Copyright
John Lubbock.

The use of life; online

. (page 8 of 14)
Online LibraryJohn LubbockThe use of life; → online text (page 8 of 14)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


sion of Great Empires which have crumbled to
the dust. Egypt, Assyria, Persia, Rome, have
risen and sunk. In more recent times Genoa
and Venice have flourished to a great extent



170 THE USE OF LIFE



CHAP.



as we do now by " ships, colonies, and Com-
merce." If we are to escape their fate, we
must avoid their mistakes.

" A thousand years scarce serve to form a state ;
An hour may lay it in the dust." l

As regards our foreign policy, it is no less
our interest than our duty to maintain the
most friendly relations with other countries.
Nations often unfortunately regard others as
enemies. And yet a clearer light shows that
we are human, and ought to be friends. A
Welsh preacher once illustrated this in a
homely and yet striking manner. He was
out walking one day, he said, and on the
opposite hill he saw a monstrous figure ; as
he approached he saw it was a man, and when
he came up close, he found it was his brother.

Other nations are not only Men, but broth-
ers, and their interests are in many ways
bound up with ours. If they suffer, we suffer
with them ; whatever benefits them, benefits
us. The greatest of British interests are the
peace and prosperity of the world. The

1 Byron.



xi CITIZENSHIP 171

glamour of War has dazzled the imagination
of Mankind. We are told of the "pomp
and circumstance of glorious war/' that every
soldier carries a Field-marshal's Baton in his
knapsack, etc., and we fail to realise the infi-
nite misery which it has inflicted on the human
race.

The carnage and suffering which war en-
tails are terrible to contemplate, and constitute
an irresistible argument in favour of Arbitra-
tion. The present state of things is a disgrace
to human nature. There may be some excuse
for barbarous tribes who settle their disputes
by force of arms, but that civilised nations
should do so is not only repugnant to our moral,
but also to our common sense. At present
even the peace establishments of Europe com-
prise 3,500,000 men ; the war establishments
are over 10,000,000, and when the proposed
arrangements are completed, will exceed
20,000,000. The nominal cost is over 200,-
000,000 annually, but as the Continental ar-
mies are to a great extent under conscription,
the actual cost is far larger. Moreover, if these
3,500,000 men were usefully employed, and



172 THE USE OF LIFE CHAP.

taking the value of their labour only at 50
a year, we must add another 175,000,000,
bringing up the total expenditure of Europe
on military matters to 375,000,000 a year !
Of course there are deeper and graver consid-
erations than questions of money ; but yet
money represents human labour and human
life. It is impossible for any one to contem-
plate the present naval and military arrange-
ments without the gravest forebodings. Even
if they do not end in war, they will eventually
end in bankruptcy and ruin.

The principal countries of Europe are run-
ning deeper and deeper into debt. During the
last twenty years the debt of Italy has risen
from 483,000,000 to 516,000,000 ; that of
Austria from 340,000,000 to 5.80,000,000 ;
of Russia from 340,000,000 to 750,000,000 ;
of France from 500,000,000 to 1,300,000,-
000. Taking the Government debts of the
world together, they amounted in 1870 to
4,000,000,000 a fabulous, terrible, and
crushing weight. But what are they now?
They have risen to over 6,000,000,000, and
are still increasing.



xi CITIZENSHIP 173

By far the greater part of this enormous,
this appalling, burden is represented by no
valuable property, has fulfilled no useful pur-
pose ; it has been absolutely wasted, or what,
from an international point of view, is even
worse, thrown away on war, or in preparation
for war. In fact, we never now have any real
peace ; we live practically in a state of war,
happily without battles or bloodshed, but not
without terrible sufferings. Even in our own
case, one-third of our national income is spent
in preparing for future wars, another third in
paying for past ones, and only one-third is left
for the government of the country. Our in-
terests at stake are enormous, and the interests
of nations are so interwoven that every war
now is in fact a civil war.

Though not a " peace-at-any-price man," I
am not ashamed to say I am a peace-at-
almost-any-price man. No doubt there are
some vital question s- which cannot be referred
to Arbitration, but Earl Russell, a very high
authority, said that there had not been a war
for the last hundred years which might not
well have been settled without recourse to
arms.



