Month: March 2014

The Nineteenth-Century Decline of Religious Orthodoxy

During the nineteenth century, scholarly clergymen like Leslie Stephen (1832-1904), J.R. Green (1837-1883), and J.E. Thorold Rogers (1823-1890) “felt it their duty of conscience to resign their orders.” Doubt and unbelief in the nineteenth century, it has been said, brought on by the concept of evolution and the “higher criticism” in biblical scholarship, led to such abdications of clerical duties. The revolt against evangelical or Catholic orthodoxy, however, was largely against the apparent immorality and inhumanity of certain doctrines within Christianity (e.g. “divine favoritism,” “substitutionary atonement,” “everlasting torment in hell,” etc.). The impression that Darwin’s evolutionism cannot be reconciled with Genesis, or that German scholars had shown that neither the Old nor the New Testament are reliable, and thereby leading to the abandonment of Christianity, is an altogether false impression. “Contemporary developments in geology, biology, and Biblical scholarship provided indispensable ammunition,” to be sure, “but they did not generate the attack.” According to H.R. Murphy, in his “The Ethical Revolt Against Christian Orthodoxy in Early Victorian England” (1955),  “the attack was generated by a sensed incongruity between a vigorous and hopeful meliorism and the doctrinal legacy of the Christian tradition.”

Murphy goes on to show that it was on these grounds, and not on account of natural science or biblical criticism, that Francis William Newmen (1805-1897), James Anthony Froude (1818-1894), and George Eliot (1819-1880) abandoned Christian orthodoxy.

This is not to say that the new science caused no stir among Victorians. The publications of Charles Lyell’s Principles of Geology (1830-1833) and Robert Chambers’ Vestiges of the Natural History of Creation (1844) caused a sensation, decades before Darwin’s Origin of Species (1859). When Darwin did finally publish his great work, Samuel Wilberforce (1805-1873) publicly attacked him in the Quarterly Review. Yet there was some Christian believers, both scientists and theologians, who were not at all alarmed by Darwin, and some even came to his defense. The eminent American botanist, Asa Gray (1810-1888), for instance, saw no conflict between the theory of evolution and orthodox Christianity. Richard William Church (1815-1890), Dean of St Paul’s Cathedral in London, claimed that the theory was compatible with a “higher and spiritual order.” Even F.J.A. Hort (1828-1892) and B.F. Westcott (1825-1901), who, working in cooperation, published a revised text critical edition of The New Testament in the Original Greek in 1881, found Darwin’s Origin a “treat to read.”

Wanting the draw secularists back into the church, sermons were even preached in favor of the new science. Stewart D. Headlam (1847-1924), for example, preached a sermon in 1879 declaring:

Thank God that the scientific men have…shattered the idol of an infallible book, broken the fetters of a supposed divine code of rules; for so they have helped to reveal Jesus Christ in his majesty…[who] is the wisdom in Lyell or in Darwin…[Evolution ultimately] gives us far grander notions of God to think of him making the world by his Spirit through the ages, than to think of him making it in a few days.”

There were many others who preached in favor of Darwin and the new science. It suffices to say that accommodating science was one possible response. The other impression, that biblical criticism shattered Victorian belief in Christianity, is also overstated. But there is indeed more truth in this impression than the other. The publication of Essays and Reviews in 1860 by publisher John William Parker (1792-1870) caused much turmoil. The Essays and Reviews was a collection of seven essays by seven “broad churchmen,” H.B. Wilson (1803-1888), Benjamin Jowett (1817-1893), Frederick Temple (1821-1902), Rowland Williams (1817-1870), Baden Powell (1796-1860), C.W. Goodwin (1817-1878), and Mark Pattison (1813-1884). The essays were an attempt to adapt the Church of England to the critical and historical study of the biblical text pioneered by German thinkers some fifty years earlier. The essays were relentlessly attacked—and for disparate reasons—in the press. Deposed High Anglican Frederic Harrison (1831-1923), for example, writing in the Westminster Review in October of 1860, decried against the essayists, saying “you have no business to adopt this reasonable view of the Bible and to remain in the Church.” Wilberforce, again in the Quarterly Review, argued that the essayists presented a “scarcely veiled atheism.” A more moderate position came from English churchmen A.P. Stanley (1815-1881) in the Edinburgh Review, arguing that the church would benefit from such critical insights, endorsing the remark made by Jowett that “doubt comes in at the window when inquiry is denied at the door.” But perhaps the best response came from Henry Sidgwick (1838-1900), in a letter to The Times newspaper in 1861:

