to this insentient class.

37. The educated men, therefore, who may be seriously appealed to, in these days, on questions of moral responsibility, as modified by Scripture, are broadly divisible into three classes, severally holding the last three theories above stated.

Now, whatever power a passage from the statedly authoritative portions of the Bible may have over the mind of a person holding the fourth theory, it will have a proportionately greater over that of persons holding the third or the second. I, therefore, always imagine myself speaking to the fourth class of theorists. If I can persuade or influence them, I am logically sure of the others. I say "logically," for the actual fact, strange as it may seem, is that no persons are so little likely to submit to a passage of Scripture not to their fancy, as those who are most positive on the subject of its general inspiration.

38. Addressing, then, this fourth class of thinkers, I would say to them, when asking them to enter on any subject of importance to national morals, or conduct, "This book, which has been the accepted guide of the moral intelligence of Europe for some fifteen hundred years, enforces certain simple laws of human conduct which you know have also been agreed upon, in every main point, by all the religious, and by all the greatest profane writers, of every age and country. This book primarily forbids pride, lasciviousness, and covetousness; and you know that all great thinkers, in every nation of mankind, have similarly forbidden these mortal vices. This book enjoins truth, temperance, charity, and equity; and you know that every great Egyptian, Greek, and Indian, enjoins these also. You know besides, that through all the mysteries of human fate and history, this one great law of fate is written on the walls of cities, or in their dust; written in letters of light, and letters of blood,—that where truth, temperance, and equity have been preserved, all strength, and peace, and joy have been preserved also;—that where lying, lasciviousness, and covetousness have been practised, there has followed an infallible, and, for centuries, irrecoverable ruin. And you know, lastly, that the observance of this common law of righteousness, commending itself to all the pure instincts of men, and fruitful in their temporal good, is by the religious writers of every nation, and chiefly in this venerated Scripture of ours, connected with some distinct hope of better life, and righteousness, to come.

39. "Let it not then offend you if, deducing principles of action first from the laws and facts of nature, I nevertheless fortify them also by appliance of the precepts, or suggestive and probable teachings of this Book, of which the authority is over many around you, more distinctly than over you, and which, confessing to be divine, they, at least, can only disobey at their moral peril."

On these grounds, and in this temper, I am in the habit of appealing to passages of Scripture in my writings on political economy; and in this temper I will ask you to consider with me some conclusions which appear to me derivable from that text about Miriam, which haunted me through the jugglery; and from certain others.



March 10, 1867.

40. Having, I hope, made you now clearly understand with what feeling I would use the authority of the book which the British public, professing to consider sacred, have lately adorned for themselves with the work of the boldest violator of the instincts of human honor and decency known yet in art-history, I will pursue by the help of that verse about Miriam, and some others, the subject which occupied my mind at both theaters, and to which, though in so apparently desultory manner, I have been nevertheless very earnestly endeavoring to lead you.

41. The going forth of the women of Israel after Miriam with timbrels and with dances, was, as you doubtless remember, their expression of passionate triumph and thankfulness, after the full accomplishment of their deliverance from the Egyptians. That deliverance had been by the utter death of their enemies, and accompanied by stupendous miracle; no human creatures could in an hour of triumph be surrounded by circumstances more solemn. I am not going to try to excite your feelings about them. Consider only for yourself what that seeing of the Egyptians "dead upon the sea-shore" meant to every soul that saw it. And then reflect that these intense emotions of mingled horror, triumph, and gratitude were expressed, in the visible presence of the Deity, by music and dancing. If you answer that you do not believe the Egyptians so perished, or that God ever appeared in a pillar of cloud, I reply, "Be it so—believe or disbelieve, as you choose;—This is yet assuredly the fact, that the author of the poem or fable of the Exodus supposed that, under such circumstances of Divine interposition as he had invented, the triumph of the Israelitish women would have been, and ought to have been, under the direction of a prophetess, expressed by music and dancing."

42. Nor was it possible that he should think otherwise, at whatever period he wrote; both music and dancing being, among all great ancient nations, an appointed and very principal part of the worship of the gods.

And that very theatrical entertainment at which I sate thinking over these things for you—that pantomime, which depended throughout for its success on an appeal to the vices of the lower London populace, was, in itself, nothing but a corrupt remnant of the religious ceremonies which guided the most serious faiths of the Greek mind, and laid the foundation of their gravest moral and didactic—more forcibly so because at the same time dramatic—literature.

