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“N'écoutez pas l'Amour, car c'est un mauvais maître ;
Apprenez, apprenez ;
Que n'ont fait vos aînés."
Fortunately for himself, the author has not, in that time of joyful ardor, discovered, like Faust, that the fruit of the tree of knowledge is often as dry as an apple of Sodom. “ Philosophie, Juristerei, und Medicin ” bave not lost their savor. But it is to the spirit of the humorist that we must chiefly look in explanation of the attitude of Rabelais towards the scholastic and conservative tendencies of his time. Now, this characteristic of humor, which he possesses in common with Shakespeare and a very few others in literature, has been explained in the following way. The true humorist differs from the merely comic writer, we are told, in that, while envisaging the passions and foibles of men from their amusing side, the former, unlike the comedian of manners, does so without definite satirical or corrective purpose, even though lesson and satire often enter into his portraitures ; in other words, he scans the world as one whom the French aptly describe in the phrase revenu de tout. Experience has taught him the worthlessness of all human pleasure and even of so-called disciplinary pain, which, taken in earnest, leave behind them nothing but vanity and vexation of spirit; and still his natural buoyancy keeps him from chiming in with the gloomy platitudes of Cato or the moanings of Solomon. Life is in the abstract a huge farce ; if, as Horace Walpole puts it, it is “ a comedy to those who think and a tragedy to those who feel,” Rabelais is decidedly with the thinkers. The only enthusiasms — appetites let us rather call them — which he retains are his thirst for sound learning and a love of animal life, with everything implied in the term; he is at once the abnormis sapiens and the epicuri de grege porcus of Horace. And still it is impossible to resist the thought that, with all his learning and all his laughter, there may be a side to his character of which we shall never be sure, however much we may surmise as to its existence. Life, even for a Rabelais, cannot be all thought and merriment; frank and spontaneous as his feelings were, his heart must often have bled inwardly, suppressing its emotions, at the hideous side of all the middle age in its cruelty and contempt of human suffering. Starvation and physical pain are real to the humorist, just as to the rest of mankind ; and both his travels and his practice must have given him countless examples of them. The loose joint in this philosophical armor of humorous indifferentism appears as soon as the question is asked, Why act virtuously? Unless it be granted that man is to follow his impulses and his habits, which may be good or bad, the conclusion is inevitable that, since his actions as a social being are in some degree controlled by reflection as weil as by his desires, they ultimately depend on some fundamental principle of conduct implicitly assumed, if not explicitly avowed.
hostile factions. I to late hours Seatological scie
Rabelais, who, like the agnostic of to day, blinks the subject of ethics in the abstract, is at all events on the right side as regards the practical issues of the question. Without any complacency he knows and says that his motives are good, and so far as he can he conforms to them in all that he does.
A subject that cannot be passed over in silence, even in these pages, when one writes of Rabelais, commonly divides English and French critics (and, for that matter, Englishmen and Frenchmen) into rather hostile factions, — that is, the amazing frankness of his dealing with topics usually left to late hours in the smoking-room, and his obvious delight at wallowing in them. Scatological science is certainly one of his many specialties ; and in order to invent new combinations, unexpected points of view, odd names, and so forth, he taxes his mind to the utmost. Nowhere so much as in this all too unsavory subject does his verve bouffonne render him service; not one of his many imitators, not even Balzac, can vie with him in variety or fecundity of imagination. Now, it is needless to say that an eviscerated Rabelais for drawing-room purposes (un Rabelais de demoiselles, it has been called) is an absurdity. Professor Morley's edition - "the bones of Rabelais daintily picked, cleaned, and served up undeviled,” Punch styles it — is a mockery to any candid reader. The truth is simply that the old curé is gross and has the worst possible taste ; for of immorality and cynicism (in the modern sense) there is none in the original, though of shamelessness we find more than enough. A distinguished professor once told the present writer, rather naively, that Pantagruel had been taboo in his student days, because he was said to be immoral; and yet one dares to imagine that even at that time “ The Jolly Beggars” was not the least popular of Burns's poems among the college laddies of Edinburgh. Between English-speaking people and Frenchmen it is hard, in this connection, to find a common standing-ground, although many of the former, like Archdeacon Grantly, no doubt often read their Rabelais on the sly. When, therefore, such a critical point reduces itself to a difference in national habits and taste, how useless it must ever remain to dispute over general principles on the application of which agreement is hopeless! The Frenchman considers the Englishman prudish or hypocritical; and the Englishman characterizes the Frenchman as — well, Mr. Mallock has done that for us in “ The New Republic," and Mr. Matthew Arnold pompously confirms the decision. Is it not just possible that both sides are right?
