|Born||24 December 1822
Laleham-on-Thames, Middlesex, England
|Died||15 April 1888
|Occupation||Her Majesty's Inspector of Schools|
|Genres||Poetry; Literary, Social and Religious Criticism|
|Notable work(s)||"Dover Beach," "The Scholar-Gipsy," "Thyrsis," Culture and Anarchy, Literature and Dogma|
Matthew Arnold (24 December 1822 – 15 April 1888) was an English poet and cultural critic who worked as an inspector of schools. He was the son of Thomas Arnold, the famed headmaster of Rugby School, and brother to both Tom Arnold, literary professor, and William Delafield Arnold, novelist and colonial administrator. Matthew Arnold has been characterized as a sage writer, a type of writer who chastises and instructs the reader on contemporary social issues.
The Reverend John Keble, who would become one of the leaders of the Oxford Movement, stood as godfather to Matthew. "Thomas Arnold admired Keble's 'hymns' in The Christian Year, only reversing himself with exasperation when this old friend became a Romeward-tending 'High Church' reactionary in the 1830s."  In 1828, Arnold's father was appointed Headmaster of Rugby School and his young family took up residence, that year, in the Headmaster's house. In 1831, Arnold was tutored by his uncle, the Reverend John Buckland, at Laleham, Middlesex. In 1834, the Arnolds occupied a holiday home, Fox How, in the Lake District. William Wordsworth was a neighbor and close friend. Fox How then became the family home after Dr. Arnold's untimely death in 1842.
In 1836, Arnold was sent to Winchester College, but in 1837 he returned to Rugby School where he was enrolled in the fifth form. He moved to the sixth form in 1838 and thus came under the direct tutelage of his father. He wrote verse for the manuscript Fox How Magazine produced by Matthew and his brother Tom for the family's enjoyment from 1838 to 1843. During his years as a Rugby student, he won school prizes for English essay writing, and Latin and English poetry. His prize poem, "Alaric at Rome," was printed at Rugby.
In 1841, he won an open scholarship to Balliol College, Oxford. During his residence at Oxford, his friendship ripened with Arthur Hugh Clough, another graduate of Rugby who had been one of his father's favourites. Arnold attended John Henry Newman's sermons at St. Mary's, but did not join the Oxford Movement. His father died suddenly of heart disease in 1842. Arnold's poem "Cromwell" won the 1843 Newdigate prize. He graduated in the following year with a 2nd Class Honours degree in "Greats."
In 1845, after a short interlude of teaching at Rugby, he was elected Fellow of Oriel College, Oxford. In 1847, he became Private Secretary to Lord Lansdowne, Lord President of the Council. In 1849, he published his first book of poetry, The Strayed Reveller. In 1850 Wordsworth died; Arnold published his "Memorial Verses" on the older poet in Fraser's Magazine.
Wishing to marry, but unable to support a family on the wages of a private secretary, Arnold sought the position of, and was appointed, in April 1851, one of Her Majesty's Inspector of Schools. Two months later, he married Frances Lucy, daughter of Sir William Wightman, Justice of the Queen's Bench. The Arnolds had six children: Thomas (1852-1868); Trevenen William (1853-1872); Richard Penrose (1855-1908), an inspector of factories; Lucy Charlotte (1858-1934) who married Frederick W. Whitridge of New York, whom she had met during Arnold's American lecture tour; Eleanore Mary Caroline (1861-1936) married (1) Hon. Armine Wodehouse in 1889, (2) William Masefield, Baron Sandhurst, in 1909; Basil Francis (1866-1868).
Arnold often described his duties as a school inspector as "drudgery," although "at other times he acknowledged the benefit of regular work." The inspectorship required him, at least at first, to travel constantly and across much of England. "Initially, Arnold was responsible for inspecting Nonconformist schools across a broad swath of central England. He spent many dreary hours during the 1850s in railway waiting-rooms and small-town hotels, and longer hours still in listening to children reciting their lessons and parents reciting their grievances. But that also meant that he, among the first generation of the railway age, travelled across more of England than any man of letters had ever done. Although his duties were later confined to a smaller area, Arnold knew the society of provincial England better than most of the metropolitan authors and politicians of the day." 
In 1852, Arnold published his second volume of poems, Empedocles on Etna, and Other Poems. In 1853, he published Poems: A New Edition, a selection from the two earlier volumes famously excluding "Empedocles on Etna", but adding new poems, "Sohrab and Rustum" and "The Scholar Gipsy". In 1854, Poems: Second Series appeared; also a selection, it included the new poem, "Balder Dead".
Arnold was elected Professor of Poetry at Oxford in 1857. He was the first to deliver his lectures in English rather than Latin. He was re-elected in 1862. On Translating Homer (1861) and the initial thoughts that Arnold would transform into Culture and Anarchy were among the fruits of the Oxford lectures. In 1859, he conducted the first of three trips to the continent at the behest of parliament to study European educational practices. He self-published The Popular Education of France (1861), the introduction to which was later published under the title "Democracy" (1879).
In 1865, Arnold published Essays in Criticism: First Series. Essays in Criticism: Second Series would not appear until November 1888, shortly after his untimely death. In 1866, he published Thyrsis, his elegy to Clough who had died in 1861. Culture and Anarchy, Arnold's major work in social criticism (and one of the few pieces of his prose work currently in print) was published in 1869. Literature and Dogma, Arnold's major work in religious criticism appeared in 1873. In 1883 and 1884, Arnold toured the United States delivering lectures on education, democracy and Ralph Waldo Emerson.
In 1886, he retired from school inspection and made another trip to America. Arnold died suddenly in 1888 of heart failure, when running to meet a tram that would have taken him to the Liverpool Landing Stage to see his daughter, who was visiting from the United States where she had moved after marrying an American.
