Lectures on the Art of Reading: a study


On the Art of Reading is a collection of twelve lectures delivered at Cambridge University. The work is important as it expresses Q's ideas about education, literature, reading and child development. It is the product of his thinking as a Cambridge professor and as a member of the Cornwall Education Committee, with special responsibility for school inspections. Many of the lectures were given as an act of faith, with military defeat by Germany a distinct possibility.

The first lecture is dated October 25, 1916, with the Somme campaign spluttering to its bloody conclusion and H.H. Asquith as Prime Minister of a Liberal dominated coalition. The last is dated November 6, 1918, five days short of the armistice, with Lloyd George leading a Conservative dominated coalition and a ticket election in the planning which would destroy the Liberal Party of which Q was a member.

The Preface to the first edition of On the Art of Reading, dated July 7, 1920, draws the reader's attention to two educational battles Q was engaged in when the lectures were being delivered. Firstly, there was the creation, against considerable opposition, of an English Tripos at Cambridge. Secondly, there were the education reforms proposed by Minister of Education H.A.L Fisher, many of which related to elementary education, education open to all and not just a select few, as with university education, along with the need to improve teacher training and the financial prospects of teachers.

On the Art of Reading is important as an historical document, but it is not simply a museum piece. Its essential message has never been so relevant or so ignored as today.

In the twelve lectures Q argues for the central importance to a liberal democracy of a liberal education system, with great literature at its hub, and the right of every child to access it, independent of wealth or status. Whatever information other subjects provide, only great literature, rooted in the writings of classical civilisation, provides balance and perspective. Learning is more than the accumulation of information. When there is an absence of balance and perspective, as in Germany, tyranny and militarism result. At the centre of great English literature stands the Authorised Version of the Bible, which should be included in every syllabus.

On the Art of Reading places the child, not the politician, the administrator or the industrialist, at the centre of liberal education and liberal education at the centre of democratic society. This the German system, for all its effectiveness, failed to do, with disastrous results for Europe. No doubt Q would have seen the disengagement of the young in the democratic process today, as the consequence of the wrong sort of education.

Q saw the child as instinctively inquisitive, with an innate desire to observe, experiment and explore, unless inhibited and repressed by authority and dogma. Inductive or repetitive learning, rote learning and exam-cram he dismisses as producing uncreative, dogmatic and uncritical minds. Truly educated minds combine reason and intuition with poise and confidence so as to shatter the moulds of scientific, religious and political dogmas, along with received opinion and common assumption. Children naturally tend to rational exploration and imaginative apprehension because they are the product of a rational universe, one beneficient rather than threatening and meaningful rather than meaningless. A cold, Godless universe, governed by chance, randomness and conflict, and struggle-for-life competition, he sees as producing disordered children, with reason and emotion in dissonance, and the creative process thrown into disorder. Q feared, as can be seen from the preface of The White Wolf, in the Duchy Edition, that this was indeed happening, largely as a result of the war, but also because of the conflict driven theories of the late Victorian Age.  Some might say that Q's fears have been realised, in what can be seen as a race to the bottom in contemporary society.

On the Art of Reading is based on a rejection of a materialistic understanding of reality. Q repeatedly claims reality to be the product of matter and spirit. Matter is inanimate, while spirit is animate, relating man to the Spirit of the Universe, the rational and organising principle, which reveals itself as personal and beneficient. To this degree Q accepts reason and revelation, in that a divine being has to reveal himself. All great literature, literature in its broadest sense, leads us to see the great harmony of the universe and our place within it. Other disciplines provide knowledge of reality, but a partial and disparate knowledge, with the theories derived from disparate observation incapable of providing a comprehensive picture. Testable theories are by their nature transient. Conflicting theories and dogmas lead to a conflict-dominated understanding of the universe, which the leads to further conflict, with war as its ultimate manifestation.

The lectures provide the reader with Q's critique of the war, its causes, its appalling reality and its future prevention. He argues that a liberal education system is central to democratic government, and democratic government as central to future peace and prosperity. At the heart of education must lie great literature. Education must be child-centred and provided as a right. The provision of quality elementary education, independent of circumstance or location, and free from the corruption of competition, is the central duty of government.

Lecture I: Introductory 

In the autumn term of 1916, with the Somme campaign in northern France, 'To the British, it was and would remain their greatest military tragedy of the twentieth century' (Keegan, 1998, p. 321), coming slowly to a conclusion (officially November 19), Q gave a series of lectures at Cambridge University on ‘Some Seventeenth Century Poets’. These lectures were published in Studies in Literature of May 1918. Few of the men Q had helped to enlist in August 1914 were probably still alive in 1916, although their grieving families were, a fact Q subtly alludes to in Section II of the final lecture of The Art of Reading. During the autumn Q's son Bevil was fully engaged in the blood-soaked valley of the Ancre. Daily Q must have expected the news of his demise. There can be little doubt that what Q said at this time came from his deepest convictions.

For some reason the lectures on the seventeenth century poets came in the middle of the series On the Art of Reading, which was published under that title in 1920, with the war over and Bevil dead. It consisted of three lectures: I. John Donne; II. Herbert and Vaughan; III. Traherne, Crashaw and others. Two of the poets studied had seen military action, John Donne in the Earl of Essex's expedition to Cadiz in 1596, and Henry Vaughan as a soldier of the king in the English Civil War. Sidney Godolphin, who lost his life in the king's service in the Civil War, is mentioned in lecture one and in Q's novel The Splendid Spur.

In his lecture on Herbert and Vaughan, Q refers back to Section V of the introductory lecture from On the Art of Reading which contains a quotation from the poet Robert Browning (1812-1889). The poem ‘A Death in the Desert’ narrates the death of St John the Evangelist on the island of Patmos.

'This is the doctrine he was wont to teach,
How divers persons witness in each man,
Three souls which make up one soul:'

Numbers such as three, seven and thirty held a special significance for the Jewish mind as the Bible and Christian theology show. The three in one suggests the doctrine of the trinity, but in subordinationist mode.

'What Does, What Knows, What Is: three souls, one man.'

Each human life is determined by doing, knowing and being, although they are not of equal importance.

In Section V of  Herbert and Vaughan, Q accords the highest place to 'What Is', the spiritual aspect, highly regarded by mystics. The lowest is accorded to 'What Does', man's activity in the world. At this point Q cannot refrain from a criticism of his own time for inverting the order, making 'What Does' dominate 'What Is'. 'What Does' is identified as 'Business Government' determined by commercialism and efficiency, with the winning of the war as an end in itself. As a consequence, pure science and the humanities are subordinated to applied science, militarism and struggle-for-life competition. War to defend civilisation has evolved into war on civilisation.

