Culture and Anarchy eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 243 pages of information about Culture and Anarchy.
had said sticking fast in their minds, and they could not get rid of it.  Socrates is poisoned and dead; but in his own breast does not every man carry about with him a possible Socrates, [271] in that power of a disinterested play of consciousness upon his stock notions and habits, of which this wise and admirable man gave all through his lifetime the great example, and which was the secret of his incomparable influence?  And he who leads men to call forth and exercise in themselves this power, and who busily calls it forth and exercises it in himself, is at the present moment, perhaps, as Socrates was in his time, more in concert with the vital working of men’s minds, and more effectually significant, than any House of Commons’ orator, or practical operator in politics.

Every one is now boasting of what he has done to educate men’s minds and to give things the course they are taking.  Mr. Disraeli educates, Mr. Bright educates, Mr. Beales educates.  We, indeed, pretend to educate no one, for we are still engaged in trying to clear and educate ourselves.  But we are sure that the endeavour to reach, through culture, the firm intelligible law of things, we are sure that the detaching ourselves from our stock notions and habits, that a more free play of consciousness, an increased desire for sweetness and light, and all the bent which we call [272] Hellenising, is the master-impulse now of the life of our nation and of humanity,—­somewhat obscurely perhaps for this moment, but decisively for the immediate future; and that those who work for this are the sovereign educators.  Docile echoes of the eternal voice, pliant organs of the infinite will, they are going along with the essential movement of the world; and this is their strength, and their happy and divine fortune.  For if the believers in action, who are so impatient with us and call us effeminate, had had the same fortune, they would, no doubt, have surpassed us in this sphere of vital influence by all the superiority of their genius and energy over ours.  But now we go the way the world is going, while they abolish the Irish Church by the power of the Nonconformists’ antipathy to establishments, or they enable a man to marry his deceased wife’s sister.

The end.


201. +John 18:36.  “Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world:  if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews:  but now is my kingdom not from hence.”  King James Bible.

219. +Proverbs 26:8.  “As he that bindeth a stone in a sling, so is he that giveth honour to a fool.”  King James Bible.

241. +Arnold refers to fourteenth-century priest Thomas a Kempis.  The Benham translation and a modern English translation of the Imitatio are currently available from the College of St. Benedict at Saint John’s University Internet Theology Resources site.  See also the Benham text link.

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Culture and Anarchy from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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