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“problems which ought to be seldom notion of the real meaning of either of
mentioned, but never for one instant the words he was using. But the article forgotten. Strange as it may appear is chiefly an attack on Trades Unions.
to popular lecturers, they really do An instance of one murder is cited (as “ make it seem rather unimportant to the truth of which I know nothing, “ whether, on an average, there is, or is and neither deny or admit that it “not a little more or less good nature, was traceable to a Union. Then the
a little more or less comfort, and a article goes on, “similar outrages have “ little more or less knowledge in the “ been committed in other parts of the " world.”
country, but we need not lengthen the This is not much of a gospel for poor
“ list ;” and then it comments with the men, who have to work and not to talk usual flippancy on “the sentimentalism in the world, and have a dim sort of of assassination,” and “the murders of notion of trying to set the crooked things the Trades Unions." about them somewhat straighter, to Now here the writer is speaking, I make the rough places of life somewhat should hope, without having made any sinoother, for those with whom their inquiry, or taken the least trouble to lot brings them into contact. But yet it ascertain the truth. But, if this be so, is good as far as it goes ; a manful if he had no right as a gentleman to make not hopeful putting of a view of life, charges against hundreds of thousands which, if it will not help and strengthen of his fellow-countrymen founded on men to do wise and good acts, will, at superficial and hostile newspaper gossip. any rate, be likely to keep them from If it be not so—if he has really made doing silly ones.
himself acquainted with the character But whether it be that success has and action of the trades societies for the made Saturday Reviewers reckless, or last few years—why, I can only say he that the writers are no longer the same, is publishing anonymously a gross and or that they are getting tired of Olympus, wicked libel, knowing it to be such.? certain it is that of late the immortals This is the spirit of much of the rehave given up their high style, and have cent speech of Saturday Reviewers. come down on the common pavement. They have also lately given us a glimpse amongst ordinary mortals. Alas! that of their opinions on one of the most instead of setting us a good example important points connected with public
when there, they should have broken writing out into the sort of virulent sauciness In a recent article on “The Weapons which the street-boys and costermongers of Controversy" (the good taste of which of the press give us quite enough of al- article, under all the circumstances, is ready, and which might well have been much more than questionable), we are lest to them. Probably they don't like
I The writers in the Saturday Review seem the discovery that ordinary mortals have
to respect Mr. J. S. Mill's writings. The folelbows.
lowing passage from his last work might sug. Out of dozens of instances of what I gest a different treatment of the trades societies mean, which the files of the Saturday for
question to them :-“On the question of
strikes, for instance, it is doubtful if there the last few months would furnish, I will
" is so much as one of the leading members of only refer to one, and to that one because “either house, who is not firmly convinced that I was myself part of the subject matter “the reason of the matter is unqualifiedly on operated upon. The article in question
" the side of the masters, and that the men's was entitled “Genial Socialism." I
“ view is simply absurd. Those who have
sup “studied the question know how far this is pose from the context that the writer “ from being the case, and in how different thought he was saying something very
" and how infinitely less superficial a manner diagreeable to me when he hit upon the
" the point would have to be argued if the
" classes who strike were able to make themnickname, whereas I should have con
“selves heard in Parliament.” — Representative sidered it a compliment had there been
Government, p. 57. For “ Parliament" read any evidence that he had the least
" the press."
instructed in the nature and objects of he is witnessing in one common conridicule as a weapon of controversy, tempt, and for the time to blind the from the point of view of the Suturday. eyes of fools, and raise the laugh of the The position taken up by the writer is, thoughtless; but it is not the kind of that ridicule used against opinions or work which does any one good at the acts which are not ridiculous is harm time, or for which the world has any less. This is true, no doubt, in the long reason to be thankful.