Matthew Arnold "was indeed the most delightful of companions," wrote G. W. E. Russell in Portraits of the Seventies; "a man of the world entirely free from worldliness and a man of letters without the faintest trace of pedantry."  A familiar figure at the Athenaeum Club, a frequent diner-out and guest at great country houses, fond of fishing and shooting, a lively conversationalist, affecting a combination of foppishness and Olympian grandeur, he read constantly, widely, and deeply, and in the intervals of supporting himself and his family by the quiet drudgery of school inspecting, filled notebook after notebook with meditations of an almost monastic tone. In his writings, he often baffled and sometimes annoyed his contemporaries by the apparent contradiction between his urbane, even frivolous manner in controversy, and the "high seriousness" of his critical views and the melancholy, almost plaintive note of much of his poetry. "A voice poking fun in the wilderness" was T. H. Warren's description of him.
Arnold is sometimes called the third great Victorian poet, along with Alfred Tennyson, 1st Baron Tennyson and Robert Browning.  Arnold was keenly aware of his place in poetry. In an 1869 letter to his mother, he wrote:
|“||My poems represent, on the whole, the main movement of mind of the last quarter of a century, and thus they will probably have their day as people become conscious to themselves of what that movement of mind is, and interested in the literary productions which reflect it. It might be fairly urged that I have less poetical sentiment than Tennyson and less intellectual vigour and abundance than Browning; yet because I have perhaps more of a fusion of the two than either of them, and have more regularly applied that fusion to the main line of modern development, I am likely enough to have my turn as they have had theirs." ||”|
Stefan Collini regards this as "an exceptionally frank, but not unjust, self-assessment." "Arnold's poetry continues to have scholarly attention lavished upon it, in part because it seems to furnish such striking evidence for several central aspects of the intellectual history of the nineteenth century, especially the corrosion of 'Faith' by 'Doubt'. No poet, presumably, would wish to be summoned by later ages merely as an historical witness, but the sheer intellectual grasp of Arnold's verse renders it peculiarly liable to this treatment." 
Harold Bloom echoes Arnold's self reference in his introduction (as series editor) to the Modern Critical Views volume on Arnold: "Arnold got into his poetry what Tennyson and Browning scarcely needed (but absorbed anyway), the main march of mind of his time." Of his poetry, Bloom says, "Whatever his achievement as a critic of literature, society, or religion, his work as a poet may not merit the reputation it has continued to hold in the twentieth century. Arnold is, at his best, a very good but highly derivative poet.... As with Tennyson, Hopkins, and Rossetti, Arnold's dominant precursor was Keats, but this is an unhappy puzzle, since Arnold (unlike the others) professed not to admire Keats greatly, while writing his own elegiac poems in a diction, meter, imagistic procedure, that are embarrassingly close to Keats." 
Sir Edmund Chambers noted, however, that "in a comparison between the best works of Matthew Arnold and that of his six greatest contemporaries... the proportion of work which endures is greater in the case of Matthew Arnold than in any one of them."  Chambers judged Arnold's poetic vision by "its simplicity, lucidity, and straightforwardness; its literalness...; the sparing use of aureate words, or of far-fetched words, which are all the more effective when they come; the avoidance of inversions, and the general directness of syntax, which gives full value to the delicacies of a varied rhythm, and makes it, of all verse that I know, the easiest to read aloud." 
He has a primary school named after him in Liverpool, where he died, and secondary schools named after him in Oxford and Staines.
His literary career — leaving out the two prize poems — had begun in 1849 with the publication of The Strayed Reveller and Other Poems by A., which attracted little notice — although it contained perhaps Arnold's most purely poetical poem "The Forsaken Merman" — and was soon withdrawn. Empedocles on Etna and Other Poems (among them "Tristram and Iseult"), published in 1852, had a similar fate. In 1858 he brought out his tragedy of "Merope," calculated, he wrote to a friend, "rather to inaugurate my Professorship with dignity than to move deeply the present race of humans," and chiefly remarkable for some experiments in unusual — and unsuccessful — metres.
His 1867 poem "Dover Beach" depicted a nightmarish world from which the old religious verities have receded. It is sometimes held up as an early, if not the first, example of the modern sensibility. In a famous preface to a selection of the poems of William Wordsworth, Arnold identified himself, a little ironically, as a "Wordsworthian." The influence of Wordsworth, both in ideas and in diction, is unmistakable in Arnold's best poetry. Arnold's poem, "Dover Beach" appears in Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451 and is also featured prominently in Saturday by Ian McEwan. It has also been quoted or alluded to in a variety of other contexts (see Dover Beach).
Some consider Arnold to be the bridge between Romanticism and Modernism. His use of symbolic landscapes was typical of the Romantic era, while his skeptical and pessimistic perspective was typical of the Modern era. The rationalistic tendency of certain of his writings gave offence to many readers, and the sufficiency of his equipment in scholarship for dealing with some of the subjects which he handled was called in question, but he undoubtedly exercised a stimulating influence on his time. His writings are characterised by the finest culture, high purpose, sincerity, and a style of great distinction, and much of his poetry has an exquisite and subtle beauty, though here also it has been doubted whether high culture and wide knowledge of poetry did not sometimes take the place of true poetic fire. Henry James wrote that Matthew Arnold's poetry will appeal to those who "like their pleasures rare" and who like to hear the poet "taking breath."
