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It is sometimes made a point of objection to meetings such as the one that we are all attending during these weeks at Cambridge, that the lectures delivered at them are upon topics so various and so many that the effect is mainly to bewilder and to distract. The student, it is said, goes from discourses on Dante and the Nebular Hypothesis in the morning, to addresses on Bacteriology and the Music of Richard Wagner in the afternoon. His hasty and rather puzzled pilgrimages from one quarter of the town to another are, according to our critics, a fit symbol of his wandering attention; and the farrago of his note-book is a picture of the confusion of his mind. Such a criticism may have an element of truth in it, although it is based on an exaggerated disbelief in the power of the mind to deal with and to arrange the material which the mind receives. But we may claim that the Syndicate has on this occasion provided us with a core of thought round which we may group our ideas, and so has given a certain unity of action to our drama. "Life and Thought in England in the Nineteenth Century" is our unifying conception, in relation to which we are to arrange all the multiplicity of our notions on the many subjects of our Time-Table. It is a historical conception and therefore in intimate connexion with the special subject of my own lecture, which is that of the Teaching of History.
History in its widest sense is perhaps the most characteristic form of intellectual activity in the nineteenth century. Incalculable as has been the influence of the study of the natural sciences, it may be doubted whether after all the influence of history in all its different forms has not been greater still upon the life of the nation.
If one contrasts roughly the prominent type of mind towards the close of the eighteenth century with the prominent type in our own generation, one may question whether any difference goes quite so near the centre as this, namely, that in the eighteenth century the historical sense was in a great degree
absent or undeveloped. Take the chief spheres of national life and compare them, then and now. In the theory of government and law the eighteenth century dealt with its problems. abstractly and metaphysically. Voltaire, Rousseau, Montesquieu, working out the suggestions of Hobbes, produced à priori doctrines on the nature of Sovereignty, on the Social Contract, on the Rights of Man, which were completely unhistorical in character. In England they had their counterpart in Bentham and the Utilitarian School. These theories profoundly influenced the great final movement of that century, the French Revolution, which was an organised attempt to abolish the history of a nation, and to create a new régime in a vacuum. On the other hand, the nineteenth century has seen the Theory of Government put upon a historical basis. Here, in Cambridge, Sir Henry Maine in his famous work on Ancient Law, and many other jurists have worked out the comparative study of politics and the origins of political ideas, and have given us the new conception of the State as a growth from primitive conditions and customs, a growth which, if it is to be healthy, must be gradual and continuous. The practical politics of the century have confirmed this historical conception: those elements of the national life which à priori philosophy in France had sought to abolish by decree-the Monarchy, the Nobility, the Church-have proved to be living forces, which the new régime has to struggle with in a bitter war, whereof the issue at this moment hangs in the balance after frightful reverses and frightful victories for one side and the other. By contrast, in England the principal institutions of the State are in a position to-day of far greater security than a hundred years ago, because they are seen in a historical perspective, and their defence is based not upon logic but upon prescription.
The same general difference between the two centuries is observable in points of theology and religious practice. The Tractarian Movement in the second quarter of this century and
the Biblical Criticism of its third and fourth quarters are of a strikingly different character from the Wesleyan movement or the Deistic Controversy of the eighteenth century; and the distinction may be most shortly expressed by saying that in the eighteenth century the main appeal is to à priori arguments and to religious or philosophical dogma, while in the nineteenth it is to history and to the historical method that the disputants turn for their weapons.