43. Returning to the Jewish history, you find soon afterwards this enthusiastic religious dance and song employed, in their more common and habitual manner, in the idolatries under Sinai; but beautifully again and tenderly, after the triumph of Jephthah, "And behold his daughter came out to meet him with timbrels and with dances." Again, still more notably, at the triumph of David with Saul, "the women came out of all the cities of Israel singing and dancing to meet King Saul with tabrets, with joy, and with instruments of music." And you have this joyful song and dance of the virgins of Israel not only incidentally alluded to in the most solemn passages of Hebrew religious poetry (as in Psalm lxviii. 24, 25, and Psalm cxlix. 2, 3), but approved, and the restoration of it promised as a sign of God's perfect blessing, most earnestly by the saddest of the Hebrew prophets, and in one of the most beautiful of all his sayings.

"The Lord hath appeared of old unto me, saying, 'Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love. Therefore, with loving-kindness have I drawn thee.—I will build thee, and thou shalt be built, O Virgin of Israel; thou shalt again be adorned with thy tabrets, and thou shalt go forth in dances with them that make merry,'" (Jer. xxxi. 3, 4; and compare v. 13). And finally, you have in two of quite the most important passages in the whole series of Scripture (one in the Old Testament, one in the New), the rejoicing in the repentance from, and remission of, sins, expressed by means of music and dancing, namely, in the rapturous dancing of David before the returning ark; and in the joy of the father's household at the repentance of the prodigal son.

44. I could put all this much better, and more convincingly, before you, if I were able to take any pains in writing at present; but I am not, as I told you; being weary and ill; neither do I much care now to use what, in the very truth, are but tricks of literary art, in dealing with this so grave subject. You see I write you my letter straightforward, and let you see all my scratchings out and puttings in; and if the way I say things shocks you, or any other reader of these letters, I cannot help it; this only I know, that what I tell you is true, and written more earnestly than anything I ever wrote with my best literary care; and that you will find it useful to think upon, however it be said. Now, therefore, to draw towards our conclusion. Supposing the Bible inspired, in any of the senses above defined, you have in these passages a positively Divine authority for the use of song and dance, as a means of religious service, and expression of national thanksgiving. Supposing it not inspired, you have (taking the passages for as slightly authoritative as you choose) record in them, nevertheless, of a state of mind in a great nation, producing the most beautiful religious poetry and perfect moral law hitherto known to us, yet only expressible by them, to the fulfilment of their joyful passion, by means of professional dance and choral song.

45. Now I want you to contrast this state of religious rapture with some of our modern phases of mind in parallel circumstances. You see that the promise of Jeremiah's, "Thou shalt go forth in the dances of them that make merry," is immediately followed by this, "Thou shalt yet plant vines upon the mountains of Samaria." And again, at the yearly feast to the Lord in Shiloh, the dancing of the virgins was in the midst of the vineyards (Judges xxi. 21), the feast of the vintage being in the south, as our harvest home in the north, a peculiar occasion of joy and thanksgiving. I happened to pass the autumn of 1863 in one of the great vine districts of Switzerland, under the slopes of the outlying branch of the Jura which limits the arable plain of the Canton Zurich, some fifteen miles north of Zurich itself. That city has always been a renowned, stronghold of Swiss Protestantism, next in importance only to Geneva; and its evangelical zeal for the conversion of the Catholics of Uri, and endeavors to bring about that spiritual result by stopping the supplies of salt they needed to make their cheeses with, brought on (the Uri men reading their Matt. v. 13, in a different sense) the battle of Keppel, and the death of the reformer Zwinglius. The town itself shows the most gratifying signs of progress in all the modern arts and sciences of life. It is nearly as black as Newcastle—has a railroad station larger than the London terminus of the Chatham and Dover—fouls the stream of the Limmat as soon as it issues from the lake, so that you might even venture to compare the formerly simple and innocent Swiss river (I remember it thirty years ago—a current of pale green crystal) with the highly educated English streams of Weare or Tyne; and, finally, has as many French prints of dissolute tendency in its principal shop windows as if they had the privilege of opening on the Parisian Boulevards.