174 THE USE OF LIFE CHAP.

The last time I saw M. Gambetta, we talked
over this subject, and he said in his usual ani-
mated manner that if the present rate of ex-
penditure be maintained the day will come
when Frenchmen will all be " beggars in front
of a barrack." It has not only been main-
tained but increased.

The condition of Europe cannot be viewed
without alarm. Russia is honeycombed with
Nihilism, Germany alarmed with Socialism,
France in a panic from Anarchy, and rapidly
tending to bankruptcy. There is no justifica-
tion, no excuse, for recent Anarchist crimes,
but nothing happens in this world without
a cause. Continental workmen are working
terribly long hours for very low wages. If
any one will read the recent reports from
Italy he will see the miserable condition of
agricultural labourers in that country; the
wages of workmen in continental countries
are very low, and their hours long ; while the
small proprietors in France and elsewhere are
no better off.

I sympathise very much with the desire for
an eight hours' day, but the resolution passed



xi CITIZENSHIP 175

in Hyde Park the year before last wisely in-
sisted that it should be international. If,
however, the present military system is main-
tained no relaxation of hours is possible. The
only way to secure the eight hours is to di-
minish military expenditure. The necessary
taxation to support the army and navy com-
pels every man and woman in Europe to
work an hour a day more than they other-
wise need. In fact, the religion of Europe is
not Christianity, but the Worship of the God
of War. We cannot, alas ! prevent war, but
we may at least throw our weight into the
scale of peace ; endeavour ourselves to main-
tain friendly relations with foreign nations,
and treat them with courtesy, justice, and
generosity.

Many countries attempt to wage war upon
one another, quite as foolishly, by fiscal re-
strictions.

Cowper observes that

" Mountains interposed
Make enemies of nations, who had else,
Like kindred drops, been mingled into one."

But the worst barriers are those which nations



176 THE USE OF LIFE



CHAP.



have raised against one another: barriers of
duties and customs, and worst of all, un-
founded jealousies and ill-will, each attribut-
ing to the other injurious designs, which
neither of them perhaps in reality entertain.

The same spirit of jealousy and hostility
which too often characterises international re-
lations, sadly embitters also internal politics.
But abuse is no argument ; it is rather a con-
fession of weakness. Happy will it be for us
when, as between party and party, between
nation and nation, we lower and degrade our-
selves to

" No threat of war, no savage call

For vengeance on an erring brother,

But in their stead the Godlike plan

To teach the brotherhood of man

To love and reverence one another." ]

It is sometimes said that Revolutions are
not made with rose-water. Greater changes,
however, have been made in the constitu-
tion of the world by argument than by arms ;
and even where arms have been used, in most
cases the pen has wielded the sword. Ideas
are more powerful than bayonets.

1 Whittier.



XI



CITIZENSHIP 177



" In the comparatively early state of human
advancement/' ,says Mill. " in which we now
live, a person cannot, indeed, feel that en-
tireness of sympathy with all others which
would make any real discordance in the gen-
eral direction of their conduct in life impos-
sible ; but already the person in whom the
social feeling is at all developed, cannot bring
himself to think of the rest of his fellow-
creatures as struggling rivals with him for
the means of happiness, whom he must desire
to see defeated in their object in order that
he may succeed in his."

In order to perform the part of a citizen
wisely and well it is needful, in the words of
Burke, " carefully to cultivate our minds, to
rear to the most perfect vigour and maturity,
every sort of generous and honest feeling that
belongs to our nature. To bring the disposi-
tions that are lovely in private life into the
service and conduct of the Commonwealth, so
to be patriots and not to forget we are gentle-
men. . . . Public life is a situation of power
and energy; he trespasses against his duty
who sleeps upon his watch, as well as he that



178 THE USE OF LIFE CHAP.

goes over to the enemy." Think rather of
performing your duties than of claiming your
rights.

Lord Bolingbroke in his essay "On the
Spirit of Patriotism " quotes with approba-
tion a remark of Socrates that "though no
man undertakes a trade he has not learned,
even the meanest, yet every one thinks him-
self sufficiently qualified for the hardest of
all trades, that of Government." He said
this upon the experience he had in Greece.
He would not change his opinion if he lived
now in Britain.

We have indeed a great variety of pressing
problems. We are trying to educate our
children, but probably no one would say that
our system is yet perfect ; the straggles be-
tween capital and labour are starving our
commerce, hampering our manufactures, and
if they continue will assuredly lower wages
by checking the demand for labour ; the
health of our great cities leaves much still to
be desired ; in Science we have but made a
beginning.

