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DR. STRAUSS will hardly have any honour in his own country as a politician, and perhaps he ought not to be SO considered elsewhere. It is true he represented his native town of Ludwigsburg for a short period in the Wurtemberg Diet, compelled at length to resign because of his Conservative views; but he has never preterded, up to the present time, to be anything more than the leader of the chivalry of doubt, in which capacity,should future generations clothe him with the clouds of mysticism he has rent asunder from other names, he may become a veritable Arthurian hero. But no apology is needed for taking a man at his own estimate, where he is so fully entitled to be measured by it, and if the process should seem ungracious, it is, at least, not unprovoked. A por tion of his recent Confession, if not addressed to politicians, deals with politics in a very free and brusque fashion. Philosophically, the Confession would have been complete without it, as it is curiously incomplete with it, presenting us with a strong illustration of the mental oddities observable in one-sided and vigorous minds, whether their viri. lity be logical or romantic. The natural limit of variation, of healthy excursus, is not definitely fixed, but it exists for great minds as well as for little ones, and for the special faculties of all. The rigid logician will dream when he passes its boundary, and the coy mystic will become shrewd and commonplace. Destructive critics hesitate and become feebly conservative ; constructive minds leave their glory behind them, but carry their method into mild romance. Swedenborg, Comte, and Mill, each in their own way and degree, serve to show us the two sides of the boundary.
Strauss is a more novel example. A theologian by training, disposition, and profession, the temptation to touch po
No. 168.-TOL. XXVIII.
litics was irresistible. It moved him in 1848, but it mastered him when he sat down to write about the old faith and the new. Having unsettled everything else, a twinge of conscience impelled him to leave us a sphere where rigorous logic might pause, and events might be regarded with half-shut eyes. This sense of uneasiness, this desire to leave us the tortoise if he takes away the elephant, begins to be manifest in the introduction. When a critic who makes a clean sweep of religious fact and belief de clares, “We wish for the present no change whatever in the world at large," we more than half suspect that some surprise is in store for us, and we prepare for arrested method, for some sop for our moral infirmity, or for some Comtean recipe for hygiène cérébrale. It becomes apparent that it is a good thing to go to church, though we do not believe in the sermon; and if we have, with characteristic Pantheism, elevated man into the condition of the only perfect being, we must leave him, politically, where he is, amidst the general inequality and degradation of his lot, to find room for his perfection according to “the idea of his kind," whatever that might mean when rendered into profaner language. No new Church is yet possible, the Babe is not yet even in the Manger; but a new political State, in accordance with the idea of a life restricted to threescore years and ten, concentrating all the misplaced energy directed to other-worldliness, is also impossible, is not even to be desired, is perhaps as illusory as “the old faith” which has vanished in a puff of dust, like a hazel-nut beneath the blow of a steam-hammer. We have hitherto built upwards ; in future, we must not build at all. That way, Babel lies. The destruction of religion is complete. Comte thought out a sorry substitute--the worship of the Grand Etre.
Strauss does not stoop to be so weak. The substitute exists, quite independently of anything he can say or do. For him, as "a simple citizen," it is the German Constitution, rendered a little less Liberal than it is now. Nature exists for the philosophic, stripped of all mystery, as far as he can strip it. For the common herd, there is Monarchy, exactly suited to their wants for all time. “There is,” he says, “something enigmatic-nay, seemingly absurd-in monarchy; but just in this consists the mystery of its superiority. Every mystery appears absurd, and yet nothing in life, in the arts, or in the State, is devoid of mystery." Here, surely, the boundary was passed, and the logician lost his cunning. Substitute the word Christianity for Monarchy in the quotation, and what a reflection we have on his own elaborate destruction of mystery! In becoming political, he slips under his thought the old false bottom—if false it be—he has laboured for years to destroy The function of mystery in religion is to hood-wink the intelligence, and so it is to be discarded ; in politics, its function is to preserve an absurd enigma from the touch of unwashed hands, to deftly hide the springs of action until we may not discover the difference between a noble reality and a gaudy sham, and so it is to be preserved. We have nothing to say against Monarchy, as such ; but this is a remarkable defence of it. The critic who rushes fearlessly in with scalpel and microscope, where others gaze apart with awe, waves them off with haughty hands where they have a clearer right to carry observation and logic into whatsoever lengths they may lead, without any fear of the unknown and the unresolvable.