So, also, in Literature and Art, the Romantic Movement which marks the beginning of this century and is associated with the names of Wordsworth and Walter Scott, and the later Pre-Raphaelite movement led by Rossetti, and Holman Hunt, and Millais, and supported in certain aspects by Ruskin, originated in a return to earlier models and in sympathies which we may call historical. Similar influences have inspired our architects and our house furnishers: Pugin and Gilbert Scott and William Morris have gradually altered our national taste by taking us back to medieval examples. In the Drama we have at least so far acquired the historical sense that we. should not be able to tolerate a Macbeth in the guise in which David Garrick presented him-a perruque and silk stockings, conspiring with his lady in a hooped skirt and a turban. Even in History itself, the whole tone and atmosphere have changed. The mighty work of Gibbon, however accurate in mere statements of fact, is falsified by a lack of historical sense and historical sympathy, such as incapacitated him from understanding either the early Christian Church or the life of the Middle Ages. One has only to compare him with Ernest Renan to see the gulf that divides history as we conceive it now, from the unimaginative and unsympathetic treatment which it received 120 years ago. So also our entire conception of the nature of language has been revolutionised within this century by a study of its history and by the consequent discovery at the hands of Schlegel of the Indo-European family of tongues, and of the cousinship of English, and Greek, and Sanskrit. Even
the greatest scientific generalisation of the century-the theory of evolution-in a sense belongs to, and has itself profoundly affected, the realm of history, since it reveals the long process of infinitely slow development by which animal and plant life have come to be what they are. It is, in fact, the idea of development, the central idea of history, which, more than any other single idea, characterises the thought of the nineteenth century.
Ours then is the century of development, the century of history. It is in accord with this fact that we find that the study of history as a separate subject in our Public Schools and Universities first emerges during this period. It would not indeed be true to say that History was not taught at all before 1800. The Professorships of Modern History at Oxford and Cambridge were founded as long ago as 1724 by George I. But these foundations seem to have produced no striking result either in the shape of original research or of influence upon University studies until the present century. The University of Oxford rather resented the endowment as a Whig political move. "Not only" says Dr Stubbs "did they acknowledge the receipt of the King's letter in a most contemptuous way, forwarding their letter of thanks by a bedell, but, when by due pressure and by the example of Cambridge compelled to send a formal answer by a deputation to the King, clothed it in such words as showed that the introduction of the new study was looked on as an unwarranted interference with the educational Government of the place." And it is quite certain that no holder of the Professorship down to the time of Dr Nares in the early years of this century did anything to overcome the sullen suspicion with which the foundation of the chair was first received. At Cambridge the only one of the Royal Professors of Modern History during last century whose name is remembered in this was the Poet Gray. So again in regard to the Public Schools it would not be exact to say that there is no trace of History having been taught a hundred years ago.
Thus Dr James, who was Headmaster of Rugby from 1778 to 1794, used to devote the first lesson of the week, which began at seven o'clock in the morning, to the subject of Scripture History varied in a regular cycle with Goldsmith's Roman History and the History of England. This was, however, only the case with the Fifth and Sixth Forms. I cannot find that History was taught in the lower part of the school. And the single hour before breakfast given at Rugby appears to have been wholly exceptional. I have not been able to discover anything similar at Eton, Harrow, or Winchester. Even at Rugby one could hardly say that History formed a part of the regular curriculum. So that speaking broadly we may say that History as a separate subject formed no part of the course of studies at the Universities and Public Schools in the year 1800.' On the other hand the curriculum, such as it was, embodied some of the most important facts of European History between the age of Pericles and the Revival of Learning, and formed in itself a historical document or relic of an extraordinarily interesting kind. The classical curriculum of our Universities and Schools which continued until well on into this century, practically unchanged, was itself in its origin a result of a movement for reform, a movement which like those of our own time assumed the shape of an appeal to the past and a return to earlier models. The history of intellectual progress is marked by a series of revolts against systems of education, in which the human spirit seeks to save itself from being strangled in formularies of its own making, by struggling back to a more primitive and less complex stage in its own development, by appealing from the Rabbis to Moses, from the Aristotelians to Aristotle, from the Fathers to the Apostles. Such a revolt was the substitution of the great classic writers for the works of the Schoolmen, a revolt consummated in England in the sixteenth century. Perhaps the essential advantage of this change was that it put in the hands of schoolboys and students books which, directly or indirectly, contained the history of Mediter