By GRANT ALLEN
AUTHOR OF "THE EVOLUTIONIST AT LARGE," ETC.
LONDON: CHATTO & WINDUS 1894
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.
Hind Head, March 1894.
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 ROLE 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
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. Among non-European languages, three seem to be gaining fast: Chinese, Malay, Arabic. Of the doomed tongues, on the other hand, the most hopeless is French, which is losing all round; while Italian, German, and Dutch are either quite at a standstill or slightly retrograding. The world is now round. By the middle of the twentieth century, in all probability, English will be its dominant speech; and the English-speaking peoples, a heterogeneous conglomerate of all nationalities, will control between them the destinies of mankind. Spanish will be the language of half the populous southern hemisphere. Russian will spread over a moiety of Asia. Chinese, Malay, Arabic, will divide among themselves the less civilised parts of Africa and the East. But French, German, and Italian will be insignificant and dwindling European dialects, as numerically unimportant as Flemish or Danish in our own day.
And why? Not because Shakespeare wrote in English, but because the English language has already got a firm hold of all those portions of the earth's surface which are most absorbing the overflow of European populations. Germans and Scandinavians and Russians emigrate by the thousand now to all parts of the United States and the north-west of Canada. In the first generation they may still retain their ancestral speech; but their children have all to learn English. In Australia and New Zealand the same thing is happening. In South Africa Dutch had got a footing, it is true; but it is fast losing it. The newcomers learn English, and though the elder Boers stick with Boer conservatism to their native tongue, young Piet and young Paul find it pays them better to know and speak the language of commerce—the language of Cape Town, of Kimberley, of the future. The reason is the same throughout. Whenever two tongues come to be spoken in the same area one of them is sure to be more useful in business than the other. Every French-Canadian who wishes to do things on a large scale is obliged to speak English. So is the Creole in Louisiana; so earlier were the Knickerbocker Dutch in New York. Once let English get in, and it beats all competing languages fairly out of the field in a couple of generations.
Like influences favour Spanish in South America and elsewhere. English has annexed most of North America, Australia, South Africa, the Pacific; Spanish has annexed South America, Central America, the Philippines, Cuba, and a few other places. For the most part these areas are less suited than the English-speaking districts for colonisation by North Europeans; but they absorb a large number of Italians and other Mediterranean races, who all learn Spanish in the second generation. As to the other dominant languages, the points in their favour are different. Conquest and administrative needs are spreading Russian over the steppes of Asia; the Arab merchant and the growth of Mahommedanism are importing Arabic far into the heart of Africa; the Chinaman is carrying his own monosyllables with him to California, Australia, Singapore. These tongues in future will divide the world between them.
The German who leaves Germany becomes an Anglo-American. The Italian who leaves Italy becomes a Spanish-American.
There is another and still more striking way of looking at the rapid increase of English. No other language will carry you through so many ports in the world. It suffices for London, Liverpool, Glasgow, Belfast, Southampton, Cardiff; for New York, Boston, Montreal, Charleston, New Orleans, San Francisco; for Sydney, Melbourne, Auckland, Hong Kong, Yokohama, Honolulu; for Calcutta, Bombay, Madras, Kurrachi, Singapore, Colombo, Cape Town, Mauritius. Spanish with Cadiz, Barcelona, Havana, Callao, Valparaiso, cannot touch that record; nor can French with Marseilles, Bordeaux, Havre, Algiers, Antwerp, Tahiti. The most commercially useful language in the world, thus widely diffused in so many great mercantile and shipping centres, is certain to win in the struggle for existence among the tongues of the future.