46. I was somewhat anxious to see what species of thanksgiving or exultation would be expressed at their vintage, by the peasantry in the neighborhood of this much enlightened, evangelical, and commercial society. It consisted in two ceremonies only. During the day, the servants of the farms where the grapes had been gathered, collected in knots about the vineyards, and slowly fired horse-pistols, from morning to evening. At night they got drunk, and staggered up and down the hill paths, uttering, at short intervals, yells and shrieks, differing only from the howling of wild animals by a certain intended and insolent discordance, only attainable by the malignity of debased human creatures.

47. I must not do the injustice to the Zurich peasantry of implying that this manner of festivity is peculiar to them. A year before, in 1862, I had formed the intention of living some years in the neighborhood of Geneva, and had established myself experimentally on the eastern slope of the Mont Saleve; but I was forced to abandon my purpose at last, because I could not endure the rabid howling, on Sunday evenings, of the holiday-makers who came out from Geneva to get drunk in the mountain village. By the way, your last letter, with its extracts about our traffic in gin, is very valuable. I will come to that part of the business in a little while. Meantime, my friend, note this, respecting what I have told you, that in the very center of Europe, in a country which is visited for their chief pleasure by the most refined and thoughtful persons among all Christian nations—a country made by God's hand the most beautiful in the temperate regions of the earth, and inhabited by a race once capable of the sternest patriotism and simplest purity of life, your modern religion, in the very stronghold of it, has reduced the song and dance of ancient virginal thanksgiving to the howlings and staggerings of men betraying, in intoxication, a nature sunk more than half-way towards the beasts; and you will begin to understand why the Bible should have been "illustrated" by Gustave Dore.

48. One word more is needful, though this letter is long already. The peculiar ghastliness of this Swiss mode of festivity is in its utter failure of joy; the paralysis and helplessness of a vice in which there is neither pleasure, nor art. But we are not, throughout Europe, wholly thus. There is such a thing, yet, as rapturous song and dance among us, though not indicative, by any means, of joy over repentant sinners. You must come back to Paris with me again. I had an evening to spare there, last summer, for investigation of theaters; and as there was nothing at any of them that I cared much about seeing, I asked a valet-de-place at Meurice's what people were generally going to. He said, "All the English went to see the Lanterne Magique." I do not care to tell you what general entertainment I received in following, for once, the lead of my countrymen; but it closed with the representation of the characteristic dancing of all ages of the world; and the dance given as characteristic of modern time was the Cancan, which you will see alluded to in the extract given in the note at page 80 of 'Sesame and Lilies' (the small edition; and page 54 of Vol. I. of the Revised Series of the Entire Works). "The ball terminated with a Devilish Chain and a Cancan of Hell, at seven in the morning." It was led by four principal dancers (who have since appeared in London in the Huguenot Captain), and it is many years since I have seen such perfect dancing, as far as finish and accuracy of art and fulness of animal power and fire are concerned. Nothing could be better done, in its own evil way, the object of the dance throughout being to express, in every gesture, the wildest fury of insolence and vicious passions possible to human creatures. So that you see, though, for the present, we find ourselves utterly incapable of a rapture of gladness or thanksgiving, the dance which is presented as characteristic of modern civilization is still rapturous enough—but it is with rapture of blasphemy.



March 16, 1867.

49. You may gather from the facts given you in my last letter that, as the expression of true and holy gladness was in old time statedly offered up by men for a part of worship to God their Father, so the expression of false and unholy gladness is in modern times, with as much distinctness and plainness, asserted by them openly to be offered to another spirit: "Chain of the Devil," and "Cancan of Hell" being the names assigned to these modern forms of joyous procession.

Now, you know that, among the best and wisest of our present religious teachers, there is a gradual tendency to disbelieve, and to preach their disbelief, in the commonly received ideas of the Devil, and of his place, and his work. While, among some of our equally well-meaning, but far less wise, religious teachers, there is, in consequence, a panic spreading in anticipation of the moral dangers which must follow on the loss of the help of the Devil. One of the last appearances in public of the author of the 'Christian Year' was at a conclave of clergymen assembled in defense of faith in damnation.[A] The sense of the meeting generally was, that there must be such a place as hell, because no one would ever behave decently upon earth unless they were kept in wholesome fear of the fires beneath it: and Mr. Keble, especially insisting on this view, related a story of an old woman who had a wicked son, and who, having lately heard with horror of the teaching of Mr. Maurice and others, exclaimed pathetically, "My son is bad enough as it is, and if he were not afraid of hell, what would become of him!" (I write from memory, and cannot answer for the words, but I can for their purport.)

