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Estimates of Some Englishmen and Scotchmen

Estimates of Some Englishmen and Scotchmen

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Excerpt from Estimates of Some Englishmen and Scotchmen: A Series of Articles Reprinted by Permission Principally From the National Review

It is, indeed, a peculiarity of our times, that we must instruct so many persons. On politics, on religion, on all less important topics still more, every one thinks himself competent to think, - in some casual manner does think, to the best of our means must be taught to think rightly. Even if we had a profound and far-seeing statesman, his deep ideas and long-reaching vision would be useless to us, unless we could impart a confidence in them to the mass of in?uential persons, to the unelected Commons, the unchosen Council, who assist at the deliberations of the nation. In religion the appeal now is not to the techni calities of scholars, or the fictions of recluse schoolmen, but to the deep feelings, the sure sentiments, the painful strivings of all who think and hope. And this appeal to the many necessarily brings with it a consequence. We must speak to the many so that they will listen, - that they will like to listen, - that they will understand. It is of no use addressing them with the forms of science, or the rigour of accuracy, or the tedium of exhaustive discussion. The multitude are impatient of system, desirous of brevity, puzzled by formality. They agree with Sydney Smith: Political economy has become, in the hands of Malthus and Ricardo, a school of metaphysics. All seem agreed what is to be done the contention is, how the subject is to be divided and defined. Meddte wim no site/z matters. We are not sneering at the last of the sciences we are concerned with the essential doctrine, and not with the particular instance. Such is the taste of mankind.

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