The old Mediterranean civilisation teaches us a useful lesson in this respect. Two languages dominated the Mediterranean basin. The East spoke Greek, not because Plato and AEschylus spoke Greek, but because Greek was the tongue of the great commercial centres—of Athens, Syracuse, Alexandria, Antioch, Byzantium. The West spoke Latin, not because Catullus and Virgil spoke Latin, but because Latin was the administrative tongue, the tongue of Rome, of Italy, and later of Gaul, of Spain, of the great towns in Dacia, Pannonia, Britain. Whoever wanted to do anything on the big scale then, had to speak Greek or Latin; so much so that the native languages of Gaul and Spain died utterly out, and Latin dialects are now the spoken tongue in all southern Europe. In our own time, again, educated Hindoos from different parts of India have to use English as a means of intercommunication; and native merchants must write their business correspondence with distant houses in English. To put an extreme contrast: in the last century French was spoken by far more people than English; at the present day French is only just keeping up its numbers in France, is losing in Canada and the United States, is not advancing to any extent in Africa. English is spoken by a hundred million people in Europe and America; is over-running Africa; has annexed Australasia and the Pacific Isles; has ousted, or is ousting, Dutch at the Cape, French in Louisiana, even Spanish itself in Florida, California, New Mexico. In Egyptian mud villages, the aspiring Copt, who once learnt French, now learns English. In Scandinavia, our tongue gains ground daily. Everywhere in the world it takes the lead among the European languages, and by the middle of the next century will no doubt be spoken over half the globe by a cosmopolitan mass of five hundred million people.
And all on purely Darwinian principles! It is the best adapted tongue, and therefore it survives in the struggle for existence. It is the easiest to learn, at least orally. It has got rid of the effete rubbish of genders; simplified immensely its declensions and conjugations; thrown overboard most of the nonsensical ballast we know as grammar. It is only weighted now by its grotesque and ridiculous spelling—one of the absurdest among all the absurd English attempts at compromise. The pressure of the newer speakers will compel it to make jetsam of that lumber also; and then the tongue of Shelley and Newton will march onward unopposed to the conquest of humanity.
I pen these remarks, I hope, "without prejudice." Patriotism is a vulgar vice of which I have never been guilty.
IN THE MATTER OF ARISTOCRACY.
Aristocracies, as a rule, all the world over, consist, and have always consisted, of barbaric conquerors or their descendants, who remain to the last, on the average of instances, at a lower grade of civilisation and morals than the democracy they live among.
I know this view is to some extent opposed to the common ideas of people at large (and especially of that particular European people which "dearly loves a lord") as to the relative position of aristocracies and democracies in the sliding scale of human development. There is a common though wholly unfounded belief knocking about the world, that the aristocrat is better in intelligence, in culture, in arts, in manners, than the ordinary plebeian. The fact is, being, like all barbarians, a boastful creature, he has gone on so long asserting his own profound superiority by birth to the world around him—a superiority as of fine porcelain to common clay—that the world around him has at last actually begun to accept him at his own valuation. Most English people in particular think that a lord is born a better judge of pictures and wines and books and deportment than the human average of us. But history shows us the exact opposite. It is a plain historical fact, provable by simple enumeration, that almost all the aristocracies the world has ever known have taken their rise in the conquest of civilised and cultivated races by barbaric invaders; and that the barbaric invaders have seldom or never learned the practical arts and handicrafts which are the civilising element in the life of the conquered people around them.
To begin with the aristocracies best known to most of us, the noble families of modern and mediaeval Europe sprang, as a whole, from the Teutonic invasion of the Roman Empire. In Italy, it was the Lombards and the Goths who formed the bulk of the great ruling families; all the well-known aristocratic names of mediaeval Italy are without exception Teutonic. In Gaul it was the rude Frank who gave the aristocratic element to the mixed nationality, while it was the civilised and cultivated Romano-Celtic provincial who became, by fate, the mere roturier. The great revolution, it has been well said, was, ethnically speaking, nothing more than the revolt of the Celtic against the Teutonic fraction; and, one might add also, the revolt of the civilised Romanised serf against the barbaric seigneur. In Spain, the hidalgo is just the hi d'al Go, the son of the Goth, the descendant of those rude Visigothic conquerors who broke down the old civilisation of Iberian and Romanised Hispania. And so on throughout. All over Europe, if you care to look close, you will find the aristocrat was the son of the intrusive barbarian; the democrat was the son of the old civilised and educated autochthonous people.
