Matthew Arnold: How to Know Him
By Stuart P. Sherman
The Bobbs-Merrill Company
CHAPTER 1: CHARACTER and CAREER
1 – Matthew Arnold’s (MA) main task was making aristocratic tastes prevail in a world that was rapidly becoming democratic.
2 – He was just as progressive and better rooted in the past than his adversaries, and wished to go with them into the future.
3 – Various as his themes are MA’s work is remarkably harmonious and symmetrical. He forbade a formal biography.
4 – After 35 MA wrote little poetry and decided, he said, “To make a habitual war on depression and low spirits, which in one’s early youth one is apt to indulge and be somewhat interested in.”
8 – He entered Rugby school in 1837 where he spent 5 years under the supervision of his father.
9 – 10 Of Oxford, he wrote, “I am much struck with the apathy of the people here.”
And, he wrote at 64, “I read five pages of Greek anthology every day, looking out all the words I do not know; this is what I shall always understand by education, and it does me good, and gives me great pleasure.”
12 – While a secretary, he finds Transcendental poets consolatory.
13 – Of his wedding, G. W. E. Russell declared, “to one who knew the beauty of that life-long honeymoon, the criticism is almost too absurd to write down.”
18 – He mastered the agitation and egoism of youth by meditating on the stream of human existence, which keeps its general course. It gave him humility about his own function and a touch of superiority to transitory things – to the passing show.
19 – He identified truth with beauty, not as it identified by Keats, but with God, as in the gospels and poets with a religious temper.
20 – MA wrote, “The soul of man is instinctively religious, and in all cults one finds a common need of the infinity and of felicity.”
21 – From his favorite moralists, MA acquired the arts and habits of deliberate self-discipline.
22 – MA wrote, “It is better to do the least little thing in the world than to hold one half-hour of little account.” And “The main thing is self-mastery.”
23 – “In the long run one does not please nor prosper in human intercourse without gaiety.”
“Let us cultivate everything that can give grace, gaiety, joy in life.”
24 – The aim is to understand myself and the age, to apprehend what is the need of each, and to administer according to our ability to that need.”
“Man’s mission is to increase the feeling of joy, to fecundate the expansive energy, and to oppose, in every living thing, the principle of degradation and misery.”
25 – “A government should be a progressive mover, an organ of public opinion, a protector of all legitimate rights, an initiator of all the energies which constitute the national spirit.”
28 – But he said the difference between him and Renan was that he inculcates morality, while I (MA) tend to inculcate intelligence.
29By his election to the professorship of poetry at Oxford in 1857, he had literary criticism thrust upon him at just the right moment.
33 – He wrote for the governing class.
34 – He rounded off his poetry professorship by publishing his book on celtic literature. Thereupon he started publishing the articles in Cornhill that would become Culture and Anarchy (CA) in 1869.
38 – Then he told Roschild that he was done with social and political essays and wrote St. Paul and Protestantism. He wrote several books on the topic, and did a tear of lit reviews in the 1880s.
44 – It appears his trips to America did not change his estimate of the people. He came to the country with a preconception that an aristocracy and a state church are indispensible training schools of national manners.
45 – He wrote, “I have seen no American yet . . . who does not seem to desire constant publicity and to be on the go all day long.”
49 - He sailed to America the second time to see his granddaughter on May 22nd, 1886.
50 – He knew he was going to die and saw it as natural.
51 – For the Sunday following his death he wrote, “When the dead is at rest, let his remembrance rest; and be comforted for him when his spirit is departed from him.”
CHAPTER 2: POEMS of the PERSONAL LIFE
53 – As we look back now over the quarter of a century, or a little more, previous to 1869, “The main movement of mind” is not difficult to trace. It was “democratic, scientific, critical, realistic – directed, in short, toward the extension of the sway of reason over all things.”
54 - Arnold’s poems reflect the conflict of aristocratic with democratic, traditional with dogmatic, romantic with classic, emotion with intelligence. He wishes to go with the main movements of mind, but he turns again and again to say goodbye to his sympathies. He has the melancholy of disillusion.
55 – “Without any special reference to chronology,” (?) we can find him going from despair to stoicism, to courage and hope, denoting a “pretty complete moral recovery.”
His disillusionment had three distinct phases: A disillusionment about love and human relationships; a disillusionment about his powers and career; and a disillusionment about God and the universe.”
56 – 57 The first disillusion was the weakest and the theme of his weakest poems. Here he reprints ‘Isolation. To Marguerite,’ and “To Margueirite. Continued.”
59 – There is scant analysis, except to say that the words of disillusionment with love could easily be changed to explain his with religion.
60 – The primary fact in his religious experience was his consciousness of his own soul: which is deeper than senses, emotion, or intellect. It is felt as a longing not achieved. It is described in the fully reprinted poem, “A Buried Life.”
61 – It has the lines:
Alas! Is even love too weak
To unlock the heart, and let is speak?
