28 JULY 1866, Page 12


WTITLE the outer mind of London has been fermenting all the week with the turmoil of the Hyde-Park Riot, the inner mind of London has been travailing still more painfully with the birth of a new intellectual obligation—" to get Geist "—cast upon it by our greatest intellectual seer, in the last number of last week's Pall Mall Gazette, and which may perhaps have worked even more powerfully on our spirits in consequence of a dim percep- tion that the teaching of Saturday received a certain amount of practical commentary in the explosion of Monday. The Pall Mall Gazette is itself edited by Geist;—esprit, mind, intelligence, or whatever may be the true equivalent of Mr. Matthew Arnold's German word ; but then even of Geist there is a more and less, and probably Geist has never taken an English shape so pure and doubly refined as the late Professor of Poetry at Oxford, the seer all whose woes are reserved for the gross and carnal mind of English middle-class prejudice. When, then, we poor learners, who pick up so greedily every grain of golden wisdom that the only pure intellect in England deigns to cast for us on the periodical press, went home last Saturday night with this great duty laid upon us by the command of Mr. Matthew Arnold's rather shadowy Prussian guest, — the Pruasianized form of Mr. Arnold's own genius, — it was not easy to keep the mind from working almost too powerfully under the new burden of duty ; and when a day or two afterwards there came the great practical explosion of Unyeist,—Philistinistn, stupidity, betise, Unintelligence, Mental Carnality, or whatever Mr. Arnold regards as the equivalent of that expressive word, in the thick-headed determination of one-idead politiciaus to talk seven-poundism in one particular spot, and the equally thick-headed determination of authorities, destitute of mental resource or adaptability, to prevent it without sufficient means,—the words of the great master fell on his disciples with even too startling and exciting an emphasis. There were many and many a poor soul, like the present writer for instance, scarcely yet purged even of the first film of Ungeist,- only just beginning to apply feebly that elementary common-place of philosophy which Mr. Arnold found himself obliged to address to his political supporters at the "Spotted Dog," Know thyself,— in whom the new leaven of the teaching "Get Geist" began to work even too powerfully, till their minds were almost overwhelmed in the sense of confusion at the prevalent Un- geist. The searcfi after Geist haunted them painfully in railway carriages, and possessed their reins in the night watches. They had most of them learned indeed in their youth that comparatively uninstructive lesson, "Wisdom is the principal thing, therefore get wisdom, and with all thy getting get understanding." But then that is by no means the equivalent of "Get Geist." When we learn, as Mr. Arnold's Prussian tells us, that "what unites and separates people now is Geist ;" that "France has Geist in her democracy, and Prussia in her educa- tion ;" while England has Geist nowhere—since her "common people are barbarous, in her middle class Ungeist is rampant, and as for our aristocracy, Geist is forbidden by nature to flourish in our aristocracy ;" that we too often suffer ourselves to be deceived "by parallels drawn from the times before Grist;" that "what has won the battle for Prussia is Geist ; Geist has used the King, and Bismark, and the Junkers, and Ungeist in uniform, all for it own ends ; and Geist will continue so to use them till it has. triumphed,"—and finally that Geist is especially opposed to any fanatical belief in "railways, banks, finance-companies," and most of all to that manufacture of bottles which was so great a- rock of offence to the Prussian manifestation of Geist delineated by Mr. Arnold,—when we learn all these attributes of Geist, it is clear that "getting Geist" means a great deal more or a great deal less than "getting Understanding" in the old proverb ; for it is pretty clear at all events that Mr. Arnold's "parallels drawn from times before Geist" are parallels drawn from times a score of centuries later than Understanding.

