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His refusal of all intercourse with his guilty father; the strange spectatorship of his life at Corinth, first among his equals, then gradually degraded till he reached the lowest level of city vagabondage, without any change in his stern but speechless hostility; the presence of the prince-beggar at every public solemnity, at every lawgiving and sentence, in every feast and rejoicing; the sight of the protracted vengeance which never struck a blow, and the reaction of the crime upon the innocent, blighting the life and paralysing the energies even of the avenger, must have been a sight to penetrate the contemporary mind. The same paralysis of action and despair of thought are in the later and sublimer sufferer, whose fate after all was not so terrible as that of Lycophron, since Hamlet's mother, though culpable, was not the murderess of her husband. And the Greek has none of the wild humour which makes Hamlet's sufferings more supportable yet more heartrending. He cannot laugh at himself or at the irony of fate; nay, even he is apt to overpass the bounds of our patience by that unvarying monotonous concentration of wrath and outraged affection, which in the other is varied by so many gusts of stormy or of softened feeling, and by all those sudden perceptions of his own position which makes Hamlet so completely human, so near to all our hearts. Oh, what a dolt and pleasant slave am I!' is an outery of which the impassioned Greek, with no intermixture of Gothic sentiment, is incapable. It is not in his nature to see the thread of ridicule which is twisted in every web of pain, nor to take that momentary refuge from overwhelming evil. Nor could there be in the story of Lycophron, full of what the French would call the brutality of fact, any aid of that noble art which has left just enough uncertainty upon the motives of Hamlet as to keep all our minds in operation to seize the secret, as if we had been his contemporaries vaguely groping at the half-revealed truth, which is all we can ever see with our actual eyes. Lycophron's secret is known from the beginning, and is at once put beyond doubt even to the person most concerned; while until the latest scene not even the King of Denmark himself is wholly aware of the method, though he perceives it, of Hamlet's madness. Lycophron is never mad. There are no fluctuations in his stern purpose, no relentings, no sudden tendernesses bursting through, even no outbursts of fiery indignation. calm and cold and terrible as in the scene where he recalls to his father his own edict, and bids him go pay his fine to Apollo for his transgression of that ordinance—and unconquerable determination are his chief qualities. We forget the sin in the stern, persistent quarrel, until at last in a moment the whole complicated web is rent asunder, and the visionary vengeance and indignation and blighting horror are all swept away and brought to nothing, with no dramatic climax or blow of retribution. Such is real life, neglecting all climaxes, indifferent to an heroic conclusion, not careful to bring its stray threads together, or to keep any epic consistency of design. The King of Denmark dies by his own craft, and so in that last hecatomb, which
most likely the British public of his day forced upon Shakespeare, perish all who have crossed Hamlet's path; but Lycophron is the only victim of his own tragedy. His father lives and reigns as if that episode had never been. We are not permitted such a futile ending in story, or in those nobler strains of poetry which treat of human passions and struggles; but so life acts remorselessly without a thought of Art.
THE MARBLE FAUN OF PRAXITELES.
HOU link between the gods that move apart
From all the ways of men, and youth that reels
With the wild fulness of its life, that feels
Each throb and quiver of the bounding heart.
There is no care or shadow on that brow,
Nor long slow-breathing year with dull sure tooth;
The perfect type of ever-joyous youth.
Are we the fools of that which still deceives
I know not. But we gaze until we hear
Pipings on reeds, and shady sounds of streams,
ENGLISH PAUPERISM: ITS WRONG AND Remedy.1
is important to bear in mind that, in the sense in which use the word, Pauperism is a very different thing from poverty. Poverty exists in every community upon the globe, but pauperism is the exclusive, and I will add, the entirely unchallenged monopoly of England. In no other country in the world can it be said that the man who will not provide for himself shall require his neighbour to provide for him. This, in passing, settles the question of the indispensability of pauperism. For there are people who will not take the trouble to think, and put aside this question by calmly pronouncing pauperism an inevitable thing; ignoring the fact that all the world, but England, does well without it, and that we, ourselves, have only indulged in the luxury during a brief fraction of our history. Across the Channel there is no Poor-law, and there are no paupers in our sense of the word; and though there may be poverty, and though charitable aid for poor persons may be, and is, organised there, the aided poverty of France can never be brought into comparison with the cultivated pauperism of England so long as the average voluntary assistance to each recipient costs the Société de Bienfaisance less than four shillings, while the average compulsory assistance to each pauper in England costs the nation more than Iol. in the year.
This represents an incredible waste and misery; and poor-rates, designed as a remedy, have only served to augment the evil. We have before our eyes from day to day heart-breaking evidence that the richest nation in the universe shows the ghastliest picture of social suffering; the brilliancy of our national prosperity deepens the shadow of our national penury, and the very contrast between the two fosters a daily growing bitterness which is the offspring of suspicion on the one hand and envy on the other.
What can be done with so great an evil? There are those who can still see no remedy but our Poor-law system; and men so enlightened as Dr. Neilson Hancock even advocate the extension of the English system2 in its full-blown enormity to Ireland and Scotland. To us it appears not only bad in itself, but based on principles thoroughly bad. It operates injuriously all round, and hurts everyone concerned more or less.
