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mind, and our English nature is essentially active; we shall produce a dozen Darwins before a single Buddha. The active mind may often be melancholy, and its ineffectual revolt against the harsh bonds of time and circumstance, which we call fate, furnishes the very staff of tragedy; but pessimism scarcely ever. Englishmen enjoy life, but they enjoy it because they have so much to do, hardly because they have so much to think about. We can reverence a saint, but the great contemplative orders of the Catholic Church have had few followers in England, and the typical figure in our religious life is not the ecstatic but the missionary who carries his creed to the ends of the earth.
The missionary is the adventurer type in religion, as the explorer and settler are the adventurer types which play so great a part in our secular history. These can never be pessimists. They may be restless and discontented, but it is only with the narrow world of home; the man who seeks the promised land over the next mountain range, or sets out to find an earthly paradise across the next sea, can hardly be a pessimist. It may be said that these are exceptions, and we must look for our pessimists among those who stay at home and fail. So be it. The youth who starts out to make a name and ends by being glad if he can make a living-it is the common tragedy of mediocre middle-age-may lose his ideals, his soul may decay, he may increasingly substitute the pass-book for the book of life-but it is to material comfort he becomes wedded, not to pessimism. It is true that that may be the greater damnation.
Our politics are saturated with optimism. Every general election is a competition in optimism; each party promises a short cut to the millennium, and every government falls because it too evidently fails to get there. The socialist looks for a better world if his theories of
human society are accepted. A belief in progress is the very foundation of liberalism, and only an optimist believes in progress. The conservative is less inclined to optimism about the future, because he is bound to hold that things are very well as they are; but this profession, although it may be qualified by regret for the disappear
ance of the 'good old days,' that last shrunken relic of the theory of a Golden Age, is a whole continent removed from pessimism. And since no no Englishman will ever believe that a political evil is irremediable, no Englishman can ever be a political pessimist, for it is only the pessimist who acquiesces in evil.
The great forces which mould society are often beyond the power, or at least the ability, of statesmen to control, but every individual, in our English view, has a reasonable chance of controlling his own destiny. The Utopia which More created for the nation, he rightly placed in nowhere, since there only could it exist; but the Utopia which any individual creates for himself he has a fair chance of realizing. The firm belief of Englishmen that a man's career lies in his own hands to make or mar has done not a little to make careers and not to mar them. It is indeed the very essence of optimism. Faith in ourselves makes us masters of our fate. The axiom that things are what they are, and that they will be what they will be, may pass in the schools, but in practical life the victory is to the man who holds that things will be what he wills them to be.
Since our literature covers a wider field than our politics, it is less consistently optimist. But there is little actual pessimism in English writers, although most of what little there is was concentrated by a curious perversity in that most cheerful and complacent of centuries, the eighteenth. Young's Night Thoughts,' Blair's Grave,' and Gray's 'Elegy' are all sombre, melancholy, all sombre, melancholy, resigned; genius has saved the last from neglect, but the first has been willingly, the second even hastily, allowed to die. One of the wisest books, not only in English but in all literature, is the Vanity of Human Wishes'; it and its companion 'Rasselas,' are among the few authentic utterances of true pessimism in our language. It is probably for that reason that they are little read, and not because of their style, as was suggested by Macaulay, the typical cocksure optimist of the typical cocksure age of optimism.
Milton, despite his misfortunes, was no pessimist—' All 'is best, though oft we doubt, What the unsearchable dispose, Of highest wisdom brings about '-and there is
only one line of real pessimism in Dryden, the magnificent
Who would live past lives again?'
but elsewhere his masculine spirit has the sturdy English ring. The shallow philosophizing of his chronological successor Pope never touched so deep a note in all his thousand couplets of sham metaphysics; but Pope's contemporary Swift was a true pessimist, and nothing shows more completely the thorough-going cheerfulness of the English character than the fact that it has persistently regarded the mighty dean as a comic writer for children, or that Macaulay, who actually ranked him lower than the trivial Addison, seems never to have suspected that one of the most terrific satires in all literature was anything more than the clownish pose of a discontented priest. That Macaulay should have been wrong is not very astonishing, but it is rather curious that none of his contemporaries should have seen he was wrong. Perhaps the Victorians believed he was right; they were so far removed from pessimism that they could not recognize it when they saw it.