Are even lovers powerless to reveal
To one another what indeed they feel?
I knew the mass of men conceald
Their thoughts, for fear that if revealed
They would by other men be met
With blank indifference, or with blame reproved;
I knew they lived and moved
Tricked in disguises, alien to the rest
Of men, and alien to themselves – and yet
The same heart beats in every human breast!
But we, my love! Doth a like spell benumb
Our hearts, our voices? Must we too be dumb?
Ah! Well for us, even if we,
Even for a moment, can get free
Our heart, and have our lips unchained;
For that which seals them hath been deep-ordained!
64 – This poem shows his need to be profoundly religious. “The need of a being outside himself – supreme, beneficent, eternal – to whose continuous effort through the ages he might unite his own will and workings, and so redeem them from insignificance and perdition.”
But for him, he lived, when “The medieval architecture of religious faith appeared to his candid eye to have crumbled into gothic ruin.” Unlike Newman, he could not worship in this past.
The Grand Chartruese (reprinted next) tells of this failure.
The first stanza reads:
For rigorous teachers seized my youth,
And purged its faith, and trimmed its fire,
Showed me the high, white star of Truth,
There bade me gaze, and there aspire.
Even now their whispers pierce the gloom:
What dost thou in this living tomb?
“Thinking of his own gods, a Greek
In pity and mournful awe might stand
Before some fallen Runic stone;
For both were faiths, and both are gone.”
And, it has the lines:
“Wandering between two worlds, one dead, the other powerless to be born,”
65 – He had to help construct the new world; the new icons.
66 – But the interlude made him despair, as we see in the mood of the reprinted Dover Beach.
68 – Now we look at Empedocles as a poem of religious disillusionment. But, he also mentions being trapped in a mechanical universe.
69 – Empedocles says he is:
A living man no more, Empedocles!
Nothing but a devouring flame of thought –
But a naked, eternally restless mind!
He has served the mind.
70 – Though he complained of poems not being intellectual, Empedocles was the end. And, MA’s emotions shrank as his intellect widened; “that as the discipline of his feelings approached completion there was relatively little feeling left to discipline.”
71 – He writes several poems about this. Here we look at “Growing Old,” “Despondency,” and “The Progress of Poesy: A variation.”
72 – The progress of poesy would make an excellent song.
We have now considered MA’s three major disillusionments.
“He seems to have passed out of these darker moods, as his contemporaries, John Stuart Mill and Thomas Carlyle did, through a ‘center of indifference’ and by a gradual displacement (73) in his consciousness of the ‘me’ and the ‘not me’ – the classical method of salvation.”
73 – He wrote poems indicating that we should endure. Sherman gives us an excerpt from ‘Resignation’ as one.
74 – Sherman italicizes:
‘If I might lend their life a voice,
Seem to bear rather than rejoice.”
75 – Wordsworth found solace in nature. But, by the mid – 1900s, poets could hardly entertain such conceptions. They spoke of nature “red in tooth and claw.”
For Arnold, nature is “enigmatic, a dark-browed sphinx, a cruel or rather indifferent spectator, mocking the vain fever of man’s small activities.”
As an example, Sherman provides, the sonnet. “To the Preacher.”
76 – With the lines:
Man must begin, know this, where Nature ends;
Nature and man can never be fast friends.
Fool, if thou canst not pass her, rest her slave!
The Scholar –Gipsy and “Thyrsis” have some pastoral stuff. But, it is just a place where the scholar rests to forget, temporarily, their “habitual world of thought and morality.”
77 – He says the pastoral is thin. His commemorative poem about Clough, ‘Thyrsis,’ is his evidence. And indeed a sad funeral pall hangs over the whole thing.
79 – Next we get some of “Scholar-Gipsy.” This has the pastoral but has further interest too in that it talks of an impulse he keeps in check: to wander irresponsibly.
80 - Both poems are ‘doric’ that means nostalgic.
81 – Arnold likes the stars because they are quiet and eternal. We see this in “A Summer Night,” and “Self-Dependence,” and “Quiet Work.”
82 – Part of a Summer Night reads:
For most men in a brazen prison live,
Where, in the sun’s hot eye,
With heads bent o’er their toil, they languidly
Their lives to some unmeaning task-work give,
Dreaming of naught beyond their prison-wall.”
“And the rest, a few,
Escape their prison, and depart
On the wide ocean of life anew.”
“Is there no life, but these alone?
Madman or slave, must man be one?”
83 - In the end he comes back to describe the “untroubled and unpassionate” stars.
84 – If the stars have any voice, it says, “Endure, and go about your business quietly and diligently.” But there is no more moral guidance there.
85 – Our effort and earnestness show our distinction from nature and our mortality.
The poem “morality” speaks to the same theme. Our work does not impress the sky. And, the sky moves, but prior didn’t when it was with God.
86 – It is clearly MA’s conviction that the appointed places for man to hear his oracle are in human history, in the inspired books, in the lives of his fellow men, and in his own heart.
