« AnkstesnisTęsti »
rectly through this and other channels also upon us. If we ask, what is the greatest national movement of preReformation times, contending with that internationality which no longer sufficed, the answer must again be that the greatest national movement within Christendom before the Reformation is the English Movement under Wiclif, since this had certain not inconsiderable international consequences for the whole of Western Christianity. From this period, when in the realms of devotion, theology, and jurisprudence the nation is already at strife with internationality, comes the one devotional work of the Catholic Church which today possesses an international significance, Thomas à Kempis' Imitatio Christi. I know of no other book from this whole period, still extant among us, whose effects are comparable with those of this work, since even Thomas Aquinas, Francis, and Anselm have not become international in the sense that the majority of educated Christians know of their works or have read them.
Then follows the Reformation, of German origin in its starting-point and in its motive power. In earlier generations the Germans have offered nothing to internationality, but now they appear with full hands. For although a Reformed Church may here be named from Zwingli, there from Calvin, elsewhere from any third, fourth or fifth, the great eye of Luther beams always behind all. He has nevertheless been unable to make the worth and charm of his personality felt anywhere outside Germany; internationally, Luther as a personality is as little understood and as inadequately interpreted as if he were but an obscure professor of the third rank. This fact does not exclude the possibility of saying what I have already said in the case of Augustine (where the statement is still more obviously
true) that the words of to-day are his words, the thoughts of to-day his thoughts, and that behind Calvin, Bucer, Cranmer, and whatever others we may name, in their grandest achievements and widest conquests of knowledge, is discernible the great figure of Luther. Notwithstanding this, he has not exercised an international influence upon literature. In England you have created for yourselves your scientific and devotional writings. Bucer, indeed, has been absorbed by you as if he were one of yourselves; you have erased the German elements of his influence, and he has, in fact, become half an Englishman. In the sphere of the Western Church nationalism had already become so powerful that the Reformation at first created neither a common theological nor a common devotional literature. There is only one exception before the nineteenth century-namely, the German hymnody, which, although it penetrated but feebly into the sister Churches of Protestantism, has passed over to them, and passes over to-day in enlarging volume.
When arose, then, a new community? Little as we desire to undervalue that which, in spite of national limitations, was common in the fundamental ideas and opinions of the Reformed Churches of the sixteenth century, this gained no prominence, but slumbered in the depths of the heart; nowhere in literature or society is internationality to be met with: all is national. Then again England appears, to call forth a movement, as to whose worth our opinions would probably differ seriously-I place it very high-which became really international. This was the English Deistic Aufklärung in the seventeenth century. We cannot here discuss how this originated in English political and social relations; it is a simple fact that these men, of whom but a few were of the
first rank, but very many of the second, have changed the spiritual (geistig) face of Europe. The English theosophy, the movement of Aufklärung proceeding from England in the second half of the seventeenth and the beginning of the eighteenth century, worked as a unity, and as a penetrating ferment, upon the educated society of Europe. The Aufklärung of the eighteenth century is in its modern and valuable issues far less conditioned by Voltaire than by the English Deists, whose writings were copiously translated into German and are an essential pre-condition of our Rationalism and our Aufklärung; they created at that time among Christian men the consciousness of a spiritual depth mediated by God. Not until Jean Jacques Rousseau did the significance and influence of the English Deists cease to be the first in Western Europe.
Then followed the nineteenth century, the century of cosmopolitanism, of ideas intended to link humanity, emphatically an epoch of history, and therefore of nationalism. Yet in this century much has taken place in the interchange of Christian ideas and works among the nations, and especially between you and ourselves. Admittedly, let us at once say, we have made no great advance in common devotional literature. Certain preachers of yours, such as Kingsley and Robertson-to name only these two-have found many hearers among us. The works of one man whom I would reckon among the preachers of edification, Carlyle, are so highly esteemed by us, and so many seek their edification from him, that he can hold no higher place even in his own land. In these men we have been granted a common possession, for edification and for the deepening of our insight into human relations. On the other hand, I scarcely think it possible to name a German devotional work, or a German preacher
of the last sixty years, that may be said to have edified many nations. It is very much easier to produce six brilliant scientific treatises than to deliver or write one sermon which is timeless. I venture, nevertheless, the opinion that in the realm of spiritual culture a common possession is arising, and this is of the highest importance, for man lives from such bread, even if the newspapers know little of it!
