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these things, are raised in his presence, as to whether the speakers on them have, in Goethe's phrase, their 'eye on the object.' An eye on the object'-an eye turned on the object with singular sagacity-struck me always as the fortunate and carefully cherished possession of James Knowles.
If Art-Art in the widest sense-Painting, Engraving, Literature, the Theatre—was spoken of, an ignorance I am fain to believe more measurable, allowed me to appraise approximately, roughly, the value of the communication Knowles upon any occasion happened to make. It was not as a devotee of the Playhouse, not as a devotee of Painting, not as a devotee of Literature that one could have regarded him. That is to say, he never 'specialised '—he never lost balance. But he was interested most genuinely. One wondered, perhaps, at his keen interest in each and in all. And why he never lost balance, never lost sense of proportion-which sense of proportion the longer one lives one feels the more convincingly to be the property of all important mindswas, that in thinking of pictures and of prints, of acted plays, and of imaginative or critical writing, it was really Art; it was always Art that he was thinking of. No hard and fast line divided, or could divide, for him the Stage from Painting, Painting from Literature; and so it was that an admirable common sense guided his spoken criticism of the Drama—and his remarks made havoc with popular names, and preserved always a reverence for genius : for such a genius as Irving's. And so it was, too, that in a criticism of Literature it was the root of the matter that he went to—he could put conventionalities and the expected aside and see things as they were, and welcome the newer treatment, and be just to the success of the old. And so it was that in Painting he could do what painters seldom do—the craftsmen foolish people appeal to, who rarely admit the possibility of any groove but their own—the particular rut in which they happen to practise--he could admire work the most diverse ; and I have myself accompanied him, within the limits of an afternoon, to an enthusiastic inspection of the drawings of Poynter (if he had a preference, it was towards Classicism that instinct and judgment drew him), and a hardly less enthusiastic or sympathetic inspection of the prints and pastels of Whistler.
I do not wish to insist, to elaborate, to labour the point; but what I am convinced of is that no small part of the success of James Knowles in his high calling of public guide and monitor—that no small part of his much talked-of, quick, and managerial appreciation of the pulse of the public, and of his much less talked-of width and readiness of sympathy with individual men and women with whom he was in contact—had its origin, and found ever its best support, in the gifts of his own nature ; no merely business faculty, unusually sharpened, but an intellect alert and keen, a temperament receptive, tolerant, fearless, sincere.
NOBODY who has taken interest in this Review, whether as reader or contributor, can fail to be sensible of personal loss in parting with its editor. Readers will miss the touch of the vanished hand, so deft and diligent in enlisting, month by month, writers with the freshest and clearest views on matters new and old, and in ranging with impartial balance the most diverse opinions on debatable subjects. Contributors will remember many a confabulation, fertile in suggestion, in the tranquil and hospitable ground floor of Queen Anne's Lodge, recalling with gratitude the rare, but ever gentle, criticism of what might be crude in their papers—the ready and kindly approval of felicitous expression or lucid argument.
How different was James Knowles as editor from the conventional tyrant wielding a relentless blue pencil. Literary folk have been known to sneer at his incessant energy upon highways and byways in quest of contributions to the Review which he created. It has been hinted that he was as solicitous about the social standing of a writer as about the quality of his writing. Never was a charge worse founded: Knowles sought to make his Review representative of the opinions, the experiences, the aspirations of persons in every grade of society, welcoming an essay by a Lancashire cotton-girl, if he could get it, cordially as one from a countess or a Cabinet Minister. One could only obtain a true insight into his editorial methods if it were possible to examine a list of the thousand papers which he declined. Personally he had a very fastidious taste in English composition. He once asked me, in the lobby of the House of Commons, whose style I preferred among contemporary writers. I named a favourite author and journalist. '.
Too much of a hack,' he replied. 'In my opinion there is nobody writes such fine English as Lord Ribblesdale. I wish he could be got to write more.'
To one subject of eager controversy, and to one only, so far as I know, Knowles for long remained resolute in refusal to open his columns-namely, female suffrage.
He declared that there was nothing new to be said on either side, and a great deal of rubbish to be repeated on both sides, and he never would consent to open the flood-gates. Not until last year, when the methods of its advocates became too aggressive to be disregarded, did he apply to this, as to all other controversial subjects, Seneca's precept of impartialityQuidquid bene dictum est ab ullo, meum est.
It will be long before we learn to dissociate this Review from its founder and architect. No other monthly in our time, except the venerable Maga, has been so closely or so long identified with a single VoL, LXIII-No. 374
personality. That it may endure, aere perennius, is perhaps what our departed friend would desire most as his monument.