Sherman notes that some superficial readers think the critic and the poet are two different people. You’ll know this if you read his works on religion!
87 – “They have in common a strong sense that the center of man’s being is an inward monitor, the heart of his moral and spiritual nature, and that his true prosperity in life depends upon his listening to that [inward monitor].
We see this in the poems “East London” and “The Better Part.”
88 - He claims that Arnold is at his best when standing by a grave.
89 – We see this in “Rugby Chapel”
CHAPTER 3: POEMS of the EXTERNAL WORLD
From the beginning there was a conflict between the helpful role of the poet Arnold promoted and his poems.
93 - That is why he withdrew Empedocles from circulation.
94 – He wrote “It is demanded not only that it shall interest, but also that it shall inspirit and rejoice the reader; that it shall convey a charm, and infuse delight.”
Schiller wrote “All art is dedicated to joy and there is no higher and no more serious problem than how to make men happy.”
95 – This doesn’t MA adds, prevent tragedy from being good art. We enjoy tragedy. But it is bad when the “suffering finds no vent in action.” When there is nothing to be done.
96 – He also says that the choice of a poetical subject is all important. “A great human action of a thousand years ago is more interesting to it than a smaller human action of today.”
97 – Greeks found the action more important than the expression. That is a difference between then and ‘now.’
98 – When MA wrote of the heart, he wrote of his time. When he chose a subject in the external world, he went mythical. His longer poems get more and more ancient.
99 – In ‘Tristam and Iseult” he spends too much time (many think) on Iseult. You sense that he’s torn between reason and emotion. She is a self-contained, resigned, calm effigy. This represents the calm that youth doesn’t know.
100 – He finds in “Iseult of Brittany” “expression seldom surpassed by him or by any of his contemporaries.” Then prints the poem from pages 100 – 107.
107 – He does say the poem “Tristam and Iseult” is less vigorously integrated and serious than “Sohrab and Rustum” (which probably better holds to his ideals than any other poem).
He thought the poem Sohrab showed noble important action. It is a Persian story.
108 - And this poem is heroic while tragic.
109 – And
in the end there is a solemn peace.
“It yields, in short, the special joy of the truly tragic: a sense of
something transcending the individual life, of something in the world nobler
than nature, of something in the heart which destiny can not break – a
sense, in the presence of death, of deathless things.
This final effect, the highest can produce, is procured by various more or less definable means.”
He makes it seem that all the Middle East’s heroes are watching. Nature itself cares!
114 – The poem reprint continued, we are asked to compare Sohrab’s speech to his father telling him not to die but to continue on doing great deeds.
118 – Next we read excerpts from Balder. This is another late epic poem. It did not do well. And, Arnold gave various reasons for this. Sherman says it has its moments and excerpts them. But, uncharacteristically, agrees it is weak.
120 – Sherman suggests waiting to read Merope until you’ve acquired a taste for Arnold. He sees it as passionate, but necessitated by Arnold’s critical statements.
121 – Sohrab is Homeric in English. Merope was to bring a sophoclean presence to England. MA said it had what Buddha called “fixity.”
122 – MA said it was a “specimen of the world created by the Greek imagination.” He admits it is professorial. The British multitudes rejected it because they would rather “die in their sins.” It is to inagurate his professorship, not “to move deeply the present race of humans.”
123 – Sheman says it is the “contrivance of an austere and intelligent artisanship without the warmth and vital rhythm of the authentic creative impulse.”
Now two pages of excerpts.
These are against the best people taking power for the general good.
Here is an excerpt:
But who can say, without a fear:
That best, who ought to rule, am I;
The mob, who ought to obey, are these,
I the one righteous, they the many bad?
126 – As such, Sherman says they complement Arnold’s two sonnets “To a Republican Friend.”
Sherman likes, in the end, Merope. This is because unlike “the present race of humans” he prioritizes ideas over beauty of expression.
Next we hit The Forsaken Merman, if only for contrast. Merman is 1849 and Merope is 1858, so we must note the differences. Merman has “human interest.”
Merman is reproduced, without comment, till the next chapter begins.
CHAPTER 4: LITERARY CRITICISM
Three characteristics of MA’s criticism:
1) He does not look at everyone, he selects those he thinks have a mark of immortality.
2) He conveys his delight in the literature.
3) He conveys sound principles.
133 - This chapter will look at his ideas: method and the subject of his criticism.
134 – Arnold’s culture had given him a strong sense of “community of the civilized world.” “A confederation whose members have a due knowledge both of the past, out of which they all proceed, and one another.”
135 – We cannot get absolute truth, but we can avoid political, religious, national or racial partnership.
136 – The best spiritual work is “to keep a man from a self-satisfaction which is retarding and vulgarizing, to lead him towards perfection, by making his mind dwell upon what is excellent in itself, and the absolute beauty and fitness of things.” Arnold says.