What we all want is, briefly, not a condemnation, but a refutation. The age when ecclesiastical censures were sufficient in such cases has passed away. A large portion of the laity now, though unqualified for abstruse theological investigations, are yet competent to hear and decide on theological arguments. These men will not be satisfied by en ex cathedra shelving of the question, nor terrified by a deduction of awful consequences from the new speculations. For philosophy and history alike have taught them to seek not what is ‘safe’, but what is true.

That refutation came through the writings of Westcott, Hort, and, especially, Joseph Lightfoot (1828-1889). When the Essays and Reviews appeared, Westcott wrote to Hort that “it is needful to show that there is a mean between Essays and Reviews and Traditionalism.” Westcott agreed that the Bible should be studied and interpreted like other books, but he also wanted to pay the greatest attention to “every detail, every syllable of the text,” and “all the resources of scholarship must be employed and focused upon each sentence, each clause, each word.” Lightfoot’s commentaries on various New Testament books, furthermore, undermined the Tübingen school of biblical scholarship. A severely critical and historical study did not lead to the same conclusions of German critics.

This leads us back to Murphy’s argument, that the decline of faith was not due to any skepticism raised by evolutionary theory or biblical criticism, but rather Christianity’s failure to reach the poor in the inhumanity of the industrialized age.

Narrative and History: Hayden White’s Philosophy of History

Hayden WhiteHistorians of the late nineteenth century were quick to disassociate their discipline from literature, arguing that historical writing was like scientific analysis. History does not have “aesthetic forms”—it was not a “narrative.” History was a science.

But by late twentieth century, theorists and historians were beginning to emphasize—or perhaps re-emphasize—the links between history, narrative, and rhetoric. This was the “revival of narrative.” These theorists claimed that narrative served to “impose coherence, continuity, and closure on the messiness of life and of the historian’s sources,” as Elizabeth Clark put it in her History, Theory, Text: Historians and the Linguistic Turn (2004). Most prominent of these revivalists were Arthur Danto, Louis O. Mink, Paul Ricoeur, Paul Veyne, Lawrence Stone, Carlo Ginzburg, Roland Barthes, and Hayden White. Danto, for example, in his Analytical Philosophy of History (1965) argued that “history tells stories.” The historian may not reproduce the past, but they clearly “organize it through stories that provide historical significance for events; the scattered bits of ‘history-as-record’ become evidence when they are supplied with a narrative.” Likewise Ricoeur argued that history has a narrative character, and that it would be meaningless “if there were no connection to the basic human ability to follow a story.” Stone’s essay, “The Revival of Narrative: Reflections on a New Old History” (1979), was even more explicit. The growing interest in narrative, according to Stone, “signaled the rejection of the attempt to find scientific explanations for historical change, and of deterministic models of explanation that failed to ask the larger ‘why’ questions.” And Barthes “challenged historians to admit that narrative history did not substantially differ from the ‘imaginary narration’ of the novel or drama.” Historical discourse, moreover, is a “form of ideological elaboration insofar as it is the historian who organizes language to fill out an otherwise absent meaning.”

Hayden White’s Metahistory (1973) continued to challenge the “view that history operates in a manifestly different mode from literature.” Focusing on the historical work of Michelet, Ranke, Tocqueville, and Burckhardt, and in relation to Hegel, Marx, Nietzsche, and Croce, White “posited that their work culminated in an “Ironic’ historiography, characterized by ‘skepticism in thought and relativism in ethics.'” The histories of these men, says White, are characterized by four modes of linguistic prefiguration (Metaphor, Metonymy, Synecdoche, and Irony), four theories of truth (Formism, Mechanism, Organicism, Contextualism), four archetypal plot structures (Romance, Tragedy, Comedy, Satire), and finally four ideologies (Anarchism, Radicalism, Conservatism, and Liberalism).

The most important point here is that White claimed that “the differences in historians’ conclusions when working with the same data…can be attributed to the different ways in which they prefigure the historical field; these differing prefigurations entail metahistorical presuppositions and varying ‘strategies of explanation, emplotment, and ideological implication.'” These “tropes distinguished whole modes of historical thought.”

