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unfeigned out of which will spring the free love whereby we shall again produce and truly appreciate works of art. In the meantime, it is impossible, for many reasons, that virtue and power of any kind should be unconscious. It is more criticism and more consciousness, and not less, that we require. Criticism is said to destroy originality, and to make imitators of us; and it is quite true that a little criticism is, in this respect, a most dangerous thing. We must understand thoroughly, in order that we may not imitate.
The unconsciousness with which the great artist is supposed to work is a very widely felt objection against analytical criticism; but this objection vanishes when we consider the real nature of this asserted unconsciousness. It is not so much unconsciousness, as a forgetfulness of consciousness. A skilful pianist will play the quickest movement off at first sight: now he cannot be rightly said to be unconscious of all the regular, various, and rapid motions of his fingers; but those motions succeed each other with such velocity that the separate acts of consciousness leave no impression on the memory. So, the artist is vividly conscious of the laws by which he works, at the instant he is acting upon them; but those laws and their modifications are so numerous, and he has so little motive for caring about them after he has done his work by them, that he is apt to overlook the fact of their independent existence, and he himself is likely to be the first to promulgate what we have called the fanatic theory of art.
But the most formidable opponents to artistical criticism are those persons who, possessing fine instincts and sensibilities, with no great strength of understanding, have been disgusted by attempts to explain the inexplicable, and have failed to perceive that the misapplication of analysis to certain questions of art is no argument against its efficiency with regard to many others. We have already said that a true criticism of a true work of art must be, in part, at least, suggestive: the critic is sure to come to a point where definition ceases to be practicable; but at this point, definition ceases also to be necessary, or desirable. Most thoughtful people will have observed that those truths which are defined with the greatest difficulty are generally those which unthinking people will most correctly apprehend: because in exact proportion as truths approach to instinctive convictions, they become insusceptible of being described by means applicable to the description of truths which are combinations of instinctive convictions. These convictions are the postulates of life, and the data of action and of art. The grand error of sceptical philosophers, of revolutionary politicians, and of Ger
Investments for the Working Classes.
man and Germanising critics, has been that of demanding data for the data.
Much good criticism seems unsatisfactory, if not false, because the critic has neglected, in the first place, to clear the subject from extraneous considerations. That which would be a just and satisfactory criticism of the Gothic Houses of Parliament, as a work of art, now, would be equally just, but probably would have ceased to be equally satisfactory, when they shall have become associated in men's minds with national glory or humiliation, with ideas of political stability or revolution, with memories of conspicuous individual fame or infamy; when centuries shall have touched the towers with the melancholy graces of decay; and haply the rebel's musket-ball may have left its white fracture, here and there, upon the weather-stained and frost-worn stones.
ART. V.-1. Report of the Select Committee appointed to consider and suggest Means for facilitating safe Investments for the Savings of the Middle and Working Classes. Ordered by the House of Commons to be printed, July, 1850.
2. Report of Select Committee on the Law of Partnership. Ordered by the House of Commons to be printed, July, 1851. 3. Partnership en Commandite. London: 1848.
4. Industrial Investments and Emigration. BY ARTHUR SCRATCHLEY. 2nd Edition. London: 1851.
5. Law of Partnership and the Investment of the Savings of the Poor. By H. BELLENDEN KER, Esq. London: 1850.
WE E have often had occasion to remark on the obstacles and perplexities, the hidden perils, the opposing risks, the surprising and unforeseen dilemmas, which beset the path of active beneficence, especially when attempted on a great scale. The difficulty of doing good is at least equal to its luxury. To the conscientious and the thoughtful the path of philanthropy is one of briars and thorns. On the one hand lies the shame and reproach of witnessing a vast accumulation of misery without an effort to relieve it: on the other the danger-ever more clearly apprehended in proportion as our experience is wide and our inquiries deep-of aggravating the evil we attempt to mitigate. On the one side lies the sin of the Levite who looks upon the wounded and bleeding victim, and passes by, either in shrinking sensibility or in sheer despair: on the other, lies the risk, from ignorance or incaution, of pouring in oil which shall cause the
wounds to fester, and wine which shall stimulate the fever. It is no easy matter to steer between Scylla and Charybdis; and we should deal gently with the pilot-if only he be cautious and modest—who, in shunning one peril, incurs shipwreck from the other.
Sometimes, however, cases will occur to philanthropic effort, in which the preponderance of good is so evident and so great as to throw any casual and transient mischief into the shade, and make it of no account. Sometimes, too, a line of action suggests itself, in which, by a moderate amount of care, much benevolent service may be done without the violation of any moral principle or economic rule, and, therefore, without the risk of any counterbalancing harm which we are called upon to foresee. The providing and pointing out of safe and profitable investments for the savings of the frugal and industrious of the humbler classes seems to be one of these. It combines all the requisites and avoids nearly all the prohibitions which mark out the legitimate path of philanthropic aid. It interferes with no individual action: it saps no individual self-reliance. It prolongs childhood by no proffered leading-strings: it valetudinarises energy by no hedges or walls of defence, no fetters of well-meant paternal restriction. It encourages virtue and forethought by no artificial incitements, but simply by providing that they shall not be debarred from full fructification, nor defrauded of their natural reward. It does not attempt to foster the infant habit of saving by the unnatural addition of a penny to every penny laid by*: it contents itself with endeavouring to secure to the poor and inexperienced that safe investment and that reasonable return for their small economies which is their just and scanty due, and which the better education and wider means of the rich enable them to command.