137 – He sought a criticism above partisanship.
138 – 139 In “The Literary Influence of Academies,” Arnold reminds his readers that the French Academy started in 1629 when a group of 7 or 8 people came together to “discuss literary matters.”
140 – Such an institution would have many enemies in human nature as we all like to go our own way, and not to be forced out of our habits.
141 – The English people, are constantly in danger, Arnold intimates, of being pleased without just cause.
In France they ask if they were right to be amused by something and in applauding it or being moved by it. A Frenchman has an active belief that there is a right and wrong and that he is bound to honor and obey the right, and disgraced by cleaving to the wrong.
143 – Still MA does not want an academy for the English people. He dismisses the idea as foreign to the liberty-loving genius of the English. We cannot be bullied into the kingdom of heaven.
“National jealousy” can be trusted to give force to these ideas, even in a democracy.
145 – In Pope’s poverty of feeling he saw the excess of restraint just as Keat’s head too much freedom.
146 – In Greece literature achieved “adequacy.” That means it represents the highly developed human nature of that age (politically, socially, religiously, morally).
147 – “Poetry is at bottom a criticism of ife; tat the greatness of a poet lies in his powerful and beautiful application of ideas to life – to the questions: How to live. Morals are often treated in a narrow and false fashion.” MA said. “A poetry of revolt against moral ideas is a poetry of revolt against life; a poetry of indifference to moral ideas is a poetry of indifference to life.”
Sherman adds, “If we infer from this position that he thought the best poetry the best morality, we shall not be far from the track of his own reasoning.”
This makes it the best religion too.
148 – Poetry attaches its emotion to the idea; the idea is the fact. The strongest part of our religion today is its unconscious poetry.
149 – “I think it will be found that the grand style arises in poetry, when a noble nature, poetically gifted, treats with simplicity or with severity a serious subject.”
150 – MA’s style is not easy to define as it blends three aspects: The judicial or classical method; the impressionistic or romantic method; and the historical or naturalistic method.
151 – Judicial comes from Aristotle. It asks not, “Does the work please us?”, but “Has it a right to please us?” This is the first question of the criticism of such men as Horace, Ben Jonson, Pope, Addison, and somewhat, Dr. Johnson.
Impressionism is less defined. It may be traced to Longinus. It is 18th century.
152 – It rose against ‘Criticism by rules.” Does it please via charm? Swinburne and Pater belong in this camp.
153 – The historical method: This speaks to circumstances, social and the author’s, and the works relation to contemporary and historic work, “the influence of nation, race, etc.,” In short, its “evolution.” Taine.
154 – MA does judicial in regards to an authority higher than himself: the classical tradition and spirit. And internationally, Goethe.
155 – Sherman writes, “Tradition and society are admirable disciplinarians, are powerful allies, of individual talent; but they are not a substitute for it.”
156 – Works need substance and form.
161 – MA made relatively slight use of historical method, the really distinctive critical method of his time.
162 – Why? Well he was not a giant reader. He hadn’t time for minutiae.
164 – Also, he is not interested in the historical method’s results.
165 - MA did not think historical explication could do the work of aesthetic and moral criticism.
And this was timely as leading exponents of the new historical ‘scientific’ method were working to destroy the credibility of the classical and impressionistic methods.
166 – The advice to study the character of an author and his times is excellent, MA said, but that is not enough.
168 – But the previous balance of historical, impressionistic and judicial are not really what makes MA special: his aim. He wants to make us know the best, to make us love it and practice it.
As he got older he grew increasingly impatient of intelligence which is not amiable and amiability which was not intelligent.
169 – You must pursue the best and be indifferent to the second best. ‘To be freed from all the thousand seductions and distractions of inferior interests,’ was a favorite phrase from Goethe. We must reject its indiscriminate multiplicity.
169 – 170 He ends his essay on Goethe quoting “The fashion of this word passeth away; and I would fain occupy myself only with the abiding.”
172 – Disparagers of MA say that he is monotonous because he is only interested in “moral ideas” of “High seriousness.” But Sherman says this is not a narrow or dull field.
173 – And people who do not find their literary sensibilities stimulated by MA likely had little literary sensibilities anyways.
175 – It is pretty generally agreed that Arnold’s discourses on Celtic literature are not so sound as his lectures on Homer.
176 – 177 But if there are more learned, less fanciful, advocates than the pioneering popularizing of MA, why should we still read it? The charm of its style, its incidental digressions, its suggestive comparison of national traits and tendencies, its reprehension of national pride and arrogance, its various persuasions to the study of perfection.
177 – But mostly, we love its vigorous stimulus to intellectual curiosity. It uncovers disdain for that which we do not understand.
178 – Sherman has lingered on Homer and the Celt work because others have not.
179 – His “spiritual portraits” of other minds are really, in some sense, self-portraits. They tell what MA values.
180 – MA contrasts Spinoza’s intelletual religion with Christianity.