The mood of Arnold’s poetry tends to be of plaintive reflection, and he is restrained in expressing emotion. He felt that poetry should be the ‘criticism of life’ and express a philosophy. Arnold’s philosophy is that true happiness comes from within, and that people should seek within themselves for good, while being resigned in acceptance of outward things and avoiding the pointless turmoil of the world. However, he argues that we should not live in the belief that we shall one day inherit eternal bliss. If we are not happy on earth, we should moderate our desires rather than live in dreams of something that may never be attained. This philosophy is clearly expressed in such poems as "Dover Beach" and in these lines from "Stanzas from the Grande Chartreuse":
Arnold valued natural scenery for its peace and permanence in contrast with the ceaseless change of human things. His descriptions are often picturesque, and marked by striking similes. However, at the same time he liked subdued colours, mist and moonlight. He seems to prefer the ‘spent lights’ of the sea-depths in "The Forsaken Merman" to the village life preferred by the merman’s lost wife.
In his poetry he derived not only the subject matter of his narrative poems from various traditional or literary sources but even much of the romantic melancholy of his earlier poems from Senancour's "Obermann". His greatest defects as a poet stem from his lack of ear and his frequent failure to distinguish between poetry and prose.
The Poetical Works of Matthew Arnold
Assessing the importance of Arnold's prose work in 1988, Stefan Collini stated, "for reasons to do with our own cultural preoccupations as much as with the merits of his writing, the best of his prose has a claim on us today that cannot be matched by his poetry."  "Certainly there may still be some readers who, vaguely recalling 'Dover Beach' or 'The Scholar Gipsy' from school anthologies, are surprised to find he 'also' wrote prose." 
George Watson follows George Saintsbury in dividing Arnold's career as a prose writer into three phases: 1) early literary criticism that begins with his preface to the 1853 edition of his poems and ends with the first series of Essays in Criticism (1865); 2) a prolonged middle period (overlapping the first and third phases) characterized by social, political and religious writing (roughly 1860-1875); 3) a return to literary criticism with the selecting and editing of collections of Wordsworth's and Byron's poetry and the second series of Essays in Criticism.  Both Watson and Saintsbury declare their preference for Arnold's literary criticism over his social or religious criticism. More recent writers, such as Collini, have shown a greater interest in his social writing, while over the years a significant second tier of criticism has focused on Arnold's religious writing. His writing on education has not drawn a significant critical endeavor separable from the criticism of his social writings.
Selections from the Prose Work of Matthew Arnold
Arnold's work as a literary critic began with the 1853 "Preface to the Poems". In it, he attempted to explain his extreme act of self-censorship in excluding the dramatic poem "Empedocles on Etna". With its emphasis on the importance of subject in poetry, on "clearness of arrangement, rigor of development, simplicity of style" learned from the Greeks, and in the strong imprint of Goethe and Wordsworth, may be observed nearly all the essential elements in his critical theory. George Watson described the preface, written by the thirty-one year old Arnold, as "oddly stiff and graceless when we think of the elegance of his later prose." 
Criticism began to take first place in Arnold's writing with his appointment in 1857 to the professorship of poetry at Oxford, which he held for two successive terms of five years. In 1861 his lectures On Translating Homer were published, to be followed in 1862 by Last Words on Translating Homer, both volumes admirable in style and full of striking judgments and suggestive remarks, but built on rather arbitrary assumptions and reaching no well-established conclusions. Especially characteristic, both of his defects and his qualities, are on the one hand, Arnold's unconvincing advocacy of English hexameters and his creation of a kind of literary absolute in the "grand style," and, on the other, his keen feeling of the need for a disinterested and intelligent criticism in England.
Although Arnold's poetry received only mixed reviews and attention during his lifetime, his forays into literary criticism were more successful. Arnold is famous for introducing a methodology of literary criticism somewhere between the historicist approach common to many critics at the time and the personal essay; he often moved quickly and easily from literary subjects to political and social issues. His Essays in Criticism (1865, 1888), remains a significant influence on critics to this day. In one of his most famous essays on the topic, “The Study of Poetry”, Arnold wrote that, “Without poetry, our science will appear incomplete; and most of what now passes with us for religion and philosophy will be replaced by poetry”. He considered the most important criteria used to judge the value of a poem were “high truth” and “high seriousness”. By this standard, Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales did not merit Arnold’s approval. Further, Arnold thought the works that had been proven to possess both “high truth” and “high seriousness”, such as those of Shakespeare and Milton, could be used as a basis of comparison to determine the merit of other works of poetry. He also sought for literary criticism to remain disinterested, and said that the appreciation should be of “the object as in itself it really is.”
He was led on from literary criticism to a more general critique of the spirit of his age. Between 1867 and 1869 he wrote Culture and Anarchy, famous for the term he popularised for the middle class of the English Victorian era population: "Philistines", a word which derives its modern cultural meaning (in English - the German-language usage was well established) from him. Culture and Anarchy is also famous for its popularization of the phrase "sweetness and light," first coined by Jonathan Swift. 
Arnold's "want of logic and thoroughness of thought" as noted by John M. Robertson in Modern Humanists was an aspect of the inconsistency of which Arnold was accused. Few of his ideas were his own, and he failed to reconcile the conflicting influences which moved him so strongly. "There are four people, in especial," he once wrote to Cardinal Newman, "from whom I am conscious of having learnt — a very different thing from merely receiving a strong impression — learnt habits, methods, ruling ideas, which are constantly with me; and the four are — Goethe, Wordsworth, Sainte-Beuve, and yourself." Dr. Arnold must be added; the son's fundamental likeness to the father was early pointed out by Swinburne, and was later attested by Matthew Arnold's grandson, Mr. Arnold Whitridge. Brought up in the tenets of the Philistinism which, as a professed cosmopolitan and the Apostle of Culture he attacked, he remained something of a Philistine to the end.
In 1887, Arnold was credited with coining the phrase "New Journalism", a term that went on to define an entire genre of newspaper history, particularly Lord Northcliffe's turn-of-the-century press empire. However, at the time, the target of Arnold's irritation was not Northcliffe, but the sensational journalism of Pall Mall Gazette editor, W.T. Stead. Arnold had enjoyed a long and mutually beneficial association with the Pall Mall Gazette since its inception in 1865. As an occasional contributor, he had formed a particular friendship with its first editor, Frederick Greenwood and a close acquaintance with its second, John Morley. But he strongly disapproved of the muck-raking Stead, and declared that, under Stead, "the P.M.G., whatever may be its merits, is fast ceasing to be literature."