Even here, however, Strauss has parted with his penetrating acumen. Mystery being invaluable, politically, for some inexplicable reason—though chiefly, we suppose, because it is only in this province of action and belief the unscientific boor or voter can realize and feel it when he has accepted, at second hand, the destruction of the old faith" -Monarchy should be the best form of
government, ideally, as all men cannot belong to the intellectual caste wherein excogitation is everything, without some immense revolutionary change. Practically, it may be best, but not ideally. We have renounced ideals in the universal relativity. As if uttering a profound truth, ab ovo, Strauss checks this levity. He assures us “ there cannot be an absolutely best form of government." To ask the question is to put the matter wrongly; "it is equivalent to asking what is the best form of clothing." But even this question does not seem unanswerable. The best form of government has been frequently discussed, and by logicians as rigorous as Strauss. Mill discusses the question, and answers it. “The ideally best form of government, it is scarcely necessary to say," he writes, “ does not mean one which is practicable or eligible in all states of civilization ; but the one which, in the circumstances in which it is practicable and eligible, is attended with the greatest amount of beneficial consequences, immediate and prospective. À completely popular government is the only polity which can make out any claim to this character. It is pre-eminent in both the departments between which the excellence of a political Constitution is divided. It is both more favourable to present good government, and promotes a better and higher form of national character, than any other polity whatsoever” (“Representative Government,” p. 54). This answer is satisfactory enough for most politicians, and it makes no appeal to any element of mystery, which contributes nothing to the goodness of a form of government, though frequently much to its badness. A free press is the sworn foe of mystery, besides being one of the conditions of good government. Recently, an attempt has been made to add mystery to the German Government by a new Press Bill, of which even Prince Bismarck, the reputed author, appears to have been half-ashamed. What “we” of the Confession thought is unknown, but we know what the Reichstag was ready to say, and what German journal
ists thought about it. The weakness a patriot—and so much power, rough which has to compel silence is worse and uncultivated as it may be, is abthan the faith which closes its eyes in stracted from the State. Strauss starts order to see better.
with the idea that German unity is the As already evident, Strauss is no result of a “politico-military movement," democrat, though he democratizes Na- and he might, we think, have detected ture. His formula for the multitude the intimate correspondence of the two appears to be-" There is a Providence forces. in your political circumstances accept Dread of socialism is at the bottom it, and desire no other.” Manhood suf- of his aversion to democracy. It leads frage, he says, was Prince Bismarck's him into contradictions. His definition trump-card, “to be played against the of morality when he is warring against middle-class which had plagued him so Christianity, differs from his account of sorely during the years of struggle in it when he is upholding political petrifacthe Prussian Chamber, elected under a tions. Here is the first :-“Ever rememproperty-qualification ;” and he played ber that thou art human, not merely a it accordingly. Evil consequences have natural production; ever remember that not yet arisen, but they may come. all others are human also, and, with all Mystery-making priests and ignorant individual differences, the same as thou, peasants may unite. The change was having the same needs and claims as neither politic nor just. Political rights thyself: this is the sum and substance and State service should run parallel. of morality.” We do not object to this The bearing of arms is insufficient of paraphrase of Kant. It is the essence itself to warrant the bestowal of a vote; of socialism, in a formula ; the dogma it should be coupled with taxation, but of equality and fraternity; the gospel of whether direct or indirect, Strauss does revolution, in its most unobjectionable not say. With class and trade taxes, as shape. But a wilder touch of transcenin Prussia, few voters can escape even dental socialism startles us anon. It direct taxation. Strauss wants a capable is a new formula,—that “property is voter, like everybody else; yet he sees the indispensable basis of morality, as the impossibility of an exact gradation well as of culture.” How, then, is moof rights and capacities. His ideal rality possible to those who have no should be an educational franchise, but property? How, then, can