The custom of hoarding and laying by is no new one in any country; but the form which it has assumed, and the extent to
* Savings' Banks are said to owe their rise to the Rev. Joseph Smith, of Wendover, who, in 1799, circulated proposals in his parish to receive any sums in deposit during the summer, and to return the amount at Christmas, with the addition of one-third to the sum, as a bounty or reward for the forethought of the depositor. This was clearly not a Savings' Bank according to what is now understood by the term; neither could such a plan, if ever so extensively followed out-and it does not appear probable that Mr. Smith could have many imitators-be the means of causing any but temporary savings; the very bounty given would ensure the withdrawal of the deposits, and probably the disbursement of the money.-Porter's Progress of the Nation, vol. iii. p. 142.
Importance of the Poor becoming Capitalists.
which it has now reached, may well surprise us. Formerly the savings of the poor used to be sewed up in an old stocking, and hid in the thatch or under the hearthstone; and this habit still survives to a great extent in Ireland. But now thousands of societies of every form and constitution receive the savings of hundreds of thousands of depositors, and reckon their accounts by millions. The degree to which this virtue is carried among the working poor, and the class immediately above them, is one of the most hopeful social features of our times; and when we reflect on the severe discouragement, both direct and indirect, which it has met with, both from the system of poor laws, which in times of prolonged pressure placed the frugal and hoarding operatives at so demoralising a disadvantage; and also from the frauds and defalcations of Benefit Societies and Savings' Banks, which have so often deprived them of the small sums scraped together by the industry and self-denial of many years—there is increased reason both for congratulation and astonishment. Of the actual aggregate amount which the savings of the humbler classes have now reached we know something, but are obliged to guess at much more. In 1830, the number of individual depositors in savings' banks was 412,217, and the amount of their deposits 13,507,565l. In November, 1849, the depositors were 1,065,031, and their deposits reached 26,671,9037. In November, 1850, the depositors were 1,092,581, and their deposits reached 27,198,5637. According to Mr. Scratchley there were in 1849, 10,433 enrolled Friendly Societies, numbering 1,600,000 members, who subscribe an annual revenue of 2,800,000l., and have accumulated a capital fund of 6,400,000. There are also a vast number of unenrolled Societies. Of the Manchester Unity there are 4000 societies, with 264,000 members, who subscribe 400,000l. a-year. In addition there are the unenrolled Foresters, Druids, &c. &c. The total is taken at 33,223 Societies, with 3,052,000 members, who subscribe 4,980,000l. a-year, and have a capital fund of 11,360,000l. The whole adult male population of the United Kingdom may be taken at about 7,000,000: nearly half of this, therefore, without distinction of rich or poor, are actually members of some of these Societies.
It is difficult to estimate too highly the importance of this tendency to amass, or the duty of removing every obstacle, and affording every facility to its operation. It is matter of deep interest to the State; for the man who has invested a portion of his earnings in securities, to the permanence and safety of which the peace and good order of society are essential, — will be a tranquil and conservative citizen. It is matter of deep
interest to the moralist; because the soil in which providence and frugality have flourished is a soil favourable to many other virtues. It is matter of deep interest to the social philosopher; for the trenchant line of demarcation between labourers and capitalists so far more strongly marked in England than elsewhere is believed by many to be at the root of nearly all, and is allowed by most to be at the root of many, of the most difficult and painful anomalies which meet our view as we look out on the community around us. To have saved money and invested it securely, is to have become a capitalist; is to have stepped out of the category of the prolétaires into that of the proprietors; and to have deserted the wide and desolate multitude of those who have not, for the more safe and reputable companionship of those who have. To have become a capitalist is, for the poor man, to have overleaped a great gulf; to have opened a path for himself into a new world; to have started on a career which may lead him, as it has led so many originally not more favoured by fortune than himself, to comfort, to reputation, to wealth, to power. In proportion to the value and dignity of this step, is it important to make it easy and secure: in that proportion is it the duty of the State to see that there shall be no needless or artificial impediments to the safe keeping and the profitable employment of the first small beginnings of a stream which may swell into such a mighty flood of fertilising waters; and sedulously to take heed that no channel in which it can flow without waste or danger shall be closed to it. It is not for the Legislature to contrive that the guinea of the rich man and the penny of the poor man shall yield an equal revenue: it is for the Legislature diligently to see to it, that by no act, connivance, or negligence of theirs, shall this desirable result be hindered. As it is, many such impediments exist: society has developed and industry expanded too fast for legislative watchfulness and wisdom to keep pace with them. We have been slow to meet new necessities with new provisions; and the consequence is that arrangements and enactments, fitted for other times but unsuitable for these, have a hampering operation which was neither intended nor foreseen; and circumstances and interests have been suffered to grow up, for the free development and adequate security of which no due provision has been made.
The practical discouragements to the virtue of economy which have resulted from the absence of this due provision, can be appreciated only by those who have come into close contact with the operative poor. Every defaulting savings' bank — every absconding treasurer to a sick club or a friendly society