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ESSAYS & ADDRESSES
LL.D., D.Litt, F.B.A.
REGIUS PROFESSOR OF GREEK IN THE UNIVERSITY OF OXFORD
LONDON : GEORGE ALLEN & UNWIN LTD.
RUSKIN HOUSE, 40 MUSEUM STREET, W.C. i
First published . November 1921
Reprinted . . . March
(Also an American Edition
under (he title " Tradition and Progress")
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OVAE IUVENIS IUVENI VITAM MECUM CONSOCIAV1T
M. H. M.
CONSILIORUM PARTICIPI CONSOLATRICI LABORUM
TEMPORIS UNA EXACTI DISPERSOS FRUCTUS
SEVERAL of these papers have appeared in periodicals
or been published in the proceedings of societies, and I
have to thank the editors or the committees for the per-
mission to reprint. Detailed acknowledgements will be
found in the table of contents. One or two besides are
published in separate volumes, the Stoic Philosophy by
Messrs. Watts and Co., and others by Messrs. Allen and
Unwin. As to these also the details are given elsewhere.
To make a collection even on a small scale of one's
occasional writings on popular subjects throughout a
long period of years is, I find, a matter of some anxiety.
A man has generally little confidence in his past self.
There is no knowing what it may have done, or what
foolish things it may have thought or written, ten or
twenty years ago. I confess that when I began to look
through my papers with a view to the present selection
I rather expected to find embarrassing self-contradictions
or indiscretions of which I should now be ashamed. In
this I was agreeably disappointed, but I did find what from
the reader's point of view is perhaps worse, a good deal of
repetition, or rather a constant attempt, by different means
and in different contexts, to say very much the same thing.
This discovery has suggested the order in which the
essays are now arranged. Popular essays if I may
venture to hope that these are in any sense popular are
normally written upon large and profound subjects about
which neither the writer nor the reader can claim exact
knowledge. That is inevitable and by no means blame-
worthy. Yet it does seem fair to ask that one who takes
it upon him to advise his neighbours about uncertain
and speculative things ought first to possess exact know-
ledge about something or other. It is not merely that
he ought to know some little corner of the world before
passing judgements on the world as a whole. He ought
also to know the difference between knowing and not
knowing ; he ought to have mastered, in some one subject,
the method by which knowledge is acquired. And
whatever his subject is, his experience of it will be an
invaluable help to him in understanding matters outside
it, and will probably here and there enable him to see
some things which people with a different experience
have failed to see. Of course it will also to some extent
mislead him ; that is inevitable. It will, in spite of all
vigilance, give a bias or a colour to his conceptions.
For good and evil, the present writer is a " grammaticus "
and in particular a Greek student. His special form of
experience and the point of view to which it leads are
given in the first paper, Religio Grammatici. Starting
from some study of " letters " as the record made by
the human soul of those moments of life which it has
valued most and most longs to preserve, he makes his
attempt to understand its present adventures and prospects.
The next three essays deal more or less directly with
Greek subjects, or rather with the light thrown by
particular phases of Greek experience upon modern
problems of society and conduct and literature. Then the
connexion with Greece becomes slighter, and by the end
of the book we are dealing directly with modern questions.
Most of the papers are recent. One only is twenty
years old. The address on National Ideals has been
included here after some hesitation because, in spite
of a certain crudity and perhaps ferocity of tone, it seemed
to me that its expression of the feelings of the Liberal
minority during the Boer War afforded an interesting
parallel to the feelings of the same minority twenty years
later, at the close of the Great War. I will not lay
stress on the similarities nor yet on the differences,
except one : that now there is a League of Nations and
then there was not. To a present-day reader the last
half-desperate pages of that paper seem almost like a
conscious argument for the foundation of a League of
Nations ; but of course at that time the name of the
League had never been spoken nor the idea conceived
except as a fantasy.
