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a particular class, involves a complete misconception of the problem, confounding the expert drafting of laws and administration, which are special arts, with the wider rational ordering of social life to which the entire organic society must contribute. The comparison of the wisdom and ability of various classes, and of individuals within these classes, as a basis for the quantitative apportionment of governmental powers, is only one of the many fallacies which lurk in a sectional or separatist solution of an organic problem. The wisdom of a nation for purposes of self-government cannot be understood as the mere addition of the wisdom of its separate units. The real plea for democracy is the absolute need for the expression of the rational life of the whole national organism in the arts of government. Neither the equal right of all individual members, nor the unequal capacities of separate classes measured by education or by property, forms the true basis of rational self-government. Through the necessarily rude and imperfect mechanism of franchise and elections must breathe the conscious organic experience of national life, expressed in large general judgments and demands which are really the will and voice of the people as a unity, and which only appear to be the added judgments and demands of a number of separate individuals, because of the necessary defects of the mechanical instruments of record. Democracy insists that the people as a whole is rational, and that government must express this rationality. This does not exclude but implies a recognition of the need of making full use of the capacities of skilled men for special governmental functions, and of assigning to these the requisite authority as lead
ers both in the education and in the execution of the national will. Mr. Ruskin's criticism of democracy glances scatheless from the strong formula of Mazzini, “ The progress of all through all, under the leadership of the best and wisest."
MACHINERY AND INDUSTRIAL TOWNS.
$ 1. Mr. Ruskin's discriminative attitude towards machines. $ 2.
Sentimentalism in revival of hand industry. § 3. The mechanisation of life and work by modern industry. $ 4. The indictment of over-specialisation. § 5. The need of physical labour for all. $ 6. The problem of mechanical and unskilled manual work. 87. The true interests of consumers. § 8. Condemnation of the machine-made town. $ 9. The decay and the revival of rural life.
§ 1. So strong is the popular bent to caricature that it is safe to conclude that the most general of all notions about Mr. Ruskin is that he is a fanatical opponent of machinery, a literary Luddite and railway wrecker, the insanity of such an attitude being in part condoned by the reflection that he is an artist, and therefore incapable of taking a sound practical view of the benefits which factories and coal-pits have conferred upon our national life.
Now, since certain “ objections to machinery” are no by-product of Mr. Ruskin's thought, but belong to the very kernel of his criticism of life, they deserve closer attention than the “average sensual man” is inclined to accord them.
In order to clear the way, we must first ask, How far does Mr. Ruskin object to machinery? Quaint stories of his “ posting” up north in 1876 « quite in the old
fashioned way," with a specially built carriage, postillion, and relays of horses, in order to escape the railway; attempts to restore hand-weaving in Cumberland; his reversion to hand-made paper and handicraft of every kind in the production of his books; his constant and vehement denunciation of factory towns and factory life, have created an impression of a quixotic, indiscriminate opposition to modern industrial methods. With just reason, Mr. Ruskin complains 2 of the ignorance of critics who, trusting to vulgar gossip, accuse him of “condemning machinery," whereas he is himself the inventor and proposer of daring schemes for tide-mills, drainage, and other engineering exploits. Two important distinctions mark his real attitude. His opposition is directed primarily not against machinery, but against
steam-power” superseding not only human power, but the "natural" agencies of wind, water, and animal life.3 The causes of his hatred of steam-power are manifold : the horror and the brutalising toil of mining, the foul impurity of a smoke-laden atmosphere, the ugly structure and degrading monotony of factories and factory towns, the devastation of beautiful localities by mines and mills, by railways and hordes of barbarian “trippers,” the absorption of so much national energy and skill in economy of steam-production, - all contribute to his abhorrence.
His attitude may seem unreasonable: it may be urged that “steam," too, is a power of nature; that mining need not be, and indeed is not, a peculiarly unhealthy or degrading work; that much of the injuri1 Collingwood, “ Life,” ii. 162. 2 Fors, Letter lxxxv. (iv. 290).
8 Fors, Letter lxvii. (iii. 373).
ous effect of smoke is preventable; that factories need not be either ugly or unhealthy, and are becoming less so; that steam-power, as the servant of humanity, confers enormous benefits in facilitating the production of material wealth and in widening the horizon of life for all people, by providing easy and swift communication of persons, goods, and ideas. Many of these pleas, in part, at any rate, Mr. Ruskin's mind was open to receive. Even railways he did not utterly eschew. For although in the opening letter of “ Fors” he expresses a fierce desire 6 to destroy most of the railroads in England, and all the railroads in Wales," I in milder moments he draws a distinction between main lines -- which for their large and obvious utility he would permit — and certain branch lines, whose smaller utility is far outweighed by their injury to nature and to rural life. In particular, and with sound reason, he opposed the introduction of railways into the finest valleys of Switzerland and into the heart of our own Lake Country, because he held that their presence destroyed the beauty which was the distinctive worth of these places. Those who think this exhibits an exclusive spirit, and consider that a Rigi railway, by making the glories of Switzerland accessible to larger numbers of people, confers a benefit so large as to outweigh the damage to scenery, fail to appreciate the sensitive genius to which wilfully-flawed beauty is a desecration and a source of keener pain than the presence of any ordinary ugliness or lack of harmony. All utilitarian calculations of the quantity of lower satisfaction afforded to a larger number necessarily failed to touch and to convince one who always held that the best
1 Fors, Letter i. (i. 5).