[A] Physical damnation, I should have said. It is strange how seldom pain of heart is spoken of as a possible element of future, or as the worst of present pain.

50. Now, my friend, I am afraid that I must incur the charge of such presumption as may be involved in variance from both these systems of teaching.

I do not merely believe there is such a place as hell. I know there is such a place; and I know also that when men have got to the point of believing virtue impossible but through dread of it, they have got into it.

I mean, that according to the distinctness with which they hold such a creed, the stain of nether fire has passed upon them. In the depth of his heart Mr. Keble could not have entertained the thought for an instant; and I believe it was only as a conspicuous sign to the religious world of the state into which they were sinking, that this creed, possible in its sincerity only to the basest of them, was nevertheless appointed to be uttered by the lips of the most tender, gracious, and beloved of their teachers.

51. "Virtue impossible but for fear of hell"—a lofty creed for your English youth—and a holy one! And yet, my friend, there was something of right in the terrors of this clerical conclave. For, though you should assuredly be able to hold your own in the straight ways of God, without always believing that the Devil is at your side, it is a state of mind much to be dreaded, that you should not know the Devil when you see him there. For the probability is that when you do see him, the way you are walking in is not one of God's ways at all, but is leading you quite into other neighborhoods than His. On His way, indeed, you may often, like Albert Duerer's Knight, see the Fiend behind you, but you will find that he drops always farther and farther behind; whereas, if he jogs with you at your side, it is probably one of his own bypaths you are got on. And, in any case, it is a highly desirable matter that you should know him when you set eyes on him, which we are very far from doing in these days, having convinced ourselves that the graminivorous form of him, with horn and tail, is extant no longer. But in fearful truth, the Presence and Power of Him is here; in the world, with us, and within us, mock as you may; and the fight with him, for the time, sore, and widely unprosperous.

Do not think I am speaking metaphorically or rhetorically, or with any other than literal and earnest meaning of words. Hear me, I pray you, therefore, for a little while, as earnestly as I speak.

52. Every faculty of man's soul, and every instinct of it by which he is meant to live, is exposed to its own special form of corruption: and whether within Man, or in the external world, there is a power or condition of temptation which is perpetually endeavoring to reduce every glory of his soul, and every power of his life, to such corruption as is possible to them. And the more beautiful they are, the more fearful is the death which is attached as a penalty to their degradation.

53. Take, for instance, that which, in its purity, is the source of the highest and purest mortal happiness—Love. Think of it first at its highest—as it may exist in the disciplined spirit of a perfect human creature; as it has so existed again and again, and does always, wherever it truly exists at all, as the purifying passion of the soul. I will not speak of the transcendental and imaginative intensity in which it may reign in noble hearts, as when it inspired the greatest religious poem yet given to men; but take it in its true and quiet purity in any simple lover's heart,—as you have it expressed, for instance, thus, exquisitely, in the 'Angel in the House':—

"And there, with many a blissful tear, I vowed to love and prayed to wed The maiden who had grown so dear;— Thanked God, who had set her in my path; And promised, as I hoped to win, I never would sully my faith By the least selfishness or sin; Whatever in her sight I'd seem I'd really be; I ne'er would blend, With my delight in her, a dream 'Twould change her cheek to comprehend; And, if she wished it, would prefer Another's to my own success; And always seek the best for her With unofficious tenderness."

Take this for the pure type of it in its simplicity; and then think of what corruption this passion is capable. I will give you a type of that also, and at your very doors. I cannot refer you to the time when the crime happened; but it was some four or five years ago, near Newcastle, and it has remained always as a ghastly landmark in my mind, owing to the horror of the external circumstances. The body of the murdered woman was found naked, rolled into a heap of ashes, at the mouth of one of your pits.

54. You have thus two limiting examples, of the Pure Passion, and of its corruption. Now, whatever influence it is, without or within us, which has a tendency to degrade the one towards the other, is literally and accurately "Satanic." And this treacherous or deceiving spirit is perpetually at work, so that all the worst evil among us is a betrayed or corrupted good. Take religion itself: the desire of finding out God, and placing one's self in some true son's or servant's relation to Him. The Devil, that is to say, the deceiving spirit within us, or outside of us, mixes up our own vanity with this desire; makes us think that in our love to God we have established some connection with Him which separates us from our fellow-men, and renders us superior to them. Then it takes but one wave of the Devil's hand; and we are burning them alive for taking the liberty of contradicting us.