It is just the same elsewhere, wherever we turn. Take Greece, for example. Its most aristocratic state was undoubtedly Sparta, where a handful of essentially barbaric Dorians held in check a much larger and Helotised population of higher original civilisation. Take the East: the Persian was a wild mountain adventurer who imposed himself as an aristocrat upon the far more cultivated Babylonian, Assyrian, and Egyptian. The same sort of thing had happened earlier in time in Babylonia and Assyria themselves, where barbaric conquerors had similarly imposed themselves upon the first known historical civilisations. Take India under the Moguls, once more; the aristocracy of the time consisted of the rude Mahommedan Tartar, who lorded it over the ancient enchorial culture of Rajpoot and Brahmin. Take China: the same thing over again—a Tartar horde imposing its savage rule over the most ancient civilised people of Asia. Take England: its aristocracy at different times has consisted of the various barbaric invaders, first the Anglo-Saxon (if I must use that hateful and misleading word)—a pirate from Sleswick; then the Dane, another pirate from Denmark direct; then the Norman, a yet younger Danish pirate, with a thin veneer of early French culture, who came over from Normandy to better himself after just two generations of Christian apprenticeship. Go where you will, it matters not where you look; from the Aztec in Mexico to the Turk at Constantinople or the Arab in North Africa, the aristocrat belongs invariably to a lower race than the civilised people whom he has conquered and subjugated.
"That may be true, perhaps," you object, "as to the remote historical origin of aristocracies; but surely the aristocrat of later generations has acquired all the science, all the art, all the polish of the people he lives amongst. He is the flower of their civilisation." Don't you believe it! There isn't a word of truth in it. From first to last the aristocrat remains, what Matthew Arnold so justly called him, a barbarian. I often wonder, indeed, whether Arnold himself really recognised the literal and actual truth of his own brilliant generalisation. For the aristocratic ideas and the aristocratic pursuits remain to the very end essentially barbaric. The "gentleman" never soils his high-born hands with dirty work; in other words, he holds himself severely aloof from the trades and handicrafts which constitute civilisation. The arts that train and educate hand, eye, and brain he ignorantly despises. In the early middle ages he did not even condescend to read and write, those inferior accomplishments being badges of serfdom. If you look close at the "occupations of a gentleman" in the present day, you will find they are all of purely barbaric character. They descend to us direct from the semi-savage invaders who overthrew the structure of the Roman empire, and replaced its civilised organisation by the military and barbaric system of feudalism. The "gentleman" is above all things a fighter, a hunter, a fisher—he preserves the three simplest and commonest barbaric functions. He is not a practiser of any civilised or civilising art—a craftsman, a maker, a worker in metal, in stone, in textile fabrics, in pottery. These are the things that constitute civilisation; but the aristocrat does none of them; in the famous words of one who now loves to mix with English gentlemen, "he toils not, neither does he spin." The things he may do are, to fight by sea and land, like his ancestor the Goth and his ancestor the Viking; to slay pheasant and partridge, like his predatory forefathers; to fish for salmon in the Highlands; to hunt the fox, to sail the yacht, to scour the earth in search of great game—lions, elephants, buffalo. His one task is to kill—either his kind or his quarry.
