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There will be always crowds ready to fall in with the dapper, pliant ways which lead most readily to success in every community. Society has been said to be “always and everywhere in conspiracy against the true manhood of every one of its members;" and the saying, though bitter, contains a sad truth. So the faithful idealist will have to learn, without arrogance and with perfect good temper, to treat society as a child, and never to allow it to dictate. So treated, society will surely come round to those who have a high ideal before them, and therefore firm ground under their feet.

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Let me say a word or two more on this business of success. it not, after all, the test of true and faithful work? Must it not be the touchstone of the humble and magnanimous, as well as of the self-asserting and ambitious? Undoubtedly; but here again we have to note that what passes with society for success, and is so labelled by public opinion, may well be, as often as not actually is, a bad kind of failure.

Public opinion in our day has, for instance, been jubilant over the success of those who have started in life penniless and have made large fortunes. Indeed, this particular class of self-made men is the one which we have been of late invited to honor. Before doing so, however, we shall have to ask with some care, and bearing in mind Emerson's warnings, by what methods the fortune has been made. The rapid accumulation of national wealth in England can scarcely be called a success by any one who studies the methods by which it has been made, and its effects on the national character. It may be otherwise with this or that millionaire, but each case must be judged on its own merits.

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I remember hearing, years ago, of an old merchant who, on his death-bed, divided the results of long years of labor, some few hundreds in all, amongst his sons. It is little enough, my boys,' were almost his last words, "but there isn't a dirty shilling in the whole of it. He had been a successful man, too, though not in the self-made" sense. For his ideal had been, not to make money, but to keep clean hands. And he had been faithful to it.

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In reading the stories of these last persons whom the English nation is invited to honor, I am generally struck with the predominance of the personal element. The key-note seems generally some resolve taken in early youth connected with their own temporal advancement. This one will be Lord Mayor; this other Prime Minister; a third determines to own a fine estate near the place of his birth, a fourth to become head of the business in which he

started as an errand-boy. They did indeed achieve their ends, were faithful to the idea they had set before themselves as boys; but I doubt if we can put them anywhere but in the lower school of idealists. For the predominant motive being self-assertion, their idealism seems never to have got past the personal stage, which at best is but a poor business as compared with the true thing. Try the case by a test every one of you can apply directly and easily. Oue boy here resolves-I will win this scholarship; I will be head of the school; I will be captain of the eleven ; and does it. Another resolves-this school shall be purer in tone, simpler in habits, braver and stronger in temper, for my presence here; does his best, but doubts after all whether he has succeeded. I need not say that the latter is the best idealist; but which is the most successful Clifton boy?

I must bring these remarks to an end, and yet have only been able to touch, and that very lightly, the fringe of a great subject. I am sure many of you have felt this; and I shall be surprised if some amongst you are not already listening to me with a shade of jealousy in your minds, which might formulate itself somehow, perhaps thus: "Is this talk about idealism quite straightforward? Haven't we heard all this before? Self-denial, simplicity of life, courage, and the rest, are they not the first-fruits of Christianity as we have been taught it? And we have been told, too, that this call of which you have been talking is the voice of Christ's spirit speaking to ours. Can any good come of swaddling these truths in other clothes which will scarcely fit them better, or make them more easy, or more acceptable?"

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To which I am glad to reply from my heart-Truly; so it is. Rem acu tetigesti. Christ is, indeed, the great idealist. Be ye perfect as your Father in heaven is perfect," is the ideal he sets before us-the only one which is permanent and all-sufficing. His own spirit communing with ours is that call which comes to every human being. But my object has been to get you to-night to look at the facts of your own experience-and, as I have said already, the youngest has some experience in these deep matters-without connecting them for the moment with any form of religion.

Supposing the whole Bible, every trace of Christendom, to disappear to-morrow, the same thing would, nevertheless, be occurring to you, and me, and every man. We should each of us still be conscious of a presence, which we are quite sure is not ourself, in the deepest recesses of our own heart, communing with us there and calling us to take up our twofold birthright as man-the mastery over visible things, and above all the mastery over our own bodies, actions, thoughts-and the power, always growing, of this mysterious communion with the invisible.

It is, therefore, that I have abstained from the use of religious

phraseology, believing that, apart altogether from the Christian revelation, the idealist will and must always remain nearest to the invisible world, and therefore most powerful in this visible one.

I think this method is worth using now and then, because, no doubt, the popular verdict of this time is against idealism. If you have not already felt it, you will assuredly feel, as soon as you leave these walls, that your lot is cast in a world which longs for nothing so much as to succeed in shaking off all belief in anything which cannot be tested by the senses, and gauged and measured by the intellect, as the trappings of a worn-out superstition. Men have been trying, so runs the new gospel, to live by faith, and not by sight, ever since there is any record at all of their lives; and so they have had to manufacture for themselves the faiths they were to live by. What is called the life of the soul or spirit, and the life of the understanding, have been in conflict all this time, and the one has always been gaining on the other. Stronghold after stronghold has fallen till it is clear almost to demonstration that there will soon be no place left for that which was once deemed all-powerful. The spiritual life can no longer be led honestly. Man has no knowledge of the invisible upon which he can build. Let him own the truth and turn to that upon which he can build safely the world of matter, his knowledge of which is always growing; and be content with the things he can see and taste and handle. Those who are telling you still in this time that your life can and ought to be lived in daily communion with the unseenthat so only you can loyally control the visible-are either wilfully deceiving you or are dreamers and visionaries.