181 – And, he provides an uncharacteristically personal and emotional testimony to Marcus Aurelius.
182 – His George Sand is also very emotional. He says you cannot know her unless you know her work. And, he recalls with some joy her impact on her early life.
184 – He speaks of her desiring a ‘renaissance sociale.’ Her later works, we read are too seriously bent on this revolution.
185 – MA writes, “The cure for us is far more simple than we will believe. All the better natures among us see it and feel it. It is a good direction given by ourselves to our hearts and consciences.”
Sherman loves Arnold. “His character adds weight and importance to his morality. His fine intelligence and pure elevated feeling invest his morality with a winsome beauty. So let a stimulus to the heart and conscience be reckoned with the stimulus to esthetic sensibility and the stimulus to intellectual curiosity.”
CHAPTER 5: EDUCATION
186 – MA writes of education as a man of his times. But he does not do statistics, child-psych or “deeper mysteries of pedagogy.” He writes of means, but never takes his eyes off the end of education.
187 – Attention to education was necessary due to the emergence of the lower class as voters.
189 – The problem with English ed was that it had just grown without direction.
It had no standards, rather just “English liberty.”
In Germany Humboldt and in France Guizot nationalized education, making it intelligent.
The first step was to make elementary education sound and uniform, public and universal.
190 – The second step was to interest the middle class in good schools.
The third step was to add more universities.
The 6th and 7th letters of Friendship’s Garland have lots on education; which he reviews for 5 pages.
196 – While appreciating liberty, MA feels most people / localities need a power outside of themselves to help them be their best selves.
197 – Rather than do this, most British magistrates flatter their constituents’ misdirection.
198 – In French Eton he saw many schools, but few with dignity. In education, no less than to literature, Arnold applied Goethe’s maxim “everything in the grand style is formative.”
199 – Schools for the middle class should give them “’largeness of soul’ lifting them out of the middle class into the life of the nation.”
To this end, we must give schools a “public character,” and a “national character.”
200 – Schools could give a “sense of belonging to a great and honorable seats of learning, and of breathing into their youth the air of the best culture of their nation.” MA wrote.
201 – MA complained “The French University has no liberty, and the English universities have no science; the German universities have both.”
“The want of the idea of science, of systematic knowledge is, as I have said again and again, the capital want of the English education and of English life.”
After general education, he said facilities should be provided “for the young man to go on in the line where his special aptitudes lead him, be it that of languages and literature, of mathematics, of the natural sciences.”
203 – He found in our American high schools and in our state universities the models for England.
204 – The choice of studies was made in the third quarter of the 19th century a particularly live issue, due to the claims of natural science. People wanted, not only a place, but a predominant place in the uni.
205 – This leads to ‘literature and science’ which was with Huxley, but had an eye on Spencer. Thomas was a moderate, and could accommodate; but Spencer wanted all humanities out.
207 – Spencer’s ed theory comes from his view of men as animals adopting to the environment. Spencer says a classical education is just ornament and conformity to public opinion.
209 – Science, Spencer says, enters into every field – even the interpretation of history and the creation of art.
210 – MA’s “Literature and Science” speaks to those involved in commodity making. The idea herein is that man, rather than just an animal, is essentially a moral being who fortifies his instinct for righteousness, wisdom and beauty.
213 – He does this with a defense of Plato – in part. Though his hatred of handicrafts was obsolete, an intelligent man should still “prize those studies which result in his soul getting soberness, righteousness and wisdom and will less value the others.”
Rather than the body, MA seeks “perpetuation of the moral life of the race.”
214 – MA anticipates Spencer saying morals are best inculcated by studying science.
215 – MA writes “But as I do not mean, by knowing ancient Rome, knowing merely more or less of Latin belles lettres and taking no account of Rome’s military, and political, and legal, and administrative work in the world.” He wants to know her as a giver of Greek sciences too.
216 – Spencer says education is for: 1) self-preservation, 2) indirect self-preservation, 3) parenthood, 4) civic responsibility and 5) “miscellaneous refinements.”
217 - Arnold wants “The power of conduct, the power of intellect and knowledge, the power of beauty, and the power of social life and manners.” In ‘intellect and knowledge’ science is useful. In the others, not so much.
218 - The scientific specialist is also a person. If just a specialist, they are a means to an end. He dared to say, though, to the majority of people, a little mathematics goes a long way.
219 – And even the idea that we’re hairy quadrupeds we want to relate to conduct and beauty and not just leave as that.
“The success of modern science in extirpating what it calls “mediaeval thinking” has not diminished the demands of man’s emotional nature, though it has destroyed for many men one of the chief means of satisfying them.” Darwinism must progressively work to destroy religion. The need for emotional satisfaction will still exist and herein human letters and poetry are the replacement.
221 – After pages of excerpts, MA summarizes, “the study of letters helps us to bear the grand results of science.” This hairy quadruped in an insignificant galaxy, needs don’t help our self-respect.