Observe, too, the essentially barbaric nature of the gentleman's home—his trappings, his distinctive marks, his surroundings, his titles. He lives by choice in the wildest country, like his skin-clad ancestors, demanding only that there be game and foxes and fish for his delectation. He loves the moors, the wolds, the fens, the braes, the Highlands, not as the painter, the naturalist, or the searcher after beauty of scenery loves them—for the sake of their wild life, their heather and bracken, their fresh keen air, their boundless horizon—but for the sake of the thoroughly barbarous existence he and his dogs and his gillies can lead in them. The fact is, neither he nor his ancestors have ever been really civilised. Barbarians in the midst of an industrial community, they have lived their own life of slaying and playing, untouched by the culture of the world below them. Knights in the middle ages, squires in the eighteenth century, they have never received a tincture of the civilising arts and crafts and industries; they have fought and fished and hunted in uninterrupted succession since the days when wild in woods the noble savage ran, to the days when they pay extravagant rents for Scottish grouse moors. Their very titles are barbaric and military—knight and earl and marquis and duke, early crystallised names for leaders in war or protectors of the frontier. Their crests and coats of arms are but the totems of their savage predecessors, afterwards utilised by mediaeval blacksmiths as distinguishing marks for the summit of a helmet. They decorate their halls with savage trophies of the chase, like the Zulu or the Red Indian; they hang up captured arms and looted Chinese jars from the Summer Palace in their semi-civilised drawing-rooms. They love to be surrounded by grooms and gamekeepers and other barbaric retainers; they pass their lives in the midst of serfs; their views about the position and rights of women—especially the women of the "lower orders"—are frankly African. They share the sentiments of Achilles as to the individuality of Chryseis and Briseis.
Such is the actual aristocrat, as we now behold him. Thus, living his own barbarous life in the midst of a civilised community of workers and artists and thinkers and craftsmen, with whom he seldom mingles, and with whom he has nothing in common, this chartered relic of worse days preserves from first to last many painful traits of the low moral and social ideas of his ancestors, from which he has never varied. He represents most of all, in the modern world, the surviving savage. His love of gewgaws, of titles, of uniform, of dress, of feathers, of decorations, of Highland kilts, and stars and garters, is but one external symbol of his lower grade of mental and moral status. All over Europe, the truly civilised classes have gone on progressing by the practice of peaceful arts from generation to generation; but the aristocrat has stood still at the same half-savage level, a hunter and fighter, an orgiastic roysterer, a killer of wild boars and wearer of absurd mediaeval costumes, too childish for the civilised and cultivated commoner.
Government by aristocrats is thus government by the mentally and morally inferior. And yet—a Bill for giving at last some scant measure of self-government to persecuted Ireland has to run the gauntlet, in our nineteenth-century England, of an irresponsible House of hereditary barbarians!
SCIENCE IN EDUCATION.
I mean what I say: science in education, not education in science.
It is the last of these that all the scientific men of England have so long been fighting for. And a very good thing it is in its way, and I hope they may get as much as they want of it. But compared to the importance of science in education, education in science is a matter of very small national moment.
The difference between the two is by no means a case of tweedledum and tweedledee. Education in science means the systematic teaching of science so as to train up boys to be scientific men. Now scientific men are exceedingly useful members of a community; and so are engineers, and bakers, and blacksmiths, and artists, and chimney-sweeps. But we can't all be bakers, and we can't all be painters in water-colours. There is a dim West Country legend to the effect that the inhabitants of the Scilly Isles eke out a precarious livelihood by taking in one another's washing. As a matter of practical political economy, such a source of income is worse than precarious—it's frankly impossible. "It takes all sorts to make a world." A community entirely composed of scientific men would fail to feed itself, clothe itself, house itself, and keep itself supplied with amusing light literature. In one word, education in science produces specialists; and specialists, though most useful and valuable persons in their proper place, are no more the staple of a civilised community than engine-drivers or ballet-dancers.
What the world at large really needs, and will one day get, is not this, but due recognition of the true value of science in education. We don't all want to be made into first-class anatomists like Owen, still less into first-class practical surgeons, like Sir Henry Thompson. But what we do all want is a competent general knowledge (amongst other things) of anatomy at large, and especially of human anatomy; of physiology at large, and especially of human physiology. We don't all want to be analytical chemists: but what we do all want is to know as much about oxygen and carbon as will enable us to understand the commonest phenomena of combustion, of chemical combination, of animal or vegetable life. We don't all want to be zoologists, and botanists of the type who put their names after "critical species:" but what we do all want to know is as much about plants and animals as will enable us to walk through life intelligently, and to understand the meaning of the things that surround us. We want, in one word, a general acquaintance with the results rather than with the methods of science.
"In short," says the specialist, with his familiar sneer, "you want a smattering."
