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who is the unit of the Rousseauan speculations-is the true Sovereign, that the State exercises his sovereignty by delegation through an imaginary social contract in virtue of which each, while uniting himself to all, obeys only himself, and that the popular will is the supreme source of justice and the organon of right and wrong. But the true unit of human society is not the abstract man; it is the concrete family. The Jacobinism of which Rousseau is the ultimate author has done its best to destroy the family. A great French writer, whom I must account not only the supreme artist in romantic fiction but also the most clear-sighted of publicists, judged “En coupant la tête à Louis XVI., la Révolution a coupé la tête à tous les pères de familles. Il n'y a plus de famille aujourd'hui.” In the more than half-century which has elapsed since Balzac wrote these words, Jacobinism has pursued successfully in France its work of destruction by undoing the sanctity and continuity of marriage upon which the family rests. Its latest victory has been to transfer to the State the most sacred of paternal rights and prerogatives in respect of the education of children. Of course, in thus setting up the State as a sort of foster-father, Jacobinism may plead the direct authority of Rousseau, who sent his newborn children, one after another, to the Foundling Hospital, claiming for this procedure the merit of self-denial and high moral courage.
His Jacobin successors have, indeed, bettered the instruction given them by the example of their spiritual father. He had every reason to believe that his offspring would, at all events, receive Christian education. They lay their unclean hands upon the little ones of the French people with the avowed intention of rearing a nation of Atheists.
That such is the intention of those in this country who deny the right of the father, I by no means affirm. Comte, unless my memory is at fault, tells us that the logical issue of Protestantism is Atheism. It appears to me that Agnosticism would be a more truly descriptive word. But logic is not the guide of life. And I believe that most of those who support what is understood to be the policy of the present Government in respect of our primary schools, are as little open as I am to the charge whether of Atheism or Agnosticism. Nay, I think that the vast majority of them would agree with me in holding that it is for the father to determine in what religion his children should be brought up. And I take it that for most Protestant Nonconformists, and for a large number reckoned among the adherents of the Established Church, the School Board version of Christianity supplies all the religious instruction which they think needful. I am by no means inclined to undervalue this “Biblical teaching," as it is called. I suppose its practical effect is to instil into the minds of children that sense of Divine Providence, that habit of endeavouring to look upward, which are distinctive of the Hebrew Scriptures, and to familiarise them with the sacred scenes and pregnant precepts of the Evangelical history. Doubtless it brings home, more or less effectively, to many who receive it, the highest and most operative ideals. Those august lessons from beyond the grave, uttered, as it were, from the realms of eternity, can hardly fail to infuse an element of poetry and morality into many lives. As compared with no religious teaching at all, it is something considerable; and it is more than a State, which has ceased to be distinctively Christian, if acting within its logic, could fairly be expected to give to the children whose education it undertakes or supervises.
And this brings us to the question: What has the State to do with the education of children? Why should it interfere in a matter which belongs to parental prerogatives, a matter which is the right of the father? Assuredly it is not the duty of the State to be the schoolmaster of a nation's children. The true principle has been excellently stated by John Stuart Mill in his Political Economy :-“A Government is justified in requiring from all the people that they shall possess instruction in certain things, but not in prescribing to them how, or from whom, they shall obtain it.” And so in his book on Liberty :"When Society in general is in so backward a state that it could not or would not provide for itself any proper institutions of education unless the Government undertook the task, then, indeed, the Government may, as the less of two evils, take upon itself the business of schools or universities." Well, I, for one,
I cannot deny that the actual situation in this country does warrant the State in interfering in education. We live under a system f what is called Popular Government. And I suppose no one will demur to Lord Sherbrooke's dictum that we must educate our masters-whatever misgivings we may feel regarding the power of such education as they are capable of receiving, to fit them for swaying the rod of empire. But how is it possible, in the existing condition of society, for fathers in a very large-nay, in the largest-number of cases to attend to this matter? Consider the ordinary mechanic, or rural labourer, or factory hand, or small shopkeeper; or go through street after street, alley after alley, in the East End of London, or in the poorer quarters of any of our great cities; and you cannot but realise what a mockery it would be to ask the fathers-or the mothers--to charge themselves with their children's education. The father's right and prerogatives fall into a kind of abeyance
if he is unable to fulfil the duties correlative with them. And assuredly the State has an obligation in respect of children who without it would receive no education at all: for the State is the expanded family.
Necessity is laid upon the State in this matter, and that was the consideration which originally led to the formation of School Boards. But 'to say, as was justly said, that the State has a duty to children whose parents cannot see to their education, is a very different thing from saying that the whole or a large part of popular education should be in the hands of the State. That is, however, the present position-and we must make the best of it. From being the tutor and foster-father of waifs and strays, the State has acquired what is virtually the general control of popular education. But assuredly that control should be exercised subject to the just claims of parents who have never forfeited or abdicated their parental rights. To force upon such parents, directly or indirectly, for their children a religious teaching of which they disapprove, is a gross invasion of those rights. The proper attitude of the State to religions in this age is an attitude of benevolent neutrality towards all : to favour none unduly, and certainly not to compete with them on behalf of a new religion of its own making. Such seems to me the true principle upon which legislation concerning this grave matter should be based. And to build on any but a true principle is but lost labour. An edifice so reared will rest upon a foundation of sand. It will fall, and great will be the fall of it.