Well, as all true learning is born of tears and travail, the little difficulties about Geist are probably only notes of a new truth, and it is but by way of calling fresh attention to the new spiritual teaching, not of throwing any doubt upon it, that we set down some of the first efforts of eager minds to push their way through the low brushwood in the foreground of Mr. Arnold's teaching. Exhausted last Tuesday in a railway train by fruitless. travail of the soul, and dreamily wondering why Geist had not condescended to use Mr. Walpole, and Mr. Beales, and the Re- formers, and Ungeist in fustian, as readily as it seems to have conde- scended to use" the King of Prussia, and Bismark, and the Junkers, and Ungeist in uniform," feebly speculating whether English bottle manufactories had anything special to do with it,—f or Mr. Arnold half hints that Geist has a special repulsion for the special limitation of things so easily seen through as bottles—sleep fell upon the present writer, and the much conned Saturday's Pall Mall fell from his hands, in the midst of a confusion of images wherein England appeared as bottleholder in a struggle between Geist and Ungeist, which gradually dissolved into a grotesque appeal by Professor Arnold to Ungeist to make some small allow- ance per dozen for the return of the bottles. When the drowsiness- went off, the first words audible, proceeding from a thoughtful, elderly gentlemzn, with a pale face and white moustache, who had picked up the well conned journal, and was reading aloud from it eagerly, were "What unites and separates people now is Geist." They were the very words which had exercised many willing minds most powerfully for the last seventy-two hours, and they seemed to. be bearing fruit even in the very head-quarters of Ungeist,—a rail- way carriage full of season-ticketholders, most of them probably living in semi-detached villas within twenty miles of the City. "Oh,,

that's Mat Arnold pommelling away again at his English Philis- tine, or his 'young man from the country,' I suppose," said a florid and able-bodied youth in the corner, who looked as if he might be

going to row somewhere on the river : "He told us all that, you know, in the Cornhill in February, and I think the man who is 'something in the bottle line' is the only new thing in that article; but after all what does he mean by Geist, I should like to know ?" "Geist," said the pale-faced gentleman, with a superior smile,

"is what we call the higher intelligence, creative intelligence, that knows how to select and mould instruments of a lower order to its more refined purposes." "That's all very well, you know," said the muscular sceptic, "and I see he calls the Emperor of the French the representative of Geist because he said boldly that he detested the treaties of 1815, and that it is only among the working class of France that he finds the true genius of the people and breathes freely,—but what are the times before Geist ? ' Has Geist or your higher intelligence' been brought into exer- tion since 1816, expressly to detest the treaties of 1815,' and to breathe freely' among the working people of France ? or is it possible that Geist can show itself by detesting the class compro- mise of 1832, and breathing freely among the working class of England? If the Emperor of the French is Geist, why not Mr. Beaks ? Mr. Beales detests the actual treaty by which English politics are now limited, and he seems to breathe freely enough, by Jove ! among those London roughs, which is more than I should, or Arnold himself, for that matter." "You mistake our great teacher," replied the pale gentleman loftily, with something ap- proaching to a mild sniff, "when you confuse the spirit of English democracy, which with characteristic genius Mr. Arnold has painted, you know, as "The weary Titan with deaf Ears and labour-dimmed eyes,"