Well, yes, dear Sir Smelfungus, if it gives you pleasure to put it so—just that; a smattering, an all-round smattering. But remember that in this matter the man of science is always influenced by ideas derived from his own pursuits as specialist. He is for ever thinking what sort of education will produce more specialists in future; and as a rule he is thinking what sort of education will produce men capable in future of advancing science. Now to advance science, to discover new snails, or invent new ethyl compounds, is not and cannot be the main object of the mass of humanity. What the mass wants is just unspecialised knowledge—the kind of knowledge that enables men to get comfortably and creditably and profitably through life, to meet emergencies as they rise, to know their way through the world, to use their faculties in all circumstances to the best advantage. And for this purpose what is wanted is, not the methods, but the results of science.
One science, and one only, is rationally taught in our schools at present. I mean geography. And the example of geography is so eminently useful for illustrating the difference I am trying to point out, that I will venture to dwell upon it for a moment in passing. It is good for us all to know that the world is round, without its being necessary for every one of us to follow in detail the intricate reasoning by which that result has been arrived at. It is good for us all to know the position of New York and Rio and Calcutta on the map, without its being necessary for us to understand, far less to work out for ourselves, the observations and calculations which fixed their latitude and longitude. Knowledge of the map is a good thing in itself, though it is a very different thing indeed from the technical knowledge which enables a man to make a chart of an unknown region, or to explore and survey it. Furthermore, it is a form of knowledge far more generally useful. A fair acquaintance with the results embodied in the atlas, in the gazetteer, in Baedeker, and in Bradshaw, is much oftener useful to us on our way through the world than a special acquaintance with the methods of map-making. It would be absurd to say that because a man is not going to be a Stanley or a Nansen, therefore it is no good for him to learn geography. It would be absurd to say that unless he learned geography in accordance with its methods instead of its results, he could have but a smattering, and that a little knowledge is a dangerous thing. A little knowledge of the position of New York is indeed a dangerous thing, if a man uses it to navigate a Cunard vessel across the Atlantic. But the absence of the smattering is a much more dangerous and fatal thing if the man wishes to do business with the Argentine and the Transvaal, or to enter into practical relations of any sort with anybody outside his own parish. The results of geography are useful and valuable in themselves, quite apart from the methods employed in obtaining them.
It is just the same with all the other sciences. There is nothing occult or mysterious about them. No just cause or impediment exists why we should insist on being ignorant of the orbits of the planets because we cannot ourselves make the calculations for determining them; no reason why we should insist on being ignorant of the classification of plants and animals because we don't feel able ourselves to embark on anatomical researches which would justify us in coming to original conclusions about them. I know the mass of scientific opinion has always gone the other way; but then scientific opinion means only the opinion of men of science, who are themselves specialists, and who think most of the education needed to make men specialists, not of the education needed to fit them for the general exigencies and emergencies of life. We don't want authorities on the Cucurbitaceae, but well-informed citizens. Professor Huxley is not our best guide in these matters, but Mr. Herbert Spencer, who long ago, in his book on Education, sketched out a radical programme of instruction in that knowledge which is of most worth, such as no country, no college, no school in Europe has ever yet been bold enough to put into practice.
What common sense really demands, then, is education in the main results of all the sciences—a knowledge of what is known, not necessarily a knowledge of each successive step by which men came to know it. At present, of course, in all our schools in England there is no systematic teaching of knowledge at all; what replaces it is a teaching of the facts of language, and for the most part of useless facts, or even of exploded fictions. Our public schools, especially (by which phrase we never mean real public schools like the board schools at all, but merely schools for the upper and the middle classes) are in their existing stage primarily great gymnasiums—very good things, too, in their way, against which I have not a word of blame; and, secondarily, places for imparting a sham and imperfect knowledge of some few philological facts about two extinct languages. Pupils get a smattering of Homer and Cicero. That is literally all the equipment for life that the cleverest and most industrious boys can ever take away from them. The sillier or idler don't take away even that. As to the "mental training" argument, so often trotted out, it is childish enough not to be worth answering. Which is most practically useful to us in life—knowledge of Latin grammar or knowledge of ourselves and the world we live in, physical, social, moral? That is the question.