His religious views were unusual for his time. Scholars of Arnold's works disagree on the nature of Arnold's personal religious beliefs. Under the influence of Baruch Spinoza and his father, Dr. Thomas Arnold, he rejected the superstitious elements in religion, even while retaining a fascination for church rituals. Arnold seems to belong to a pragmatic middle ground that is more concerned with the poetry of religion and its virtues and values for society than with the existence of God. He wrote in the preface of God and the Bible in 1875 “The personages of the Christian heaven and their conversations are no more matter of fact than the personages of the Greek Olympus and their conversations.”  He also wrote in Literature and Dogma: "The word 'God' is used in most cases as by no means a term of science or exact knowledge, but a term of poetry and eloquence, a term thrown out, so to speak, as a not fully grasped object of the speaker's consciousness — a literary term, in short; and mankind mean different things by it as their consciousness differs."  He defined religion as "morality touched with emotion".  However, he also wrote in the same book, "to pass from a Christianity relying on its miracles to a Christianity relying on its natural truth is a great change. It can only be brought about by those whose attachment to Christianity is such, that they cannot part with it, and yet cannot but deal with it sincerely."  It seems likely by the context of this statement that he means himself to be counted amongst those who cannot part with Christianity even as they deal with it "sincerely".
Abbreviation: CPW stands for Robert H. Super (editor), The Complete Prose Works of Matthew Arnold, see Bibliography.
MATTHEW ARNOLD (1822-1888), English poet, literary critic and inspector of schools, was born at Laleham, near Staines, on the 24th of December 1822. When it is said that he was the son of the famous Dr Arnold of Rugby, and that Winchester, Rugby and Balliol College, Oxford, contributed their best towards his education, it seems superfluous to add that, in estimating Matthew Arnold and his work, training no less than original endowment has to be considered. A full academic training has its disadvantages as well as its gains. In the individual no less than in the species the history of man's development is the history of the struggle between the impulse to express original personal force and the impulse to make that force bow to the authority of custom. Where in any individual the first of these impulses is stronger than usual, a complete academic training is a gain; but where the second of these impulses is the dominant one, the effect of the academic habit upon the mind at its most sensitive and most plastic period is apt to be crippling. In regard to Matthew Arnold, it would be a bold critic of his life and his writings who should attempt to say what his work would have been if his training had been different. In his judgments on Goethe, Wordsworth, Byron, Shelley and Hugo, it may be seen how strong was his impulse to bow to authority. On the other hand, in Arnold's ingenious reasoning away the conception of Providence to " a stream of tendency not ourselves which makes for righteousness," we see how strong was his natural-impulse for taking original views. The fact that the very air Arnold breathed during the whole of the impressionable period of his life was academic is therefore a very important fact to bear in mind.
In one of his own most charming critical essays he contrasts the poetry of Homer, which consists of " natural thoughts in natural words," with the poetry of Tennyson, which consists of " distilled thoughts in distilled words." " Distilled " is one of the happiest words to be found in poetical criticism, and may be used with equal aptitude in the criticism of life. To most people the waters of life come with all their natural qualities - sweet or bitterundistilled. Only the ordinary conditions of civilization, common to all, flavoured the waters of life to Shakespeare, to Cervantes, to Burns, to Scott, to Dumas, and those other great creators whose minds were mirrors - broad and clear - for reflecting the rich drama of life around them. To Arnold the waters of life came distilled so carefully that the wonder is that he had any originality left. A member of the upper stratum of that " middle class " which he despised, or pretended to despise - the eldest son of one of the most accomplished as well as one of the most noble-tempered men of his time - Arnold from the moment of his birth drank the finest distilled waters that can be drunk even in these days. Perhaps, on the whole, the surprising thing is how little he suffered thereby. Indeed those who had formed an idea of Arnold's personality from their knowledge of his " culture," and especially those who had been delighted by the fastidious and feminine delicacy of his prose style, used to be quite bewildered when for the first time they met him at a dinner-table or in a friend's smoking-room. His prose was so self-conscious that what people expected to find in the writer was the Arnold as he was conceived by certain " young lions " of journalism whom he satirized - a somewhat overcultured petit-maitre - almost, indeed, a coxcomb of letters. On the other hand, those who had been captured by his poetry expected to find a man whose sensitive organism responded nervously to every uttered word as an aeolian harp answers to the faintest breeze. What they found was a broad-shouldered, manly - almost burly - Englishman with a fine countenance, bronzed by the open air of England, wrinkled apparently by the sun, wind-worn as an English skipper's, open and frank as a fox-hunting squire's - and yet a countenance whose finely chiselled features were as high-bred and as commanding as Wellington's or Sir Charles Napier's. The voice they heard was deep-toned, fearless, rich and frank, and yet modulated to express every nuance of thought, every movement of emotion and humour. In his prose essays the humour he showed was of a somewhat thin-lipped kind; in his more important poems he showed none at all. It was here, in this matter of humour, that Arnold's writings were specially misleading as to the personality of the man. Judged from his poems, it was not with a poet like the writer of " The Northern Farmer," or a poet like the writer of " Ned Bratts," that any student of poetry would have dreamed of classing him. Such a student would actually have been more likely to class him with two of his contemporaries between whom and himself there were but few points in common, the " humourless " William Morris and the " humourless " Rossetti. For, singularly enough, between him and them there was this one point of resemblance: while all three were richly endowed with humour, while all three were the very lights of the sets in which they moved, the moment they took pen in hand to write poetry they became sad. It would almost seem as if, like Rossetti, Arnold actually held that poetry was not the proper medium for humour. No wonder, then, if the absence of humour in his poetry did much to mislead the student of his work as to the real character of the man.