PREFACE ... .... 7
I. RELIGIO GRAMMATICI: THE RELIGION OF A "MAN
OF LETTERS" II
(Being- a Presidential Address delivered to tkt Classical Associa-
tion on January 8, 1918)
II. ARISTOPHANES AND THE WAR PARTY . . .31
(Being tht Creighlon Lecture delivered at the London School of
III. THE BACCIIAE OF EURIPIDES . . . .56
(Originally an introduction to a volume of translations oj the
" Hippolytus," " Baechae" and "Frogs" [Vol. Ill of "The
Athenian Drama"]. George Allen <Sr* Uniein, Ltd. 1902)
IV THE STOIC PHILOSOPHY 88
( The Moncure Conway Memorial Lecture delivered at South Place
Institute on March 1 6, 1915)
V. POESIS AND MIMESIS 107
(From " The Holborn Review" April 1921, being the ffenry
Sidgwich Lecture delivered at Cambridge, 1920)
VI. LITERATURE AS REVELATION . . . .125
( Tht Robert S fence Watson Lecture delivered to tht Literary and
Philosophical Society of Newcastle -upon- Tyne, October I, 1917)
VII. THE SOUL AS IT IS AND HOW TO DEAL WITH IT . 142
(From " The Hibbert Journal" January, 1918, being a Lecture
delivered at the Hackney Theological College , 1917)
VIII. NATIONAL IDEALS : CONSCIOUS AND UNCONSCIOUS . 160
(" The International Journal of Ethics" October, 1900)
IX. ORBIS TERRESTRIS 183
(From " The Geographical Teacher," being a Presidential Address
delivered to the Geographical Association, 1920)
X. SATANISM AND THE WORLD ORDER . . .202
(From " The Contemporary Review" being the Adamson Lecture
delivered at Manchester University t October, 1919)
Essays and Addresses
THE RELIGION OF A MAN OF LETTERS "
IT is the general custom of this Association to choose
as its President alternately a Classical Scholar and
a man of wide eminence outside the classics. Next
year you are to have a man of science, a great physician
who is also famous in the world of learning and literature.
Last year you had a statesman, though a statesman
who is also a great scholar and man of letters, a sage and
counsellor in the antique mould, of world-wide fame and
unique influence. 3 And since, between these two, you
have chosen, in your kindness to me, a professional scholar
and teacher, you might well expect from him an address
containing practical educational advice in a practical
educational crisis. But that, I fear, is just what I
cannot give. My experience is too one-sided. I know
little of schools and not much even of pass-men. I
know little of such material facts as curricula and time-
tables and parents and examination papers. I sometimes
feel as all men of fifty should my ignorance even of
boys and girls. Besides that, I have the honour at
present to be an official of the Board of Education;
and in public discussions of current educational subjects
an officer of the Board must in duty be like the poetical
heroine " He cannot argue, he can only feel."
1 Being a Presidential Address to the Classical Association on
January 8, 1918.
1 Sir William Osier and Lord Bryce,
12 RELIGIO GRAMMATICI
I believe, therefore, that the best I can do, when the
horizon looks somewhat dark not only for the particular
studies which we in this Society love most, but for the
habits of mind which we connect with those studies, the
philosophic temper, the gentle judgement, the interest
in knowledge and beauty for their own sake, will be simply,
with your assistance, to look inward and try to realize my
own Confession of Faith. I do, as a matter of fact, feel
clear that, even if knowledge of Greek, instead of leading
to Bishoprics as it once did, is in future to be regarded
with popular suspicion as a mark of either a reactionary
or an unusually feckless temper, I am nevertheless not
in the least sorry that I have spent a large part of my life
in Greek studies, not in the least penitent that I have
been the cause of others doing the same. That is my feeling,
and there must be some base for it. There must be such
a thing as Religio Grammatici, the special religion of a
" Man of Letters."
The greater part of life, both for man and beast, is rigidly
confined in the round of things that happen from hour to
hour. It is em avpfopats, exposed for circumstances
to beat upon ; its stream of consciousness channelled and
directed by the events and environments of the moment.