222 – We need another scale of values. In time and space, we are not much, but if we look within, into the world of our moral and aesthetic ideals, we find a scale of values, infinite, like time and space in our soul.
223 – Great poets are those who have gone inside and found magnificence. Sherman says this argument is “on solid grounds.” And Arnold reassures us that if we lose letters for a moment in time, they will come back again.
CHAPTER 6: POLITICS AND SOCIETY
225 – MA cared about the renovation of society more than how it was to be done. Rather than politics, “What interest me is English civilization; and our politics in their present state do not seem to me to have much bearing upon that. English civilization, - the humanizing, the bringing into one harmonious and truly human life, of the whole body of English society, -that is what interests me.”
226 – By the logic of elections, political parties must divide the population.
227 – MA was of the political temper, inclined toward the anciently established aristocratic order of things in England. But he was not a reactionary and would not vote Tory.
He could not be happy in a small cultivated class surrounded by a great multitude of Philistines. He aimed at something like the democracy of Athens, without the slaves.
228 – He called himself “A liberal of the future.”
Tories are sluggish and lack a passion for improvement.
229 – As for his liberal friends, he did not like their insistence on abstract rights, their laissez-faire theories, their worship of ancient machinery, their materialistic ideals, their strident individualism or their tendency towards anarchy.
He valued Carlyle’s insight into eternal verities and Mill’s mental receptivity, his zeal for progress and passion for social solidarity.
230 – But MA didn’t think Carlyle progressive enough. Mill lacked a conservative temper; he wished to emasculate government on the basis of political geometry.
231 – Numbers was to weave Mill and Carlyle together. The multitude should be allowed a voice, but education was required for this.
232 – MA eschews Carlyle’s divine right and Mill’s revolutionary theory. MA is practical. He is for the division some division of the aristocracy’s land because it hurts all three classes: making the uppers indolent, and discouraging the other two.
233 – In regards to democracy he cheers aristocracy for providing a noble way of thinking and behaving.
237 - And the other cure for democracy is uplifting the masses.
238 – Religion and culture work to perfect your inner condition. But, it is a social enterprise.
And culture, importantly, is not an affair for the individual alone, it is a social enterprise.
239 – MA said, “Plenty of people will try to indoctrinate the masses with the set of ideas and judgments constituting creed of their own profession or party. Our religious and political organizations give an example of this way of working on the masses. I condemn neither; but (239) culture works differently . . . The men of culture are the true apostles of equality. The great men of culture are those who have a passion for diffusing, for making prevail, for carrying from one end of society to the other, the best knowledge, the best ideas of their time.”
“The idea of perfection as an inward condition of the mind and spirit is all at variance with the mechanical and material civilization in esteem with us.”
“The idea of perfection as a general expansion of the human family is at variance with our strong individualism, our hatred of all limits to the unrestrained swing of the individual’s personality, our maxim of ‘every man for himself.’
241 – Being against the mechanical is very Carlyle.
MA writes, “What are railroads but machinery? What is wealth but machinery? What are, even, our religious organizations but machinery?
242 – MA “Culture indefatigably tries not to make what each raw person may like the rule by which he fashions himself; but to draw ever nearer to a sense of what is indeed beautiful, graceful, and becoming, and to get the raw person to like that.”
243 – The chapter “Doing as one likes” in C & A is a reply to Mill’s central doctrine.
Mill wrote that society should only interfere with individuals for ‘self-protection.’ But Mill draws that line more closely than moderns.
The results? “This and that man, and this and that body of men, all over the country, are beginning to assert and put into practice an Englishman’s right to do what he likes; his right to march where he likes, meet where he likes, and enter where he likes, hoot as he likes, threaten as he likes, smash as he likes. All this, I say, tends to anarchy.”
244 – Liberals tell us that a few outbreaks of rowdyism signify nothing, that our system of liberty is one which itself cures all the evils.
245 – MA stressed that men have no rights independent of their social duties and responsibilities.
246 – Liberty is a means to an end, not an end in itself. Our best selves come via the state. But what does Arnold mean by ‘the State?”
Here he differs from Carlyle, who says it is an “aristocracy of talent.”
247 – MA thought the age of Aristocracy was over. MA wanted to get rid of classes by permeating all with culture.
The third chapter shows each of the classes is unfit for rule: The Aristocracy are barbarians who do as they like. They love field-sports.
249 – In general this classes’ culture is in the more exterior of the inward graces.
250 – The middle classes are Philistines: the ‘captains of industry.’
251 – Human tendencies are only blamed relatively. “What a soul of goodness there is in Philistinism itself!”
253 – But this class “seeks to affirm – its ordinary self, not its best self.” As a result, the English have become “the most inaccessible to ideas and most impatient of them . . . impatient of them because they have got along so well without them.”
254 – “The sky over his head is of brass and iron.”