W. S. LILLY.
AU CEUR DE LA VIE.
By PIERRE DE COULEVAIN.1
(UNPUBLISHED FRAGMENTS.) Au caur de la Vie! This title came into my mind for a book and took root there. It gradually obtained mastery over me and became a veritable tyrant. I liked it as a title and, utterly unconscious of the work it would mean for me, I adopted it. From that time forth it haunted me, and, in spite of my resistance, during the whole of last year it never left me. Thanks to it I went to Italy, for it seemed to me that there, more than anywhere else, I should find the path which would lead me to the cæur de la Vie. There were hundreds of paths, but the one I was to take was not there. I went to Rome, Naples, and Florence. I spent a week in an old palace built for a Pope, in which everything seemed a suitable setting for a pretty society woman of the twentieth century. The contrast delighted but did not inspire me. In the churches and in the museums my eyes feasted on marvels of human art, but all the time this title was echoing in my mind like a refrain.
How few readers or authors realise what books really are. Some people like them from a furnishing point of view, others as collectors, only caring for them when they are rare and valuable. Most people like them for the sake of the instruction or amusement they get out of them. It is possible to love reading passionately and not to care for books. I used to belong to this category of readers, and I will make my confession now without the aid of a priest. Just like cards, they gave me various sentiments and emotions which made me live my life twice over, and yet I was not at all grateful to them. As soon as I had read and lived them I put them aside just as I might have done oranges after squeezing the juice out of them. As to the authors, I neither wanted to see nor to know them. I imagined that they had already given me the best of themselves, and the rest did not interest me. It is by no means pleasant to have to confess all this, but it is necessary in order to show the Divine work in a human creature. I regret that I happen to be the human creature, but I could not study all this in anyone else. Besides which, as Pascal says, “the ego is only detestable when it is vain and
(1) Pierre de Coulevain is at present one of the most popular French writers. Sur la Branche is now in its 115th edition, and L’lle Inconnue in its 101st edition. By a special arrangement with the author and publisher we are able to give some fragments from Au Cœur de la l'ie before publication of the volume. -ALYS HALLARD.
selfish, and when it wants to take someone else's place.” The ego which is merely a unit of Nature is always interesting.
I was destined to learn what books are, and for this purpose Providence
put a pen into my hand. I wrote two books without asking how or why I had written them. Whilst at work on the third I began to feel the action of the pleasure to which I was yielding. I felt that my brain was merely an instrument and that my work was not my own. From that time forth books appeared to me to be accumulators, psychical and intellectual accumulators. I now look upon them as one of the great forces of Life, one of the most amazing wonders of the world. In order to produce this force there must be the collaboration of Nature and of man. Nature, that is Providence, must create cells for creating and transmitting ideas, pictures, and deeds, and for this several generations of individuals are often required. Providence alone can calculate the effect of a book and its repercussions. Only Providence, therefore, can logically choose the elements for it. The thoughts of an author are guided by Providence, and he is sometimes sent great distances in search of the necessary elements. He is frequently condemned to live himself the life he is to write. He is kept all the time in a certain current which produces a kind of effervescence in a certain zone of the brain, like the fermentation which goes on in wine vats. The author feels his book within him and also outside himself. He becomes its slave and works at it consciously and unconsciously, awake and asleep. "The cells of his brain give the gesture, the look, the word he will need, in the same way as a cinematograph. For my book on England I found impressions stored away in my mind which had been registered there twenty-five years ago, and I certainly did not know then that I should ever write such a book. Someone knew, for someone always does know, and that someone is the Eternal.
All the scraps of life which we collect here and there, but never accidentally, form pictures and scenes in a writer's brain. The cells of the brain receive ideas to put into form and the work is then slowly and sometimes painfully elaborated. The author cannot change anything any more than a mother can give black or blue eyes to the child she bears. A writer generally finds out from his readers and critics what his book is. There are no two authors whose brain works in the same way as far as method is concerned. Each one has habits, manias, and nervous fancies peculiar to himself, and in many cases he exaggerates these as a sort of pose. One author requires silence, another one noise; one works in the day-time, another during the night. My brain is not very exacting. It is a wanderer's brain and is more affected by a change of pen and paper than by a change of place. It is accustomed to wretched little exercise-books which cost a halfpenny each, exercise-books such as a school child uses; but, after all, am I not a school child ? A large sheet of paper would be disconcerting to my brain. When I rouse up, the cells of the novelist's brain rouse up, too, that is if they ever