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he had emphasised the contrast between the commercial south and west and the Junkerthum of the north and east. The third section (pp. 138-262) deals with the distribution and management of property in land: the fortunes of the imperial domain, the domains of the territorial princes, the size of the ecclesiastical, baronial, and knightly properties, the relative magnitude of manorial demesne and land in villenage, the various categories of peasants, the break-up of the old unit of peasant holding, and a dozen other similar topics. And, finally, the fourth and longest section (pp. 263–422), under the title “ The Produce of the Soil and its Distribution,” describes the various parts of the rural economy, the agricultural methods employed, the crops raised, and the payments in labour, kind and money made by the peasants to their lords.
While Dr. von Inama has drawn his material mainly from the original sources, he is evidently familiar with the recent literature of his subject, and it would be difficult to speak too highly of the range of learning which this volume, like its predecessors, undoubtedly displays. Charm of style is so dangerous a gift-as the writings of Dr. Lamprecht have reminded us of late years—that we should be unwise to grumble at the methodically encyclopædic manner in which Dr. von Inama takes up and dismisses each of his topics. The volume might almost be cut up into a series of articles for the great Handwörterbuch. But we may, I think, feel a little disappointed at the way in which our author not infrequently repeats the commonplaces of recent German writers, without referring us to any very definite evidence, and sometimes using such vague language that it is hard to be sure precisely what he means. Thus, the whole question of the alleged deterioration of the peasant's lot in the fifteenth century, to which he more than once refers, needs in my opinion a much more thorough and concrete handling than it has yet received.
One interesting peculiarity of Dr. von Inama's work is the stress laid upon the economic services of the government and of the landlord class (e.g., pp. 120, 121, 273). He does not always, perhaps, prove his point; but economic history has so often been written with an antigovernmental or anti-aristocratic bias that the change is refreshing.
W. J. ASHLEY
The Development of English Thought: a Study in the Economic
Interpretation of History. By SIMON N. PATTEN, Ph.D.,
.. University of Pennsylvania. (New York and London: Macmillan. 1899. Pp. 415.)
This is a strange production; yet it will not seem so singular if one knows anything of the characteristics of recent American thought. Nothing is more remarkable than the number of books which have appeared of late years in the United States with this feature in No. 35.-VOL. IX.
common—that they seek to explain by some one simple formula the whole complicated development of human society. Most of them are, indeed, the work of professed “sociologists"; and they might be thought to exhibit, in this respect, the distinguishing trait of the branch of literature to which they belong. For, alike in Europe and America, quot homines, tot sociologiae. But in the pursuit of a Key to Society, there must, to judge from the number of publications, be something peculiarly congenial to the American temper. I suspect the explanation is to be found in the mechanical genius of the nation. The typical American is the man who, while Irish or Italian labourers are drudging away before him, sits on a fence and whittles a stick while he thinks out some easier way of getting the work done. And in like manner it might be said in a figure that America is full of “thinkers ” who are sitting on fences, academic or other, and excogitating short cuts to the centre of the social labyrinth. It is a state of mind which has been productive of great things in the field of mechanics; it may still be fruitful in the study of society. For a too intimate knowledge of the difficulties of the problem does certainly put a drag on speculation; and there is much to be hoped for from the courage which is not afraid of large problems. Yet hitherto, it must be confessed, it is the dangers of such a mental attitude which have been most often apparent. The keenest powers of insight cannot safely invent the forms either of past or of present societies without sufficient information ; and when, as in the present case, we have inadequate knowledge, a narrow ethics, a wearisome style, a barbarous terminology, and the constant confusion of assertion for proof, the result cannot but be disheartening, in spite of “the excellent earnestness," and even the occasional suggestiveness which the book undoubtedly displays.