As to theological literature, we stand under the mighty, the gigantic influence of the great men granted us at the commencement of the nineteenth century-some of whom are looking down upon you here -Fichte and Hegel, Neander and Schleiermacher-and by them we are entrusted, whether we will or not, with the carrying through of a great scientific task. The task is, in fact, thrust upon us through the work of these men; and if it is occasionally said that the Germans maintain a "two-Power standard” in theological science, we are entitled to reply that we do so not of set purpose, but as something included within the range of the duties laid upon us by our ancestors.
However, within the last decades, of which we now speak, the English have accomplished a task which the Greeks did not: they have translated us. I gladly embrace the opportunity of thanking them to-day. In that matter we are far behind you, and have only one excuse to offer-perhaps it is sufficient-that we also understand you without translation. That, however, cannot suffice if we desire that our students and such as have not been driven, as I have by the necessities of life, to learn English, should also be able to read you. It was a remarkable display of foresight on the part of the English that from the beginning, as theology raised her head in Germany, they
3 A reference to the busts adorning the walls of the Aula.
have regarded our work with a critical yet friendly eye, and have incorporated in their own literature one book after
another. The path has thus been opened to spiritual fellowship.
that if you English and we Germans work together here we compel other nations (so far as they study theology)
to listen to us, and they are doing so.
I can only wish the continuance of this
Now on the other hand, as to the co-operation, undisturbed in any direc
with the earnest study of the Bible
there may also proceed a deepening
practical achievement. In the middle
tion by limitation of freedom, and that
of the last century especially, the Eng
lish work upon the Bible and the his
tory of Christendom was undertaken
with extraordinary energy; it gave the
impression that they intended to set up
for themselves a "two-Power standard"
and enlarging unity in all that makes
for spiritual culture, the goal of our
desire. Luther once said that the word
of God is like a passing downpour of
here also. Such men as Hort, West- rain (Platzregen). To-day it is here, my
friends; help us to retain it, or it will
cott, Lightfoot, Hatch (to name only
these), set to work so vigorously that we in the seventies, for example-received, one after another, theological
vanish and be lost. Science may also be as a passing downpour, and if we
fail in the hour of opportunity our
books of which we were obliged to spiritual capital will be lost. Embrace
confess that we would gladly have had them in German. I may add that this is still the case, and the scientific ecclesiastical literature of the English is of such a quality that we, who to-day stand together as two friends, are gladly co-operating with the full power of each.
Such is the present position. I can but express the sincere desire that this community of labor in the theological
sciences may endure, for I recognize
The Contemporary Review.
we the opportunity, and our theological
science becomes one of the mightiest
and surest foundations of lasting
friendship between our nations. United
in science and in Christianity, the cry
of "War" sounds as the utterance of
lunacy, a voice from depths we have
left far behind. On the first page of
the Bible it is written: "Replenish the earth, and subdue it." Subdue the earth, but as brothers!
THE DISEASES OF THE HOUSE OF COMMONS. *
The topic on which I am venturing to speak is one upon which it is, perhaps, presumptuous for me to touch. But one of the purposes I have in view, one of the morals I am anxious to draw, is that the House of Commons is a matter of general interest— not merely of interest to its membersand, therefore, that every citizen in the country is entitled, and even bound, to consider the question of its efficiency for the purposes for which it exists.
A speech delivered before the Westminister Catholic Dining Society.
That the House of Commons has fallen in reputation during recent years will, I think, scarcely be disputed by any attentive student of public opinion. I do, indeed, remember hearing the House of Commons described by an eminent member as "the most august of human institutions," but that, as I thought at the time, was simply an illustration of the tendency of human beings to hide an unwelcome truth from themselves by making an exaggerated statement in direct opposition
to it. Nowadays, it may truly be said, the clever young man who used to sneer at the House of Lords sneers at the House of Commons; and that fact marks the decay of the reputation it used to enjoy. There is no counterbalancing compensation to be found in the opinion of those better qualified to form a judgment. The member of the House of Commons is commonly not at all disposed to rally in defence of its reputation. On the contrary, if you get him alone, if you get him anywhere away from the ears of the reporter, he will generally take the lead in criticising the assembly to which he belongs.