In Section VI of the introductory lecture to On the Art of Reading, Q explains how during the Medieval period, with all its endemic violence, Oxford and Cambridge Universities had preserved the priority of 'What Is' over 'What Does' by being governed by Teachers and Masters, under the protection of the Church. Referring back to his inaugural lecture of January 29, 1913, the universities had continued to place intelligence, discrimination and judgement over materialism, commercialism and militarism. Q did not, however, ignore the problem contemporary universities faced in the increase in knowledge, especially in the sciences, and the associated increase in specialisms. Unfortunately, having to absorb large amounts of specialised information, to the detriment of a good general education, produces unbalanced individuals: facit indignatio versum.

Section IX opens with the repetition of 'What Does-What knows- What Is' and ends with a long quotation from George Eliot's poem ‘Stradivarius’:

'I say, not God Himself can make man's best
Without best men to help him...
'Tis God gives skill,
But not without men's hands …'

'What Does' is better seen in the making of violins, an instrument appearing in stories such as ‘I Saw Three Ships’, than in the making of machine-guns and account books.

The problem of 'What Knows' or knowledge focuses Q's attention in Section X. The need for 'best men' involves education. At the time Q was still a member of the Cornwall Education Committee. Q followed Dickens in deploring the sort of teaching methods used by Mr Gradgrind in Hard Times, who wanted to fill empty jugs with 'Facts, facts, facts'. Q also deplored, as he indicated elsewhere, a generation of men being expunged by war – as it turns out, irreplaceably expunged. Q finishes the section with a quotation from Don Quixote where Quixote  is instructing Sancho Panza on good government, using the two phrases 'fear God' and 'know thyself' – an instruction running through the novel Q based on Don Quixote, namely Sir John Constantine (1906).

In a brief concluding section, Q identifies 'What Is' with man's spiritual nature, claiming true 'Literature' to be concerned with it. This 'truth' he develops in his subsequent lectures, especially in the opening paragraph of Lecture II, ‘Apprehension versus Comprehension’. It is generally accepted that western thought has centred on 'What Knows' or the problem of knowledge. This was very much true of Cambridge when Q entered it in 1912, where John Maynard Keynes, G.E. Moore, Bertrand Russell and the young Ludwig Wittgenstein were important figures. Shortly after Q delivered his inaugural lecture at Cambridge on January 29, Bertrand Russell, whose Principia Mathematica (with A.N. Whitehead) had come out in three volumes in 1910, wrote in a letter to Ottoline Morrell: 'There is one great question. Can human beings know anything and if so what and how?' (Clark, 1975, p. 217).

Bertrand Russell came to have a considerable interest in education, publishing On Education, especially in Early Childhood in 1926 and Education and the Social Order in 1932. He and Q agreed on the need for children to explore and discover, an idea antithetical to contemporary 'exam-cram'. They differed in that Russell's notions were materialistic and atheistic while Q, as he says in his third lecture, Children's Reading (I), saw the child as a microcosm, part of a greater unity, to which its natural instincts aspire, if not inhibited, repressed and suffocated by information imposed from a rigid educational system. In 1924, Russell purchased Carn Voel, between Penzance and Land's End, later using it as an educational base. Q's ideas were not dissimilar to those of Sir Humphry Davy of Penzance, who performed moderately at school but developed sophisticated scientific ideas wandering the quarries, mines and drowned landscapes of Penwith. Davy is the perfect example of explore and discover.

Lecture II: Apprehension versus Comprehension

Lecture II of On the Art of Reading, called Apprehension versus Comprehension, was delivered on Wednesday, November 15, 1916. The Somme campaign, which had opened with high hopes, was shuddering to a conclusion, with Allied casualty figures mounting to 620,000 and German to 450,000.  Bertrand Russell had left the Liberal Party, espousing pacifist and socialist views. There were heavy losses at sea from U-boat activity and Russia was descending into turmoil. Keynes was working for Reginald McKenna, Chancellor of the Exchequer, and in close social contact with H.H. Asquith, the Prime Minister, but was drawing apart from David Lloyd George, a parting which, during the Paris Peace Conference of 1919, turned to furious hostility.

Unsurprisingly, Q opens the lecture in sombre fashion by recalling the destruction of the great library at Alexandria, with reputedly 700,000 books destroyed – a figure dangerously close to the Somme casualty figures. Q continues that it is the quality not the quantity that is important for the sustaining of civilised existence, just as depth is more important than breadth, something exam systems militate against. Maybe Q is seeing in the survival of culture after the great fire of Alexandria a symbol of the survival of civilised life after destructive war.

Q also differed from Russell and many others in seeing the art of reading and the art of writing, more specifically the study of great literature, as lying at the heart of education. Whatever information the other subjects imparted, only literature gives the mind balance, perspective and discernment, elevating the mind from 'What Does' and 'What Knows' to 'What Is', beyond which it cannot go. Q had the humility to grasp the limits of human understanding. This conception of education he promulgated as a member of the Cornwall Education Committee and as Professor of English Literature at Cambridge.

Q mapped out his ground in the inaugural lecture of January 29, 1913, pursuing his aim unflinchingly, and in the face of academic opposition, until his tenure at Cambridge ended with his death in 1944. Repeatedly in his lectures he attempted to expose presuppositions, analyse arguments and reveal false reasoning, which he felt he was doing in Tradition and Orthodoxy. He also, as in his lectures on Byron and Shelley, sought to challenge political, religious, academic and economic establishments. He deliberately used the phrase 'Darwinian hypothesis' to counter the exorbitant claims of certain scientists. Yet he often felt himself to be a voice crying in the wilderness. It is distressing to be informed by Foy Quiller-Couch, his daughter, that Castle Dor was left unfinished through weariness of spirit (Quiller-Couch, 1962, p. vii), a weariness evident as far back as the Preface to the Duchy Edition of The White Wolf  in 1928.

Section II brings us back to 'What Does, What knows, What Is' and includes a side-swipe at two Cambridge Hegelians, who in the 1890s had influenced Bertrand Russell, Ellis McTaggart and George Stout. Q dismisses the notion of Hegel being the equal of Plato or Hegelian dialectics the equal of Plato's idea of 'Necessity' and 'order' forming one harmony, as found in the tenth book of The Republic. Reflecting a point made a hundred years before by Sir Humphry Davy, the Universe is ordered motion governed by intelligence. In the words of Milton:

'And keep unsteady Nature to her law
And the low world in measur'd motion draw
After the heavenly tune...'