After a year at Winchester, Matthew Arnold entered Rugby school in 1837. He early began to write and print verses. His first publication was a Rugby prize poem, Alaric at Rome, in 1840. This was followed in 1843, after he had gone up to Oxford in 1840 as a scholar of Balliol, by his poem Cromwell, which won the Newdigate prize. In 1844 he graduated with second-class honours, and in 1845 was elected a fellow of Oriel College, where among his colleagues was A. H. Clough, his friendship with whom is commemorated in that exquisite elegy Thyrsis. From 1847 to 1851 he acted as private secretary to Lord Lansdowne; and in the latter year, after acting for a short time as assistantmaster at Rugby, he was appointed to an inspectorship of schools, a post which he retained until two years before his death. He married, in June 1851, the daughter of Mr Justice Wightman. Meanwhile, in 184.9, appeared The Strayed Reveller, and other Poems, by A, a volume which gained a considerable esoteric reputation. In 1852 he published another volume under the same initial, Empedocles on Etna, and other Poems. Empedocles is as undramatic a poem perhaps as was ever written in dramatic form, but studded with lyrical beauties of a very high order. In 1853 Arnold published a volume of Poems under his own name. This consisted partially of poems selected from the two previous volumes. A second series of poems, which contained, however, only two new ones, was published in 1855. So great was the impression made by these in academic circles, that in 1857 Arnold was elected professor of poetry at Oxford, and he held the chair for ten years. In 1858 he published his classical tragedy, Merope. Nine years afterwards his New Poems (1867) were published. While he held the Oxford professorship he published several series of lectures, which gave him a high place as a scholar and critic. The essays' On Translating Homer: Three Lectures given at Oxford, published in 1861, supplemented in 1862 by On Translating Homer: Last Words, a fourth lecture given in reply to F. W. Newman's Homeric Translation in Theory and Practice (1861), and On the Study of Celtic Literature, published in 1867, were full of subtle and brilliant if not of profound criticism. So were the two series of Essays in Criticism, the first of which, consisting of articles reprinted from various reviews, appeared in 1865. The essay on " A Persian Passion Play " was added in the editions of 1875; and a second series, edited by Lord Coleridge, appeared in 1888.
Arnold's poetic activity almost ceased after he left the chair of poetry at Oxford. He was several times sent by government to make inquiries into the state of education in France, Germany, Holland and other countries; and his reports, with their thorough-going and searching criticism of continental methods, 1 These essays were edited in 1905 with an introduction by W. H. D. Rouse.
as contrasted with English methods, showed how conscientiously he had devoted some of his best energies to the work. His fame as a poet and a literary critic has somewhat overshadowed the fact that he was during thirty-five years of his life - from 1851 to 1886 - employed in the Education Department as one of H.M. inspectors of schools, while his literary work was achieved in such intervals of leisure as could be spared from the public service. At the time of his appointment the government, by arrangement with the religious bodies, entrusted the inspection of schools connected with the Church of England to clergymen, and agreed also to send Roman Catholic inspectors to schools managed by members of that communion. Other schools - those of the British and Foreign Society, the Wesleyans, and undenominational schools generally - were inspected by laymen, of whom Arnold was one. There were only three or four of these officers at first, and their districts were necessarily large. It is to the experience gained in intercourse with Nonconformist school managers that we may attribute the curiously intimate knowledge of religious sects which furnished the material for some of his keen though good-humoured sarcasms. The Education Act of 1870, which simplified the administrative system, abolished denominational inspection, and thus greatly reduced the area assigned to a single inspector. Arnold took charge of the district of Westminster, and remained in that office until his resignation, taking also an occasional share in the inspection of training colleges for teachers, and in conferences at the central office. His letters, passim, show that some of the routine which devolved upon him was distasteful, and that he was glad to entrust to a skilled assistant much of the duty of individual examination and the making up of schedules and returns. But the influence he exerted on schools, on the department, and on the primary education of the whole country, was indirectly far greater than is generally supposed. His annual reports, of which more than twenty were collected into a volume by his friend and official chief, Sir Francis (afterwards Lord) Sandford, attracted, by reason of their freshness of style and thought, much more of public attention than is usually accorded to bluebook literature; and his high aims, and his sympathetic appreciation of the efforts and difficulties of the teachers, had a remarkable effect in raising the tone of elementary education, and in indicating the way to improvement. In particular, he insisted on the formative elements of school education, on literature and the " humanities," as distinguished from the collection of scraps of information and " useful knowledge "; and he sought to impress all the young teachers with the necessity of broader mental cultivation than was absolutely required to obtain the government certificate. In his reports also he dwelt often and forcibly on the place which the study of the Bible, not the distinctive formularies of the churches, ought to hold in English schools. He urged that besides the religious and moral purposes of Scriptural teaching, it had a literary value of its own, and was the best instrument in the hands even of the elementary teacher for uplifting the soul and refining and enlarging the thoughts of young children.
On three occasions Arnold was asked to assist the government by making special inquiries into the state of education in foreign countries. These duties were especially welcome to him, serving as they did as a relief from the monotony of school inspection at home, and as opportunities for taking a wider survey of the whole subject of education, and for expressing his views on principles and national aims as well as administrative details. In 1859, as foreign assistant commissioner, he prepared for the duke of Newcastle's commission to inquire into the subject of elementary education a report (printed 1860) which was afterwards reprinted (1861) in a volume entitled The Popular Education of France, with Notices of that of Holland and Switzerland. In 1865 he was again employed as assistant-commissioner by the Schools Inquiry Commission under Lord Taunton; and his report on this subject, On Secondary Education in Foreign Countries (1866), was subsequently reprinted under the title Schools and Universities on the Continent (1868). Twenty years later he was sent by the Education Department to make special inquiries on certain specified points, e.g. free education, the status and training of teachers, and compulsory attendance at schools. The result of this investigation appeared as a parliamentary paper, Special Report on certain points connected with Elementary Education in Germany, Switzerland and France, in 1886. He also contributed the chapter on " Schools " (1837-1887) to the second volume of Mr Humphry Ward's Reign of Queen Victoria. Part of his official writings may be studied in Reports for Elementary Schools (1852-1882), edited by Sir F. Sandford in 1889.