55. Take the desire of teaching—the entirely unselfish and noble instinct for telling to those who are ignorant, the truth we know, and guarding them from the errors we see them in danger of;—there is no nobler, no more constant instinct in honorable breasts; but let the Devil formalize it, and mix the pride of a profession with it—get foolish people entrusted with the business of instruction, and make their giddy heads giddier by putting them up in pulpits above a submissive crowd—and you have it instantly corrupted into its own reverse; you have an alliance against the light, shrieking at the sun, and the moon, and stars, as profane spectra:—a company of the blind, beseeching those they lead to remain blind also. "The heavens and the lights that rule them are untrue; the laws of creation are treacherous; the poles of the earth are out of poise. But we are true. Light is in us only. Shut your eyes close and fast, and we will lead you."

56. Take the desire and faith of mutual help; the virtue of vowed brotherhood for the accomplishment of common purpose, (without which nothing great can be wrought by multitudinous bands of men); let the Devil put pride of caste into it, and you have a military organization applied for a thousand years to maintain that higher caste in idleness by robbing the laboring poor; let the Devil put a few small personal interests into it, and you have all faithful deliberation on national law rendered impossible in the parliaments of Europe, by the antagonism of parties.

57. Take the instinct for justice, and the natural sense of indignation against crime; let the Devil color it with personal passion, and you have a mighty race of true and tender-hearted men living for centuries in such bloody feud that every note and word of their national songs is a dirge, and every rock of their hills is a gravestone. Take the love of beauty, and power of imagination, which are the source of every true achievement in art; let the Devil touch them with sensuality, and they are stronger than the sword or the flame to blast the cities where they were born, into ruin without hope. Take the instinct of industry and ardor of commerce, which are meant to be the support and mutual maintenance of man; let the Devil touch them with avarice, and you shall see the avenues of the exchange choked with corpses that have died of famine.

58. Now observe—I leave you to call this deceiving spirit what you like—or to theorize about it as you like. All that I desire you to recognize is the fact of its being here, and the need of its being fought with. If you take the Bible's account of it, or Dante's, or Milton's, you will receive the image of it as a mighty spiritual creature, commanding others, and resisted by others: if you take AEschylus's or Hesiod's account of it, you will hold it for a partly elementary and unconscious adversity of fate, and partly for a group of monstrous spiritual agencies connected with death, and begotten out of the dust; if you take a modern rationalist's, you will accept it for a mere treachery and want of vitality in our own moral nature exposing it to loathsomeness or moral disease, as the body is capable of mortification or leprosy. I do not care what you call it,—whose history you believe of it,—nor what you yourself can imagine about it; the origin, or nature, or name may be as you will, but the deadly reality of the thing is with us, and warring against us, and on our true war with it depends whatever life we can win. Deadly reality, I say. The puff-adder or horned asp is not more real. Unbelievable,—those,—unless you had seen them; no fable could have been coined out of any human brain so dreadful, within its own poor material sphere, as that blue-lipped serpent—working its way sidelong in the sand. As real, but with sting of eternal death—this worm that dies not, and fire that is not quenched, within our souls or around them. Eternal death, I say—sure, that, whatever creed you hold;—if the old Scriptural one, Death of perpetual banishment from before God's face; if the modern rationalist one, Death Eternal for us, instant and unredeemable ending of lives wasted in misery.

This is what this unquestionably present—this, according to his power, omni-present—fiend, brings us towards, daily. He is the person to be "voted" against, my working friend; it is worth something, having a vote against him, if you can get it! Which you can, indeed; but not by gift from Cabinet Ministers; you must work warily with your own hands, and drop sweat of heart's blood, before you can record that vote effectually.

Of which more in next letter.



March 19, 1857.

59. You may perhaps have thought my last three or four letters mere rhapsodies. They are nothing of the kind; they are accurate accounts of literal facts, which we have to deal with daily. This thing, or power, opposed to God's power, and specifically called "Mammon" in the Sermon on the Mount, is, in deed and in truth, a continually present and active enemy, properly called "Arch-enemy," that is to say, "Beginning and Prince of Enemies," and daily we have to record our vote for, or against him. Of the manner of which record we were next to consider.