 It is Lucifer who wishes to replace God's law with chance, randomness and conflict. The law of nature is not established on the basis of inductive inference, a generalisation based on a series of specific observations, as with 'Darwin's finches', but from prediction and verifying observation. Chance, randomness and conflict cannot provide verifiable predictions because rationality itself is negated. Q's argument shows his grounding in a family tradition of science.

The third section discusses the idea of apprehension. Although the limitations of the human mind and the inadequacies of the five senses make it impossible to comprehend the universe, we can apprehend it, because the order of the macrocosm reflects and is reflected in the microcosm of human consciousness; a truth grasped most fully by the Cambridge Platonists of the seventeenth century. He quotes, however, from Thomas Traherne whose writings he explores more fully in the third lecture from Some Seventeenth Century Poets:

'Those pre and virgin apprehensions I had from the womb, and that divine light wherewith I was born are the best unto this day, wherein I can see the Universe...'

 The purpose of life is to apprehend the universe and live according to its harmony.

'Tot circa unum caput tumultuantes deos!'

(So many gods brawling around one poor man!)

By implication, the greatest tragedy is to live in accordance with chance, randomness and conflict as its final consequence is a battlefield like the Somme.

Section IV opens with the apprehension of harmony, without which human existence descends into meaninglessness. Q then analyses man into matter and spirit or body and soul. To the question of John Hunter, the surgeon whose influence came to Jonathan Couch through his teachers at the united medical school of Guy's and St Thomas's in London from 1808 to 1810, regarding the difference between a living body and a corpse when the matter is the same, Q gave the answer 'Spirit'. Again quoting from Traherne: '...all spirit is mutually attractive, as all matter is mutually attractive'. Yet more. Using an idea also found in the writings of Humphry Davy and in different forms in the writings of Jonathan Couch, the 'soul' has an 'instinct' for a greater Spirit, quoting from St Paul: 'And because ye are Sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying Abba, Father.'

'Quid aliud est anima quam Deus in corpore humano hospitans?'
(What else is the soul but God lodging in the human body?)

Nothing could be further from the atheistic and materialistic notions of his Cambridge colleagues, or from his biographer Rowse. Marxism, Freudianism, Logical Positivism, Darwinism interpreted as struggle-for-life competition and the rest were antithetical to his understanding, mere fleeting constructions.

Sections V and VI take his challenge to them a step further still. While philosophers, scientists and the like try to comprehend the universe and come to no agreed conclusion, artists and prophets apprehend it and agree to its harmony. All great writing conveys this sense of order and harmony, and the intelligence lying behind it. It does not simply see the parts, but grasps the whole. This apprehension is natural to the child, in whom there is an instinct as a divine gift, and who needs the freedom to explore and experiment. Of this the Art of Reading is an essential element. Q saw this as a timeless wisdom, a wisdom the present education system has almost totally lost.

Lecture III: Children's Reading (I) 

Lecture III was given on Wednesday, January 24, 1917, with the Lloyd George coalition administration firmly in place. H.H. Asquith had resigned on December 5, 1916. The new Foreign Minister was A.J. Balfour, who had been responsible for the Education Act of 1902 which had established the local education authorities. Q had supported the Act against his own party, becoming within a short time a member of the Cornwall Education Committee. To run the Board of Education, Lloyd George asked the Vice-Chancellor of Sheffield University, and distinguished historian, H.A. L. Fisher. In his War Memoirs (1938), Lloyd George saw Fisher's achievements as Minister of Education as 'bold', 'remarkable and beneficient'. Whatever his reservations about Lloyd George, Q would not have dissented from this view, as much of his later work in the Cornwall Education Committee was built on the foundation of the Fisher reforms. And Fisher was a genuine Liberal, as was Q. Nine days after Q's lecture on children's reading, Fisher put his 'Educational Reform – General Proposals' before the cabinet, which on February 20 gave its assent. Q gave his second lecture on Children's Reading on the following day.

It is easy to dismiss any connection between the thinking found in The Art of Reading and the controversies surrounding H.A.L Fisher's reforms. Q's Preface to the first edition of 1920 shows how wrong this would be. The immediate background of the book was the fight to establish the English Tripos at Cambridge. This was a fight in a larger battle for effective English teaching in elementary schools by properly trained and paid teachers. The Fisher reforms aimed at creating a system of liberal education, humanist in quality, covering primary, secondary and university education. By 1920 Q felt that much had been done, although he later remarked that the fight for a proper liberal education could never be finally won – words which today have a special meaning!

When Fisher arrived at the Board of Education he noted the advances in school medical services, the development of secondary education and the improvements in methods of teaching, in part overseen by the Local Education Authorities of which Q was and remained a member. Yet secondary education was still weak in its final year, while technical and university education needed to be expanded to cope with the eventual release of servicemen into civilian life at the conclusion of the war. Fisher's twelve point proposals covered raising the school leaving age to 14, financing the pathway to technical and university education and providing proper salary and pension provisions for teachers. Fisher then commenced a public campaign which finally resulted in parliamentary approval and his Education Bill receiving the royal assent on August 8, 1918 – otherwise known in the words of General Ludendorff as 'the black day of the German army' when 456 British tanks finally rebuffed the last thrust of the German spring and summer offensive. An armistice came into effect on November 11, with the release of servicemen coming in the following months and the universities flooded with new entrants. For the first time government grants were awarded to Oxford and Cambridge. Those who came to study English at Cambridge received from Q the message that literature was the binding force in European culture, one capable of preventing another catastrophe.

When Q walked into the lecture theatre at Cambridge on Wednesday, January 24, 1917, and faced an audience, some of whom would go into teaching, he would have realised the significance of the moment, with the future of the educational reforms in the balance, along with the very future of the country. The Art of Reading needs to be seen in this context.

He opens the lecture with a look at the arid lexis of educational debate, endeavouring to draw his audience back to the true subject, the child. The child possesses an innate desire to learn and to learn experimentally, if not suffocated by indifference or repressive discipline. Because the world is rationally ordered and ultimately personal, not governed by chance, randomness and conflict, which would make meaningful education impossible, the experimental method produces intelligent and happy children. Q describes how repression, based on a negative view of the child, and an arid fact-based method which precludes imagination, produces the opposite. At its worst it produces a war machine and a royal house like the Hohenzollerns. The true heart of education is literature. To be highly literate is to be educated, with the question of how to foster a love of books. This must begin in the elementary school, where the real battle of education is lost or won. He closes the lecture with an anecdote from a recent experience of reading in a Cornish school which he observed as a school inspector.