The theory of tropes [writes White] provides a way of characterizing the dominant modes of historical thinking which took shape in Europe in the nineteenth century…For each of the modes can be regarded as a phase, or moment, within a tradition of discourse which evolves from Metaphorical, through Metonymical and Synecdochic comprehension of the historical world, into an Ironic apprehension of the irreducible relativism of all knowledge.

Or as Clark summarizes, “every work of history has embedded within itself a metahistory insofar as the author has already chosen, well before the so-called writing stage, the tropological mode in which the book is to be composed.” Later, in a interview with Ewa Domanska in 1993, published in his book, Encounters: Philosophy of History after Postmodernism (1998), when asked if Metahistory was a kind of rebellion against positivism, White replied:

Yes, that is right, exactly, it is against positivism, against a positivistic notion of history. The discipline of history is systematically antitheoretical. Historians think of themselves as being empirical, and they are, but they are not philosophically empirical. They are empirical in a commonsense way—in an ordinary, everyday why.

In other words, its central aim was “to deconstruct a mythology, the so-called science of history.” After Metahistory, White would continue to explore the rhetoric of historical writing. In later writings White would insist that narrative is not neutral. Rather, it “entails ontological and epistemic choices with distinct ideological and even specifically political implications.” Narrative is thus “inextricably bound to issues of authority.” It is no wonder, as Clark puts it, “that dominant social groups have always wished to control their culture’s authoritative myths and have championed the notion that social reality can be both lived and understood as a story.”

The Cambridge Companion to the Victorians

The Cambridge Companion to English Literature, 1740-1830, edited by Thomas Keymer and Jon Mee, The Cambridge Companion to English Literature, 1830-1914, edited by Joanne Shattock, and The Cambridge Companion to Victorian Culture (2010), edited by Francis O’Gorman is yet another useful collection of smart, lucid, and engaging essays by British Victorianists.

The Cambridge Companion to English Literature, 1740-1830, edited by Thomas Keymer and Jon MeeKeymer and Mee’s volume covers, in two parts, the context and modes, the writers and their circles of correspondence, and other traditions of English literature from 1740-1830. In part one we are introduced to readers, writers, reviewers and the professionalization of literature (Barbara M. Benedict); to criticism, taste, and aesthetics (Simon Jarvis); to literature and politics (Michael Scrivener); to national identities and empire (Saree Makdisi); to sensibility (Susan Manning); to English theatrical culture (Gillian Russell); and to the Gothic (James Watt). Part two focuses on different writers and their works, such as Richardson, Henry Fielding, and Sarah Fielding (Pater Sabor); Johnson, Boswell, and their circle (Murray Pittcock); Sterne and Romantic autobiography (Thomas Keymer); Blake and the poetics of enthusiasm (Jon Mee); Barbauld, Robinson, and Smith (Judith Pascoe); Wordsworth and Coleridge (Paul Magnuson); the invention of the modern novel (Kathryn Sutherland); Keats, Shelley, Byron, and the Hunt circle (Greg Kucich) and John Clare and the traditions of labouring-class verse (John Goodridge and Bridget Keegan).

Shattock’s volume offers “fresh perspectives on a literary period bounded at one end by the Romantic movement and by Modernism at the other.” The volume begins with a consideration of the status of authorship and the gradual professionalization of writing from the 1830s (Josephine Guy), then turns to the reader and the consumption of literature (Mary Hammond). The following essay emphasizes the variety of “life writing” in the period 1830-1914 (Alison Booth). As Shattocks notes in her introduction, “biography as we know it was largely the creation of Victorian biographers.” The growth of nineteenth-century periodicals are linked with the “increased opportunities offered to women writers” (Susan Hamilton). Another essay reminds us that “‘the past as we know it was largely created by the Victorians,’ that historical terms and concepts and the idea of periodicity were invented in the nineteenth century” (Hilary Fraser). There follows an essay on “radical writing,” covering the literature against the Poor Laws of the 1830s, the impact of Chartism, and the emergence of the Socialist movement in the 1880s (Sally Ledger). An essay on “popular culture” looks at the ways artists, critics, and audiences responded to a “fractured and contentious” Victorian national culture (Katherine Newey).

