Page images

achievement, the joint working out of free government, we have only begun to estimate. England is too often thought of as the abode of tyranny, the hereditary enemy of free America; the old battles are still stupidly fought over in our schools, and a prejudice is formed that is not only dangerous but destructive to that coöperation in democratic government which is the manifest destiny of England and America. Something of what all this means, or is capable of meaning, is revealed in this book, in which for the first time the deepest idealism of the two countries, their bible of democracy as expressed in their literature, is set forth as a unity and with the cumulative effect of a mighty evolution. The book, therefore, becomes a revelation of the doctrine and the discipline of an ordered liberty, of the way in which the best liberal thought of today grows out of a great tradition, the warp and woof of the life of a thousand years. The best possible preparation for the new life, no longer. isolated and set apart, that America now enters upon is to see that these ideas are as widely diffused as possible, so that they may reach, in one form or another, every citizen, everywhere. And the best possible antidote to the madness of disordered liberty is to translate this idealism into what Walt Whitman called “personalities.”

With such a tradition to draw upon for steadiness and vision, the opportunity of the teacher of English is immeasurably extended. The greatest need of the present in the field of higher education is, as Paul Elmore More has said, "to restore to their predominance in the curriculum those studies that train the imagination, not, be it said, the imagination in its purely æsthetic function,

but the imagination in its power of grasping in a single firm vision, so to speak, the long course of human history and of distinguishing therein what is essential from what is ephemeral.” The present volume, by enabling the student to enter into the mind of a past which is great in itself and vitally related to the present, invites the teacher of English literature to become what he has hitherto signally failed to be, a real champion of those elements in education which are faring ill amid the pressure of utilitarian subjects. Incidentally, such a preliminary study of the course of English literature affords the best possible basis for advanced study. Thus, a training in the fundamental ideas of the Renaissance is a better foundation for a scholarly and technical knowledge of Shakespeare or Spenser than is a survey, no matter how careful, of dramatic origins, or of Renaissance epic theory, or of the literary ideas of the Areopagus. So also in the Romantic period the first essential of thorough comprehension is a consideration of the intellectual, emotional, and spiritual experience which came to Englishmen as a result of the French Revolution. Thus the ninth, tenth, and eleventh books of Wordsworth's Prelude, which are not given in any book of selections commonly used in survey courses, become altogether the most important literary document of the age, constituting, as Legouis remarks, an inward history of Wordsworth's generation and showing how the nineteenth century was born out of the eighteenth. To pass lightly over a subject of such commanding importance, while attempting to focus the student's attention

on the development of medievalism, or even, choosing the better part, while encouraging him in pleasant rambles with Elia or Hazlitt through the by-ways of literature, is to put a weapon into the hands of those critics who condemn the English teacher as a pedant or a dilettant and to hasten the exodus of college men from the liberal arts course. If we wish to restore literature to its true place as the main fortress of liberal culture we shall revise our methods of dealing with it.