60. This enemy is always recognizable, briefly in two functions. He is pre-eminently the Lord of Lies and the Lord of Pain. Wherever Lies are, he is; wherever Pain is, he has been—so that of the Spirit of Wisdom (who is called God's Helper, as Satan His Adversary) it is written, not only that by her Kings reign, and Princes decree justice, but also that her ways are ways of Pleasantness, and all her paths Peace.

Therefore, you will succeed, you working men, in recording your votes against this arch-enemy, precisely in the degree in which you can do away with falsehood and pain in your work and lives; and bring truth into the one, and pleasure into the other; all education being directed to make yourselves and your children capable of Honesty and capable of Delight; and to rescue yourselves from iniquity and agony. And this is what I meant by saying in the preface to 'Unto this Last' that the central requirement of education consisted in giving habits of gentleness and justice; "gentleness" (as I will show you presently) being the best single word I could have used to express the capacity for giving and receiving true pleasure; and "justice" being similarly the most comprehensive word for all kind of honest dealing.

61. Now, I began these letters with the purpose of explaining the nature of the requirements of justice first, and then those of gentleness, but I allowed myself to be led into that talk about the theaters, not only because the thoughts could be more easily written as they came, but also because I was able thus to illustrate for you more directly the nature of the enemy we have to deal with. You do not perhaps know, though I say this diffidently (for I often find working men know many things which one would have thought were out of their way), that music was, among the Greeks, quite the first means of education; and that it was so connected with their system of ethics and of intellectual training, that the God of Music is with them also the God of Righteousness;—the God who purges and avenges iniquity, and contends with their Satan as represented under the form of Python, "the corrupter." And the Greeks were incontrovertibly right in this. Music is the nearest at hand, the most orderly, the most delicate, and the most perfect, of all bodily pleasures; it is also the only one which is equally helpful to all the ages of man,—helpful from the nurse's song to her infant, to the music, unheard of others, which so often haunts the deathbed of pure and innocent spirits. And the action of the deceiving or devilish power is in nothing shown quite so distinctly among us at this day,—not even in our commercial dishonesties, nor in our social cruelties,—as in its having been able to take away music, as an instrument of education, altogether; and to enlist it almost wholly in the service of superstition on the one hand, and of sensuality on the other.

62. This power of the Muses, then, and its proper influence over you workmen, I shall eventually have much to insist upon with you; and in doing so I shall take that beautiful parable of the Prodigal Son (which I have already referred to), and explain, as far as I know, the significance of it, and then I will take the three means of festivity, or wholesome human joy, therein stated,—fine dress, rich food, and music;—("bring forth the fairest robe for him,"—"bring forth the fatted calf, and kill it;" "as he drew nigh, he heard music and dancing"); and I will show you how all these three things, fine dress, rich food, and music (including ultimately all the other arts) are meant to be sources of life, and means of moral discipline, to all men; and how they have all three been made, by the Devil, the means of guilt, dissoluteness, and death.[A] But first I must return to my original plan of these letters, and endeavor to set down for you some of the laws which, in a true Working Men's Parliament, must be ordained in defense of Honesty.

[A] See 'Fors Clavigera,' Letter XXIV.

Of which laws (preliminary to all others, and necessary above all others), having now somewhat got my raveled threads together again, I will begin talk in my next letter.



March 20, 1867.

63. I have your most interesting letter,[A] which I keep for reference, when I come to the consideration of its subject in its proper place, under the head of the abuse of Food. I do not wonder that your life should be rendered unhappy by the scenes of drunkenness which you are so often compelled to witness; nor that this so gigantic and infectious evil should seem to you the root of the greater part of the misery of our lower orders. I do not wonder that George Cruikshank has warped the entire current of his thoughts and life, at once to my admiration and my sorrow, from their natural field of work, that he might spend them, in struggle with this fiend, for the poor lowest people whom he knows so well. I wholly sympathize with you in indignation at the methods of temptation employed, and at the use of the fortunes made by the vendors of death; and whatever immediately applicable legal means there might be of restricting the causes of drunkenness, I should without hesitation desire to bring into operation. But all such appliance I consider temporary and provisionary; nor, while there is record of the miracle at Cana (not to speak of the sacrament) can I conceive it possible, without (logically) the denial of the entire truth of the New Testament, to reprobate the use of wine as a stimulus to the powers of life. Supposing we did deny the words and deeds of the Founder of Christianity, the authority of the wisest heathens, especially that of Plato in the 'Laws,' is wholly against abstinence from wine; and much as I can believe, and as I have been endeavoring to make you believe also, of the subtlety of the Devil, I do not suppose the vine to have been one of his inventions. Of this, however, more in another place. By the way, was it not curious that in the 'Manchester Examiner,' in which that letter of mine on the abuse of dancing appeared, there chanced to be, in the next column, a paragraph giving an account of a girl stabbing her betrayer in a ball-room; and another paragraph describing a Parisian character, which gives exactly the extreme type I wanted, for example of the abuse of Food?[B]

[A] Appendix 4.

