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Post-Prandial Philosophy   By: (1848-1899)

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POST PRANDIAL PHILOSOPHY

By GRANT ALLEN

AUTHOR OF "THE EVOLUTIONIST AT LARGE," ETC.

LONDON: CHATTO & WINDUS 1894

PREFACE

These Essays appeared originally in The Westminster Gazette , and have only been so far modified here as is necessary for purposes of volume publication. They aim at being suggestive rather than exhaustive: I shall be satisfied if I have provoked thought without following out each train to a logical conclusion. Most of the Essays are just what they pretend to be crystallisations into writing of ideas suggested in familiar conversation.

G. A.

Hind Head, March 1894.

CONTENTS

PAGE

I. THE STRUGGLE FOR LIFE AMONG LANGUAGES 1

II. IN THE MATTER OF ARISTOCRACY 9

III. SCIENCE IN EDUCATION 18

IV. THE THEORY OF SCAPEGOATS 27

V. AMERICAN DUCHESSES 35

VI. IS ENGLAND PLAYED OUT? 44

VII. THE GAME AND THE RULES 53

VIII. THE RÔLE OF PROPHET 61

IX. THE ROMANCE OF THE CLASH OF RACES 70

X. THE MONOPOLIST INSTINCTS 79

XI. "MERE AMATEURS" 87

XII. A SQUALID VILLAGE 95

XIII. CONCERNING ZEITGEIST 104

XIV. THE DECLINE OF MARRIAGE 112

XV. EYE versus EAR 122

XVI. THE POLITICAL PUPA 130

XVII. ON THE CASINO TERRACE 138

XVIII. THE CELTIC FRINGE 147

XIX. IMAGINATION AND RADICALS 156

XX. ABOUT ABROAD 165

XXI. WHY ENGLAND IS BEAUTIFUL 173

XXII. ANENT ART PRODUCTION 182

XXIII. A GLIMPSE INTO UTOPIA 190

XXIV. OF SECOND CHAMBERS 199

XXV. A POINT OF CRITICISM 207

POST PRANDIAL PHILOSOPHY

I.

THE STRUGGLE FOR LIFE AMONG LANGUAGES.

A distinguished Positivist friend of mine, who is in most matters a practical man of the world, astonished me greatly the other day at Venice, by the grave remark that Italian was destined to be the language of the future. I found on inquiry he had inherited the notion direct from Auguste Comte, who justified it on the purely sentimental and unpractical ground that the tongue of Dante had never yet been associated with any great national defeat or disgrace. The idea surprised me not a little; because it displays such a profound misconception of what language is, and why people use it. The speech of the world will not be decided on mere grounds of sentiment: the tongue that survives will not survive because it is so admirably adapted for the manufacture of rhymes or epigrams. Stern need compels. Frenchmen and Germans, in congress assembled, and looking about them for a means of intercommunication, might indeed agree to accept Italian then and there as an international compromise. But congresses don't make or unmake the habits of everyday life; and the growth or spread of a language is a thing as much beyond our deliberate human control as the rise or fall of the barometer.

My friend's remark, however, set me thinking and watching what are really the languages now gaining and spreading over the civilised world; it set me speculating what will be the outcome of this gain and spread in another half century. And the results are these: Vastly the most growing and absorbing of all languages at the present moment is the English, which is almost everywhere swallowing up the overflow of German, Scandinavian, Dutch, and Russian. Next to it, probably, in point of vitality, comes Spanish, which is swallowing up the overflow of French, Italian, and the other Latin races. Third, perhaps, ranks Russian, destined to become in time the spoken tongue of a vast tract in Northern and Central Asia... Continue reading book >>




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