A peculiar advantage of studying literature in this way is the opportunity which it affords of bringing about a new integration of the entire curriculum of liberal subjects. It was perhaps the greatest advantage of the older classical discipline, intelligently conceived, that it dealt with culture as a unit. Thus in Milton's program of education the history, the science, the art, the philosophy of Greece and Rome were studied as a single subject matter, interrelated in all its parts. The common medium of all was literature. The fruit of education in the ancient tongues was the comprehension of a great civilization in its entirety, a closely woven knowledge of the best that had been thought and done by a great people. The time for such a re-creation of antiquity in the mind has long since passed. Greek and Latin, even for the few who surrender themselves to the claims of the most classical of courses, have shrunk to a mere department of knowledge. Rightly or wrongly, we have substituted modern culture for ancient as the material of humane discipline. And in so doing, as the defenders of the old system are ever ready to point out, we have failed to secure a comparable result. But this failure is due to no inherent deficiency in the subject matter. It is due rather to the fact that we have found no new unity to take the place of the old. We have divorced science from philosophy and history from art. The chief virtue of the modern professor consists in his ability to stick to his last. The teacher of science, the teacher of history, the teacher of philosophy, “each in his sea of life enisled," continues to dispense his private and peculiar knowledge, indifferent to its place or bearing in the sum of things. To the teacher of literature above all others falls the task of relating the work of other departments, for literature in the broadest sense contains the fruit of all. Unfortunately, however, too many teachers of English treat their subject as if it were no less isolated than the rest, and the emphasis in the available books of selections accentuates this tendency. In the course contemplated for users of this volume, literature is the record of man's achievement on this planet in modern times. It is indeed a criticism of life, and that in no narrow sense. An understanding of it demands that the student draw on all his resources of knowledge in many fields. Adequate instruction implies the closest coöperation between the teacher of English and the teachers of history, of ethics and metaphysics, of social science, of government. The method looks forward to a revision of the whole curriculum of liberal arts in the interests of singleness of impression. Meanwhile, the teacher of literature, if he is awake to his responsibilities, can do much to remedy the chief defect in our college program by revealing to the student the essential unity of human thought.

The unity of human thought, and the enormous, silent power of forces inherited are written in our blood. After speaking of the argument that a virile nation had better give attention to "doing things worthy to be written [than] writing things fit to be done,” Philip Sidney says of England:

Certain it is that, in our plainest homeliness, yet never was the Albion nation without poetry. Marry, this argument, though it be levelled against poetry, yet is it indeed a chain-shot against all learning. Of such mind were certain Goths, of whom it is written that, having in the spoil of a famous city taken a fair library, one hangmanbelike fit to execute the fruits of their wits—who had murdered a great number of bodies, would have set fire in it. “No,” said another very gravely, “take heed what you do; for while they are busy about these toys, we shall with more leisure conquer their countries." This, indeed, is the ordinary doctrine of ignorance.

So in overweening and pride a band of men who likened their leaders to Wotan and Siegfried, and to another tribal deity, trampled Belgium, destroyed cathedrals and colleges and libraries, and boasted that they would replace these treasures inherited from the workmen and artists and dreamers of past ages with something just as good, turned out with speed and precision in their modern factories. But in these toys," symbolic of the great tradition of the human spirit, resided a potency that called to arms freemen from the four quarters of the earth.

In Sidney's story, as in the recent incarnation of it in the conquerors of Belgium and their nemesis, are seen the two heredities. The first heredity is that of the lust for power, brutal, unregardful alike of human suffering and of human effort to escape from the dungeon of the body to a realization of the divine essence of the soul. The savagery of war, the savagery of industrialism, the savagery of intolerance, the savagery of the mob, are all fruits of this heredity, the survival of the beast. And the other heredity is the gift of the spirit. The Russian peasant, most humble of men, thinks that he possesses some share of it. Piers Plowman talked of it. Latimer and Ridley and all the glorious company of martyrs saw its brighter flame through the flames that consumed their mortal bodies. It was the Grail that cheered the little company of exiles in the cabin of the Mayflower and enabled them to write that first compact of free government in America. It was the courage in the heart of Washington, and the divinity that was in Lincoln. It is "the one Spirit's plastic stress” that

Sweeps through the dull dense world, compelling there
All new successions to the forms they wear,
Torturing the unwilling dross that checks its flight
To its own likeness, as each mass may bear,
And bursting in its beauty and its might
From trees and beasts and men into the Heaven's light.

Genius itself,” as Paul Elmer More has admirably said, “the master of music and poetry and all art that enlarges life, genius itself is nothing other than the reverberations of this enormous past [the voice of the race] on the sounding-board of some human intelligence, so finely wrought as to send forth in purity the echoed tones which from a grosser soul come forth deadened and confused by the clashing of the man's individual impulses."

The faith of the martyr, the courage of the pioneer, the steadfastness of the hero, the love of the emancipator, the vision of the poet,—and the virtue of plain and inarticulate men and women everywhere, gain their power from this great tradition of the race. It was this idealism, sleeping but not dead, that swept America like a divine fire in the months following April of 1917. In the great war this heredity met and conquered the heredity of brute power. Other crises remain to be met, for the warfare never ends. It is the task of school and college to guard the flame.

