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The proceedings which have now been brought satisfactorily to an end are of a kind which nobody who has sensibility as well as sense can take a part in without some emotion. An illustrious French philosopher who happened to be an examiner of candidates for admission to the Polytechnic School, once confessed that, when a youth came before him eager to do his best, competently taught, and of an apt intelligence, he needed all his self-control to... more...

I am well aware that to try to write Mr. Gladstone's life at all—the life of a man who held an imposing place in many high national transactions, whose character and career may be regarded in such various lights, whose interests were so manifold, and whose years bridged so long a span of time—is a stroke of temerity. To try to write his life to-day, is to push temerity still further. The ashes of controversy, in which he was much... more...

CHAPTER I. PRELIMINARY. Christianity is the name for a great variety of changes which took place during the first centuries of our era, in men's ways of thinking and feeling about their spiritual relations to unseen powers, about their moral relations to one another, about the basis and type of social union. So the Revolution is now the accepted name for a set of changes which began faintly to take a definite practical shape first in America,... more...

CHAPTER I. INTRODUCTORY. The design of the following essay is to consider, in a short and direct way, some of the limits that are set by sound reason to the practice of the various arts of accommodation, economy, management, conformity, or compromise. The right of thinking freely and acting independently, of using our minds without excessive awe of authority, and shaping our lives without unquestioning obedience to custom, is now a finally... more...

I ON PRESENTING THE INDIAN BUDGET (HOUSE OF COMMONS. JUNE 6, 1907) I am afraid I shall have to ask the House for rather a large draft upon its indulgence. The Indian Secretary is like the aloe, that blooms once in 100 years: he only troubles the House with speeches of his own once in twelve months. There are several topics which the House will expect me to say something about, and of these are two or three topics of supreme interest and... more...


CHAPTER I.OTHER DIALOGUES. We may now pass to performances that are nearer to the accepted surface of things. A short but charming example of Diderot’s taste for putting questions of morals in an interesting way, is found in the Conversation of a Father with his Children (published in 1773). This little dialogue is perfect in the simple realism of its form. Its subject is the peril of setting one’s own judgment of some special set of... more...

There was a moment in the last century when the Gallican church hoped for a return of internal union and prosperity. This brief era of hope coincided almost exactly with the middle of the century. Voltaire was in exile at Berlin. The author of the Persian Letters and the Spirit of Laws was old and near his end. Rousseau was copying music in a garret. The Encyclopædia was looked for, but only as a literary project of some associated... more...

BYRON. It is one of the singular facts in the history of literature, that the most rootedly conservative country in Europe should have produced the poet of the Revolution. Nowhere is the antipathy to principles and ideas so profound, nor the addiction to moderate compromise so inveterate, nor the reluctance to advance away from the past so unconquerable, as in England; and nowhere in England is there so settled an indisposition to regard any... more...

CARLYLE. The new library edition of Mr. Carlyle's works may be taken for the final presentation of all that the author has to say to his contemporaries, and to possess the settled form in which he wishes his words to go to those of posterity who may prove to have ears for them. The canon is definitely made up. The golden Gospel of Silence is effectively compressed in thirty fine volumes. After all has been said about self-indulgent mannerisms,... more...

THE DEATH OF MR. MILL. (May 1873.) The tragic commonplaces of the grave sound a fuller note as we mourn for one of the greater among the servants of humanity. A strong and pure light is gone out, the radiance of a clear vision and a beneficent purpose. One of those high and most worthy spirits who arise from time to time to stir their generation with new mental impulses in the deeper things, has perished from among us. The death of one who did... more...