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note to one of his earliest chapters, he mentions, as an unquestionable truth, M. Comte's cardinal • doctrine of the three
successive stages of the human mind in reference to scientific • study, the theological, the metaphysical, and the positive.'
This doctrine, it must be remembered, is insisted on by its promulgators, not as applicable merely to ordinary physics, but as the fundamental law of mental evolution;' and the nisus, which issued in its discovery, seems to have originated in the special necessity of providing a method for social science. Acknowledging it as an historical fact, and employing it as a solution of the development of the Greek mind, Mr. Grote is naturally led to adopt it as a law for his own guidance, and to see in positive inquiry the latest and most perfect birth of time. Few things are more remarkable in his book than the total absence of the theological spirit, which refers events to providential agency, instead of tracing them to what are ordinarily called second causes,-a fact which, whatever else it may prove, is at any rate significant as to the intellectual position he has taken up. Nor is he more solicitous to occupy a metaphysical ground, and explain history, à priori, by the supposed operation of essential powers, whether conceived of modestly as abstract principles, or realised with that startling distinctness of personification which a German admires in Hegel's prose, and an Englishman scarcely tolerates in Shelley's poetry. Every page bears the marks of a thoroughly positive habit of mind, exhibiting a Newtonian disdain of mere hypotheses, and seeking to astonish, not by ingenuity, but by completeness and universality of knowledge. His treatment of the legendary period of Greece, in his earlier volumes, which we have before had occasion to discuss on its own merits, is a specific instance of this peculiarity. It would of course be a misnomer to suppose that the positive method necessarily obliges an inquirer to forego the hope of extracting historical truth from fable, and to regard the legend simply as a legend. As a matter of fact, however, it has a tendency to do so by the attention which it enforces to the laws of physical investigation, and the rigour with which it excludes those considerations which generally tempt men to fill up blanks in history by the help of their own theories. That Mr. Grote's work contains nothing inconsistent with a positive view it would be in the last degree hazardous to affirm,- since a human science, like history, must always be expected to give far more scope for popular looseness of reasoning, and vicious metaphysical notions than natural philosophy can ever have done even in the days of the schoolmen: a point which will perhaps become clearer as we proceed. But it may be safely asserted
History on positive Principles.
that English literature has, as yet, produced no instance in which the progression has been so distinctly made, and so consciously maintained.
Resting, as we do, the scientific pretensions of this history on its positive character, we must add a few words to prevent misconstruction. We are by no means prepared to join M. Comte and Mr. Mill in maintaining either the immediate possibility, or the absolute finality, of the positive method, still less to echo the less sober and guarded language indulged in by inferior writers of the same school. It is conceivable that bistory may, in the distant future, be found to be susceptible of those theological and metaphysical explanations which the world is at present unable to accept, even from a Vico or a Hegel; and in the mean time considerations drawn from divine Providence and the general fitness of things may afford food for something more than empty speculation to the individual reason and the individual conscience. Such truths, however, it is obvious, as at present apprehended, cannot be converted into a scientific basis for historical research; and the writer who employs them is in equal danger of discrediting bis religious or philosophical belief, and of falsifying or neglecting the facts which it is his business to relate. The positive method, on the other hand, like its prototype, the Baconian induction, has the merit of attempting a work which, though destined, we fear, to remain long unaccomplished, does not lie so obviously out of the immediate reach of human faculties. Depending not on opinions but on facts, it will not suffer from the overthrow of systems built up on foundations independent of its own. The fruit may be more useful than shining, but the tree will never cumber the ground. The scientific worth of systematic discoveries made by an induction from the records of history, and tested by an appeal to the facts of the human mind, must remain firm in any case, whatever may be the formal or final causes to which the whole series of events owes its being ; just as ordinary physical researches proceed undisturbed, while theologians and moralists are disputing about the conclusions which may legitimately be deduced from the aspect of the world of matter. There is no waste of labour, no possible squandering of ingenuity on questions which may turn out after all to have been wrongly raised or erroneously stated in the first instance. The course is one which, in Bacon's language, is not confined,
like theories, to individuals,' but may be followed with equal success by persons differing most widely in their opinions on other subjects of inquiry and in their general mental constitution, so long as they honestly restrict their attention to the
VOL. XCIV. NO. CXCI.
