Culture and Anarchy eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 243 pages of information about Culture and Anarchy.
their origin.  This his English reviewer says not a word of.  But, writing for a people whose dangers lie, as we have seen, on the side of their unchecked and unguided individual action, whose dangers none of them lie on the side of an over-reliance on the State, he quotes just so much of Wilhelm von Humboldt’s example as can flatter them in their propensities, and do them no good; and just what might make them think, and be of use to them, he leaves on one side.  This precisely recalls the manner, it will be observed, in which we have seen that our royal and noble personages proceed with the Licensed Victuallers.

In France the action of the State on individuals is yet more preponderant than in Germany; and the need which friends of human perfection feel to enable the individual to stand perfect on his own foundations is all the stronger.  But what says one of the staunchest of these friends, Monsieur Renan, on State action, and even State action in that very sphere where in France it is most excessive, the sphere [141] of education?  Here are his words:—­“A liberal believes in liberty, and liberty signifies the non-intervention of the State.  But such an ideal is still a long way off from us, and the very means to remove it to an indefinite distance would be precisely the State’s withdrawing its action too soon.”  And this, he adds, is even truer of education than of any other department of public affairs.

We see, then, how indispensable to that human perfection which we seek is, in the opinion of good judges, some public recognition and establishment of our best self, or right reason.  We see how our habits and practice oppose themselves to such a recognition, and the many inconveniences which we therefore suffer.  But now let us try to go a little deeper, and to find, beneath our actual habits and practice, the very ground and cause out of which they spring.


119. +Proverbs 28:26.  “He that trusteth in his own heart is a fool:  but whoso walketh wisely, he shall be delivered.”  The King James Bible.

122. +"Qui est-ce qu’on trompe ici?” E-text editor’s translation:  “Who is the one getting fooled here?”


[142] This fundamental ground is our preference of doing to thinking.  Now this preference is a main element in our nature, and as we study it we find ourselves opening up a number of large questions on every side.

Let me go back for a moment to what I have already quoted from Bishop Wilson:—­“First, never go against the best light you have; secondly, take care that your light be not darkness.”  I said we show, as a nation, laudable energy and persistence in walking according to the best light we have, but are not quite careful enough, perhaps, to see that our light be not darkness.  This is only another version of the old story that energy

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Culture and Anarchy from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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