[B] Appendix 5.

64. I return, however, now to the examination of possible means for the enforcement of justice, in temper and in act, as the first of political requirements. And as, in stating my conviction of the necessity of certain stringent laws on this matter, I shall be in direct opposition to Mr. Stuart Mill; and, more or less, in opposition to other professors of modern political economy, as well as to many honest and active promoters of the privileges of working men (as if privilege only were wanted and never restraint!), I will give you, as briefly as I can, the grounds on which I am prepared to justify such opposition.

65. When the crew of a wrecked ship escape in an open boat, and the boat is crowded, the provisions scanty, and the prospect of making land distant, laws are instantly established and enforced which no one thinks of disobeying. An entire equality of claim to the provisions is acknowledged without dispute; and an equal liability to necessary labor. No man who can row is allowed to refuse his oar; no man, however much money he may have saved in his pocket, is allowed so much as half a biscuit beyond his proper ration. Any riotous person who endangered the safety of the rest would be bound, and laid in the bottom of the boat, without the smallest compunction, for such violation of the principles of individual liberty; and, on the other hand, any child, or woman, or aged person, who was helpless, and exposed to great danger and suffering by their weakness, would receive more than ordinary care and indulgence, not unaccompanied with unanimous self-sacrifice on the part of the laboring crew.

There is never any question under circumstances like these, of what is right and wrong, worthy and unworthy, wise or foolish. If there be any question, there is little hope for boat or crew. The right man is put at the helm; every available hand is set to the oars; the sick are tended, and the vicious restrained, at once, and decisively; or if not, the end is near.

66. Now, the circumstances of every associated group of human society, contending bravely for national honors and felicity of life, differ only from those thus supposed, in the greater, instead of less, necessity for the establishment of restraining law. There is no point of difference in the difficulties to be met, nor in the rights reciprocally to be exercised. Vice and indolence are not less, but more, injurious in a nation than in a boat's company; the modes in which they affect the interests of worthy persons being far more complex, and more easily concealed. The right of restraint, vested in those who labor, over those who would impede their labor, is as absolute in the large as in the small society; the equal claim to share in whatever is necessary to the common life (or commonwealth) is as indefeasible; the claim of the sick and helpless to be cared for by the strong with earnest self-sacrifice, is as pitiful and as imperative; the necessity that the governing authority should be in the hands of a true and trained pilot is as clear and as constant. In none of these conditions is there any difference between a nation and a boat's company. The only difference is in this, that the impossibility of discerning the effects of individual error and crime, or of counteracting them by individual effort, in the affairs of a great nation renders it tenfold more necessary than in a small society that direction by law should be sternly established. Assume that your boat's crew is disorderly and licentious, and will, by agreement, submit to no order;—the most troublesome of them will yet be easily discerned; and the chance is that the best man among them knocks him down. Common instinct of self-preservation will make the rioters put a good sailor at the helm, and impulsive pity and occasional help will be, by heart and hand, here and there given to visible distress. Not so in the ship of the realm. The most troublesome persons in it are usually the least recognized for such, and the most active in its management; the best men mind their own business patiently, and are never thought of; the good helmsman never touches the tiller but in the last extremity; and the worst forms of misery are hidden, not only from every eye, but from every thought. On the deck, the aspect is of Cleopatra's galley—under hatches there is a slave hospital; while, finally (and this is the most fatal difference of all), even the few persons who care to interfere energetically, with purpose of doing good, can, in a large society, discern so little of the real state of evil to be dealt with, and judge so little of the best means of dealing with it, that half of their best efforts will be misdirected, and some may even do more harm than good. Whereas it is the sorrowful law of this universe, that evil, even unconscious and unintended, never fails of its effect; and in a state where the evil and the good, under conditions of individual "liberty," are allowed to contend together, not only every stroke on the Devil's side tells—but every slip, (the mistakes of wicked men being as mischievous as their successes); while on the side of right, there will be much direct and fatal defeat, and, even of its measure of victory, half will be fruitless.