Moreover, apart from any question of prog-



xi CITIZENSHIP 179

ress, the daily life of the Community requires
constant labour. The consultations of Parlia-
ment, the conduct of local affairs, the ad-
ministration of the Poor Law, in fact, the
affairs of the Community, as a whole, re-
quire as much care and attention as those of
Individuals, and the tendency, whether wisely
or unwisely, is in the direction of increased
communal organisation.

The poor again we have always with us,
and it is greatly owing to the numerous
charitable agencies, the greater sympathy
between rich and poor, though partly also
to our Poor Law, Free Trade, and the less
unsatisfactory physical conditions, that there
is no such feeling in favour of Socialism and
Anarchy as exists in some other countries.

Enthusiasm no doubt is the lever which
moves the world, but it is sad to reflect how
much time and money have been wasted on
vain experiments, on experiments which
have failed over and over again before, and
which have been worse than useless, because
they have done harm instead of good to those
whom they were intended to benefit. It has



180 THE USE OF LIFE CHAP.

hardly been sufficiently borne in mind that
work for the poor demands an effort of the
mind as well as a sentiment of good-will.

It is not money that is chiefly wanted.
Thought and love are more than gold. Those
who give time do more than those who give
money. In fact, there is considerable danger
that money and enthusiasm without experi-
ence and training, may do more harm than
good ; for more harm may come of work ill
done than of work left undone.

It is much better to give hope and strength
and courage, than money. The best help is
not to bear the troubles of others for them,
but to inspire them with courage and energy
to bear their burdens for themselves, and
meet the difficulties of life bravely. To help
others is no easy matter, but requires a clear
head, a wise judgment, as well as a warm
heart.

We must be careful not to undermine inde-
pendence in our anxiety to relieve distress.
There is always the initial difficulty that
whatever is done for men takes from them
a great stimulus to work, and weakens the



xi CITIZENSHIP 181

feeling of independence ; all creatures which
depend on others tend to become mere para-
sites : it is important therefore, so far as
possible, not so much to give a man bread,
as to put him in the way of earning it, not
to give direct aid, but to others to help them-
selves. The world is so complex that we
must inevitably all owe much to our neigh-
bours, but as far as possible, every man
should stand on his own feet.

We cannot expect others to conform to our
ideal ; what we have to do is to help them to
realise all that is best in their own ; to en-
courage them in their efforts at self-improve-
ment. Where money is unwisely given it is
generally by those who are lavish, rather to
save themselves trouble, than from any real
sympathy, and yet work for the Community
in the long run brings its own reward ; we
probably derive more happiness from work
for others, than from what we do for our-
selves. To work for others consecrates even
the humblest labour.

However lowly the work may be, throw
your heart into it.



182 THE USE OF LIFE CHAP.

" What part soever you have taken upon
you," says Sir T. More, "play that as well
as you can and make the best of it ... if
you cannot, even as you wolde, remedy vices,
which use and custom hath confirmed, yet for
this cause you must not leave and forsake the
common wealthe ; you must not forsake the
shippe in a tempest, because you cannot rule
and keep down the windes. . . . But study e
and endeavour, as much as in you lyethe, to
handle the matter wyttelye and handsornelye
to the purpose, and that which you cannot
turne to good, so to order that it be not very
badde. For it is not possible for all things to
be well unless all men were good. Whych,"
he adds, " I think will not be yet this good
many years."

The more all men do their duty, however,
the nearer, and the sooner, we shall approach
it. Indeed we hardly perhaps realise how
happy we might be if we would all try.

" We cannot all be heroes,

And thrill a hemisphere
With some great, daring venture,
Some deed that mocks at fear ;



xi CITIZENSHIP 183

But we can fill a lifetime

With kindly acts and true.
There's always noble service

For noble souls to do." l

It is a great privilege to be an Englishman.
No country enjoys greater individual liberty.

Every man is equal before the Law.

Every man is accounted innocent until he
is proved guilty.

No man is liable to be tried a second time
for the same offence.

All trials must be in public, and the pris-
oner is entitled to meet his accusers face to
face.

No man is a judge in his own case, nor
may he take the law into his own hands.