Lecture IV: Children's Reading (II) 

The second lecture on Children's Reading was the fourth in The Art of Reading series. It was given at Cambridge on Wednesday, February 21, 1917. Q opens with a  discussion on children's  instincts, what they do naturally if not prevented by adult interference. He follows Aristotle in seeing this propensity leading back to the origins of poetry through the relationship of mother and child and children's play. Words, rhythms and play result in verse, with reading as a consequence in literate societies.

 In Section V Q quotes from Aristotle's Poetics, c., iv:

'To imitate, then, being instinctive in our nature, so too we have an instinct for harmony and rhythm, metre being manifestly a species of rhythm: and man, being born to these instincts and little by little improving them, out of his early improvisations created Poetry.'

 Poetry is truth, not in relation to the world of particular facts, confused and contradictory as these often are, but truth as related to the eternal verities of our existence, the Universal. Truth, therefore, cannot be a body of information imposed upon the child by external authority – political, religious or scientific – but self-realisation, What Is!

In Section VII, Q sees truth and beauty coming to the child as a revelation, because what is perceived externally reflects and is reflected in the soul. Poetry is intrinsic to this revelation. Even if the child can analyse nothing about the poem, he or she can instinctively grasp the overall concept, the unifying vision. Imagination lies at the centre of this. The idea of the child absorbing information for the purposes of testing and examining is alien to Q's whole understanding of education. An obsession with particulars leads to the world being seen in terms of chance, randomness and conflict, while an understanding of the universal leads to order, harmony and meaning.

In Section IX, Q agrees with Fisher in identifying the quality of the elementary teacher as determining the quality of elementary education. Q is returning to a theme found in the novel Shining Ferry. As Q was both a schools' inspector and a Cambridge professor, it is not impossible for a dialogue to have taken place between Fisher and Q. They are also agreed on the need to raise educational standards across all schools, including those in the poorest areas; with the provision overseen by the Local Education Authority, now a body more recent legislation has made almost defunct, with the inevitable consequences.

 Q concludes the lecture with a revealing remark. He sees the need for a universal system of education, applying to both girls and boys, because there will inevitably be universal adult suffrage, which was far from the case in 1917. Educational humiliation owing to inadequate provision is no basis for true democracy. It is more likely to lead to social disharmony and revolution, as was beginning to break out in Russia. Q finally remarks that though he is a Cambridge professor lecturing to Cambridge students, his heart is still with the elementary child who has to leave school inadequately educated.

Lecture V: On Reading for Examinations

Lecture V, On Reading for Examinations, was delivered on Wednesday, May 9, 1917, to what was possibly a sceptical student audience and in a university where a School of English was still seen as a novelty. Its aim was to convince students of the necessity of an examination system that had been proposed to the University authorities and was under consideration. It can now be seen as a small part of a larger concern about post-war education, one which had led H.A.L. Fisher to take the position as Minister of Education in the Lloyd George coalition government of December 1916.

In the lecture, Q acknowledges the difficulty of his position as Professor of English Literature. Previous lectures had brought the attention of the student body to What Does, What Knows, What Is, identifying the greatest literature with What Is. Examinations, in contrast, concentrate on What Knows. This contradiction Q had wrestled with for five years.

In his justification, Q explains how students confront the vastness of literary production through the careful selection of the lecturers and benefit from the quality of their teaching. This teaching aims not at the imposition of quantities of information but in facilitating an intuitive grasp of the nature of inspiration and the apprehension of a divine harmony – a reference back to Lecture II. Providing the lecturers in the School of English adhere to this mode, examinations will help rather than hinder, as they will explore what the student knows. Q's argument places the onus not on the student but on the teacher. One wonders how this relates to the testing and examinations system of today, if it relates at all.

Lecture VI: On a School of English

Q delivered Lecture VI, On a School of English, on Wednesday, October 17, 1917. H.A.L. Fisher's reforms in education were slowly taking shape, with him touring the country rallying support, itself a courageous venture but not one the government would have discouraged. The slaughter of Paschendale had followed that of the Somme a year before, while revolution was taking a hold in Russia, and the Americans had yet to arrive. German troops, increasingly released from the Eastern Front, were beginning to arrive on the Western, with the high command convinced victory was within their grasp in the coming spring, especially as mutinies had rocked the French army following the bloody failure of the Nivelle offensive. Neither Fisher nor Q had any certainty of educational stability, even less of reform and advance. Fisher's proposals and Q's work on the English Tripos at Cambridge were acts of faith in the superiority of liberal democracy. This is shown in the very last sentence of the lecture where he looks forward to the return of young men from France, a return no longer assured. 

Q defines literature as speech of a memorable nature, a definition wider than the original Ordinance of the University and one he endeavoured to loosen in his Inaugural lecture of January 1913. The Ordinance also separated English Literature from English Language or linguistics; with the idea of establishing English Literature on the English classics, even though literature relates to a range of actual subjects. Q had little time for the Anglo-Saxon, whether its language or its literature, as he argues at length elsewhere, seeing English literary culture as the product of classical civilisation, Greek and Roman prose and verse. No doubt this explains his emphasis on classical writings and his dismissal of Anglo-Saxon in the inaugural lecture. English literature cannot be fully appreciated without some knowledge of its classical foundations. Maybe this was why Q showed such a concern with Cornwall's maritime connection to the Mediterranean.

Yet Q was also aware of the nineteenth century tendency of elevating classical over more contemporary English writings. This produced a counter tendency of dismissing classical studies in favour of Anglo-Saxon, of trying to draw a line from the Anglo- Saxon period to the modern day, ignoring that, as he argues elsewhere, Britain is a palimpsest – pre-Celtic (as can be identified in certain Cornish place-names) , Celtic, Anglo-Saxon, Danish, Norman and others of lesser importance. Recent DNA studies have shown Q to be correct. Endeavouring to establish the root of English literature in the Dark Ages, now more commonly known as the Early Middle Ages, is to use thin soil indeed.

Q sees literature not as a museum piece but as a living body, one being constantly expanded because based in living experience. He closes the lecture with the call for literature to reflect real life, for the great writers to be studied in relation to their lives and for new writers to practise and improve their craft and therefore to make English literature an even greater subject. Thus speaks a practising writer not a literary pedant.