The truth is, schoolmastering in Britain has become a vast vested interest in the hands of men who have nothing to teach us. They try to bolster up their vicious system by such artificial arguments as the "mental training" fallacy. Forced to admit the utter uselessness of the pretended knowledge they impart, they fall back upon the plea of its supposed occult value as intellectual discipline. They say in effect:—"This sawdust we offer you contains no food, we know: but then see how it strengthens the jaws to chew it!" Besides, look at our results! The typical John Bull! pig-headed, ignorant, brutal. Are we really such immense successes ourselves that we must needs perpetuate the mould that warped us?
The one fatal charge brought against the public school system is that "after all, it turns out English gentlemen!"
THE THEORY OF SCAPEGOATS.
"Alas, how easily things go wrong!" says Dr. George MacDonald. And all the world over, when things do go wrong, the natural and instinctive desire of the human animal is—to find a scapegoat. When the great French nation in the lump embarks its capital in a hopeless scheme for cutting a canal through the Isthmus of Panama, and then finds out too late that Nature has imposed insuperable barriers to its completion on the projected scale—what does the great French nation do, in its collective wisdom, but turn round at once to rend the directors? It cries, "A Mazas!" just as in '71 it cried "Bazaine a la lanterne!" I don't mean to say the directors don't deserve all they have got or ever will get, and perhaps more also; I don't mean to deny corruption extraordinary in many high places; as a rule the worst that anybody alleges about anything is only a part of what might easily be alleged if we were all in the secret. Which of us, indeed, would 'scape whipping? But what I do mean is, that we should never have heard of Reinach or Herz, of the corruption and peculation, at all if things had gone well. It is the crash that brought them out. The nation wants a scapegoat. "Ain't nobody to be whopped for this 'ere?" asked Mr. Sam Weller on a critical occasion. The question embodies the universal impulse of humanity.
Tracing the feeling back to its origin, it seems due to this: minds of the lower order can never see anything go wrong without experiencing a certain sense of resentment; and resentment, by its very nature, desires to vent itself upon some living and sentient creature, by preference a fellow human being. When the child, running too fast, falls and hurts itself, it gets instantly angry. "Naughty ground to hurt baby!" says the nurse: "Baby hit it and hurt it." And baby promptly hits it back, with vicious little fist, feeling every desire to revenge itself. By-and-by, when baby grows older and learns that the ground can't feel to speak of, he wants to put the blame upon somebody else, in order to have an object to expend his rage upon. "You pushed me down!" he says to his playmate, and straightway proceeds to punch his playmate's head for it—not because he really believes the playmate did it, but because he feels he must have some outlet for his resentment. When once resentment is roused, it will expend its force on anything that turns up handy, as the man who has quarrelled with his wife about a question of a bonnet, will kick his dog for trying to follow him to the club as he leaves her.
The mob, enraged at the death of Caesar, meets Cinna the poet in the streets of Rome. "Your name, sir?" inquires the Third Citizen. "Truly, my name is Cinna," says the unsuspecting author. "Tear him to pieces!" cries the mob; "he's a conspirator!" "I am Cinna the poet," pleads the unhappy man; "I am not Cinna the conspirator!" But the mob does not heed such delicate distinctions at such a moment. "Tear him for his bad verses!" it cries impartially. "Tear him for his bad verses!"
Whatever sort of misfortune falls upon persons of the lower order of intelligence is always met in the same spirit. Especially is this the case with the deaths of relatives. Fools who have lost a friend invariably blame somebody for his fatal illness. To hear many people talk, you would suppose they were unaware of the familiar proposition that all men are mortal (including women); you might imagine they thought an ordinary human constitution was calculated to survive nine hundred and ninety-nine years unless some evil-disposed person or persons took the trouble beforehand to waylay and destroy it. "My poor father was eighty-seven when he died; and he would have been alive still if it weren't for that nasty Mrs. Jones: she put him into a pair of damp sheets." Or, "My husband would never have caught the cold that killed him, if that horrid man Brown hadn't kept him waiting so long in the carriage at the street corner." The doctor has to bear the brunt of most such complaints; indeed, it is calculated by an eminent statistician (who desires his name to remain unpublished) that eighty-three per cent. of the deaths in Great Britain might easily have been averted if the patient had only been treated in various distinct ways by all the members of his family, and if that foolish Dr. Squills hadn't so grossly mistaken and mistreated his malady.