The circle of Sir James Knowles' friends was so singularly wide, and the esteem and affection with which in a long and active life he was held by his intimates have been so fully described by others, that I will confine my remarks in these few pages to the story of his brilliant success as secretary and founder of the Metaphysical Society, and again as founder and Editor of the Nineteenth Century.
It is one of the most cherished memories of my literary life that I can look back to my own fellowship with that remarkable Society from the first, and also that for thirty-three years, from 1875 downwards, I can recall the kind and continuous consideration I enjoyed from James Knowles, as Editor first of the Contemporary Review, and then as Editor and proprietor of the Nineteenth Century.
My whole literary career for all that period has been closely bound up with these two organs of thought, and a large part of my own published works consists of studies that wholly or in part first came before the public as contributions to the periodicals which were directed by James Knowles. In some sense he has been in literature my sponsor, however much he often differed from my utterances, which he not seldom called in others to combat or qualify. And it is a melancholy satisfaction to me, at the request of those he leaves to sorrow for him, that I seem called on to speak a few last words over his
tomb. It is sober truth that during the twelve years of its activity, from 1869 onwards through the 'seventies, the Metaphysical Society exercised a definite influence on the development of philosophical and religious thought, the indirect consequences of which are still to be traced. The idea, which Knowles and Tennyson started in 1868, was to bring face to face competent exponents of diverse theological and metaphysical schools in a friendly symposium, where the crucial axioms of their respective systems of creed and doctrine could be tested with the freedom of a scientific society. As the Royal Society opened an arena where new inventions and physical discoveries could be examined and analysed by past-masters in the natural sciences, so it was proposed to test and argue the validity of the new ideas which lie inter apices of moral and metaphysical science. The ultimate canons of Metaphysics are practically the data of Theology; and indeed it was at first designed to found a Theological Society. Froude
declared that it would be marvellous if the new Society hung together for a year. But the Laureate more happily reminded him that modern science had taught us 'how to separate light from heat.' The Laureate was the better prophet. Some brilliant flashes of light were evolved with a minimum of heat, even when Cardinal Manning and Father Dalgairns came to hand-grip with Huxley and W. K. Clifford, when Ruskin and Abbot Gasquet met the two Stephens and Robert Lowe.
An excellent account of the Society was written by Knowles and R. H. Hutton, editor of the Spectator, and appeared in this Review in August 1885. The list of the members there given includes the names of Tennyson, Gladstone, Dean Stanley, Cardinal Manning, Huxley, Tyndall, Ruskin, Froude, Maurice, Martineau, Seeley, Bagehot, John Morley, Clifford, Frederick Pollock, Mark Pattison, John Lubbock, and Mr. A. J. Balfour. And the catalogue of the papers read and discussed ranges from the theory of Causation, of a Soul, of God, Death, Immortality, Miracle, the Will, Matter, Force, the Absolute, the canons of Proof, Things-in-themselves, and Intuitive faculties. To put it shortly, most of the best-known thinkers and controversialists of the 'seventies were represented, from ultramontane Catholicism to materialist Monism. And all the primary ideas of philosophy and theology were more than once argued and tested.
The papers read at the Society, together with critical debates in reply, frequently appeared in the Contemporary Review, of which Knowles was editor, and then in this Review, which he founded in 1877 and edited down to his death. For a short time indeed this Review was almost the literary organ of the Metaphysical Society ; and of the sixty-two members of the Society there were few who, at one time or other, have not appeared as contributors to the pages of this Review. The rule of signed articles, by writers specially competent to treat the particular subject, has been uniformly followed. And every side of every question has been admitted, with the guarantees of personal responsibility of a known writer and adequate knowledge to treat the matter with fairness. One very interesting form of discussion was, I think, started by Mr. Knowles, unless my memory betrays me on a suggestion of my own-viz. a Symposium, i.e. a succession of short papers by various writers from different standpoints criticising the opening paper and those which followed it. This original form of magazine-writing had for a time a deserved
With the dissolution of the Metaphysical Society in 1880, it ceased to furnish material for this Review, which for twenty-eight years has kept up the variety of its topics and the wide range of writers which were the distinguishing marks at its founding. It grew to be a literary power in the New World as well as in the Old; and has exercised a very striking influence not only on periodical literature but on liberal thought.
In a few pages it is impossible to relate the story of a career of editorship of more than thirty years, with its multiplicity of interests, causes, and topics, and its singular list of eminent contributors
. None know so well as his earliest colleagues in this task how entirely the result was the work of the energy, the boldness, the versatile tact, and the genial sympathy of the English Brunetière, Sir James Knowles.
The Editor of THE NINETEENTH CENTURY cannot undertake
to return unaccepted MSS.