To work then for our country at whatever
cost, or risk, is a solemn duty, and " he is not
worthy to live at all, who for fear of danger
or death, shunneth his country's service or
his own honour, since death is inevitable, and
the fame of virtue immortal." 2

Our country's service, however, in compara-
tively few cases is one of danger. What it

1 C. A. Mason. 2 Sir H . Gilbert.



184 THE USE OF LIFE CHAP.

demands is some sacrifice of our ease and
leisure ; some time devoted to duties and
work, which may seem unheroic and even
tedious, but which are none the less neces-
sary.

Public business Committees, Elections,
Meetings, Speeches, Vestries, County Councils
these are not very romantic ; they do not
dazzle the imagination, or stir the blood, and
yet a vote in peace is like a stroke in battle,
and none the less effective because it is peace-
ful and bloodless. The vote is not a right,
but a duty ; and to prepare ourselves for giv-
ing it is a duty also.

The amount of unpaid work which is done
for the public is astonishing, and long may it
continue so.

No one has any right to enjoy the benefit
of all this labour without contributing if not
his fair share, for some have not the same
leisure or opportunities as others, but at any
rate without contributing something to the
common welfare.

"No man's private fortune," says Bacon,
" can be an object in any way worthy of his



xi CITIZENSHIP 185

existence." Houses and food and clothing
are not the only things needful, nor are they
even needful in the highest degree.

Even in the narrowest and most selfish
point of view, time so spent will not be lost
for " the love of our neighbour, the impulse
towards action, help, and beneficence, the
desire for stopping human error, clearing
human confusion, and diminishing the sum
of human misery, the noble aspirations to
leave the world better and happier than we
found it, motives eminently such as are
called social, and contribute not only to the
happiness of others, but also to our own." l

There are blessings in life, said Bishop
Butler, " which we share in common with
others : peace, plenty, freedom, healthful
seasons. But real benevolence to our fellow-
creatures would give us the notion of a com-
mon interest in a stricter sense : for in the
degree we love another, his interest, his joys
and sorrows, are our own. It is from self-
love that we form the notion of private good,
and consider it as our own : love of our neigh-

1 Arnold, Culture and Anarchy.



186 THE USE OF LIFE CHAP.

hour would teach us thus to appropriate to
ourselves his good and welfare ; to consider
ourselves as having a real share in his hap-
piness. Thus the principle of benevolence
would be an advocate within our own breasts,
to take care of the interests of our fellow-
creatures."

Let then, in the noble words of Marcus
Aurelius, " let the deity which is in thee be
the guardian of a living being, manly and of
ripe age, and engaged in matters political, and
a Roman, and a ruler, who has taken his
post like a man waiting for the signal which
summons him from life, and ready to go, hav-
ing need neither of oath nor of any man's
testimony."

The time we give to public duties is no
mere sacrifice. It brings its own reward.

We

"Learn the luxury of doing good." *

"It is a great thing in times of trial to
have merged in some respects our private
interests in the greater interests of the com-
mon life." 2

1 Goldsmith. 2 Horsfall.



xi CITIZENSHIP 187

All if they choose may be brave men and
worthy patriots : every one may take a part
in at least some movement for the benefit
of his fellow-creatures, to help them to live
healthier, happier, and better lives.

And it is only by doing so that you will be
able to give a satisfactory answer to the ques-
tion, which sooner or later you will assuredly
ask yourself

" What hast thou wrought for Right and Truth,

For God and Man,

From the golden hours of bright-eyed youth
To Life's mid span?" 1

1 Whittier.



CHAPTER XII

SOCIAL LIFE

IT is our proud boast that every English-
man's House is his Castle, but it ought to be
more ; it ought to be his Home. That it is
his castle is his right by law, to make it a
real home depends upon himself.

What makes a "Home" ? Love and sym-
pathy and confidence. The memories of child-
hood, the kindness of parents, the bright
hopes of youth, the sisters' pride, the brothers'
sympathy and help, the mutual confidence,
the common hopes and interests and sorrows ;
these create and sanctify the home.

A House without Love may be a Castle, or
a Palace, but it is not a Home ; Love is the
life of a true home. " A home without Love
is no more a home, than a body without a soul



is a man."



188



CHAP, xii SOCIAL LIFE 189

" He that is of a merry heart hath a continual feast.
Better is little with the fear of the Lord,
Than great treasure, and trouble therewith.
Better is a dinner of herbs where love is,
Than a stalled ox and hatred therewith.