All these reports form substantial contributions to the history and literature of education in the Victorian age. They have been quoted often, and have exercised marked influence on subsequent changes and controversies. One great purpose underlies them all. It is to bring home to the English people a conviction that education ought to be a national concern, that it should not be left entirely to local, or private, or irresponsible initiative, that the watchful jealousy so long shown by Liberals, and especially by Nonconformists, in regard to state action was a grave practical mistake, and that in an enlightened democracy, animated by a progressive spirit and noble and generous ideals, it was the part of wisdom to invoke the collective power of the state to give effect to those ideals. To this theme he constantly recurred in his essays, articles and official reports. "Porro unum est necessarium. One thing is needful; organize your secondary education." In 1883 a pension of f250 was conferred on Arnold in recognition of his literary merits. In the same year he went to the United States on a lecturing tour, and again in 1886, his subjects being " Emerson " and the " Principles and Value of Numbers." The success of these lectures, though they were admirable in matter and form, was marred by the lecturer's lack of experience in delivery. It is sufficient, further, to say that Culture and Anarchy: an Essay in Political and Social Criticism, appeared in 1869; St Paul and Protestantism, with an Introduction on Puritanism and the Church of England (1870); Friendship's Garland: being the Conversations, Letters and Opinions of the late Arminius Baron von Thunder-ten-Tronckh (1871); Literature and Dogma: an Essay towards a Better Apprehension of the Bible (1873); God and the Bible: a Review of Objections to Literature and Dogma (1875); Last Essays on Church and Religion (1877); Mixed Essays (1879); Irish Essays and Others (1882); Discourses in America (1885). Such essays as the first of these, embodying as they did Arnold's views of theological and polemical subjects, attracted much attention at the time of their publication, owing to the state of the intellectual atmosphere at the moment; but it is doubtful, perhaps, whether they will be greatly considered in the near future. Many severe things have been said, and will be said, concerning the inadequacy of poets like Coleridge and Wordsworth when confronting subjects of a theological or philosophical kind. Wordsworth's High Church Pantheism and Coleridge's disquisitions on the Logos seem farther removed from the speculations of to-day than do the dreams of Lucretius. But these two great writers lived before the days of modern science. Arnold, living only a few years later, came at a transition period when the winds of tyrannous knowledge had blown off the protecting roof that had covered the centuries before, but when time and much labour were needed to build another roof of new materials - a period when it was impossible for the poet to enjoy either the quietism of High Church Pantheism in which Wordsworth had basked, or the sheltering protection of German metaphysics under which Coleridge had preached - a period, nevertheless, when the wonderful revelations of science were still too raw, too cold and hard, to satisfy the yearnings of the poetic soul. Objectionable as Arnold's rationalizing criticism was to contemporary orthodoxy, and questionable as was his equipment in point of theological learning, his spirituality of outlook and ethical purpose were not to be denied. Yet it is not Arnold's views that have become current coin so much as his literary phrases - his craving for " culture " and " sweetness and light," his contempt for " the dissidence of Dissent and the Protestantism of the Protestant religion," his " stream of tendency not ourselves making for righteousness," his classification of " Philistines and barbarians " - and so forth. His death at Liverpool, of heart failure on the 15th of April '888, was sudden and quite unexpected.
Arnold was a prominent figure in that great galaxy of Victorian poets who were working simultaneously - Tennyson, Browning, Rossetti, William Morris and Swinburne - poets between whom there was at least this connecting link, that the quest of all of them was the old-fashioned poetical quest of the beautiful. Beauty was their watchword, as it had been the watchword of their immediate predecessors - Wordsworth, Coleridge, Keats, Shelley and Byron. That this group of early 19th-century poets might be divided into two - those whose primary quest was physical beauty, and those whose primary quest was moral beauty - is no doubt true. Still, in so far as beauty was their quest they were all akin. And so with the Victorian group to which Arnold belonged. As to the position which he takes among them opinions must necessarily vary. On the whole, his place in the group will be below all the others. The question as to whether he was primarily a poet or a prosateur has been often asked. If we were to try to answer that question here, we should have to examine his poetry in detail - we should have to inquire whether his primary impulse of expression was to seize upon the innate suggestive power of words, or whether his primary impulse was to rely upon the logical power of the sentence. In nobility of temper, in clearness of statement, and especially in descriptive power, he is beyond praise. But intellect, judgment, culture and study of great poets may do much towards enabling a prose-writer to write what must needs be called good poetry. What they cannot enable him to do is to produce those magical effects which poets of the rarer kind can achieve by seizing that mysterious, suggestive power of words which is far beyond all mere statement. Notwithstanding the exquisite work that Arnold has left behind him, some critics have come to the conclusion that his primary impulse in expression was that of the poetically-minded prosateur rather than that of the born poet. And this has been said by some who nevertheless deeply admire poems like " The Scholar Gypsy," " Thyrsis," " The Forsaken Merman, " Dover Beach," " Heine's Grave," " Rugby Chapel," " The. Grande Chartreuse," " Sohrab and Rustum," " The Sick King in Bokhara," " Tristram and Iseult," &c. It would seem that a man may show all the endowments of a poet save one, and that one the most essential - the instinctive mastery over metrical effects.