Lecture VII: The Value of Greek and Latin in English Literature

The lecture The Value of Greek and Latin in English Literature was delivered on Wednesday, February 6, 1918, shortly before the commencement of the German spring offensive, which the Germans hoped would win the war before the arrival of the Americans. The second section refers back to the 'Business Government' called for by the press fourteen months before, the growing importance of economics as a subject for study and an all-pervasive materialism in society. This led Q to consider the danger of 'value' being interpreted in monetary and economic terms, not in the wider perspectives and proportions of the Arts. This is backed up with two quotations. The first refers to Sophocles ' Who saw life steadily, and saw it whole' and the second coming from the Cambridge Essays on Education by Dean Inge: 'The wise man is he who knows the relative value of things'.

The great gift of the Classical writers is in balance and perspective. The Anglo-Saxons did not possess it, nor do the Prussians, who are having to learn the lesson through war. What was unique to Classical civilisation has been passed on to those who inherited it, in Newman's words, 'a common civilisation'. No doubt this explains the frequent references in Q's novels, short stories and other writings to Cornwall's ancient and continuing contact with the Mediterranean. Continuing with Newman he quotes:

 'Looking, then, at the countries which surround the Mediterranean Sea as a whole, I see them to be , from time immemorial, the seat of an association of intellect and mind such as deserves to be called the Intellect and Mind of the Human Kind.'

 This is then supported by reference to a book used later against T.S. Eliot's  After Strange Gods (1934) in the lecture Tradition and Orthodoxy, Newman's The Idea of a University (1852).

From Section VI Q uses numerous references to exemplify the dependence of English writers, starting with Chaucer, on Latin models, whether it is a speech by Chatham in Parliament, a sermon by John Donne in St Paul's or a standard poem. Behind Latin stands Greek, which in the words of Gibbon 'gave a soul to objects of sense, and a body to the abstractions of metaphysics.'

So from Constantinople and Rome, civilisation filtered through to Oxford and Cambridge, by-passing Anglo-Saxon, but informing English as it developed through Chaucer, Shakespeare and the Authorised Version of the Bible. Q informs us of his own introduction to Greek from a translation of Herodotus found at the end of an old grammar- book. This was probably a book originally belonging to his grandfather, Jonathan Couch of Polperro, who learned Latin from M. Arzell, an emigré priest living with Sir Harry Trelawney at Trelawne in Pelynt.

Q's lecture is a riposte to those who wished to see English in a Germanic context, and who might have won had the German spring offensive achieved victory, and to those who saw the sciences as the subjects of the future, with literature relegated to the status of entertainment. There are many who hold the second position today.

Lecture VIII: On Reading the Bible (I)

Q gave his lecture On Reading the Bible on Wednesday, March 6, 1918, with the country anxiously awaiting the German spring offensive and with the army having rescinded the right of leave. Behind the lecture stands a shadow finally addressed in Section VI. At the Reformation Martin Luther took his stance against the Catholic Church of the basis of the Bible, sola scriptura, subsequently producing a translation in vernacular German, with the translation having an importance to the German language equal to that of the King James translation to English. The Anglican church, to which Q belonged, also took its reformation on the basis of scripture, using the Tyndale translation. The Parliamentarians, at the English Civil War, argued that the Anglican Church was still not scriptural enough. This was the position of the 'House of Gleys' in Q's novel The Splendid Spur. Wesley also questioned the scriptural basis of the church.

When war was declared in August 1914, as Q acknowledges, the Hohenzollerns invoked a God of Battles from the Old Testament, as had the Parliamentarians, and as have others since. The music of Handel has this strain. Q faces the challenge in Section VI, as he faced instances of intolerance based on scripture in various novels and short stories, by employing the idea of development, an idea possibly obtained from Newman. Q argues that our understanding of the Bible, and of Christian theology, is in the process of development, with primitive and violent aspects being excised, and the rest refined on the basis of respectful discussion – an argument resurfacing in the lecture Tradition and Orthodoxy.

An interesting omission from the lectures on the Bible is any reference to the 'Higher Criticism' emanating from Germany, associated with the names of Reimarus, Von Harnack, Schleiermacher, Schweitzer, and more latterly Rudolf Bultmann. Nor does he mention those who reacted against it, as with Karl Barth. Yet maybe he does! Q opens with a quotation from Bacon: 'Read not to Contradict and Confute', which in many ways is what they did and were doing. Herbert Butterfield, Professor of Modern History at Cambridge, also substantially ignores 'Higher Criticism' in Christianity and History , published five years after Q's death. Butterfield in the chapter ‘Providence and Process’sees history as 'moral' because it is 'personal' and from the standpoint of morality 'the Old Testament was developing its interpretation' (1967, p. 146); which in the next chapter Butterfield sees as coming to fruition in 'the remarkable teaching about love in the New Testament' (ibid., p. 163). In his concluding chapter, Butterfield acknowledges the problem of 'politico-ecclesiastical history' and the 'conflicts of hostile national churches', as in the middle part of the twentieth century, which only time can heal. Butterfield produced his book from lectures given in 1948-9, while Q was lecturing at the height of conflict in March 1918.

Q opened his lecture emphasising the Bible as a fact of a nation's cultural life. It is not simply an appendage to a nation's science or technology. The Authorised Version of the Bible lies at the heart of this country's literature, a product of it and an influence upon it. The Bible is a translation, adapted to the lexis, grammar and cadence of English speech. It has subsequently moulded the thoughts and emotions of generations, particularly when it was regularly read in the home. Quoting from Newman on the A.V:

'So tyrannous is the literature of a nation; it is too much for us. We cannot destroy or reverse it... We cannot make it over again. It is a great work of man, when it is no work of   God's....We cannot undo the past. English Literature will ever have been Protestant.'

Joseph Ratzinger, Pope Benedict, appears to have come to a similar conclusion in having the scriptural references in his Jesus of Nazareth taken from the Revised Standard Version (1952).

Q warns us that the beautiful language of  the Authorised version does not necessarily reflect the original writings. Much of the New Testament was not well written, which presented a problem for the Early Church in getting its scriptures taken seriously by those reared on Classical texts. A complete English translation was not available until the time of William Tyndale (d. 1536), although translation work had been done at Oxford by John Wycliffe and John Trevisa, a Cornish speaker from an old and distinguished St Mellion family. Jesus spoke in Aramaic, a dialect of Hebrew, which gave rise to Syriac, the liturgical language of many Eastern Churches. A large body of literature is derived from it. Hebrew was the language of the Old Testament. The gospels were written in first century Greek, a colloquial form now dead. The Greek letters of Paul are, in the words of Tom Wright from the preface of The New Testament for Everyone, a combination of 'poetic brilliance' and the sort of 'animated discussion' typical 'after a lecture in a crowded room' (2018 , p. xvi). Other Letters are very poorly written.