The Cambridge Companion to English Literature, 1830-1914, edited by Joanne ShattockIn another section, one author writes about the “new cultural and political importance which science acquired during the nineteenth century” (Gowan Dawon). Another focuses on the ways in which medical discourse “influenced the work of novelists and also poets, in their attempts to render legible the inner, emotional life” (Jenny Bourne Taylor). The growing acceptance of gradual evolutionary processes, moreover, led to an increasing fascination with the “other,” particularly in terms of religion, and is widely displayed in the religious diversity of nineteenth-century novels (Andrew Sanders). A final essay in this section focuses on Victorian “visual culture,” the “creative cross-over” between literature and painting, and the “desire to be able to picture, and consequently observe, every detail of the physical environment” (John Plunkett).

The remaining essays in Shattock’s volume traces the concepts of empire and nation in Romantic and Victorian writing (Patrick Brantlinger), the interchange of literary texts and cultural models on both sides of the Atlantic (Bridget Bennett), and the ‘European exchanges,” particularly France and Italy, that challenged the “Anglocentric disciplinary formations” of Victorian literature (Alison Chapman). “Readers of the Companion,” Shattock concludes in her introduction, “will find fresh interpretations and perspectives on well-known authors and texts, together with an introduction to less familiar authors and writing in a range of genres, reflecting the constant revision and reconfiguration of the canon which has been, and continues to be, an ongoing process in nineteenth-century literary studies, and one which signals its intellectual health and vigour.”

As another reviewer has noted, many of the essays in Shattock’s volume complement the collection of essays in Gorman’s. In his introduction, Gorman considers various arguments in favor of and against the label “Victorian,” as well as the limits of “culture.” “The facts of the past,” he says, “have a habit of confounding intellectual speculation.” “It is as well to test the grandest theory against the humblest of facts,” he goes on, “to make some space for the sudden and strange and unpredicted; to remember that grave argument and deep thought are hardly the only motivations of human behavior; and that intellectually coherent analyses of the past are not guaranteed merely because they are intellectually coherent.” Gorman offers good advice for any historian:

We must not claim to know too much; we must retain some scepticism and readiness to change; be doubtful of what look like accepted terms that have not been thought about for a long time; in particular be doubtful about metonymy, about making single events or instances stand without qualification for larger wholes; be doubtful of coherence that persuades only because it is coherent; be wary of plausibility that resides only in rhetoric and not in the concepts and the rhetoric is struggling to describe.

The Cambridge Companion to Victorian Culture (2010), edited by Francis O'GormanTo this end, Gorman argues that his collection of essays assume that “‘Victorian’ is defined as a post hoc category, an idea that exists in the critical analysis of critics subsequent to its end.” It is a continually redefined label, by “critics examining different aspects of an exceptionally diverse set of possible knowledges.” The first essay aptly begins with the “age of scientific naturalists; the shift of authority in University education form the Anglican establishment to the men of science; the assertion of the experimental method; [and] the professionalization of science and its division into the disciplines and sub-disciplines that are still familiar today” (Bernard Lightman). There follows appropriately an essay technological innovations, particularly in the realm of communications technology (Nicholas Daly). Another essay discusses Victorian business and economics (Timothy Alborn). It is also worth remembering that “warfare…was an almost constant feature of Victorian life” (Edward S. Spiers). Just as prevalent was music, both public and private (Ruth A. Solie), and the theater (Katherine Newey). A related essay discusses how the notion of “popular culture” arose as a “realm of strategic contest through which the masses themselves were shaped in accord with middle-class interests and values.” But by the end of the century, “Victorians saw this edifying conception eroded not only by the acknowledged influences of the lower classes on English culture but also by the boom of consumerism” (Denis Denisoff).

Two essays on print culture focus on satire (John Strachan) and journalism (Mathew Rubery). Another considers the nature of Victorian painting (Elizabeth Prettejohn), and a subsequent essay examines the development of domestic crafts and arts, or, the “art of living” (Nicola Humble). An essay on “Victorian Literary Theory” concentrates on reviews and reviewers, and here we find such familiar names as Francis Jeffrey, George Henry Lewes, George Eliot, Matthew Arnold, and Walter Pater appear in both, but also the less familiar John Woolford, John Morley, Walter Bagehot, and Anthony Trollope. Gorman’s own essay “considers the retreating authority of Christian ideas of eternal life and resurrection, and examines how they were re-imagined and re-created in literary and visual texts and in ideas about how literary texts were, literally, readable” (Francis O’Gorman). A final chapter describes “our multiple appropriations of Victorian themes, images, texts, characters and material remains” (Samantha Matthews). “In the Victorians we find what we seek, and fabricate or ‘discover’ what we need.”