problems which they have to solve, and do not introduce considerations for which a warrant has to be found elsewhere. Besides, the radical difference of object, which prevents it from making common cause with other kinds of inquiry, prevents it no less from being necessarily at war with them. It may have advantages which they have not; but these by no means secure it an exclusive right to attention. The question of right has to be tried in another court, in which it appears not as a judge but as a contending party. All that it can do of itself is to invite cultivation by the promise of more substantial proceeds than its rivals can at present hold out; and the force of its representations will depend on the minds which it addresses. Properly understood, it makes no claim to absolute intellectual dominion, but merely relies on those arguments which have in all ages been the strength of practical men against idealists. It is in this light, we venture to say, that Mr. Grote's work will be regarded by an unbiassed reader. The absence of expressions or statements indicative of theological belief, will be looked upon not as a declaration of hostilities, but as an omission which might have been dictated even to a divine by the Christian virtue of soberness of mind. Those who remark a deficiency in theory will set it down to the taste and temperament of the writer, rather than to his adoption of principles which forbid the use of hypotheses to the learned as well as to the unlearned. They will judge him as they judge other eminent authors, by what he has done, not by what he has failed to do; and recognising him as a disciple of the philosophy of fruit, will feel that no historian has better qualified himself for assisting at the Baconian vintage, the gleaning of the grapes of knowledge, which forms the reward of the careful and patient cultivator. * Leaving this high ground, on which we have scarcely been able to touch, we come to another aspect of Mr. Grote's history, which will probably be more interesting to the majority of our readers — the political. We scarcely know what M. Comte, who seems to regard modern liberal opinions as a vicious mass of metaphysical abstractions, will say to his disciple's applications of the doctrine critique. To us, however, they seem quite in keeping with the general tone of the work, be their bearing on its scientific pretensions what it may; and indeed eminently characteristic of the spirit in which a practical Englishman of the best sort will convert the past into a means of instruction for the present. Since Dr. Arnold's History of Rome no such attempt has been made to view the ancient world by the light of contemporary political experience; and Mr. Grote's teaching
Mr. Grote and Dr. Arnold.
is superior to Dr. Arnold's in proportion as it is more definite and systematic, as well as more business-like and practical. Our recollections of the Roman History of Dr. Arnold are too recent to suffer us to be unjust, even for a moment, to the union of calm wisdom with high enthusiasm which pervades the whole, the result of the convictions, deep and serious, even if mistaken, of one who refused to understand politics in any other than their ancient Greek sense, and tolerated no lower standard in the State than that which he believed to be the apostolic law of the Church. But we need not look beyond the antecedents of the two men to see that Mr. Grote's qualifications in this particular are higher than any to which the historian of Rome could lay claim. If the one had the Bible, and Aristotle, and all history,' for the formation of his opinions, the other, already an Aristotelian and a historical student, if not a divine, enjoyed the invaluable privileges of a parliamentary career at a time when public events were more than usually stirring. Mr. Grote may have been too abstract for the House of Commons, even on a popular question like the Ballot; but the training which he there went through has been all-important as a means to a further end. The very faults of his audience must have enabled him to remedy many of his own original defects; though unfortunately he could not repay the obligation by communicating his peculiar excellences to his hearers and making them argue questions like men of science. Having been a philosopher among politicians, he is now able to take rank as a politician among philosophers. The senatorial arena has made him a hard and straightforward hitter in a field where flesh and blood pugilism is uncommon. The plain and homely directness of his style, to which we adverted above, comes out with sufficient prominence in his political expositions to show that he has lived with men who, surrounded as they are by conventional forms, generally contrive to let an opponent know unmistakeably what they think of him. The illustrations too which his multifarious knowledge has accumulated, both in text and notes, have something of a blue-book character about them, and remind us in matter, as well as in manner, of the documents and statistics which a speaker has to get up for a debate. Dr. Arnold's references, though varied and copious, are those of a man who has never had occasion to collect a political library; nor do we remember in his work any passage which can be compared for speciality of information with the monetary discussions in Mr. Grote's chapter on Solon, or the comparison, in the sixth volume, between the colonial governments of Athens and England. Nor is Mr. Grote's philosophical power less remarkable than his practical acquaint
ance with detail. He has studied politics as a science, both in itself and in the subordinate sciences which minister to it, with a zeal which the occasions of political life may have stimulated, but which must have been owing in the first instance to innate aptitude and love for the subject. Technicality and precision are attributes which belong to him as a doctrinaire no less than as a man of business; contrasting strongly with that indefiniteness and uncertainty of tone which speculative deficiency and absorption in moral subjects tend almost unavoidably to produce in the political views even of the most liberal English theologian. Still, where we have two such eminent examples of success amid a crowd of failures, we will not be so impolitic or ungrateful as to separate them broadly from each other by an invidious comparison of their respective works, so long as it is open to us to class them together as having similar conceptions of the task before them, and see in the History of Greece an adequate realisation of the sketch drawn out in the Oxford Lectures on Modern History.
If a historian is to be a politician, it seems to follow almost as a matter of necessity, that he must be, to a certain extent at least, a party man. Dr. Arnold perceived this, if, indeed, he did not mean to anticipate opposition by selecting a crucial instance, when he spoke of Mitford as an author who has been preserved, in spite of his defects, by the salt of his political zeal. Certainly it is hard to conceive how a man can impart a contemporary interest to the politics of past times without a sympathy more or less pronounced with one or other of the parties of his day. Hegel, we believe, in discussing the very events with which Mr. Grote has last been occupied, contrived to hold the balance with judicial impartiality between Socrates and those who condemned him, representing the victim as necessarily sacrificed in the collision between the old and the new : but such lofty serenity of contemplation is not to be expected, perhaps not to be desired, from an Englishman and a non-transcendentalist. No one has left more earnest warnings against the dangers of party-spirit than Dr. Arnold; yet, in reducing his theory to practice, he naturally felt himself at liberty to take a side in each of the great questions that came before him, and in judging of others he plainly felt the necessity of sometimes tolerating the abuse for the sake of the use. In short, we know no case where literary ability and keenness of perception, unassisted by personal bias, have been sufficient for the production of a history, the political interest of which is real and permanent. It has been a common plan with critics to laud Thucydides for his impartiality ; but, thanks to Mr. Grote, we