Man is imprisoned in the external present ; and what we
call a man's religion is, to a great extent, the thing that
offers him a secret and permanent means of escape from
that prison, a breaking of the prison walls which leaves
him standing, of course, still in the present, but in a present
so enlarged and enfranchised that it is become not a prison
but a free world. Religion, even in the narrow sense, is
always seeking for Soteria, for escape, for some salvation
from the terror to come or some deliverance from the body
of this death.
And men find it, of course, m a thousand ways, with
different degrees of ease and of certainty. I am not wish-
ing to praise my talisman at the expense of other talismans.
Some find it in theology, some in art, in human affection ;
in the anodyne of constant work ; in that permanent exer-
cise of the inquiring intellect which is commonly called the
search for Truth ; some find it in carefully cultivated illu-
RELIGIO GRAMMATICI 13
sions of one sort or another, in passionate faiths and un-
dying pugnacities ; some, I believe, find a substitute by
simply rejoicing in their prison, and living furiously, for
good or ill, in the actual moment.
And a Scholar, I think, secures his freedom by keeping
hold always of the past and treasuring up the best out of
the past, so that in a present that may be angry or sordid
he can call back memories of calm or of high passion, in a
present that requires resignation or courage he can call back
the spirit with which brave men long ago faced the same
evils. He draws out of the past high thoughts and great
emotions ; he also draws the strength that comes from
communion or brotherhood.
Blind Thamyris and blind Maeonides,
And Tiresias and Phineus, prophets old,
come back to comfort another blind poet in his affliction.
The Psalms, turned into strange languages, their original
meaning often lost, live on as a real influence in human life,
a strong and almost always an ennobling influence. I
know the figures in the tradition may be unreal, their words
may be misinterpreted. But the communion is quite a real
fact. And the student, as he realizes it, feels himself one
of a long line of torchbearers. He attains that which is
the most compelling desire of every human being, a work
in life which it is worth living for, and which is not cut
short by the accident of his own death.
It is in that sense that I understand Religio. And now
I would ask you to consider with me the proper meaning
of Gramniatikc, and the true business of the " Man of
Letters " or " Grammaticus."
A very, very long time ago the palaeontologists refuse to
give us dates mankind, trying to escape from his mortality,
invented Grammata or letters. Instead of being content
with his spoken words, tTrea irrfpocvra which fly as a
bird flies and are past, he struck out the plan of making
14 RELIGIO GRAMMATICI
marks on wood or stone, or bone or leather or some other
material, significant marks which should somehow last on,
charged with meaning, in place of the word that had perished.
Of course the subjects for such perpetuation were severely
selected. Infinitely the greater part of man's life, even now,
is in the moment, the sort of thing that is lived and passes
without causing any particular regret, or rousing any de-
finite action for the purpose of retaining it. And when the
whole process of writing or graving was as difficult as it
must have been in remote antiquity, the words that were
recorded, the moments that were so to speak made imperish-
able, must have been very rare indeed. One is tempted to
think of the end of Faust ; was not the graving of a thing
on brass or stone, was not even the painting of a reindeer
in the depths of a palaeolithic cave, a practical though im-
perfect method of saying to the moment " Verweile dock,
Du bist so schon " (" Stay longer, thou art so beautiful ") ?
Of course the choice was, as you would expect, mostly based
on material considerations and on miserably wrong con-
siderations at that. I suppose the greater number of very
ancient inscriptions or Grammata known to the world con-
sist either in magical or religious formulae, supposed to be
effective in producing material welfare ; or else in titles of
kings and honorific records of their achievements ; or else
in contracts and laws in which the spoken word eminently
needed preserving. Either charms or else boasts or else con-
tracts; and it is worth remembering that so far as they
have any interest for us now it is an interest quite different
from that for which they were engraved. They were all
selected for immortality by reason of some present personal
urgency. The charm was expected to work ; the boast
delighted the heart of the boaster ; the contract would
compel certain slippery or forgetful persons to keep their
word. And now we know that the charm did not work.