Carlyle called the lower class “the White Negroes or the Poor-Slaves.” He empathized but did not want them enfranchised.
MA gave them the name, “the populace.” But all classes have the same human nature underlying them.
255 – MA notes that he is, properly speaking, a philistine and enjoys many of their pleasures.
256 – Since we all have the feelings of all of the classes, our oal should be not to follow our class instincts, but to “discipline and subdue them,” and to rise above class feeling.
Those who do so will be the “saving remnant.”
257 – They will nurse sweetness, light, and perfection. They come from all classes.
258 – Whereas Carlyle’s “aristocracy of talent” was to govern England; Arnold’s ‘saving remnant’ was to gradually regenerate society.
259 – Hero worship calls forth some admirable emotions; reverence, fidelity, obedience; but it does not challenge the will to self-dependent effort.
260 – Carlyle was a mystic, that is where talent came from. Mill wanted to destroy mysticism. Arnold was midway. He respected the mystic, but not delirium. We may have daemonic elements. But that was not where we would work or find our will.
261 – MA said Carlyle was always trying to inculcate earnestness to a nation that already had too much.
264 – To distinguish sharply intelligence from righteousness, and to accentuate one without undervaluing the other is a hard task taken on in the 4th chapter of Culture and Anarchy: Hebraism and Hellenism.
265 – Both aim at man’s perfection or salvation.
266 – But they do this via very different courses. Hebraism: conduct and obedience: the Greek quarrel with the body and its desire is that it hinders right thinking; The Hebrew quarrel is that they hinder right acting.
267 – “The governing idea of Hellenism is spontaneity of consciousness; that of Hebraism, strictness of conscience.” Sherman sums.
268 – The final object of the true politician is to create a society characterized by sweetness and light.
269 – This state is not puffed up, for it seeks the esthetic, intellectual, and moral perfection of its children.
CHAPTER 7: RELIGION
MA “I write to convince the lover of religion that by following habits of intellectual seriousness he need not, so far as religion is concerned, lose anything.”
MA was a friend to the church, but a critical one.
Sainsbury said, in his Bible work MA was going beyond his jurisdiction.
273 – MA thought the exploration of man beyond the strictness of Puritanism is a good thing, but needs guidance. “The growing desire, throughout the community, for amusement and pleasure; the wonderful relaxation in, in the middle class, of the old strictness as to theaters, dancing, and such things, are features which alarm many people; but they have their good side.”
274 – “Arnold is a believer, a chastened believer, in progress. That belief is central and continuous in him.; it underlies all his efforts,” Sherman declared.
275 – “A great man who is also a wise man always participates in a revolution with a certain measure of reluctance,” Sherman surmises.
276 – Arnold may have concluded that it was better for men to go morally right on an unsound basis than to go morally wrong on the soundest intellectual foundation.
277 – Carlyle found Jesus’ teachings unpalatable and preached Goethe as the new messiah. Mill thought traditional Christianity reactionary and said Utilitarianism was the new gospel. Positivists looked to Comte to save us.
278 – MA held that great and abiding interests of society like religion, education and literature should be publicly and splendidly recognized.” Like his father he wanted all to unite under the Church of England, not disestablishment.
279 – MA viewed the “Church as a society for the promotion of goodness.” “But its true strength is in relying, not on its powers of force, but on its powers of attractiveness.”
281 –He made it his business to bring forward the rational side of religion.
282 – MA is not a theologian; he approaches the “Bible as the splendid record of a race endowed with an exceptional instinct for righteousness and spirituality.”
283 – By this he shows that the value of Christianity is not dependent upon its miracles.
284 – He distinguishes between the miracles of the Bible (Protestant) and those of the Catholic Church.
286 – In one Lit and Dogma passage, he seems to prefer the poetry of Catholic mass to that of Protestant justifications as more morally efficacious.
287 – The Catholic says that via mass “my vices are cured, my passions bridled, temptations are conquered or diminished.” Evangelicals say this is false! We are saved by Jesus alone.
288 – But neither is a degrading superstition.
289 – And science folks claim neither can be verified.
Having disposed of the “God of miracles” and the “God of metaphysics,” MA shows that the bible is verified by experience.
290 – “For science,” MA writes, “God is simply the stream of tendency by which all things fulfill the law of their being.”
“To please God, to serve God, to obey God’s will does mean to follow a law of things which is found in conscience.”
The righteousness of Christianity is tested and proved “by the history of the race and the experience of every serious individual” Sherman paraphrases.
291 – This is undergirded by Arnold’s “psychology.” Throughout his work we find the doctrine of the two selves in man. There is the self of “appetite, sense, and desire; and that of reflection and more voluntary that leads us to submit to some rule, called generally our “higher or enduring self, of reason, spirit, will.”
292 – One leads to happiness and ife; the other death and misery.
“Religion means simply either a binding or righteousness, or else a serious attending to righteousness.” “And so, when we are asked, What is the object of religion? Let us reply, Conduct. And when we are asked further, What is conduct? Let us answer, Three-fourths of life.”