67. It is true, of course, that, in the end of ends, nothing but the right conquers; the prevalent thorns of wrong, at last, crackle away in indiscriminate flame: and of the good seed sown, one grain in a thousand some day comes up—and somebody lives by it; but most of our great teachers, not excepting Carlyle and Emerson themselves, are a little too encouraging in their proclamation of this comfort, not, to my mind, very sufficient, when for the present our fields are full of nothing but darnel instead of wheat, and cockle instead of barley; and none of them seem to me yet to have enough insisted on the inevitable power and infectiousness of all evil, and the easy and utter extinguishableness of good. Medicine often fails of its effect—but poison never: and while, in summing the observation of past life, not unwatchfully spent, I can truly say that I have a thousand times seen patience disappointed of her hope, and wisdom of her aim, I have never yet seen folly fruitless of mischief, nor vice conclude but in calamity.

68. There is, however, one important condition in national economy, in which the analogy of that of a ship's company is incomplete: namely, that while labor at oar or sail is necessarily united, and can attain no independent good, or personal profit, the labor properly undertaken by the several members of a political community is necessarily, and justly, within certain limits, independent; and obtains for them independent advantage, of which, if you will glance at the last paragraph of the first chapter of 'Munera Pulveris,' you will see I should be the last person to propose depriving them. This great difference in final condition involves necessarily much complexity in the system and application of general laws; but it in no wise abrogates,—on the contrary, it renders yet more imperative,—the necessity for the firm ordinance of such laws, which, marking the due limits of independent agency, may enable it to exist in full energy, not only without becoming injurious, but so as more variously and perfectly to promote the entire interests of the commonwealth.

I will address myself therefore in my next letter to the statement of some of these necessary laws.



March 21, 1867.

69. I see, by your last letter, for which I heartily thank you, that you would not sympathize with me in my sorrow for the desertion of his own work by George Cruikshank, that he may fight in the front of the temperance ranks. But you do not know what work he has left undone, nor how much richer inheritance you might have received from his hand. It was no more his business to etch diagrams of drunkenness than it is mine at this moment to be writing these letters against anarchy. It is "the first mild day of March" (high time, I think, that it should be!), and by rights I ought to be out among the budding banks and hedges, outlining sprays of hawthorn and clusters of primrose. That is my right work; and it is not, in the inner gist and truth of it, right nor good, for you, or for anybody else, that Cruikshank with his great gift, and I with my weak, but yet thoroughly clear and definite one, should both of us be tormented by agony of indignation and compassion, till we are forced to give up our peace, and pleasure, and power; and rush down into the streets and lanes of the city, to do the little that is in the strength of our single hands against their uncleanliness and iniquity. But, as in a sorely besieged town, every man must to the ramparts, whatsoever business he leaves, so neither he nor I have had any choice but to leave our household stuff, and go on crusade, such as we are called to; not that I mean, if Fate may be anywise resisted, to give up the strength of my life, as he has given his; for I think he was wrong in doing so; and that he should only have carried the fiery cross his appointed leagues, and then given it to another hand; and, for my own part, I mean these very letters to close my political work for many a day; and I write them, not in any hope of their being at present listened to, but to disburthen my heart of the witness I have to bear, that I may be free to go back to my garden lawns, and paint birds and flowers there.

70. For these same statutes which we are to consider to-day, have indeed been in my mind now these fourteen years, ever since I wrote the last volume of the 'Stones of Venice,' in which you will find, in the long note on Modern Education, most of what I have been now in detail writing to you, hinted in abstract; and, at the close of it, this sentence, of which I solemnly now avouch (in thankfulness that I was permitted to write it), every word: "Finally, I hold it for indisputable, that the first duty of a State is to see that every child born therein shall be well housed, clothed, fed, and educated, till it attain years of discretion. But in order to the effecting this the Government must have an authority over the people of which we now do not so much as dream."

That authority I did not then endeavor to define, for I knew all such assertions would be useless, and that the necessarily resultant outcry would merely diminish my influence in other directions. But now I do not care about influence any more, it being only my concern to say truly that which I know, and, if it may be, get some quiet life, yet, among the fields in the evening shadow.

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