What, finally, is to be said of Rabelais' wonderful style, — wonderful not only from its isolated excellence, but as contrasted with most of the prose that preceded it? To do even a shadow of justice to its many excellences would carry one far beyond the limits of so short a sketch as this must be ; but any reader cannot fail to notice, even through the unsatisfactory help of a translation, its delightful verve, its variety, and its richness. The vocabulary is large and exquisitely precise ; in speaking
of the most unusual topics and in their abstrusest relations, never does the author hesitate or fail to find the exact word. As for the syntax, every student of French is aware that he was among the first to substitute for the old loose and disjointed sentences of early writers the full-sounding and cadenced periods that have, unfortunately, well-nigh disappeared from French prose. This characteristic of Rabelais' expression is in all probability owing to his perfect familiarity with Latin and his knowledge of Greek, upon both of which many of his sentences are deliberately modeled. Men found time to write long and well in those days; our jerky style, like a telegram or a fait divers, had luckily not been created.
On leaving this jovial bonhomme, with whom one would willingly linger, it is at once a regret and a pleasure to think that the last word has not been, and probably never will be said, so fond is every generation of revising the literary guesses and edicts of its predecessors. Another decade, another generation, may see in Rabelais much that we have missed, for the tendency to read into an author more than he ever intended to reach the ear is as likely as not to increase as time goes on. But one may trust that he will continue to find students, who, undeterred by his coarseness and his archaism, will always be ready to say to themselves, in the words of his latest and most sympathetic critic : “He loved men and the Author of all things. Glad to live in the world, eager to keep his joyousness and to be at peace with all men, he never opened his heart to the passions that disturb the health of body and mind, that destroy gayety, which depends on our despising the chances of fate, and that prevent good people from comfortably enjoying all the good things that Providence has bestowed on the world.”
Paul T. Lafleur. McGill COLLEGE, MONTREAL.
THE OUTLINE OF AN ELECTIVE COURSE IN THREE PARTS. Part I. THE SOCIAL EVOLUTION OF LABOR — presented in succes
sive numbers of the “Review” for the year 1889. PART II. THE TREATMENT OF CRIME AND OF THE CRIMINAL CLASSES
- presented in alternate numbers of the “ Review " for the year 1890. Part III. PAUPERISM — to be presented in alternate numbers of the
- “ Review” for the present year.
PAUPERISM. TOPIC I. CAUSES WHICH AFFECT THE MATERIAL CONDITION OF A
PEOPLE. These causes may be grouped under the general heads of natural, governmental or institutional, economic, and moral.
1. Natural Causes are climate, soil, and food. See Buckle’s “ History of Civilization in England,” with criticisms on positions there taken. But the chief interest in the present discussion of these causes centres in Malthus's law of the ratio of the increase of population to food supply. Here we touch the fundamental question in pauperism. Malthus's “Essay on Population.”
Malthus's law may be stated as follows: The constant tendency of all living beings is to increase faster than the food supply ; qualified by the condition that population cannot increase beyond the actual minimum of food. Population tends to increase in a geometrical ratio ; that is, by multiplication. Food can increase only by arithmetical ratio ; that is, by addition. And here the law of diminishing returns comes in to lessen the increase. Nature gives back a decreasing product under continuous use.
To the question which at once arises, Why is it that in fact there is no such excess on the earth's surface ? Malthus replies by showing in great detail the system of checks upon population which are in general effect.
The ultimate check is want of food, which is never in effect except in a famine.
Immediate checks are the customs or diseases generated by scarcity.
Positive checks are epidemics, war, plagues, extreme poverty, disease, too severe labor, unwholesome occupations.