1. It hurts the rich, who have to pay a large proportion of the cost of pauperism. And this is an unjust thing. On the other hand, however great the injustice to the rich, the injury to them is
Parts of this paper formed the substance of a lecture recently delivered before the Society of Arts.
2 Paper read at the recent Trades Union Congress.
of the least. They can, just because they are rich, afford it best. The injustice of taking their money for people who have wasted their own, whether those wasteful ones have been rich or poor, is, though not less unfair, much more tolerable in the case of the rich than of the poor; the proof of which statement lies in the fact that, were an estate of 10,000l. year offered to any one of us to-morrow, we should not indignantly refuse it as subjecting us to the injustice of paying a considerable poor-rate. Therefore, though to levy poorrate from the rich be an unjust thing, and all injustice ought to be removed, I for one would never have troubled my head about assailing such a monster as our pauper system if all I had in view were to relieve the rich from a burden. The persons, and of course there are some, who accuse me of mooting this matter in the interests of the wealthy, know very little of my writings, and far less of my heart. And I am bound to say that the personal knowledge I have gained of rich men who support the measure of national insurance which I advocate makes me proud, for the honour of England, to believe that they would be nobly willing to bear far more than their present poor-rate burden if their doing so could be shown promotive of the real good and happiness of their fellow-men. This is no piece of polite clap-trap, but my own joyful glad conviction, and those who would rashly say that rich men join us for the sake of escaping poor-rates, I would ask to look at the list of names on the Council of our National Providence League.' For there they will find not the money-grubbers, not the golden youth of pleasure, not the gamblers who grasp, not the spendthrifts who waste, but the men and the women who have a hope, and a heart, and a prayer, and a thought for the poor. I would ask them to read the list down, as I have done in a working man's club meeting, and hear, as I have heard, the welcome of many an honoured name, and the outcry, 'Yes, we know him, and know he is our friend.' For these are the very representatives of British philanthropy, the men beloved and happy, who give their time and toil and sympathy to their suffering fellows; the very naming of whose names can satisfy the poor that this cause is advocated for the sake of what such rich men can give, not of what they can get.
2. Passing from the rich, we come to another class, whom our pauper system hurts far more deeply-I mean the thrifty working man. The injustice of poor-rates, which is chiefly matter of sentiment in its incidence upon the rich, is matter of suffering in its incidence upon him. The rich man, because he is rich, can spare the money; the poor, thrifty man cannot, and feels keenly the spoliation. Poor-rate to the rich man may be insurance against revolution, but poor-rate levied from the thrifty working man is punishment for providence, and, therefore, though to start an antipauperism crusade in the interests of the rich alone would be ridiculous; to wage it for the sake of the worthy, self-denying, thrifty working man should really be the duty of every true lover of justice, and of all who sympathise in the spirit of honest independence,
shown, as it is, under such hard conditions by so many thousands of our thrifty fellow-men.
3. There is a third class whom pauperism hurts most of all. It may harass the rich, it may punish the thrifty poor, but the one can afford and the other can endure the injustice; but no words can tell the utter ruin with which it overwhelms the pauper himself. It may limit the rich man's luxury, it may retard the thrifty man's progress, but it poisons the pauper's social nature, and takes, in his case, the very manhood out of man.
For the potential pauper, inexperienced, thoughtless, misled by multitudinous ill example, trusts in the beginning to a system which he hates in the end, and only sees his ruin when it has struck him down. But, nevertheless, it has kept him a pauper in spirit all his life, a dependent and degraded man. For it is not the succouring of a poor, infirm, afflicted greybeard at the end of life that we must blame, but the teaching, by his succour, of the strong, and vigorous, and young, at the beginning of life, that they shall be succoured if they choose to waste; that is the early poison that rots their very social blood; that is the hideous homoeopathy-upside-down of our destructive system, which pays off one pauper by making another, and forgets that while its best effort, as a palliative, fails to cure like by like, it succeeds, as an infection, in causing like by like; it supplies an ever-growing horrible succession of social ruin to occupy the place of the social wrecks it sweeps away; it never pays a bill without giving a fresh and larger order, which would be bad enough if measured by the money of ratepayers, but is monstrous if measured, as it must be, by the misery of rate-consumers. In short, for every old pauper it relieves our system makes a young one, and may be well described in words familiar to us all, that privily in its lurking dens doth it murder the innocent; its eyes are set against the poor!'
This, then, is the class which our system hurts most-the class for whose raising, the class for whose saving, all should be zealous; the class who, from beginning to end, are the most wretched, the most hopeless, the most helpless, the class for whose sake, and in whose interest, most of all, I—if I know myself at all-have set out upon my present line of labour.
I have next to touch on existing means of counteracting our mistaken system. Who do most towards this? Unquestionably, the thrifty wage-earners. They hate pauperism and poor-rate more than we, for they live closer to it, and do not love its associations. In the first place, they see they have to pay poor-rates for people who are wasting in self-indulgence means as large as (or larger than) those from which they themselves are laying by their savings. It is not in human nature to think this fair or right. And they see, secondly, that our system, keeping as it does all the spendthrifts at the verge of destitution as a qualification for relief, keeps down all wages by a hungry competition, and that thus they pay a second burden; and