The process of capturing the flavour of the original has been taken further by David Bentley Hart in The New Testament, reviewed in the Times Literary Supplement, March 30, 2018 by Lucy Beckett. Hart's  intention is to 'make the original text visible through as thin a layer of translation as I can contrive to superimpose upon it'. He sees the Gospel of Luke and its extension in Acts, along with Hebrews, as examples of good Greek, while the Greek of Revelation is 'unremittingly atrocious'. Q is correct, therefore, in seeing the Bible as in part a literary product and of worthy study in a course of English Literature.

Q laments, in Section V, the decline of Bible reading in the home, which in part he blames on the otherwise constructive Education Act of 1870. The decline in Bible reading has led to a theological decline, resulting in a loss of religious vocabulary and religious sincerity. It also makes the national literature, based in one way or another on the Bible, less accessible to each succeeding generation.

Q advocated reading the Bible through so as to obtain the historical sense, the developing idea of God. Arrested development, as with the Hohenzollerns, shows a loss of the historical sense, the consequences of which can be serious. The historical sense enables the prophets to be seen and understood in the light of history, thus making meaningful what otherwise appears almost meaningless. At the conclusion of the lecture Q poses the problem of bringing the Bible into the English Tripos, a sacred text into a secular milieu.

It is easy for a contemporary reader, the product of a secular society, dominated by a transitory media, to see Q's lectures on the Bible as tangential to the central issues of the time. Nothing could be further from the truth. In Section three of Chapter LXXIX 'How The British Public Faced Defeat', the War Memoirs of David Lloyd George says:

'A prominent American who visited this country a few days after the news of the march disaster was astonished at the general composure with which it was received by the British Public'. Lloyd George then relates his attendance at a service at a Scottish church where the text was 'Gad, a troop shall overcome him; but he shall overcome at last'. 'That passage from Holy Writ represented faithfully the temper in which the nation met defeat'. It was in that temper that H.A.L. Fisher secured the second reading of his Education Bill on March 13, and with which the House of Commons continued to discuss it against a background of 'defeat and confusion' when 'the apprehension of utter disaster caused deep anxiety'; until its third reading '... on August 8th - Germany's “black day” - the measure secured the Royal Assent'.

(1938, p.1773; pp. 1992-3).

Q and Lloyd George knew, as secular historians do not, the importance of the Bible to ultimate British victory and the triumph of democracy.

Lecture IX: On Reading the Bible (II) 

Lecture IX was delivered on Wednesday, April 24, 1918. Bevil Quiller-Couch had first been involved in the Battle of St Quentin as the Germans attacked along the Somme and had then moved north as the attack extended in that direction. On April 10 the Americans had entered the fray, while on April 21 Baron von Richthofen was killed in air combat. On April 22 the Germans took Messines Ridge and began an attack on Mount Kemmel to the south of Ypres. From April 19 to 25 German Artillery bombarded Armentières, with the Bavarians of General von Eberhardt making the assault at 6.45 on April 25, only for it to be halted on April 29. Bevil awaited the next German offensive further south at Bapaume. Q must have daily awaited the dreaded telegram., one falling onto the doormat of many homes 'missing presumed dead'. The Bible must have been a profound help to him at this time. There can be little doubt that behind these lectures stands Q's own daily reading from scripture.

Lecture IX confronts the question of why there are problems having the Bible accepted for literary study in universities and included in the English Tripos. Section II outlines the importance of the Authorised Version, along with Shakespeare, to the English language and its literature. Homer was similarly important to the Greeks, and seen as inspired in its day. Yet the inspiration of the Bible appeared to make literary study taboo. Unfortunately, the idea of inspiration has tended to make Bible reading heavy and formal, with invidious consequences. This is particularly unfortunate in that the poetic parts of scripture translate well from Hebrew to English. Q quotes from Matthew Arnold:

 'The effect of Hebrew poetry can be preserved and transferred … Isaiah's … is a poetry ...of parallelism; it depends not on metre and rhyme, but on a balance of thought, conveyed by a corresponding balance of sentence; and the effect of this can be transferred to another language...'

Q blames the Geneva Bible of 1557 for cluttering the page with irrelevancies, turning a continuous text into chapters and verses, with numerals, columns and cross-references, a pedant's heaven and a reader's quagmire. In addition, it was appointed by authority to be read on Sundays. Q's answer is to return as far as possible to the original text, to put the books in a more correct order and to put poetry into verse. Q endeavours to show how this can be done by taking the 107th Psalm. Maybe Q chose this psalm to show how relevant such pieces still were.

'Then they cried unto the Lord in their trouble,
And he delivered them out of their distresses.'

Lecture X: On Reading the Bible (III)

Lecture X, On Reading the Bible, was delivered at Cambridge on Monday, May 6, 1918. Q centres the lecture on the 'Book of Job' as a literary classic and as a clearly structured poem, needing none of the techniques of English poetry such as rhyme. It stands as a great poem on its own merits from a free translation. This is followed by a lengthy discussion of the merits of rhyme. Q then goes on to discuss the poem as drama, and drama which centres on the perennial subject of human suffering, a suffering which is vicarious and undeserved. Its answer, the only one possible, is 'I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth thee. Wherefore I abhor myself and repent in dust and ashes.' Q was aware that neither science nor technology, nor economics nor literature, is capable of giving such an answer.

Whatever reason Q believed he was giving for concentrating on the 'Book of Job', the contemporary reader can see the military and political context which must have influenced him. He was looking for a answer to the problems of his audience. The popularity of Q's lectures, one might say singular popularity, resulted from their relevance. To appreciate this, the context has to be reconstructed.

Lecture XI: Of Selection

Lecture XI was given on Wednesday, October 23, 1918. It reflects in many respects the military, political and educational situation in Britain and Europe. This situation had changed dramatically from May 16, when he gave Lecture X. At the time the autocracies were in the ascendant, with the democracies in danger of defeat. On July 20, Ludendorf was ready to launch 'Hagen', his final and overwhelming offensive, when suddenly news came through of the crumbling of his southern flank. Ordering a retreat, which continued until the autumn, he came to see a negotiated settlement as the only solution.

The liberal Prince Max of Baden was appointed Chancellor, with the Social Democrats invited into government. On October 4, the German government made known to President Wilson their acceptance of his 'Fourteen Points' as the basis of an armistice. On the day of Q's lecture, President Wilson agreed, believing democracy had finally triumphed and a just settlement was possible. The Hapsburg and Ottoman Empires collapsed. Germany appeared about to follow Russia into red revolution. The armistice came into effect on November 11. The Europe which had resulted from the Napoleonic War had all but ceased, long after Byron and Shelley had railed against it, and on very different terms.