What they would have said to Thomas Hardy one can only conjecture. There is tragedy, or at least melancholy, even in his comedy in his tragedy the darkness is unrelieved. He is our one real pessimist, and for that reason probably he is read far less than his inferiors; but even his steadfast admirers are sometimes disconcerted, not so much by the stark brutality of the 'Satires of 'Circumstance' as by the occasional sudden withdrawal of the veil that shrouds the author's philosophy. One instance will suffice. In that marvellous In that marvellous book, 'Jude 'the Obscure,' occurs the unforgettable phrase, 'the coming 'universal wish not to live.' Does one Englishman in a million find this true? I doubt it.*
*Two minor pessimists may be added to the list-Crabbe and Piers the Plowman. The latter's view of life was probably coloured by the Black Death and the social unrest caused by its economic consequences. Crabbe, like Hardy and the melancholy Piers, lived close to the soil-a coincidence from which the literary critic might have drawn considerable deductions had not Johnson, our other pessimist, lived in Fleet Street, most optimistic of thoroughfares.
On the contrary, our representative men have enjoyed their life intensely, and faced death, that supreme test of all our philosophy, like men-if not always with the exultant courage of Grenville or the wit of More or Raleigh, at least with the stoicism of a Cromwell, who 'would 'have stayed a little to be useful, but God's will be 'done.' Only Clive, of all the company of great Englishmen, grew tired of life and committed suicide; and precisely as to die for an ideal may be the highest form of optimism, so the suicide confesses himself on the very extreme of pessimism.
Perhaps our national attitude to life is best illustrated in the anecdote of Cecil Rhodes, one of the most typical Englishmen of any age. Almost his last words were, 'So little done, so much to do'; but in the very heyday of his career some years before, while confessing himself uncertain of a future life, he said, 'If I were to go before the Almighty to-morrow, and He were to 'tell me He thought I had acted very badly at times. 'well, I should be prepared to have it out with Him.' The Englishman, in fact, is so certain of his own purpose in life that it is incredible to him that God should not also have a purpose-and scarcely less incredible that His purpose should not be ours. And this is the ultimate triumph of optimism, for at bottom the controversy between optimist and pessimist is whether there is a purpose in the world or not.
A. WYATT TILBY.
RELIGION AND PATRIOTISM
1. Historical Memoirs respecting the English, Irish, and Scottish Catholics, from the Reformation to the Present Time. By CHARLES BUTLER, of Lincoln's Inn. John Murray. 1819. 2. Supplementary Memoirs of English Catholics, addressed to Charles Butler, Esq. By the Rev. J. M., D.D. (John Milner). London, 1820.
3. The History of Catholic Emancipation. By W. J. AMHERST, S.J. Kegan Paul, Trench & Co. 1886.
4. Vaticanism. An Answer. By the Right Hon. W. E. GLADSTONE. 5. The Life of Sir Thomas More. By the Rev. T. E. Bridgett.
Burns & Oates. 1871.
6. Le Bienheureux Thomas More. By HENRI BRÉMOND. Victor Lecoffre. 1904.
ECENT events have roused an old cry, an old accusation, an old suspicion the cry of No-Popery; the accusation of Ultramontanism; the suspicion that Roman Catholics lie under the burden of an obligation which conflicts with their duty as citizens.
By the cry of No-Popery I mean the words in their literal sense, as a protest against all action of the Head of the Catholic Church in matters that regard our national welfare: matters in which he has no true concern. By the accusation of Ultramontanism I mean the charge of admitting a foreign element into our lives as citizens. When I speak of an old suspicion I mean the prejudice against a spiritual power that might be exercised for temporal ends; the fear that religious authority may take advantage of its immunity from civil control to advance its own political aims, and that those subject to it may deem themselves under the obligation to obey a religious superior in matters that regard their character as citizens of a State.
This war has brought us within the range of things with which we thought our acquaintance had long been closed; indeed, hardly closed, for they seemed to belong to a chapter that was ended before we were born. And now it has brought to the Catholics of England the memory of a charge they never