Victorian Critics of Democracy: Carlyle, Ruskin, Arnold, Stephen, Maine, Lecky

By Benjamin Evans Lippincott | Go to book overview

HENRY MAINE

I

MAINE was probably the most searching critic of democratic optimism in the Victorian era. Stephen, it will be remembered, was the critic of the advanced school of liberal thought of the nineteenth century, the school of John Stuart Mill. It was given to Maine to criticize not a philosophy of democracy, but democratic beliefs; where Stephen attacked the philosophy of "liberal emancipation," Maine took issue with the claim that democracy was the harbinger of progress. With the liberal movement gaining power in the third quarter of the nineteenth century, with the bright outlook created by the passing of the Reform Bill of 1867 and the success of Gladstone's first ministry, and with all the hopes that were bred of Victorian prosperity, there developed strong enthusiasm for democracy. Some of the more ardent exponents, like Carpenter, were coming to believe that democracy promised all kinds of blessings to mankind. Maine conceived it his task to show that such enthusiasm was a delusion. As Stephen had attacked a philosophy that saw in the ideals of liberty, equality, fraternity the promise of a new society, Maine attacked an attitude that saw in democracy the coming of a new world.

Maine was even more of a technical critic than Stephen. Unlike Stephen, there was very little of the moral fire of the puritan in him; not that he never spoke out with righteous indignation, only that he seldom did so, and when he did, he spoke not from the judgment seat but from the study. Unlike

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Victorian Critics of Democracy: Carlyle, Ruskin, Arnold, Stephen, Maine, Lecky
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface vii
  • Contents ix
  • Introduction 1
  • Thomas Carlyle 6
  • John Ruskin 54
  • Matthew Arnold 93
  • James Fitzjames Stephen 134
  • Henry Maine 167
  • William Lecky 207
  • The Intellectual Protest 244
  • Index 265
  • Index 266
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