Froude

I’m getting into Froude and he’s quite good:

To take a gloomy view of things will not mend them, and mod­ern en­light­en­ment may have ex­cel­lent gifts in store for us which will come by-​and-​by, but I will not say that they have come as yet. I will not say that pub­lic life is im­proved when par­ty spir­it has de­gen­er­at­ed in­to an or­gan­ised civ­il war, and a civ­il war which can nev­er end, for it re­news its life like the gi­ant of fa­ble at ev­ery fresh elec­tion. I will not say that men are more hon­est and more law-​abid­ing when debts are re­pu­di­at­ed and law is de­fied in half the coun­try, and Mr. Gladstone him­self ap­plauds or re­fus­es to con­demn acts of open dis­hon­esty. We are to con­grat­ulate our­selves that du­elling has ceased, but I do not know that men act more honourably be­cause they can be called less sharply to ac­count. ‘Smug­gling,’ we are told, has dis­ap­peared al­so, but the wreck­er scut­tles his ship or runs it ashore to cheat the insur­ance of­fice. The Church may per­haps be im­proved in the ar­range­ment of the ser­vices and in the pro­fes­sion­al demon­stra­tive­ness of the cler­gy, but I am not sure that the cler­gy have more in­flu­ence over the minds of men than they had fifty years ago, or that the doc­trines which the Church teach­es are more pow­er­ful over pub­lic opin­ion. One would not gather that our moral­ity was so su­pe­ri­or from the re­ports which we see in the news­pa­per, and girls now talk over nov­els which the ladies’ maids of their grand­moth­ers might have read in se­cret but would have blushed while read­ing. Each age would do bet­ter if it stud­ied its own faults and en­deav­oured to mend them in­stead of com­par­ing it­self with oth­ers to its own ad­van­tage. [emphasis mine]

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