Saturday, 14 May 2016

The New Republic by William Hurrell Mallock (intro)


Dorothy Richardson could not bring herself to mention the name of the author of A Human Document evincing a mini spite that was the general strategy in dealing with William Hurrell Mallock. In the circles she moved in socialism would have been an established truth and sovereign remedy for the ills of society. Mallock opposed this and moreover proposed the reconstruction of religion as sanative. His Romish tendency came from his family connection with Tractarianism. His uncle was Hurrell Froude who died young but had together with John Keble begun the movement. Hurrell’s brother James Anthony the historian and ardent imperialist, pal of Thomas Carlyle and his biographer , was also the author of the controversial novel The Nemesis of Faith (1849),and the sort of Victorian who did in one lifetime what in these effete times would take three.

The New Republic which Mallock published at the age of 28 was an examination in dialogue form of the ideology of the great and good of the 19th.Century. The Dramatis Personae in transparent disguise are Matthew Arnold, Thomas Carlyle, William Kingdom Clifford, Violet Fane, William Money Hardinge, Professor Thomas Huxley, Benjamin Jowett, W.H. Mallock, Walter Pater, Edward Bouvarie Pusey, John Ruskin and John Tyndall. This book was instrumental in the scuppering of Walter Pater’s chance of the Oxford Professorship of Poetry as it intimated a connection between him and Hardinge aka ‘the Balliol bugger’.

I’m reading the book at the moment so I will reserve a fuller, in my languid definition of ‘fuller’, treatment, for later. As I mentioned Knox, also Balliol but not you know, considered it essential and continued the swingeing of Huxley fils in Broadcast Minds. It’s remarkable how those ideas that Mallock (Balliol) dramatises continue to thrive like perennial weeds.

Sample:

'Sin, Lord Allen,' said Mr. Storks,(Thomas Huxley) 'is a word that has helped to retard moral and social progress more than anything. Nothing is good or bad, but thinking makes it so; and the superstitious and morbid way in which a number of entirely innocent things have been banned as sin, has caused more than half the tragedies of the world. Science will establish an entirely new basis of morality; and the sunlight of rational approbation will shine on many a thing, hitherto overshadowed by the curse of a hypothetical God.'
' Exactly so,' exclaimed Mr. Saunders (William Kingdom Clifford) eagerly. ' Now, I'm not at all that sort of man myself,' he went on, 'so don't think it because I say this.'
Everyone stared at Mr. Saunders In wonder as to what he could mean.
‘We think it, for Instance,' he said, ‘a very sad thing when a girl is as we call it ruined. But it is we really that make all the sadness. She is ruined only because w^e think she is so. And I have little doubt that that higher philosophy of the future that Mr. Storks speaks of will go far, some day, towards solving the great question of women's sphere of action, by its recognition of prostitution as an honourable and beneficent profession.'

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