So the high priests of the new gospel teach, and their teaching echoes through our literature, and colors the life of the streets and markets in a thousand ways; and a mammon-ridden generation, longing to be rid of what they hope are only certain old and clumsy superstitions-which they try to believe injurious to others, and are quite sure make them uneasy in their own efforts to eat, drink, and be merry-applauds as openly as it dare, and hopes soon to see the millennium of the flesh-pots publicly declared and recognized.

Against which, wherever you may encounter them, that you young Englishmen may be ready and able to stand fast, is the hope and prayer of many anxious hearts; in a time, charged on every side with signs of the passing away of old things, such as have not been seen above the horizon in Christendom since Luther mailed his protest on the church-door of a German village.



GEORGE SAND died in 1876, and her publisher, Michel Lévy, died the year before, in 1875. In May, 1875, just after Michel Levy's death, Madame Sand wrote a letter in which she renders a tribute of praise and gratitude to the memory of that enterprising, sagacious, and successful man. She describes his character, his habits, his treatment of his authors, his way of doing business, his conception of the book-trade and of its prospects. It was by this conception and by the line which he boldly took in pursuance of it that he was original and remarkable; a main creator, says Madame Sand, of our new modus vivendi in literature; one whose disappearance is not the disappearance of a rich man merely, but of an intellectual force.


The industrial and literary revolution, for which Michel Lévy did so much, may be summed up in two words: cheap books. But by cheap books we are not to understand the hideous and ignoble things with which, under this name, England and America have made us familiar. Cheap books, in the revolution of Michel Lévy, were books in the format Charpentier or the format Lévy, books in duodecimo instead of octavo; and costing, in general, two-and-six→ pence or three shillings a volume instead of eight shillings or nine shillings. But they were still books of an outward form and fashion to satisfy a decent taste, not to revolt it; books shapely, well printed, well margined; agreeable to look upon and clear to read. Such as it was, however, the cheapening of their books threw, at first, French authors into alarm. They thought it threatened their interests. I remember the time, not so very long ago," says Madame Sand, "when we replied to the publishers who were demonstrating to us what the results of the future would be: Yes, if you succeed, it will be all very well; but if you fail, if, after an immense issue of books, you do not diffuse the taste for reading, then you are lost, and we along with you.' And I urged upon Michel Lévy," she continues, this objection among others, that frivolous or unhealthy books attracted the masses, to the exclusion of works which are useful and conscientious. He replied to me with that practical intelligence which he possessed in so eminent a degree: Possibly, and even probably, it may be so at first. But consider this that the reading of bad books has inevitably one good result. It inspires a man with the curiosity to read, it gives him the habit of reading, and the habit becomes a necessity. I intend that before ten years are over people shall ask for their book as impatiently as if it were a question of dinner when one is hungry. Food and books, we have to create a state of things when both shall alike be felt as needs; and you will confess then, you

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writers and artists, that we have solved your problem: Man dres not live by bread alone.

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The ten years were not ended before Michel Lévy's authors had to own, says Madame Sand, that their publisher was right. Madame Sand adds that this led her to reflect on the value of the mediocre in art and literature. Illustrious friends and fellowauthors of hers had been in despair at seeing works of the third order obtain a success far beyond any that they could expect for their own works, and they were disposed to think that with cheap books an era of literary decadence was opening. You are misled, she tells them, by the passing disturbance which important innovations always create at first. It was thought, when railways came, that we had seen the last of conveyance by horses and carriages, and that the providers of it must all be ruined; but it turns out that railways have created a business for horses and carriages greater than there ever was before. In the same way the abundant consumption of middling literature has stimulated the appetite for knowing and judging books. Second-rate, commonplace literature is what the ignorant require for catching the first gleam; the day will dawn for them as it does for the child, who by degrees, as he learns to read, learns to understand also; and, in fifty years from this time, the bad and the middling in literature will be unable to find a publisher, because they will be unable to find a market.

So prophesied George Sand, and the prophecy was certainly a bold one. May we really hope, that toward the year 1920 the bad and the middling in literature will either in Paris or in London be unable to find a publisher because it will be unable to find a market? Let us do our best to bring about such a consummation, without, however, too confidently counting upon it. But that on which I at present wish to dwell, in this relation by Madame Sand of her debate with her energetic publisher and of her own reflections on it, is the view presented of the book-trade and of its future. That view I believe to be in the main sound, and to show the course which things do naturally and properly tend to take in England as well as in France. I do not say that I quite adopt the theory offered by Michel Lévy, and accepted by George Sand, to explain the course which things are thus taking. I do not think it safe to say that the consumption of the bad and middling in literature does of itself necessarily engender a taste for the good, and that out of the multiplication of second-rate books for the million the multiplication of first-rate books does as a natural consequence spring. But the facts themselves, I think, are as Michel Lévy laid them down, though one may dispute his explanation and filiation for the facts. It is a fact that there is a need for cheaper books, and that authors and publishers may comply with it and yet not be losers. It is a

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