Open main menu

Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 34.djvu/579

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
563
LITERARY NOTICES.

points in which the middle-class schools in particular failed to respond to the needs of those who should attend them, are very pungent, go down to the root of the matter, and look to the final and permanent result; and they show that his strongest sympathies were with the education of the middle classes, whom the universities were only just beginning to touch. This sympathy was intimately bound up with a sympathy with the non-conformists, which was expressed in a lecture before the Edinburgh Philosophical Institution on "Cromwell and the English Commonwealth." He supported electoral reform as a means of redeeming the government from the grasp of capitalists and snobs, and rejoiced over the passage of the conservative bill in 1868, as a victory in which no party was the winner, but the whole nation won "by a measure which makes us for the first time one people." What result was looked for from the enfranchisement of the people was not the present question. "Untie the man's legs, and then it will be time to speculate how he will walk." In one of his speeches he defined as the idea of a true liberal programme "the removal of all obstructions which the law can remove to the free development of English citizens." In a lecture respecting the position of the political reformers, he described them as proceeding "upon the principle that true political freedom means the power on the part of the citizens as a body to make the most and best of themselves, or (which is equivalent) to contribute equally to a common good, and that freedom of contract, freedom in all the forms of doing what one will with one's own, is only valuable as a means to freedom in its positive sense. No contract, then, is valid, which defeats the end for which alone society enforces contracts at all—i.e., that equal development of the faculties of all which is the highest good for all." On this principle ho justified interference in matters of labor, health, education, the letting of land, and the sale of alcohol. The strongest elements in his nature "seem to have been the sense of public duty and the sense of religious dependence, and in the creeds of modern liberalism and modern evangelicalism he found a congenial language, which he had no difficulty in translating when he wished into that of German metaphysics. ... The idea of a free personality, exercising its freedom under conditions which it has itself created, formed the meeting-point for his political and religious aspirations. In the light of this idea he interpreted to himself the problems of history, of morality, of theology." As he grew older, he found that with many of his natural allies, liberal politicians, religious enthusiasts, scientific investigators, he could only go half-way. But, with all modifications in his attitude, "the ideal of Christian citizenship remained his ideal to the end; and, in spite of frequent antagonism to the accredited representatives of physical science, ho never relinquished the claim to be at one with the true scientific spirit." The subjects of Mr. Green's lectures, both as tutor and as Professor in Moral Philosophy, turned largely round certain works of Aristotle, to which parts of Plato were added. The manner of treating these works was gradually modified, in accordance with the methods of German commentators and writers like Jowett and Pattison, and became "less literary and more philosophical." The lectures which he delivered during the four years of his professorship were embodied in bis "Prolegomena to Ethics," which was published after his death. A course on "Political Obligation" and parts of other courses have been published in the second volume of this edition; and that and the first volume contain the collection of his philosophical works. The present volume of "Miscellanies" contains twenty-one papers, which have been published as public addresses, as articles in the "North British Review" and the "Academy," or through other channels. Among the subjects are "The Force of Circumstances," "The Influence of Civilization on Genius," "The Value and Influence of Works of Fiction in Modern Times," "The Philosophy of Aristotle," "Popular Philosophy in its Relation to Life," "Caird's Philosophy of Religion," "Immortality," "Christian Dogma," "The English Commonwealth," "Liberal Legislation and Freedom of Contract," "The Grading of Secondary Schools," "The Elementary School System of England," "The Work to be done by the Oxford High School for Boys," and theological subjects.