In all literary expression there are two kinds of emphasis, the emphasis of sound and the emphasis of sense. Indeed the difference between those who have and those who have not the true rhythmic instinct is that, while the former have the innate faculty of making the emphasis of sound and the emphasis of sense meet and strengthen each other, the latter are without that faculty. But so imperfect is the human mind that it can rarely apprehend or grasp simultaneously these two kinds of emphasis. While to the born prosateur the emphasis of sense comes first, and refuses to be more than partially conditioned by the emphasis of sound, to the born poet the emphasis of sound comes first, and sometimes will, even as in the case of Shelley, revolt against the tyranny of the emphasis of sense. Perhaps the very origin of the old quantitative metres was the desire to make these two kinds of emphasis meet in the same syllable. In manipulating their quantitative metrical system the Greeks had facilities for bringing one kind of emphasis into harmony with the other such as are unknown to writers in accentuated metres. This accounts for the measureless superiority of Greek poetry in verbal melody as well as in general harmonic scheme to all the poetry of the modern world. In writers so diverse in many ways as Homer, iEschylus, Sophocles, Pindar, Sappho, the harmony between the emphasis of sound and the emphasis of sense is so complete that each of these kinds of emphasis seems always begetting, yet always born of the other. When in Europe the quantitative measures were superseded by the accentuated measures a reminiscence was naturally and inevitably left behind of the old system; and the result has been, in the English language at least, that no really great line can be written in which the emphasis of accent, the emphasis of quantity and the emphasis of sense do not meet on the same syllable. Whenever this junction does not take place the weaker line, or lines, are always introduced,, not for makeshift purposes, but for variety, as in the finest lines of Milton and Wordsworth. Wordsworth no doubt seems to have had a theory that the accent of certain words, such as " without," " within," &c., could be disturbed in an iambic line; but in his best work he does not act upon his theory, and endeavours most successfully to make the emphasis of accent, of quantity and of sense meet. It might not be well for a poem to contain an entire sequence of such perfect lines as " I thought of Chatterton, the marvellous boy," or " Thy soul was like a star and dwelt apart," for then the metricist's art would declare itself too loudly and weaken the imaginative strength of the picture. But such lines should no doubt form the basis of the poem, and weaker lines - lines in which there is no such combination of the three kinds of emphasis - should be sparingly used, and never used for makeshift purposes. Now, neither by instinct nor by critical study was Arnold ever able to apprehend this law of prosody. If he does write a line of the first order, metrically speaking, he seems to do so by accident. Such weak lines as these are constantly occurring " The poet, to whose mighty heart Heaven doth a quicker pulse impart, Subdues that energy to scan Not his own course, but that of man." Much has been said about what is called the " Greek temper " of Matthew Arnold's muse. A good deal depends upon what it meant by the Hellenic spirit. But if the Greek temper expresses itself, as is generally supposed, in the sweet acceptance and melodious utterance of the beauty of the world as it is,, accepting that beauty without inquiring as to what it means and as to whither it goes, it is difficult to see where in Arnold's poetry this temper declares itself. Surely it is not in Empedocles on Etna, and surely it is not in Merope. If there is a poem of his in which one would expect to find the joyous acceptance of life apart from questionings about the civilization in which the poet finds himself environed (its hopes, its fears, its aspirations and its failures) - such questionings, in short, as were for ever vexing Arnold's soul - it would be in " The Scholar Gypsy," a poem in which the poet tries to throw himself into the mood of a " Romany Rye." The great attraction of the gypsies to Englishmen of a certain temperament is that they alone seem to feel the joyous acceptance of life which is supposed to be specially Greek. Hence it would have been but reasonable to look, if anywhere, for the expression of Arnold's Greek temper in a poem which sets out to describe the feelings of the student who, according to Glanville's story, left Oxford to wander over England with the Romanies. But instead of this we got the old fretting about the unsatisfactoriness of modern civilization. Glanville's Oxford student, whose story is glanced at now and again in the poem, flits about in the scenery like a cloudshadow on the grass; but the way in which Arnold contrives to avoid giving us the faintest idea either dramatic or pictorial of the student about whom he talks so much, and the gypsies with whom the student lived, is one of the most singular feats in poetry. The reflections which come to a young Oxonian lying on the grass and longing to escape life's fitful fever without shuffling off this mortal coil, are, no doubt, beautiful reflections beautifully expressed, but the temper they show is the very opposite of the Greek. To say this is not in the least to disparage Arnold. " A man is more like the age in which he lives," says the Chinese aphorism, " than he is like his own father and mother," and Arnold's polemical writings alone are sufficient to show that the waters of life he drank were from fountains distilled, seven times distilled, at the topmost slope of 19th-century civilization. Mr George Meredith's " Old Chartist" exhibits far more of the temper of acceptance than does any poem by Matthew Arnold. His most famous critical dictum is that poetry is a " criticism of life." What he seems to have meant is that poetry is the crowning fruit of a criticism of life; that just as the poet's metrical effects are and must be the result of a thousand semiconscious generalizations upon the laws of cause and effect in metric art, so the beautiful things he says about life and the beautiful pictures he paints of life are the result of his generalizations upon life as he passes through it, and consequently that the value of his poetry consists in the beauty and the truth of his generalizations. But this is saying no more than is said in the line " Rien n'est beau que le vrai; le vrai seul est aimable "- or in the still more famous lines " ` Beauty is truth, truth beauty,' - that is all Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know." To suppose that Arnold confounded the poet with the