All three Companion volumes further illuminates the “varieties of the Victorian.” How one understands the Victorian derives from sustained research, and, as Gorman points out, research means “not only the tracking down of facts or sources in archives or online: it means reading and thinking.” “It may be that the best thing for a reader to do,” he concludes, “is to set this volume [and others] aside at once and turn to a novel, a poem, a play, a diary, a volume of correspondence, a biography from the nineteenth century.”

The Late-Victorian Agnostic Popularizers

Charles Albert WattsBernard Lightman’s “Ideology, Evolution and Late-Victorian Agnostic Popularizers” in Moore’s  History, Humanity and Evolution (1989) deserves special mention. He argues that agnosticism was presented as a religious creed that had evolved out of Christianity by agnostic propagandists such as Charles Albert Watts (1858-1946), William Stewart Ross (1844-1906), Richard Bithell (1821-1902), Frederick James Gould (1855-1938), Samuel Laing (1811-97), and others.

In the 1880s and 1890s, Victorian agnostics were facing mounting tensions. On the one hand, some agnostics wanted to appeal to the masses, and therefore had to attune their message to Victorian sensibilities. On the other hand, other agnostics were committed to the full force of their message, and therefore would not “debase” it, contenting themselves to the few who could grasp their complex scientific and philosophic concepts.

Yet during this time a new form of agnosticism emerged that would appeal to a wider English audience. It chief popularizer was Charles Albert Watts, son of English secularist Charles Watts (1836-1906). Both father and son were “immersed in the world of radical publishing,” particularly the writings militant atheist Charles Bradlaugh (1833-91). The elder Watts however had dissociated himself from Bradlaugh over the publication of atheist Charles Knowlton’s (1800-1850) pamphlet on birth control, The Fruits of Philosophy (1832). Watts was prosecuted under the Obscene Publications Act when his printing company, Watts & Co., published the pamphlet. In court Watts claimed he had never read the document. After breaking ties with Bradlaugh over his increasing militancy, Watts later he joined George Jacob Holyoake (1817-1906) in forming the British Secular Union (BSU) in 1877, a dissident group from Bradlaugh’s National Secular Society (NSS).

The son Watts respected his father’s non-militant approach. He also had a high regard for T.H. Huxley (1825-1895), Herbert Spencer (1820-1903), John Tyndall (1820-1893), and other scientific naturalists, who were “at the peak of their power during the 1880s.” According to Lightman, “Watts thought he could use elements of the successful strategy adopted by the scientific naturalists in combination with non-militant methods previously adopted by his father” in order to appeal to a wider audience, and to subvert the growing influence of the NSS. Unlike the “atheist,” “infidel,” and “freethinker,” Watts saw agnosticism as representing the “most up-to-date phase of scientific unbelief.” Watts thought that the best way to increase the influence of the BSU and other dissident secular groups was through the press, by “inundating the reading public with material on agnosticism and [particularly] evolution.” Watts thus focused “on reaching likely converts through the publication of quality pamphlets, books and periodicals.”

Watts took over his father’s publishing business in 1884. That same year he began publishing The Agnostic Journal, its aim was to establish “a monthly periodical of cultured liberal thought, which, by its moderation and ability shall commend itself to the attention and support of advanced thinkers of every grade.” The following year Watts published Albert Simmon’s Agnostic First Principles (1885), a summary of Spencer’s First Principles (1862). Also in the same year Watts published Watt’s Literary Guide, a publisher’s circular, “advertising publications of Watts & Co., reviewed current books, and, beginning in 1893, added a monthly supplement condensing important works on progressive thought and science.” Right before the turn of the century, Watts, in his continued collaboration with Holyoake, founded the Rationalist Press Association (RPA), an organization that acted as a “propaganda machine for freethought and agnosticism that would outdo any of Bradlaugh’s publication efforts and would rival the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge and the Religious Tract Society.” Its central aim, as Lightman puts it, was the transform “dissident Secularism into a respectable, middle-class organization.”