we condemn it is a property one, with payment of the effort to share in the indispensable members thrown in as a small compen- basis, all “having the same needs and sation for the withdrawal of manhood claims ?” One must be moral to acsuffrage! Germany is so much more quire property by labour, one is moral liberal than England, that it needs to in holding it by law ; but one is imbe reminded of our safer historical in- moral in seeking to acquire it by vast stinct. “No English statesman dreams political and legal changes. Seizure is of abolishing” property qualifications. immoral, we admit; forfeiture is another Perhaps not, though, strictly speaking, matter. But was Mr. Mill immoral, as they have ceased to exist as sole quali we believe he was impracticable, in fications ; but let universal military ser wishing to tax the “unearned increvice be enacted, and a new argument will ment" of land, individually held, for have been fashioned in favour of man- the benefit of all ? Are those persons hood suffrage, the might of which will be wicked and debased, who, bringing nice almost irresistible. If a man is called ethical tests to bear on the processes upon to die for his country, he should whereby large properties have become at least be allowed to live for it. If he individual, through the lapse or transis to make war, he should also help to formation of State rights, through the make law. His totality, as a citizen, jugglery of manorial courts, recognize is otherwise incomplete. He is in the the supreme existing right of the State nation, but not of it-a mercenary, not over all the available territory in a given
country ? Communism is the practical and co-operation at the other, with a expression of the doctrine that property mild socialism in the air, and lying and morality are interdependent. We perdu in our political phrases and Chriscan neither accept nor defend it. But tian teaching, he must indeed be hopethe doctrine is just as capable of be- lessly dull and Conservative who does coming a revolutionary generator as not see that transforming influences are any maxim of Proudhon or Fourrier. at work, as great as when lordly barons Innocent enough, it may be, with limited made treaties of peace with neighbourinterpretation, so limited as to whittle ing towns, which became their charters away its meaning ; but, as the utterance of freedom and trade, or won liberty of one who is beginning the framework for the people in contending for their of “ia new faith," it cannot be too own rights against domineering kings. severely condemned. It may become Industrialism has run through many the text of a new social movement in phases, in common with religious belief; Germany.
and if Strauss desires to assist in the Modern society is in a ferment. The further evolution of the latter, yet hopes labouring classes desire to share more to arrest the process in the former, belargely in the gains of their labour cause he cannot see the end thereof, or Trade-Unionism is an expression of one likes it not, he has not yet mastered his form of this desire. It is a fatal form, own darling principle, and others must according to Strauss. The effort to disclose his imperfection, if they do not benefit themselves brings on the labour- care to complete his work. ing classes a new curse—the curse of Where history might have aided him, high prices. If they get more wages, Strauss either blunders or is unjust, they are able to purchase less with their tripping lightly over broken ground, or gains. This is true of all classes, since plunging into extravagant assertion. the Vicar of Wakefield was passing rich Disliking cosmopolitanism, though reon forty pounds a year. The relative fining it away as manifest in Goethe share of Trade-Guilds and Trade-Unions and Schiller-and connecting it with in producing this decay of money-power, Ultramontanism, most unjustly, as the is an interestinginquiry for which Strauss feeling is older, both in its Pagan and has no patience. Other factors in the cal- Christian forms-- he makes his dislike culation are not even mentioned, such as the basis of a theory. “Patriotism is the increase of population and luxurious the sole ascent to humanitarianism." display. The Unions have done every- Cosmopolitanism is weakness. Then, thing; though house-rent, one of the by a spring of logic, we are invited to things he cites, has gone up in Berlin compare the New and the Old World since it became the capital of the Ger on the question of national character. man Empire, and, apparently, for no The people of the United States are other reason. His positive statements are suffering from many ills, but “one of vexing; as when he styles the Interna- the deepest is want of national charactionaleanother form of Jesuitism, and con- ter.” Is this the result of cosmopolinects the right of coalition for trade-pur- tanism, springing from an