with the genius of French democracy expressed by the Emperor of the French. Geist is chiefly shown by truly discerning ends of living, Ungeist by confounding ends with means. Our Beales and his Reformers concentrate all their laborious energies on obtaining permission for our working people to vote for men who never think of any sort of higher end beyond the vote. 'Drugged with business,'—I use the master's own words,—they think it a great matter to have cheap letters, and cheap trains, when the trains only carry them from a dismal illiberal life at Camberwell to a dismal illiberal life at Islington, and the letters only tell them that such is the life there ;' and their friends of the working class are no better than, themselves, than Beales and their organ the Morning Star, witness the Ungeist shown in pulling up the rail- ings of the Park meant for their enjoyment, in order that they may contest a figment of abstract right, which, if they possess it, would only injure them. No, Geist could never breathe freely among our English Reformers. And if Geist detests the compromise of 1832, it is only because it was that compromise which made our middle class idolize itself, and mistake means for ends, till at last it dotes upon the liberty which permits 'Cole's Truss Manufactory to stand where it ought not, a glorious monument of British individualism and in- dustrialism.' Geist, my dear Sir, is shown less in political formulm, than in recognizing what is worth living for and in never confound- ing the end with the means. It can approve an Emperor and detest Beales and ballot, if the Emperor understands his age, and Beales and ballot look more to what British citizens shall have a right to do —which they ought to leave undone—including building Truss manufactories on conspicuous spots suitable for public buildings, than to what the spirit of the age requires them to do or leave undone." " Ah ! Geist concerns itself with ends chiefly, does it ?" said the other ; "and claptrap, which I see is the English form of Ungeist, is always making a clatter about means, and ignoring ends. But then, why should Geist care about democracy, you know ?—and it stands expressly written that it does. Why is democracy 'the triumph of reason and intelligence over blind custom and prejudice?' Is not democracy a means, and a fright- fully vulgar, windy, flatulent, dismal, illiberal sort of means too, if we may judge by American Congresses and State Legislatures? That fellow Arnold has one word for democracy when it is out of this country, and another when it is in it. For my part I do not see what the French blouses in Auxerre have about them to make you breathe more freely than our bottle manufacturers. The bottle man read his Punch, and enjoyed his little joke, and saw probably just as far into Continental politics, if not a little farther, than the Auxerre operative would see into English. Your oracle speaks double. If democracy is good for its own sake, why not praise Beales and the Hyde-Park Riots? Democracy is their ultimate end. If it is not good for its own sake, but only when the people know what they want, and don't mistake a dismal, illiberal life for a liberal and refined one, then where is the democracy that does know this? The rule of Geist should seem to mean the rule of the educated, and not the rule of the masses;

— of such fellows as Arnold, you know, who have the Idea' in them, and can tell where to forbid the Truss manufactories and where to permit them. I don't see much democracy, for my part — except that mere giving of votes he despises so much—in France.

• If there were a democracy there, I am not at all sure the Emperor would breathe freely, or breathe at all. If Geist means Napo- leonism, Geist means enlightened absolutism to my mind,—any- thing but democracy. This is the sort of thing that puzzles a poor fellow so about your 'great teacher' and his Geist. I am not sure Geist means anything in the world except what a poetical sort of fellow, with a good deal of French culture, and a high-trotting intellectual pace, chooses to smile upon. Is it govern- ment for the masses by the light of a better taste than theirs like Arnold's,—.or government by the masses by the light of their own vulgar tastes, which Geist approves? Why does he say that the Geist which used Bismark has an alliance with democracy, when Bismark did nothing but thwart the educated Prussian Liberals? It seems to me not that Geist used Bismark,' but on the other hand that Bismark used Geist, and made a very vulgar, physical sort of use of it, too, as mere mat&iel for supplying that single little deficiency in breech-loaders,—their unfortunate need for a partially rational being near the breech. If Geist discriminates the proper ends for Ungeist to follow,—that is not democracy, but enlightened despotism. Democracy means to my mind the creed that Ungeist should grope blindly and stupidly its own way to Geist, without imperial assistance." As our muscular friend proceeded in this harangue, the pale, elderly philosopher's face turned gradually upwards in an illuminated kind of gaze upon his own hat, which was swinging at the top of the carriage, and without turning his face to the other speaker he said, in a sort of ecstasy, "It hath not been given to the carnal mind to judge the operations of Geist. Geist is at once imperial and democratic. Geist is her own inter- preter. Geist is justified of her children." But here a porter's voice shrieking, "All change here for Wraysbury, Datchet, and Windsor," brought the "gentlemanly soul," as the American paper says, of our pale illuminatus, back in a hurry to his face; he caught at his hat, returned the sacred Pall Mall to its owner with a start and a half-reverential bow over the paper, and rushed from the carriage, followed by the other party to the dialogue, who muttered audibly between his teeth, as he got out, "Damn Geist I"