Primitive checks are vice and moral restraint, — moral restraint being defined as restraint from or postponement of marriage from prudential reasons, attended meanwhile by moral conduct. Moral restraint is Malthus’s remedy for overpopulation, with special application to those unable to support a family · For the fair consideration of Malthus's position, one must understand the philosophical and political opinions which he was combating (his “Essay on Population” was a reply to Godwin's “Political Justice,” which attributed the ills of society altogether to existing political and social institutions, including marriage) ; and also the extravagant and debasing poor laws of his time, which put a premium on pauper marriages.
But when due allowance has been made for these exciting causes, the following exceptions must be taken to his general position:
His theory overestimates the natural increase of population. Under the most favorable conditions, and as in the United States with immigration added, population does not reach his estimate of increase. Compare Elkanah Watson's remarkable calculation of the growth of the United States in population with the actual increase from 1820 to 1890, quoted by Francis A. Walker in article on the United States, “Encyclopædia Britannica." See also argument of Herbert Spencer, — “Westminster Review,” April, 1852, — to the effect that the reproductive power is lessened by increased cerebra and nervous development.
Malthus's theory underestimates the reproductive power of nature under human economy and aids. Marshall, “ Principles of Economics,” book iv., chaps. ii., iii.
Malthus does not make sufficient account of the value of labor in producing wealth which supports population. Henry George, “ Progress and Poverty,” book ii., chaps. i., ii., iii., iv.
Malthus's remedy of moral restraint is in danger of constant misuse and misapplication. It takes effect, if anywhere, to prevent the growth of population in the better classes. “The Malthusian Idea,” present number of “Andover Review."
2. Governmental or Institutional Causes.
In passing from the natural to the social environment of the individual, three questions are at once suggested :
First. Is he free? Has he the right to himself ?
Second. Is he safe? Has he the full security of his time and possessions ?
Third. Has he an equal chance? Can he be assured of the full reward of his industry?
The first question, that of personal freedom, involves the consideration of the effect of slavery upon the material condition of a people.
The slave cannot be a pauper, but he can and does pauperize free laborers. The indirect effect of slavery in this direction is inevitable. Especially was this true under those conditions which allowed the slave to be the superior of the master. Contrast Roman slavery, which gained recruits by conquest and so secured slaves from the superior races, with African slavery.
The second question, that of personal security, involves the consideration of the effect of war, or of the state of war, upon the material condition of a people. An occasional war may be borne without permanently affecting the resources of a people, though the penalties imposed by recent wars, like the war of Prussia with Austria and again with France, were enormous for the conquered countries. But the amount of industrial energy withdrawn from production by a standing army, as among the nations of Continental Europe, seriously affects the national industrial prosperity. And the price of war can be in part reckoned in the figures of national debts. The debt of England at the close of the war with the American Colonies had risen from $630,214,355 to $1,215,315,720, and at the close of the war with Napoleon to $4,305,195,245, at an annual charge of $163,328,240. Dowell's “ History of Taxation in England,” vol. ii., page 238.
The third question, that of an equal chance, involves the consideration of monopolies, the most insidious form of governmental interference affecting the material interests of a people.
3. Economic or Industrial Causes.
These causes are chiefly operative to-day through the various systems of land tenure, and through the wage system.
The most primitive form of land tenure is that of land in commonalty, the land held by the village community, and divided into threə parts or marks, — the town mark, the arable mark, the common mark. This system prevents individual want, but is repressive of individual effort and progress. See Wallace's “ Russia," chapter on the Russian Mir, and Ashley's “English Economic History," chapter on the Manor and Village Community.
A system directly opposite, which obtains largely on the Continent, is that of peasant proprietorship. This system gives the greatest incentive to individual industry, but has the disadvantage attending small farming. Compare Mill's “Political Economy,” book ii., chaps. vii.-xi., with Lady Verney's “ How the Peasant Owner lives." See also article in “Contemporary Review,” May, 1886, on “ Peasant Property in France.”
The English system of landlord and tenant has the advantage of large farming, but involves great wastefulness, through possible incompetent ownership and divided responsibility. For effect of system on tenants, see “ Parliamentary Reports” on state of farm tenants in England and Ireland.
The system of holding land under mortgage, not only for the original purchase but also for improvements, is in its extent peculiarly American. The method has doubtless greatly aided in the agricultural development