Professor Patten's treatise sets before us what in one place he calls “ a theory of history," in another “a social psychology," which unlocks, in his opinion, all the mysteries of social evolution-economic, political, religious, intellectual—from the beginnings of recorded time to the last days of man on the earth ; though he modestly limits his more detailed exposition to the period from the “Early Germans" to our own time, and chooses England as his special field of illustration on the ground that “ English thought" has been “more normal and more uniform than that of her continental neighbours." This theory he regards as “scarcely open to question, and he does not hesitate to end with the assertion that it harmonises natural and revealed religion. But after all, it is nothing more than a little verbal legerdemain with our old friends “adjustment” and “environment," eked out with 'sensory” and “motor." The " environment," first determines " “sensory ideas;" then the “struggle for existence" " determines" the “motor reactions” (or “motor ideas”) which “constitute character." Progress is due to “a repeated transition from one environment to another; ” but the “adjustment" to a new environment takes time
and is seldom complete; and “the striking features of every progressive nation" are due to the collision between the national character, due to the past environment, and the exigencies of the new situation.
Now, in the first place, this is a curiously simple and naïve psychology. The leap from sensory and motor nerves to sensory and motor ideas is one which no physiologist would venture to make, and which is made, so far as I know, by no recent psychologist of any reputation. And in the second place the effect of environment on character is habitually conceived of in the most mechanical and fatalistic manner. Yet even if the position were free from theoretic difficulties, the question would still remain : how comes the environment to change? The truth is that when you know the facts Professor Patten will supply you with a set of abstract-sounding formulæ to describe what you find to have happened ; but he does not really help you to discover the facts; and the effect of the forces actually visible may be more concretely and intelligibly stated, and has again and again been so stated, in the ordinary literary language of the commonplace historian.
The "theory" is followed by a number of chapters which profess to show its applicability to the development of English character. They present an extraordinary jumble of shrewd observation and absolutely baseless and ridiculous assertions. Even when the remark is a sensible and true one, Professor Patten does his best to irritate the reader by insisting on translating it into his pseudo-scientific and barbarous jargon. Here is an example. “Methodism," he observes, “made people conscious of their emotional nature and educated them in its manifestations.” This is true enough, though put somewhat too absolutely. He then proceeds: “Every one, it taught, must ... recognise and manifest certain well-known motor feelings. A mere belief, or a sensory knowledge, that created no measurable motor reactions, was not enough,” &c. “ Motor reaction” has an impressive physiological ring, but a moment's thought will show that it does not penetrate one inch further into the mystery of the human heart than the old literary word “emotion.”
Only too often, however, Professor Patten not only interprets his facts but invents them. Of general mediæval conditions he appears profoundly ignorant, while some vague impressions of certain facts of English history between the years 1300 and 1800 A.D., seem to float about in his mind unfettered by limitations of time, and to be grouped in one phantasmagoria after another as suits his argument. A few instances will suffice. “The great plagues were coincident with the rise of Puritanism. Labour had grown scarce and wages high ;” and hereon a whole fabric of conclusion (p. 138). But the assertion is quite inconsistent with any merely human chronology. The bath-tub, according to Professor Patten, has been one of the greatest of moralising agencies. “It is hard to over-estimate its importance.” “Much of
" the sensuality of earlier days was due ... to an overplus of energy
and warmth of blood. A cold bath remedied this. .... The bath-tub is the parent of that English optimism of which the last two centuries have seen so many examples." One hardly knows which to be most surprised at; the child-like simplicity of the notion itself, or the fetterless imagination which gives the bath-tub a couple of centuries for its beneficent work. “ The new fashion of tea-drinking came in because hot drinks were grateful after the blood had been cooled off by a bath.” For “tea” we should perhaps read “coffee," if it is breakfast that is in question ; in any case it would be hard to justify the alleged cause chronologically; and Professor Patten does not see that if his remark is true, the warming-up by tea would counteract the moralising effects of the cooling-off by the bath! It is the drawback to all arbitrary constructions of history that it is equally easy to use the same fact, or supposed fact, in opposite ways. Our author might just as well have explained the vices of the age of Fox by the pernicious warming-up effects of hot coffee.