The editors desire to express their grateful acknowledgements to the following authors and publishers for the use of copyrighted matter contained in the book : To Paul Elmer More and to the Houghton Mifflin Company, for the selection from Aristocracy and Justice; to John Dewey and to Henry Holt & Company, for the extract from German Philosophy and Politics, and to Professor Dewey and the Atlantic Monthly Company for the paragraphs from “Understanding the Mind of Germany." The extract from British Social Politics is used by the kind permission of the author, Professor Carleton Hayes. Through the kindness of the Atlantic Monthly Company the editors are enabled to include the paragraphs from Professor Münsterberg's article on "The Standing of Scholarship in America.” The selection by Donald Hankey, from A Student in Arms, is included by kind permission of E. P. Dutton & Company, publishers of the book. For the right to use an extract from Viscount Morley's Recollections, the editors are indebted to the publishers, the Macmillan Company. The selections from Whitman's prose and verse are used by the kind permission of the literary executor of Whitman's works, Mr. Horace Traubel.






Enter Chorus Chorus. Not marching now in fields of

Thrasymene, Where Mars did mate the Carthaginians; Nor sporting in the dalliance of love, In courts of kings where state is overturn’d; Nor in the pomp of proud audacious deeds, Intends our Muse to vaunt her heavenly


Only this, gentlemen,—we must perform The form of Faustus' fortunes, good or bad: To patient judgments we appeal our plaud, And speak for Faustus in his infancy. Now is he born, his parents base of stock, In Germany, within a town callid Rhodes : Of riper years, to Wertenberg he went, Whereas his kinsmen chiefly brought him

up. So soon he profits in divinity, The fruitful plot of scholarism grac'd, That shortly he was grac'd with doctor's

name, Excelling all whose sweet delight disputes In heavenly matters of theology; Till swoln with cunning, of a self-conceit, His waxen wings did mount above his reach, And, melting, heavens conspir'd his over

throw; For, falling to a devilish exercise, And glutted now with learning's golden

gifts, He surfeits upon cursed necromancy; Nothing so sweet as magic is to him, Which he prefers before his chiefest bliss : And this the man that in his study sits.

[Exit. FAUSTUS discovered in his study Faust. Settle thy studies, Faustus, and be

gin To sound the depth of that thou wilt profess:


Having commenc'd, be a divine in show,
Yet level at the end of every art,
And live and die in Aristotle's works.
Sweet Analytics, 'tis thou hast ravish'd me!
Bene disserere est finis logices.
Is, to dispute well, logic's chiefest end?
Affords this art no greater miracle?
Then read no more; thou hast attain'd that

A greater subject fitteth Faustus' wit:
Bid Economy farewell, and Galen come,
Seeing, Ubi desinit philosophus, ibi incipit

medicus: Be a physician, Faustus; heap up gold, And be eternis'd for some wondrous cure: Summum bonum medicinæ sanitas, The end of physic is our body's health. Why, Faustus, hast thou not attain'd that

end? Is not thy common talk found aphorisms? Are not thy bills hung up as monuments, Whereby whole cities have escap'd the

plague, And thousand desperate maladies been

eas'd? Yet art thou still but Faustus, and a man. Couldst thou make men to live eternally, Or, being dead, raise them to life again, Then this profession were to be esteem'd. Physic, farewell! Where is Justinian?

[Reads. Si una eademque res legatur duobus, alter

rem, alter valorem, rei, etc. A pretty case of paltry legacies! [Reads. Exhæreditare filium non potest pater, nisi,

etc. Such is the subject of the institute, And universal body of the law: This study fits a mercenary drudge, Who aims at nothing but external trash; Too servile and illiberal for me. When all is done, divinity is best : Jerome's Bible, Faustus; view it well.


« PreviousContinue »