Thanks to the educational reforms of H.A.L. Fisher which received the royal assent on August 8, Britain was slowly adjusting to a new age of education, but too late to inform the extension in voting rights or the demobilisation of unskilled and semi-literate servicemen. Yet Lloyd George was correct in claiming in his War Memoirs (1938) that educational provision 'from the age of 2 to 18' was being 'revolutionised' with the foundations laid for 'further development'. He fails to say that he was a leading opponent of the Balfour educational reforms of 1902. Q had supported the Balfour Reforms, and as a Cambridge professor and a member of the Cornwall Education Committee was keen to support and influence Fisher. He was also keen to influence a Royal Commission, chaired by H.H. Asquith, whose purpose was to propose reforms of the universities of Oxford and Cambridge.

Q opened the eleventh lecture with a reference to the opening of the second on November 15, 1916, the burning of  the Library of Alexandria, surely a symbol for the destruction of Europe in the war. Culture, however, can be oral as well as written and capable of rejuvenation in the face of physical destruction. Nor is culture determined by social class. In the eighteenth century, men endeavoured to place boundaries of taste in an attempt to exclude Medieval writings, oral traditions and, to an extent, God. Exclusivity was applied after the Napoleonic War to Romantic poets such as Shelley and Byron who called for freedom and democracy (as it is today to what is not politically correct). Q calls for inclusivity not exclusivity. He supports this call from the writings of John Ruskin: '...a liberal education ...the humblest child may claim it by indefeasible right, having a soul!' It is a question of selection and distribution, the second being free and the first related to education. Ruskin goes on: 'I believe that Humanism is, or should be, no decorative appanage, purchased late in the process of education, within the means of a few; but a quality, rather, which should, and can, condition all teaching, from a child's first lesson in Reading:.. in an Elementary School.'

Q was not afraid to place these ideas before his Cambridge audience, many of whom were there because of privilege. Yet he disclaims any tendency to Bolshevism, a necessary disclaimer with Bolshevism rampant on the continent and even making inroads into Britain, as the next election would show.

Q then states his belief in literature as standing at the centre of a liberal education, with the centre of literature being the classics, whose number is limited and whose quality is generally accepted. The question is not identification but use. Furthermore, a properly literate child will be able to discriminate between first and second-rate literature. Even before a university audience, Q is emphasising the central importance of elementary education. No doubt he made the same point to H.A.L. Fisher. They could well be made to our present politicians who see education as a marketable commodity for a market place education system.

Lecture XII: On the Use of Masterpieces

The final lecture in the series On the Art of Reading was delivered at Cambridge on Wednesday, November 6, 1918, five days before the ending of hostilities. It contains some of Q's most pungent political and educational observations.

The Austro-Hungarian High Command had signed an armistice on November 3, throwing open the German southern flank. The naval port of Kiel was in open mutiny, with revolution expected across the country. The Supreme Soviet repudiated the Brest-Litovsk Treaty in expectation of revolution throughout Europe. On the day of Q's lecture, Erzberger, head of German Armistice Commission, crossed  the lines to Rethondes to hear the Allied terms, driven by fear of a Bolshevik takeover.

On November 14, eight days after the lecture, Bonar Law, Leader of the House, announced a General Election. November 22 saw a joint Lloyd-George – Bonar Law Election Manifesto, with Christabel Pankhurst declaring herself a Coalition candidate. The moral tone quickly deteriorated, as Frank Owen states in Tempestuous Journey, with ever more frequent calls for revenge (1954, p. 501). When the votes were counted on December 28, the result was 'the near annihilation of the Asquithian Liberals (33 M.P.s); thus sounded the death-rattle of the Liberal Party.' (ibid., p.504). The official opposition was now a left-wing Labour Party.

In Section I, Q defines a classic as one having a permanent and universal appeal. The question is how such a book is to be used. Firstly, Q sees great literature as at the centre of a liberal education. Secondly, it morally improves the reader. He contrasts this with the deleterious behaviour he witnessed in London with the approach of peace. Q sets this behaviour against the letters, sometimes almost indecipherable, from the wives and widows of dead servicemen, many almost certainly of the men he had helped recruit in the idealistic days of 1914. The statement is a rare glimpse into Q's emotional life and a glimpse only.

Q goes on to relate how great literature communicates even if not fully understood, and even by those not old enough to fully understand. It is, therefore, not necessary to talk-down. Q follows this with a quip that Shakespeare would not have passed a civil service examination on one of his own plays – presumably because it tested imposed information. The classics appeal directly to the imagination, not to the information of the pedant. In Section V, Q argues for the Humanities to be at the centre of a liberal education – not science, technology or economics! Democracy depends upon it. The future of Europe, with Britain one of the least devastated countries depends on democracy, liberal education and great literature. Classical civilisation had been founded on the works of the fifth century BC from a society surrounding Athens. The rejuvenation of Europe following the Dark Ages had been the product of its rediscovery. The moral is clear, there had to be rejuvenation following another dark period of German and Turkish barbarism.

In Section VII, Q laments that the extension of the franchise for the coming election had not been educationally prepared for; Britain made the same mistake in de-colonisation. As a result the election involved profound risk. The Fisher reforms should have happened long before; yet even the Balfour Education Act of 1902 had been passed in the teeth of Liberal opposition , with Lloyd George as a leading antagonist. Democracy is dependent upon a liberal educational provision for all the electorate, with literature at its heart. The failure of politicians to read European literature led them to fail to grasp the nature of European thought and hence facilitated European conflict. There had also been a failure to export British literature to the continent. This would have encouraged a liberal education system and liberal democracy. His ire is directed at the whole political-media establishment.

Section VIII eulogises the writer of a third century work known as Longinus on the Sublime, a curious choice some might think with Europe in turmoil and Britain littered with grieving homes. The Longinus in question is thought to have been a philosopher at the court of Queen Zenobia, the ruler of Palmyra following the death of King Odaenathus in AD 267. Odaenathus had ruled an independent and expanding state at a time when the Roman Empire appeared to be disintegrating, much as was Europe in 1918. In 267, the Heruli sacked Athens, an attack from which it never properly recovered, while a Gallic empire established itself under Postumus. In 273, Palmyra was reincorporated into the Empire, with Zenobia rehoused in Rome. Gaul followed in 274. Possibly, Longinus accompanied Zenobia to Rome.