Perhaps the “fond thing" most "vainly invented " is the account given of the improvement in the condition of the agricultural labourer in the eighteenth century. He now began to enjoy, says Professor Patten, “new drinks, like tea and ale” (p. 195). The association of tea with ale, as if their introduction to the labourer's diet belonged to the same period, is enough to make Cobbett turn in his grave. To the same period, says our author, belongs the introduction of the oven into the cottage, and with it a new
“So long as food had been cooked in a pot over an open fire, only watery dishes could be made, but ovens made dry foods possible. Bread and meat could now be cooked in more palatable forms than formerly," &c., &c. Has Professor Patten ever been inside an old-fashioned English cottage? When there is an oven, does he know where it is placed, and how it is made, and what it is used for? Has he ever heard of the frying-pan? Does he know what a turn-spit is?
I have said nothing of the elaborate estimate of the chief English philosophers and economists which occupies a large part of the volume. It is highly original ; Professor Patten does not hesitate to correct the great writers themselves as well as their commentators in regard to the sequence of their ideas, and the order in which they occurred to them. He has given a good deal of attention to economic and philosophic literature, and hidden beneath a repulsive phraseology may possibly lurk many observations worthy of consideration. But to disentangle them would require far more time and space than I have at my command; they may be commended to the respectful consideration of the few scholars who really have any particular knowledge of the subject; to the general public the whole exposition will be impressive and unintelligible.
It is a hard duty to criticise frankly a book like this. If one could be sure that it would only be read by persons who had a fair acquaintance with English history and literature, one would be
disposed to pass over its wild statements and baseless arguments with a smile, and to dwell upon its stimulating and thought-promoting qualities. But one cannot but fear that the academic position and the, for many reasons, well-founded reputation of its author may give it a wide vogue in American colleges. I can hardly conceive anything more mischievous than to put this in the hands of students at a time when they ought to be learning the well-ascertained outlines of history, the methods of sound argument, the rules of evidence, and a lucid and un pedantic style. Lest I should be thought too severe, let me end with two examples of the sort of reckless assertion which proceeds from Puritan prejudice masquerading as psychological science. Professor Patten takes the Puritan side as against Laud with regard to the Book of Sports. There is a good deal to be said for that view. But what excuse can there be for such an assertion as this?
“ The key to the situation lies in the once universal notion that the popular sports, by exciting the sexual passions, promoted the growth of population. The loss of virtue that the Puritans denounced in the May games was to the ruling class an argument in their favour. The noble who debauched the wives and daughters of his tenantry did not think that he did wrong; on the contrary he told himself that he was doing the nation a service” (p. 137). The explanation which the author provides for this remarkable condition of affairs only shows how dangerous a thing may be a little anthropology. And now read this :
" It must be remembered that the church was in reality a civil organisation whose main end was peace and security. Its clergy did not, therefore, express that condemnation of sensual indulgences which modern opinion demands, but were content if no breaches of the peace occurred, in the belief that the nation was safest when the attention of individuals was diverted from public affairs by opportunities to indulge their passions” (p. 133). This is not history: it is commonplace anticlericalism.
W. J. ASHLEY
Local Variations in Wages. By F. W. LAWRENCE. (London:
Longmans, Green & Co. 1899.)
This essay, which gained the Adam Smith prize at Cambridge in the year 1897, is a most excellent and useful piece of work. It not only contains most valuable information about wages arranged in a diagrammatic form, but also suggests many lines of new inquiry for the student who shall proceed with any further investigations into this field. The following criticism is deliberately aimed at picking out any faults, and does not in any way profess to make a fair estimate of the value of the work, in the belief that more good is served in the case of such a careful and valuable contribution to economic science by deliberate criticism in detail and other than general praise. A serious piece of work deserves serious criticism.