293 – Religion is ethic heightened, enkindled, lit up by feeling.” “The true meaning of religion is thus not simply morality, but morality touched by religion.”
“Blessed are the pure in heart,’ says Jesus; ‘for they shall see God.’ That is religion. ‘We all want to live honestly, but cannot, says the Greek maxim maker. That is morality.”
296 – “The strength and weakness of the Old Testament is that its morality is national and social rather than personal. It tends to reduce righteousness to a minute and exacting code.” Sherman summarizes.
297 – By the time Christ came, the immediate sense of being in the right way was gone. Christ said, “Thou blind Pharisee, cleanse first the inside of the cup that the outside may be clean also!” This was the very grounding principle of Christ’s teaching.
What was wanted was to plough up, clear, and quicken the feelings themselves. And this is what Christ did.
298 – Christ’s way of putting things, his ‘sweet reasonableness,’ was the secret to his success.
299 – “Self-examination, self-renouncement, and mildness were the means by which Christ renewed righteousness and religion.”
The New Testament may be said to have really founded inward and personal religion. While the Old Testament says, Attend to conduct!
300 – The divinity of Christ is proved by his marvelously direct insight into the means by which man may attain happiness and by the tremendous impulse which he gives to the will of man to adopt that means.
301 – Jesus properly contrasts ‘life’ and ‘life in this world.’
“Jesus changed it into what was positive and attractive, lighted it up, made it religion, by the idea of two lives. One of them, life properly so called, full of light, endurance, felicity, in connection with the higher and permanent self; and the other of them, life improperly so called, in connection with the lower and transient self.”
301 – “And true it certainly is; - a profound truth of what our scientific friends, who have a systematic philosophy and a nomenclature to match, and who talk of Egoism and Altruism, would call, perhaps, psycho-physiology.”
302 – St. Paul and Protestantism takes as its point of departure Renan’s volume on St. Paul and (303) his conclusion that “after having been for three hundred years, thanks to Protestantism, the Christian doctor par excellence, Paul is now coming to the end of his reign.”
MA also wants to reinterpret Paul in the light of modern scientific and literary culture.
304 – “The religious and the scientific sense may meet, as the least inadequate name for that universal order which the intellect feels after as a law, and the heart feels after as a benefit.”
Paul was a man after Arnold’s own heart – with his “high seriousness” and his love for the “will of God” and making it “prevail.” He also liked his methodical introspection and self-discipline.
What moves Paul?
305 – the master impulse of Hebraism – the desire for righteousness. To have a conscience void of offense towards God and men.
Paul deals with conduct. The lists of moral habits to be pursued or avoided.
To see this go through Pauls Epistle to the Romans of “things which are not convenient.” And the list in the fifth chapter of Epistle to the Galatians, of the fruits of the spirit: ‘love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faith, mildness, self-control.”
The man who wrote with this searching minuteness knew accurately what he meant by sin and righteousness, and did not use words at random.
Most men are either too severe and not sweet enough or vice versa.
307 – Paul was an indefatigable explorer’ of righteousness.
In the second chapter of the book, Arnold deals with Paul’s religion in the stricter sense of the world.
308 – Paul came to his religion, not ‘theologically,’ but psychologically and experimentally, as he came to his morals.” He fell in love with the moral perfection of Christ; and the intense emotion of his love transfigured his righteousness and bound him to it.
309 – Herein Arnold discusses the mysterious power “not ourselves which makes for righteousness,” which is precisely Jesus;
310 – For scholastics, it is Christ’s divinity which established his being without sin. For Paul, it was Jesus’s being without sin which established his divinity. Jesus had no conflict between perfection and himself. This conflict drove Paul to despair, but not Jesus.
311 - The struggling stream of duty, which had not volume enough to bear Paul to his goal, was suddenly reinforced by the immense tidal wave of sympathy and emotion.
Paul called this ‘faith that worketh through love.’
Faith does not mean Paul assented to theological doctrine. It means a practical “holding fast to an unseen power of goodness.” It means dying as Christ died, in the lower self and living in the higher self.
312 – Paul doubtlessly believed in the literal resurrection. But the teaching is attainable by all men who are sufficiently in love with perfection to renounce the promptings of the lower nature.
“To die with Christ to the law of the flesh, to live with Christ to the law of the mind.”
The object of his treatise, MA says, “is not religious edification, but the true criticism of a great and misunderstood author.”
313 – Reason has duty; sympathy has motive power. But, the first leads to world weariness and the second sterile raptures and immoral fanaticism. Paul takes from both worlds what can help him and leaves what cannot.
This review has left out his discussions of the date and authorship of the scriptures, for this is out of date and unimportant.
The Bible interested him as a living force in contemporary life.
314 – MA shows Christianity has the key to “that universal order which the intellect feels after as law, and the heart feels after as a benefit.”