What do we The truth can never, in the think now of Jeffrey's ridicule of Wordsbe hurt by ridicule, or any other weapon worth? But it hindered many from of controversy. But it is not true-it is reading and profiting by his poems. Has just the reverse of true-as regards both not every one of us seen instances of those who raise such laughs as the the poorest ridicule hindering boys or Saturday approves, and those who join men from taking a manly and righteous in them. To leave us in no doubt as to course ? what in his eyes is a fair use of ridicule, Such ridicule as that of the Saturday the writer quotes a passage from Sydney of late never did nor ever can do any good. Smith's writings, in which he answers a If they care for it at all, it only drives complaint of the Methodists against his men further wrong. The only ridicule mode of attacking them, by comparing which can do good is that behind which them to fleas and lice, who are “ to be lies sympathy with the persons ridi“caught, killed, and cracked, in the culed, and a sincere desire to bring them
manner and by the instruments which right, and not to lead them further are found most efficacious for their
astray. “ destruction ; and the more they cry Would not these failings of the Satur“out, the greater, plainly, is the skill day, too, be likely to disappear if the “ used against them.” Now, the Me writers had to sign? They could not thodists, with all their faults, were a thereby certainly acquire any sort of body of his fellow-citizens, many of belief, or be put into sympathy with any whom, in all points, except powers of class of their countrymen, but they satire and ridicule, might well have would learn to keep within bounds, to borne a comparison with the witty canon. think rather more of what they really The whole of his works would not, pro have to say, and rather less of mere bably, afford so gross an instance of low smartness. and bad ridicule ; and this is the one These are the two leading instances which the Saturday selects to indorse. of the specially English newspaper, So far as it is able, I must allow that it according to the Times definition--the consistently strives to reach the bad
cause, or party, or taste of its model. The fact is, that in definite princij le, but conducted “for very few human beings or human socie the instruction and advantage of the ties is the tone so pure and noble, that public,” generally. Not that I mean to some petty dislike or jealousy of men, compare such dissimilar entities. The some impatience of new and unpalatablé Times is like a great etalwart leader truth, will not be warmed into life by, at the head of a mob, who shoulders and start out to enjoy and applaud, the you
from the wall, and if you remonmost unjust and shallow ridicule—the strate, kicks you into the gutter ; who is more unjust and shallow the better for just as likely to meet you in the face if this purpose. Moreover, it does often you are going east as if you are going happen that the men who have hold of, west ; but, nevertheless, is thoroughly and are struggling by word and act to English when he has made up his mind express, some truth not yet received, are which way he means to go for the time themselves inconsiderate, and hasty, and being. The Saturday is the very oppoeccentric. Nothing is easier than for site of all this, and gets its following those who sit in the seat of the scorner (apart from its ability) by fine-gentleto mass the man and the truth for which
manly airs, insouciance, and indiffer
entism. But, different as they are, it extent are. Of late, indeed, we seem to seems to me that impersonality fosters be beginning to open our eyes to the the special vices of each, and that both fact, that other knowledge beside that would be the better for an infusion of of leather goes to the making of a the personal ..
really first-rate pair of shoes ; but, on No one would deny, I
that the whole, no doubt it is still true that the burthen of proof must lie on those a young man is damaged in a strictly who maintain that anonymous writing professional sense if it is known that he is the best form of periodical writing. has any serious pursuit outside his proPrima facie, it cannot be doubted that se fession, especially if it is known that he crecy is a bad thing. The habit of open writes for newspapers. But yet men dealing in all matters has been always must live, and maintain their station in acknowledged and reverenced life (and their wives and families, if they manly—one may alınost say, the man are lucky enough to have them), during ly—virtue, ever since there was a man those long years which must be lived on the earth. What special circum through before the ablest amongst us stances are there then in modern society; can hope to make a livelihood in a how have we got so out of gear, that the liberal profession. Is it not good for the contrary has become true for us, and it nation that such men should write ? has come to be for the good of all that Ought they to be damaged professionally those who address us from day to day by writing ? If they are not to be and week to week, on the most deeply damaged, must they not write anonyinteresting subjects, should do so from mously? behind a veil? In short, what is there Adinitting it to be good that they to be said in favour of anonymous should write, and that they ought not to writing, and the mighty “we” ?
be damaged by writing, I don't see that The most powerful of our English it follows that they must or ought to newspapers has, in its last essay, as we write anonymously. It may be better have seen, left us pretty much in the for them so far as their own individual dark on the question—in fact, has not chances of getting on are concerned, and condescended to argue or give reasons, yet worse for the nation ; and, if these though it has spoken plainly enough as interests clash, the individuals must go to its own belief; so we must hunt for to the wall. Besides, if they don't feel the reasons ourselves. I shall be very strongly enough about a subject to risk glad if my attempt to consider the ques something that they may say their say tion should lead any of our best jour on it, they had better not write. nalists to discuss it, even though they But, even if they were debarred from should do it anonymously, and take me other subjects, they would still have proseverely to task for my heresy. Mean fessional subjects open to them--a large time, I will do the best I can to state field, if not so easy a one or so lucrative. the opposite views to my own.
For, prejudiced as we are, none of us In the first place, a very large, and think a man a worse lawyer or doctor probably the best, part of the writing for having gained a reputation as in newspapers (to which we will confine writer on jurisprudence or · medicine. ourselves) is the work of men in other Again, it is urged that it is a good thing professions--often of young men, at any for a young writer to sink his indivirate of men who have some spare time duality. His vanity would be flattered on their hands. In England we are by seeing his own name affixed day still believers in the old saying that after day, or week after week, to leads the cobbler should stick to his last.” ing articles in a first-class journal ! It is well that we are so. On the whole And, when a man is past the age of the belief is a wholesome one, and helps vanity in such matters, he may very to make us the thorough-going race well dislike to see his own name conwhich we boast of being, and to a great stantly in print. Ile may be one who
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