For obscure reasons Q had Zenobia as Queen of Carthage in the novel of 1907, Major Vigoureux. The introduction to the Duchy Edition of 1928 claims the plot as universal, with a setting as possible in the Ionian Sea as on the Scilly Isles, the geographical setting. Carthage was originally a Phoenician colony, the Phoenicians being the Philistines of the O.T. Q's belief that the Phoenicians and Greeks came to Cornwall to trade for tin is now generally accepted.

The plot is supposedly based on a myth preserved in the words of a Scilly folk song, about Queen Zenobia sailing on a tin-trading mission to Lyonesse on the occasion when the land was overwhelmed by the sea. The arrival of Vashti Cara (cara being the Cornish verb to love) on board the   SS Milo is presented as a re-enactment of the former event. The effect of Vashti Cara's presence on the islands is to bring order and harmony to a fractured society.

The theme of order and harmony out of cultural disorder and destruction is the one developed in Lecture II of On the Art of Reading. The order and harmony of the universe reflects and is reflected in the human soul, thus making rational knowledge possible. A universe governed by chance, randomness and conflict belies the possibility of rational knowledge, resulting in the soul in a dislocation of thoughts, feelings and  actions – schizophrenia! As the universe is sublime, sublimity stands at the centre of a healthy soul. Longinus on the Sublime is therefore a work of great importance, especially at a time of social breakdown. Q argues that although man cannot comprehend the universe, no matter how much scientific information he gathers, he can apprehend it, as the great writings of the past show. Q follows this with a quotation which challenges the growing materialism of  his age:

'That all spirit is mutually attractive, as all matter is mutually attractive, is an ultimate fact beyond which we cannot go...'

 The quotation is given in Section XI of Lecture I, Section IV of Lecture II and Section II of  Lecture XII. The materialist sees only part of reality, the inferior part. Yet it was the part increasingly dominating the Cambridge of Q's day. It is perhaps exemplified in the Cambridge academic J.B.S. Haldane (1892-1964), whose scientific vision combined mathematical biology, genetics and Marxism.

Between  AD 40 and 50 , some of the writers Q discusses in On Reading the Bible, namely John Mark, the probable writer of Mark's gospel, Luke, the writer of a gospel and Acts, and St Paul, the  number of whose letters is disputed, met in various places such as Antioch and Jerusalem. As Christianity spread outwards from the Jerusalem church, it encountered all the power and authority of classical writings. When Paul stood up in the court of the Areopagus in Athens in late AD 50 or early AD 51 (Acts 17: 22-31), he was addressing the descendants of those who in 399 BC had tried and condemned Socrates. Before Paul sat Epicureans, Stoics and members of the Academy, the school of Plato. Paul would have been well versed in the various Greek philosophical schools, as his defence subtly shows. The Epicureans, whose descendants are modern secularists, saw the gods as irrelevant or nonexistent. In his account of the 'trial' in Paul. A Biography, T. Wright calls the Stoics 'Pantheists', seeing God and the world as a harmony with a 'logos' existing in everything (2018, pp. 193-207). A distinguished Stoic, one Q highly regarded, was Marcus Aurelius. The Platonists saw the material order as inferior to the spiritual, with the soul or logos longing to return to the One from which it came.

Q was profoundly read in classical writings, in 1887 he had lectured on Virgil and Aristophanes at Oxford, more so than in Christian theology. Q's friend and biographer F. Brittain says that although Q was a 'loyal Anglican', he was 'deficient in theological equipment and … in knowledge of church history'. (Brittain, p. 94-5). The synthesis Q made of classical thought and Anglicanism was his own. Although he must have been aware of the early theological school at Alexandria, associated with the names of Clement and Origen, which produced a synthesis or syntheses influenced by Neoplatonism, Q shows little awareness of it. Beliefs in a personal God and the goodness of creation he took from the Bible, but the idea of the soul longing to return to a Universal Harmony smacks of Greek thought.


Only the last lecture of On the Art of Reading was delivered in the expectation of final victory and a return to relative peace. The previous eleven reveal Q's faith, often in the face of a military disaster, in the superiority of liberal democracy, supported by a liberal education system, over autocracy and militarism. However, Lecture V, delivered on May 9, 1917, can now be seen as occurring at the turning point of the conflict. On April 6, 1917, for good or ill, the U.S.A. declared war on the Central Powers. J.F.C. Fuller, in The Decisive Battles of the Western World, saw it as 'the most fateful day in European history since Varus lost his legions because it negated the possibility of a negotiated settlement'. Maybe the fall of the Asquith coalition and the formation of the Lloyd George coalition in December 1916 had already negated it. Fuller quotes President Wilson's fear of 'war standards', with its 'spirit of ruthless brutality', succeeding 'peace standards'. Fuller then quotes from a statement by Winston Churchill, himself part American, to the editor of the New York 'Enquirer' in August 1936, where he argues that if the Americans had remained neutral, a peace settlement would have been effected in the spring of 1917, and 'all these “isms” wouldn't today be sweeping the continent of Europe and breaking down parliamentary government.' (Fuller, 1981, p. 358-9).

 No-one was more aware of Britain's moral decline during the war, nor was more aware of the dangers of 'isms' after it than Q. In his lectures on Byron and Shelley, he had attacked Britain's moral decline during the Napoleonic War and the repressive measures of the governments which followed it. The conflicts of the Regency period, he continued, spawned conflict driven theories in the Victorian Age, which in their turn helped pave the way to war in 1914.

On the Art of Reading argues that European reconstruction depends upon the spread of liberal democracy supported by liberal education. Q believed liberal education to be based on the study of European literature, in its broadest sense, a literature rooted in classical civilisation and the ideals of Greek democracy. Other disciplines could at best provide only partial views of reality. The explosion of scientific knowledge, for instance, was resulting in a myriad of scientific disciplines, often incomprehensible to each other. The great literary works give a coherent picture of a harmonious universe that reflects and is reflected in human consciousness, thus making rational knowledge possible and education by reason, exploration and experiment desirable. The antithesis to this, a universe of chance, randomness and conflict, makes rational knowledge impossible, and irrationality, tyranny and war inevitable. (The antithesis would also be an education system based on competition, exam-cram and league tables as we have today, with the inevitable result of semi-literacy and an epidemic of mental illness in school children.) Never has a nation been more in need of Q's message.  


Bibliography: A Lecture on the Art of Reading

Castle Dor.

Quiller-Couch, A. and du Maurier, D.
Castle Dor.

Jesus of Nazareth.

Ratzinger, R. (Pope Benedict XVI)
Jesus of Nazareth.
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