18 NOVEMBER 1865, Page 10


1011-AS grade any real connection whatever with occupation ? The Mohammedan world says no, holding that Sultan and street sweeper being, if Mussulmans, alike creatures of the Abnighty, they must be equal in everything save the accident of function. So holding, they believe that every man is competent for every office, and feel no surprise when told that the Prophet made a slave who was his valet Commander in-Chief, or see the Sultan make of a ci-devant tobacconist a pasha. The Hindoo world says no, believing that difference of caste is difference of species, not to be affected by any act which does not break the mystic charm, and the Sudra officer therefore bows low before the Brahmin private, while the Brahmin peasant refuses to marry the daughter of his Sudra landlord. Europe, however, has for ages said yes, holding occupation the ultimate distinction among men, the proof as it were of qualities, bending before the tanner's grand- son if he becomes a king, forgetting the Palreologus who sinks into a mason, and utterly contemning the graduate who enlists. So intense is the feeling, that if of two brothers absolutely equal one were a clergyman and the other a linendraper, they could not visit in the same houses. So holding, Europe has created the passion for getting on, which in most parts of the Continent, and more especially in Great Britain, is the strongeat of social forces, the one which, for instance, urges men content with the comfort their wealth secures still to labour for more. It would seem, however, probable that the European idea will not always prevail among transplanted Europeans. The idea of the relation between occupation and dignity appears in the United States to be dying out. Madison could not have turned lumber-dealer, Lincoln could. A passed Cabinet Minister will practise as an attorney, a Commander-in-Chief accept the management of a railway, a Governor keep an hotel. General Lee is not considered to be lowered by turning schoolmaster, General M'Clellan was in command of a great army, is a traffic manager, and maybe Secretary at War. Every- body seems able to do everything within certain limits without loss of caste, and the limits are growing wide. That is a very remark- able story told by Sir Morton Peto of the printing-office in Chicago where he found forty-seven compositors who had been in the war. One of them had raised himself to be major, another to be captain, and two others to subaltern grades, but all had returned quietly when the war was over to the compositor's stick. Sir Morton quoted that as an illustration of patriotism, but to our minds it illustrates something else at least as strongly. English composi- tors might go to battle just as readily, and if the slaughter were large, rise just as high, but they would be very unlikely indeed to return to their work again. They would feel that they had fallen in life, and would struggle against the fall with an energy scarcely any other danger would elicit. Moreover, if they succumbed they would be regarded as having fallen, the comrades who had not succumbed would look down on them, and their new old friends would either despise or pity them. The major who, having been a compositor, had commanded volunteers for years in a great struggle, and then become a compositor again, would not in England have a happy life of it among compositors. Cincin- natus could go to his farm, but he could not have gone to tailor- ing with the same unruffled dignity, and in England he could not go to anything. Imagine Mr. Gladstone a bank manager ! Shares in that bank would rise, but he would fall. The American does not see the fall, cannot recognize any reason why a decent -workman should not serve his country, rise if he can, and then having risen, become a decent workman again. Any work honestly done is in its way honourable, and if a general is useful as a traffic manager, why should he not become traffic manager, and be as well received as before ? This idea, the judg- ment of men for themselves and not for their occupation, appears to outsiders on the increase, and if it is, the change indicates the approach of a phase of democracy which has often been suggested by philosophers, but which no people of European lineage has ever attempted to carry out. Suppose it realized, and occupation to cease to be associated with grade, what would be the result? Clearly in the first place an indefinite addition to the force of the nation which asserted the new liberty. Any obstacle which for- bids to a nation unlimited freedom of choice in the selection of its rulers, agents, and servants is pro Mato an evil, and the association of work and caste in such an obstacle. When it disappears the chooser has thirty millions to choose among instead of three as in France, or thirty thousand as in England, and the chance therefore of the square man getting into the square hole is proportionately increased. That is as regards the chooser only, but the gain is multi- plied fifty-fold by the change in the position of the chosen. The idea of gradeonce removed, a man will almost always select the occupation he likes best, which in nine cases out of ten will be the one for which he is bast fitted. An Englishman cannot practically do this. If he is a man " above " handicraft he never can choose a handicraft, be he never so well fitted for it, or be it never so pleasant to him. He could not, for instance, if he had the mania for turning which so many cultivated men have, sell little ivory turnings, any more than he could sell roasted chestnuts in the Strand. The adven- turous lad with high courage and no brains cannot enlist, cannot " keep store," cannot do anything except turn farmer without capital, or try one of those professions for which he knows him- self to be unfit, and in which he interrupts some one else who is fitter. The nation loses -a. great deal when the best maker of stamps on earth is made to say he will not make stamps because clubs will not receive him. Again, the workman who could do the professional work is daunted by the general sense that being a workman, say a rail-splitter, his grade does not qualify him for an attorney's office. He would not in England get in, or if he did would be rendered miserable by his comrades and rivals. The loss of power to the nation caused by this limitation of career is exces. sive, probably much greater than that caused by any other preju- dice in the world. Though far greater in extent, it is in depth like the loss of martial power caused to Great Britain by the refusal of grade to private soldiers. No army would probably equal one composed of the English middle class, but then the English middle class cannot afford to accept even for two years the loss of grade involved in enlistment, and has accepted volunteering, or imperfect soldiership, instead.

The effect on the nation is clear, but that on the individual is more doubtful. There are not too many impelling forces in the world. Englishmen have almost forgotten the truth in their eager rush upwards, but the natural instinct of men is to do as little as they conveniently can. It is not hard in the absence of external pressure to develope the evil passion called content, and the abolition of the link between work and grade immensely reduces the external weight. Take away from men the " root of all evil "—the love of money, and Englishmen at all events would do only a per-tentage upon their present work, while the extinction of ambition generally means the extinction also of energy. Of all the useless people in most world the cultivated man without ambition is usually the most useless, and the hope of winning grade, or the fear of losing grade, is one spur of modern ambition. if grade ceased to be connected with work, why rise from one department of life into another, why care to be officer in the battle of civilization when you can be soldier ? Comfort is an in- centive, and so is duty, and so is the thirst for power, but we are not clear that the average mass of men would work WI hard without the superadded stimulus of social ambi- tion. The best would, but it is the average which rules the out- -turn, and the average would, we fear, work less. It is a great -drawback to the progress of Italy that an Italian, when his moderate wants are secure, strives for nothing more, but lives at ease. Nor are 'we quite certain that the passion for grade once worked into the blood of a race ever does die, whether if grade ceased to be fixed by occupation it might not be fixed by something worse. The mass of character, intellectual and moral, might be made the standard, as political philosophers have dreamed, but it also might not, and, if it were, " respectability " would too often be the test of character. Men with no knobs to their minds would be chosen first. Intellect alone is at least as probable a standard, and that did not work very well, either in ancient Athens, or France under the regime of 1831, when the fluent speaker, and clever reasoner, and bright writer rose at once to the surface. It might happen that men despairing of any other .standard of grade, would fall back on the incommunicable one of birth, and society re-arrange itself once more into an army with hereditary officers. That is the case still with the "society " properly am called of France, in which, amid universal equality, to be born Montmorency is better than to drive back an invading army. Or most likely of all, the true standard of grade would be not occupa- tion, but power—a phenomenon visible in part in England now- -and he would be highest who could most thoroughly rale the people. That might be a good standard or a bad, but it would undoubtedly exclude most kinds of eminence from public recogni- tion, and throw all ability into a single channel, probably a military On the whole, though it is undoubtedly better for the nation that a major should be -willing to turn compositor, we question whether it is certainly better for the individual, whether a poor motive force like the thirst for getting on be not better than none at all.