We do not know who the boaster was, and, if we did,
would probably not admire him for the thing he boasts
about. And the slippery or forgetful persons have long
since been incapable of either breaking or fulfilling the
contract. We are in each case only interested in some
quality in the record which is different from that for which
RELIGIO GRAMMATICI 15
people recorded it. Of course there may be also the mere
historical interest in these things as facts ; but that again
is quite different from the motive for their recording.
In fact one might say to all these records of human life,
all these Grammata that have come down to us, what Marcus
Aurelius teaches us to say to ourselves : <fivx<ipiov it
pdaTaov vcKpov ; each one is "a little soul carrying a
corpse." Each one, besides the material and temporary
message it bears, is a record, however imperfect, of human
life and character and feeling. In so far as the record can
get across the boundary that separates mere record of
fact from philosophy or poetry, so far it has a soul and
This is clearest, of course, in the records to which we can
definitely attribute beauty. Take a tragedy of Aeschylus,
a dialogue of Plato, take one of the very ancient Babylonian
hymns or an oracle of Isaiah. The prophecy of Isaiah re-
ferred primarily to a definite set of facts and contained
some definite and generally violent political advice ; but
we ofter. do not know what those facts were, nor care one
way or another about the advice. We love the prophecy
and value it because of some quality of beauty, which sub-
sists when the value of the advice is long dead ; because of
some soul that is there which does not perish. It is the
same with those magnificent Babylonian hymns. Their re-
corders were doubtless conscious of their beauty, but they
thought much more of their religious effectiveness. With
the tragedy of Aeschylus or the dialogue of Plato the case
is different, but only different in degree. If we ask why
they were valued and recorded, the answer must be that it
was mainly for their poetic beauty and philosophic truth,
the very reasons for which they are read and valued now.
But even here it is easy to see that there must have been
some causes at work which derived their force simply from
the urgency of the present, and therefore died when that
present faded away.
And similarly an ancient work may, or indeed must,
gather about itself new special environments and points of
relevance. Thucydides and Aristophanes' Knights and even
Jane Austen are different things now from what they were
16 RELIGIO GRAMMATICI
in 1913. I can imagine a translation of the Knights which
would read like a brand-new topical satire. No need to
labour the point. I think it is clear that in any great work
of literature there is a soul which lives and a body which
perishes ; and further, since the soul cannot ever be found
naked without any body at all, it is making for itself all
the time new bodies, changing with the times.
Both soul and body are preserved, imperfectly of course,
in Grammata or Letters ; in a long series of marks scratched,
daubed, engraved, written or printed, stretching from the
inscribed bone implements and painted rocks of prehistoric
man, through the great literatures of the world, down to
this morning's newspaper and the MS. from which I am
speaking ; marks which have their own history also and their
own vast varieties. And " the office of the art Grammatike
is so to deal with the Grammata as to recover from them all
that can be recovered of that which they have saved from
oblivion, to reinstate as far as possible the spoken word in
its first impressiveness and musicalness." x That is not a
piece of modern sentiment. It is the strict doctrine of
the scribes. Dionysius Thrax gives us the definition ; 17
Ppafj,fJLari,KT] is e/iTreipt'a ris coj em TO iroXv rwv rrapa -norfrais
re Kal avyypa<J>vai Acyo/zeVaw; an epTreipia, a skill produced
by practice, in the things said in poets and prose- writers ;
and he goes on to divide it into its six parts, of which the
first and most essential is Reading Aloud Kara irpoaia&av
with just the accent, the cadences, the expression, with
which the words were originally spoken before they were
turned from Aoyot to ypa/x/xara, from " winged " words to per-
manent Letters. The other five parts are concerned with
analysis ; interpretation of figures of speech ; explanation
of obsolete words and customs ; etymology ; grammar in
the narrow modern sense ; and lastly icptat? iroirmaruv, or,
roughly, literary criticism. The first part is synthetic and
in a sense creative ; and most of the others are subservient
* Rutherford, History of Annotation, p. 12.