Watts also had other collaborators. William Stewart Ross, who “belonged to the Holyoake tradition of non-militant dissident Secularism,” joined Watts in transforming The Secular Review of the 1880s, which he assumed full editorship in 1877 from Holyoake. Ross agreed with Watts that an “advanced thinker” is “like a scholar and a gentlemen, [and] that the best arguments for Secularism were drawn from philosophy and modern science, and that the less said about party politics the better.” Another collaborator was Richard Bithell, who through Watts & Co. published a number of agnostic tracts, including The Creed of Agnosticism (1883), Agnostic Problems (1887), The Worship of the Unknowable (c. 1889) and A Handbook of Scientific Agnosticism (1892). Another important collaborator and popularizer of dissident secularism was Frederick James Gould, who, along with Bithell, helped Watts found the Propaganda Press Committee, which later came to be known as the RPA. Samuel Laing was yet another collaborator and popular author, his repertoire included Modern Science and Modern Thought (1885), A Modern Zoroastraian (1887), Problems of the Future (1889), and Human Origins (1892), and was also a consistent contributor to Watts’ The Agnostic Review.

This “stable of agnostic propagandists” aimed their writings to younger readers and the working classes. They had a “missionary zeal” and “desired to demonstrate that modern science could present an integrated and rational world view, encompassing every realm of thought.” This world view was governed by the belief in “fixed and uniform laws” of nature. Evolution was “applied to the development of both the organic and the inorganic worlds; it applied to man as a physical being and to the products of man’s so-called spiritual being, including religion and ethics.” Indeed, as Lightman aptly observes, “the new agnostics were…primarily attracted to the cosmic evolutionism of Herbert Spencer, and they often ranked him as Darwin’s superior.” Evolution manifested the “power of the Unknowable.” Engaging the emotions and religious sensibilities of the Victorian reader, the new agnostics often exaggerated theistic themes found in Spencer, Huxley and other elite scientific naturalists. They even “tried to establish,” Lightman tells us,  “an Agnostic Temple in southwest London.”

They were also rather politically conservative. With their increasing popularity, the new agnostics “entered the bourgeoisie.” They wanted to eliminate both radicalism and socialism from the social order. Most interestingly, they “used evolutionary theory to legitimate a conservative vision of social order.” Socialism, as they saw it, was maladaptive, contrary to nature and science. The political creed of Darwinism could only be Individualism. They developed an evolutionary theodicy to answer the problem of evil, seeing its existence as “part and parcel of the evolution process, an inevitably by-product of the laws of nature.” But evil would ultimately disappear, they maintained, with the progressive course of evolution. This theodicy appealed to those with either religious or from religious backgrounds, as it created a sense of “contentment in the current stage of a dynamic, self-adjusting, divinely sanctioned process.” It was indeed a “theodicy designed to engage the religious sensibilities of a lower middle-class audience.”

This undoubtedly religious agnosticism was often referred by Laing as a “reverent and devout agnosticism.” According to Lightman, this new agnosticism was thus not a “negation of Christianity, but as the next step in its orderly progressive development.” Interestingly, there was also a penchant for “Eastern thought, mysticism, spiritualism and theosophy” among these agnostic propagandists. Ross described evolution as “the upward passing through Karma to Nirvana.” Laing attempted to “rehabilitate the old Persian religion of Zoroastrianism.” But elite agnostics, such as Huxley, could not stomach the increasingly religious and liberal element in the new agnosticism. Huxley saw Laing’s agnostic creed as unscientific. In turn, the new agnostics saw Huxley as insensitive to the “religious and mystical dimension of the doctrine of evolution.” This eventually lead to the acute controversy between Laing and Huxley in 1890 over the politics of democracy and aristocracy. Laing read Huxley’s “On the Natural Inequality of Men” (1890) as an example of an elite naturalist using “scientific arguments against democracy.” Laing went so far as to accuse Huxley of propounding Tory principles. “The Laing/Huxley controversy,” Lightman concludes, “shows graphically how readily evolution could be adapted to suite the new agnostics’ social aspirations.” In the end, “the flexibility of evolutionary theory as a social dynamic made it a potent weapon for attacking elite scientific naturalists who temporized about democratic reforms, as well as for criticizing unscientific socialists and radical Secularists who were too impatient to wait for the inevitable.”