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

By Benjamin Evans Lippincott | Go to book overview

MATTHEW ARNOLD

I

IF CARLYLE and Ruskin refreshed the moral insights of men but did little to shape their minds, Arnold neither shaped their minds nor refreshed their moral insights. He exerted little influence as a political and social writer; his age refused to take him seriously. If it did not ridicule him as inept, it brushed him lightly aside as inconsequential, or it thought of him simply as a wholesome irritant to prejudice. Frederick Harrison spoke for those who had only contempt when he referred to the man of culture in politics as "a well-preserved Ariel tripping from flower to flower."1 The description of Arnold as "a Hebrew prophet in white-kid gloves"2 expressed the view of those who were merely amused by him. Leslie Stephen spoke for those who looked upon Arnold as a propagandist for light when he described him as an effective agent in breaking up old crusts of thought, and as one who aroused many to a new perception of their needs.3 And if Arnold gained little recognition as a political writer in his own time, his reputation has hardly increased since he wrote; he is generally thought of in terms of Ernest Barker's estimate, as an artist-critic whose chief claim to remembrance lies in a witty satire of laissez faire and in the championship of authority.4

____________________
1
Saintsbury could say that Arnold had "no 'ideas,' no first principles in politics at all." Matthew Arnold ( New York, 1899), p. 152.
2
George W. E. Russell, Matthew Arnold ( New York, 1904), p. 135.
3
Leslie Stephen, Studies of a Biographer ( 4 vols., London, 1898- 1907), II, 121.
4
Ernest Barker, Political Thotfght in England, 1848 to 1914 ( rev. ed., London, 1928), pp. 183, 198ff.

-93-

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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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