Better is a dry morsel, and quietness therewith,
Than an house full of sacrifices with strife." l

We value the Home now, not as a castle of
Refuge from the arbitrary power of the Great
or of the State, but from the cares and anxie-
ties of life ; as a Haven of Repose from the
storms and tempests which we must expect
to encounter in our voyage through the world.

In even the most successful career such
times will come, and prosperity alone can by
no means ensure happiness or peace.

Man was not made to live alone, not even
in the Garden of Eden. " Que ferait une ame
isolee," says Bernardin de St. Pierre, "dans le
ciel meme." His heart must be at home, but
it is well to have work outside. We are not
intended entirely either for society or for soli-
tude. Both are good, I might say neces-
sary.

1 Proverbs.



190 THE USE OF LIFE CHAP.

" Not wholly in the busy world, nor quite
Beyond it, blooms the garden that I love ;
News from the humming city comes to it
In sound of funeral or of marriage bells ;
And, sitting muffled in dark leaves, you hear
The windy clanging of the minster clock ;
Although between it and the garden lies
A league of grass, washed by a slow, broad stream,
That, stirred with languid pulses of the oar,
Waves all its lazy lilies, and creeps on,
Barge laden, to three arches of a bridge,
Crowned with the minster-towers." *

The beauties of Nature are a joy for ever,
but sunshine in the sky is little, unless there
be sunshine in the heart also.

To the family we owe the sentiments of
attachment, reverence, and love. It is the
basis and origin of civilisation ; the true school
of all that is best, it appeals to all our nobler
feelings and our highest nature. What could
Angels do more than make others happy.

Your home may be humble, ugly, unpoetic,
even cold and uncongenial, but your place and
your duty lie there ; and the greater the diffi-
culties, the richer will be the reward.

Patient endurance of worry or injustice is

1 Tennyson, " The Gardener's Daughter."



XII



SOCIAL LIFE 191



more difficult than hard work ; it is a living
sacrifice, more difficult to make than that of
money, time, or labour.

Few people really wish to make others un-
happy, and those few would not be likely to
read what I am saying. But it is probable
that on the whole more unhappiness is caused
by want of thought, or of tact, than by want
of heart. Receive every one with a bright
smile, kind words, and a pleasant welcome.
It is not enough to love those who are dear
to us. We must show them that we do so.
Many of us, through ignorance, thoughtless-
ness, or want of judgment, wound those whom
we love best, and most wish to help.

We all know ourselves how much we are
helped and strengthened by a few words of
encouragement .

"I have often thought," said Lord Chester-
field, "and still think, that there are few
things which people in general know less,
than how to love and how to hate. They
hurt those they love, by a mistaken indul-
gence, by a blindness, nay, often a partiality
to their faults. Where they hate, they



192 THE USE OF LIFE CHAP.

hurt themselves, by ill-timed passion and
rage." l

Even among friends our life tends to isola-
tion ; " we are stationed with regard to each
other as upon different islands, locked up
within prison bars of the bones, and behind
the curtain of the skin." 2

How little we know our friends, or even
our relations ! Even members of the same
family often live in practical isolation ; their
minds move as it were in parallel lines and
never meet ; they are not really in touch with
one another.

" Not e'en the tenderest heart and next our own,
Knows half the reasons why we smile or sigh." 3

We discuss the weather, the crops, the last
novel, the state of politics, the health and fail-
ings of our neighbours, anything and every-
thing, which has no relation to the true and
inner life. In fact, the more trivial, the less
important anything is, the more it seems to
be talked about ; and those often seem to
talk most who have really least to say.

1 Lord Chesterfield. 2 Jean Paul Richter. 3 Keble.



xii SOCIAL LIFE 193

Few people realise that conversation is a
great art. That > a family should be really
united, really in sympathy, requires not
merely affection, and good intentions, but
sympathy and power of giving out, and draw-
ing out, ideas. If people do not amuse you,
try to amuse them.

People often pride themselves on saying
just what comes into their minds, and no
doubt every one should be truthful and can-
did, but conversation is like other things, and
if we wish to make it interesting we must
take some pains with it.

We may all do much to make the home
happy.

" To bless mankind with tides of flowing wealth,
With power to grace them, or to crown with health,


1 2 3 4 5 6 8 10 11 12 13 14

Online LibraryJohn LubbockThe use of life; → online text (page 8 of 14)