uncertain base, poses with bad Liberalism and culpable or of patriotism weakened by a too wide executive weakness. He is right, how humanism ? The citation is made, in ever, in resenting all regulations restrict- part, to show the latter, but it shows ing individual capacity, but they are no nothing of the kind. The unwillingnecessary part, in our opinion, of trueness of the United States to join the trade amalgamation. His fault is, that Geneva Convention, is one of many he has no sympathy with the popular proofs of the absence of humanitarianconstructive movement, and fails to see ism, as the heroism of the Civil War behind it the spirit of a progress to was of patriotism. We will assume the which as yet we can assign no positive converse as intended by the reference to form. With combination at one end, mixed races. But is it fair to compare a young nation with older ones, like the “that flourishing condition of the higher German and the English? Was not intellectual interests” observable in Great Britain once to Europe what Germany, and, in some respects, in North America is now-the outlet for England.” Here, also, sufficient allowadventurous colonists? Assimilation is ance is not made for age-a grave a work of time, and it is premature to sin in a disciple of developmentsay that the nationalities of the United and no account is taken of the agencies States “cannot combine into a living which have favoured the intellectual whole." The Irish-Americans are already progress of Germany. “We Germans beginning to assimilate, and the same are struck by something plebeian, somewill ere long be true of the Irish-Ger- thing coarsely realistic and soberly promans, perhaps of the Asiatic protégés of saic in the culture of these republics." Koupmanchap. The negro, we confess, It will not always be so. Bread-andpresents more obstacles. But is it true butter sciences come first; the higher that America has no “national charac ones afterwards. It was Goethe who ter”? Many of us could wish it were said, “Do not imagine all is vanity, if less distinct than it is. However, it it is not abstract thought and idea.” improves, war having done as much for German unity is a thing of to-day, and it as for Germany, and rather more, as it has had no influence, as yet, upon it did not hurl back rival elements into culture. Whether its influence will be more compact organization. It is Federal good or bad, is a problem we do not Republicanism which is so intolerable undertake to discuss. How German to Strauss's historic conscience. He culture assumed its present form is the fails to remember that the German Em- real question, and much of it, perhaps pire is a similar congeries of States— its special character, is undoubtedly due that Prussia, Saxony, and Bavaria are to“ feebly organized” and “loosely conas separate, in one sense, as Massachu. nected” States. Of political life, as we setts, Pennsylvania, or Ohio—and that understand it in England, as it is unno form of government is able to destroy derstood in America, there was, until all the outlines and inlines of human recently, none whatever. There was types. A Yorkshireman differs from a not even patriotism, in any large sense. Cornishman, a Londoner from a Lin- Prince Bismarck used to say of the colnshireman, dialects and features are Army, that it was inspired “not by still preserved and traceable; and yet German but by Prussian enthusiasm." it is admitted there is no “want of na Minute divisions stimulated intellectual
onal character,” though Defoe's de- abandonment, necessitated independent scription is still exact,
educational machinery; and men who
had no noble political life to employ “A true-born Englishman's a contradiction,
their energies became so much the more In speech an irony, in fact a fiction."
imaginative, metaphysical, and critical. In short, separatism is not patriotism, This was intellectual home-sickness, as any more than federalism is cosmopoli- Novalis expressed it,"the wish to be tanism. Perhaps national character is everywhere at home." To dislike cosmost marked where there is least racial mopolitanism, when it is the description ferment, as in China ; but it is not the of German genius for the last century; highest we can find. It may be inno- to dislike small and loosely-connected cent of fraternal enthusiasm, but it is States when they are united under a not therefore most marked by intellec Republican, instead of a quasi Repubtual energy and “deep feeling."
lican or Imperial form of government; “ The separation of mankind into to compare the bloom of a young nafeebly organized and loosely connected tionality with the ripe fruition of older federal republics” has other evils, in ones, rich with the chemistry of ages; the judgment of Strauss. In Switzer- to reason from the realized results of land, as in the United States, he misses to-day in order to connect politics and