writer of pensees would be absurd. Yet having decided that poetry consists of generalizations on human life, in reading poetry he kept on the watch for those generalizations, and at last seemed to think that the less and not the more they are hidden behind the dramatic action, and the more unmistakably they are intruded as generalizations, the better. For instance, in one of his essays he quotes those lines from the " Chanson de Roland " of Turoldus, where Roland, mortally wounded, lays himself down under a pine-tree with his face turned towards Spain and the enemy, and begins to " call many things to remembrance; all the lands which his valour conquered, and pleasant France, and the men of his lineage, and Charlemagne, his liege lord, who nourished him " " De plusurs choses a remembrer li prist, De tantes teres cume li bers cunquist, De dulce France, des humes de sun ligu, De Carlemagne sun seignor ki l'nurrit." " That," says Arnold, " is primitive work, I repeat, with an undeniable poetic quality of its own. It deserves such praise, and such praise is sufficient for it." Then he contrasts it with a famous passage in Homer - that same passage which is quoted in the article Poetry, for the very opposite purpose to that of Arnold's, quoted indeed to show how the epic poet, leaving the dramatic action to act as chorus, weakens the ao 6Tr) of the picture - the passage in the Iliad (iii. 2 432 44) where the poet, after Helen's pathetic mention of her brother's comments on the causes of their absence, " criticizes life " and generalizes upon the impotence of human intelligence, the impotence even of human love, to pierce the darkness in which the web of human fate is woven. He appends Dr Hawtrey'st -- ranslation: 'Th CbaTO. Tots S' X t4vot ooc ate Ev AaKESaiµovc aiiOt, OLX 2 Ev 7rarpiSc yaip. " So said she; they long since in Earth's soft arms were reposing There, in their own dear land, their fatherland, Lacedaemon." " We are here," says Arnold, " in another world, another order of poetry altogether; here is rightly due such supreme praise as that which M. Vitel gives to the Chanson de Roland. If our words are to have any meaning, if our judgments are to have any solidity, we must not heap that supreme praise upon poetry of an order immeasurably inferior." He does not see that the two passages cannot properly be compared at all. In the one case the poet gives us a dramatic picture; in the other, a comment on a dramatic picture.
Perhaps, indeed, the place Arnold held and still holds as a critic is due more to his exquisite felicity in expressing his views than to the penetration of his criticism. Nothing can exceed the easy grace of his prose at the best. It is conversational and yet absolutely exact in the structure of the sentences; and in spite of every vagary, his distinguishing note is urbanity. Keenedged as his satire could be, his writing for the most part is as urbane as Addison's own. His influence on contemporary criticism and contemporary ideals was considerable, and generally wholesome. His insistence on the necessity of looking at " the thing in itself," and the need for acquainting oneself with " the best that has been thought and said in the world," gave a new stimulus alike to originality and industry in criticism; and in his own selection of subjects - such as Joubert, or the de Guerins - he opened a new world to a larger class of the better sort of readers, exercising in this respect an awakening influence in his own time akin to that of Walter Pater a few years afterwards. The comparison with Pater might indeed be pressed further, and yet too far. Both were essentially products of Oxford. But Arnold, whose description of that " home of lost causes, and forsaken beliefs, and unpopular names, and impossible loyalties," is in itself almost a poem, had a classical austerity in his style that savoured more intimately of Oxford tradition, and an ethical earnestness even in his most flippant moments which kept him notably aloof from the more sensuous school of aesthetics.
The first collected edition of Arnold's poems was published in 1869 in two volumes, the first consisting of Narrative and Elegiac Poems, and the second of Dramatic and Lyric Poems. Other editions appeared in 1877, 1881; a library edition (3 vols., 1885); a onevolume reprint of the poems printed in the library edition with one or two additions (1890). Publications by Matthew Arnold not mentioned in the foregoing article include: England and the Italian Question (1859), a pamphlet; A French Eton; or, Middle Class Education and the State (1864); Higher Schools and Universities in Germany (1874), a partial reprint from Schools and Universities on the Continent (1868); A Bible Reading for Schools; The Great Prophecy of Israel's Restoration, an arrangement of Isaiah, chs. xl.-lxvi. (1872), republished with additions and varying titles in 1875 and 1883; an edition of the Six Chief Lives from Johnson's Lives of the Poets (1878); editions of the Poems of Wordsworth (1879), and the Poetry of Byron (1881), for the Golden Treasury Series, with prefatory essays reprinted in the second series of Essays in Criticism; an edition of Letters, Speeches and Tracts on Irish Affairs by Edmund Burke (1881); and many contributions to periodical literature. The Letters of Matthew Arnold (1848-1888) were collected and arranged by George W. E. Russell in 1895, reprinted 1901. Matthew Arnold's Note Books, with a Preface by the Hon. Mrs Wodehouse, appeared in 1902. A complete and uniform edition of The Works of Matthew Arnold (15 vols., 1904-1905) includes the letters as edited by Mr Russell. Vol. iii. contains a complete bibliography of his works, many of the early editions of which are very valuable, by Mr T. B. Smart, who published a separate bibliography in 1892. A valuable note on the rather complicated subject of Arnold's bibliography is given by Mr H. Buxton Forman in Arnold's Poems, Narrative, Elegiac and Lyric (Temple Classics, 1900).
It was Arnold's expressed desire that his biography should not be written, and before his letters were published they underwent considerable editing at the hands of his family. There are, however, monographs on Matthew Arnold (1899) in Modern English Writers by Prof. Saintsbury, and by Mr H. W. Paul (1902), in the English Men of Letters Series. These two works are supplemented by Mr G. W. E. Russell, who, as the editor of Arnold's letters, is in a sense the official biographer, in Matthew Arnold (1904, Literary Lives Series). There are also studies of Arnold in Mr J. M. Robertson's Modern Humanists (1891), and in W. H. Hudson's Studies in Interpretation (1896), in Sir J. G. Fitch's Thomas and Matthew Arnold (1897), and a review of some of the works above mentioned in the Quarterly for January 1905 by T. H. Warren. (T. W.-D.; J. G. F.)