RELIGIO GRAMMATICI 17
to it. For I suppose if you had attained by study the
power of reading aloud a play of Shakespeare exactly as
Shakespeare intended the words to be spoken, you would
be pretty sure to have mastered the figures of speech and
obsolete words and niceties of grammar. At any rate,
whether or no you could manage the etymologies and the
literary criticism, you would have done the main thing.
You would, subject to the limitations we considered above,
have recreated the play.
We intellectuals of the twentieth century, poor things,
are so intimately accustomed to the use of Grammata that
probably many of us write more than we talk and read far
more than we listen. Language has become to us primarily
a matter of Grammata. We have largely ceased to demand
from the readers of a book any imaginative transliteration
into the living voice. But mankind was slow in acquiescing
in this renunciation. Isocrates, in a well-known passage
(5, 10) of his Letter to Philip, laments that the scroll he
sends will not be able to say what he wants it to say. Philip
will hand it to a secretary and the secretary, neither know-
ing nor caring what it is all about, will read it out " with
no persuasiveness, no indication of changes of feeling, as if
he were giving a list of items." The early Arab writers in
the same situation used to meet it squarely. The sage
wrote his own book and trained his disciples to read it
aloud, each sentence exactly right ; and generally, to avoid
the mistakes of the ordinary untrained reader, he took
care that the script should not be intelligible to such
These instances show us in what spirit the first Gram-
matici, our fathers in the art, conceived their task, and what
a duty they have laid upon us. I am not of course over-
looking the other and perhaps more extensive side of a
scholar's work ; the side which regards a piece of ancient
or foreign writing as a phenomenon of language to be
analysed and placed, not as a thing of beauty to be re-
created or kept alive. On that side of his work the Gram-
maticus is a man of science or Wissenschaft, like another.
The science of Language demands for its successful study
the same rigorous exactitude as the other natural sciences.
18 RELIGIO GRAMMATICI
while it has for educational purposes some advantages over
most of them. Notably, its subject matter is intimately
familiar to the average student, and his ear very sensitive
to its varieties. The study of it needs almost no apparatus,
and gives great scope for variety and originality of attack.
Lastly, its extent is vast and its subtlety almost infinite ;
for it is a record, and a very fine one, of all the immeasurable
varieties and gradations of human consciousness. Indeed,
as the Grammata are related to the spoken word, so is the
spoken word itself related to the thought or feeling. It is
the simplest record, the first precipitation. But I am not
dealing now with the Grammaticus as a man of science, or
an educator of the young ; I am considering that part of
his function which belongs specially to Religio or Pietas.
Proceeding on these lines we see that the Scholar's special
duty is to turn the written signs in which old poetry or
philosophy is now enshrined back into living thought or
feeling. He must so understand as to re-live. And here
he is met at the present day by a direct frontal criticism.
" Suppose, after great toil and the expenditure of much subtlety
of intellect, you succeed in re-living the best works of the past,
is that a desirable end ? Surely our business is with the future
and present, not with the past. If there is any progress in the
world or any hope for struggling humanity, does it not lie
precisely in shaking off the chains of the past and looking
steadily forward ? " How shall we meet this question ?
First, we may say, the chains of the mind are not broken
by any form of ignorance. The chains of the mind are
broken by understanding. And so far as men are unduly
enslaved by the past it is by understanding the past that
they may hope to be freed. But, secondly, it is never really
the past the true past that enslaves us ; it is always the
present. It is not the conventions of the seventeenth or
eighteenth century that now make men conventional. It
is the conventions of our own age ; though of course I
would not deny that in any age there are always fragments
RELIGIO GRAMMATICI 19
of the uncomprehended past still floating, like dead things
pretending to be alive. What one always needs for freedom
is some sort of escape from the thing that now holds him.
A man who is the slave of theories must get outside them
and see facts ; a man who is the slave of his own desires and
prejudices must widen the range of his experience and
imagination. But the thing that enslaves us most, narrows
the range of our thought, cramps our capacities and lowers
our standards, is the mere Present the present that is all
round us, accepted and taken for granted, as we in London