Some of the diseases of the House of Commons are so familiar that it would be tedious to dwell on them at great length. First, there is the evil of obstruction; that is to say, discussion carried on not for the purpose of elucidating a subject, or giving information upon it, or educating the uninstructed outside, but simply of consuming time. And associated with that evil is the corresponding evil of remedies for obstruction, which have culminated in the frequent use of what is called "the guillotine." Though every one can appreciate these evils, it is necessary to be of the House of Commons rightly to estimate their gravity; on the one hand the degree to which members, persons even of considerable ability, are content to bend their minds to no other object but the expenditure of as much time as possible in the observations they may make; and, on the other, the extraordinary absurdity of a mechanical closure on discussion, coming at the most inopportune moments, sometimes at the very crisis of a discussion of evident importance, which results in the adoption of paragraphs and even pages of legislation without the slightest deliberation-it requires a close study of the institution to realize in
its full magnitude the extent of these evils. It is only when you have sat through a debate which is to be closed by the guillotine that you understand how vain a discussion becomes which is automatically to be brought to a conclusion. Those opposed to a Bill delight in turning into ridicule the proceedings of the assembly, insisting upon discussion of the less rather than the more important topics, while the Government promoting the Bill care very little what is said in the debate. They have only to wait till it is over, like persons standing in an archway till the rain shower shall abate. surely need not dilate on these evils beyond recalling the fact that they exist.
Another less noticed evil is one that may be described as the evil of the empty house. Nothing can be more astounding than the experience of an enthusiastic stranger who obtains (or, rather, I should say, in happier times obtained) an order for the Gallery, and is present on the occasion of some great discussion, perhaps on the Army or Navy estimates, when it may happen that the number of members present is less than the legal quorum, and when, except for the Minister in charge of the estimates, there is no one of the slightest distinction or interest to look at or to listen to. That, I believe, at any rate to the extent to which it now exists, is a new phenomenon. I reckon the palmy period of the House of Commons' existence to have been between 1832 and 1878. I do not think you can find in English history a period in which, by general consent, the House of Commons played a more creditable, dignified and useful part. Some people may consider that the Long Parliament was greater, some may prefer the claims of that of 1689. But those were great controversial occasions, remote from our quiet needs and habits. 1832-78 was the palmy
period of the House of Commons as we know it and think of it. During that period there were, doubtless, many occasions when the sittings were badly attended, but when business of importance was on hand members of the first rank of ability thought it their duty to be present. In Lord Beaconsfield's Government of 1874 every Minister was expected to be usually on the Bench for important business, and was there as an ordinary rule. There is a remarkable account of regular attendance at an earlier date in Lord George Bentinck's life. He thought it necessary, when he was playing a great part in the House of Commons, to be present regularly during the whole sitting, remaining from 4.30 to 1 or 2 in the morning without leaving even to get food. When he went home, of course, he had a large supper late at night, the consequence of which was that he died of heart disease. There is no defending this practice, but he felt he must be there because, if not, some return or motion would slip through before anyone was aware. That represents a House of Commons altogether different from the present assembly. The idea of a motion or a return slipping through while no one is looking has an almost mythical air, and the leader of a party being present during the whole sitting is almost incredible to our experience.
What is the extent of this change? Perhaps it will be convenient if I briefly refer to the different kinds of debate, the extent to which this evil of the empty House exists, and the changes which have taken place in respect of the different kinds of debate.
I reckon there are four different kinds of debate which are of importance in the present House of Commons. First, there is the occasion of Government statements. These are always very well attended. They are
not very frequent. The Budget is a typical case, or the Navy Estimates. The other day a debate began with a great statement and then developed into controversial deliberation.
Secondly, there is the great parliamentary field day, when the parties have a fixed pitched battle. The only change which the student of parliamentary debate will notice in these is that the speeches are less elaborate and thorough than thy used to be. It is very interesting to look up a great debate in Hansard, and to see what sort of speech was thought adequate in olden times. Every one must be struck by the fact that speeches were then very much longer and more thorough on a great occasion than they are to-day. Mr. Gladstone's great speeches extended to two or three hours, and sometimes longer still. Lord Palmerston's famous Don Pacifico speech lasted for five hours. No one thought it at all odd that a distinguished politician should rise at midnight or one in the morning and deliver a speech, even of great length. In Lord George Bentinck's life there is a little incident of this kind which is striking. The effect of Peel's reforms on the colonies was reached late at night-not as a part of the question under discussion but as a new motion coming up. Lord George thought it not at all inconvenient, and nobody else was surprised, that he should then rise and make a long speech full of statistics; and debate followed.
Thirdly, there are debates on grievances. The Committee of Supply is the great occasion for these, and the only change that really has taken place here is one in the relations of the Government and the House. Formerly the Government was called to account by the House as by a superior. The old forms are to some extent kept up, but bit by bit the reality has been modi