The fact is, the death is regarded as a misfortune, and somebody must be blamed for it. Heaven has provided scapegoats. The doctor and the hostile female members of the family are always there—laid on, as it were, for the express purpose.
With us in modern Europe, resentment in such cases seldom goes further than vague verbal outbursts of temper. We accuse Mrs. Jones of misdemeanours with damp sheets; but we don't get so far as to accuse her of tricks with strychnine. In the Middle Ages, however, the pursuit of the scapegoat ran a vast deal further. When any great one died—a Black Prince or a Dauphin—it was always assumed on all hands that he must have been poisoned. True, poisoning may then have been a trifle more frequent; certainly the means of detecting it were far less advanced than in the days of Tidy and Lauder Brunton. Still, people must often have died natural deaths even in the Middle Ages—though nobody believed it. All the world began to speculate what Jane Shore could have poisoned them. A little earlier, again, it was not the poisoner that was looked for, but his predecessor, the sorcerer. Whoever fell ill, somebody had bewitched him. Were the cattle diseased? Then search for the evil eye. Did the cows yield no milk? Some neighbour, doubtless, knew the reason only too well, and could be forced to confess it by liberal use of the thumb-screw and the ducking-stool. No misfortune was regarded as due to natural causes; for in their philosophy there were no such things as natural causes at all; whatever ill-luck came, somebody had contrived it; so you had always your scapegoat ready to hand to punish. The Athenians, indeed, kept a small collection of public scapegoats always in stock, waiting to be sacrificed at a moment's notice.
More even than that. Go one step further back, and you will find that man in his early stages has no conception of such a thing as natural death in any form. He doesn't really know that the human organism is wound up like a clock to run at best for so many years, or months, or hours, and that even if nothing unexpected happens to cut short its course prematurely, it can only run out its allotted period. Within his own experience, almost all the deaths that occur are violent deaths, and have been brought about by human agency or by the attacks of wild beasts. There you have a cause with whose action and operation the savage is personally familiar; and it is the only one he believes in. Even old age is in his eyes no direct cause of death; for when his relations grow old, he considerately clubs them, to put them out of their misery. When, therefore, he sees his neighbour struck down before his face by some invisible power, and writhing with pain as though unseen snakes and tigers were rending him, what should he naturally conclude save that demon or witch or wizard is at work? and if he cares about the matter at all, what should he do save endeavour to find the culprit out and inflict condign punishment? In savage states, whenever anything untoward happens to the king or chief, it is the business of the witch-finder to disclose the wrong-doer; and sooner or later, you may be sure, "somebody gets whopped for it." Whopping in Dahomey means wholesale decapitation.
Now, is it not a direct survival from this primitive state of mind that entails upon us all the desire to find a scapegoat? Our ancestors really believed there was always somebody to blame—man, witch, or spirit—if only you could find him; and though we ourselves have mostly got beyond that stage, yet the habit it engendered in our race remains ingrained in the nervous system, so that none but a few of the naturally highest and most civilised dispositions have really outgrown it. Most people still think there is somebody to blame for every human misfortune. "Who fills the butcher's shops with large blue flies?" asked the poet of the Regency. He set it down to "the Corsican ogre." For the Tory Englishmen of the present day it is Mr. Gladstone who is most often and most popularly envisaged as the author of all evil. For the Pope, it is the Freemasons. There are just a few men here and there in the world who can see that when misfortunes come, circumstances, or nature, or (hardest of all) we ourselves have brought them. The common human instinct is still to get into a rage, and look round to discover whether there's any other fellow standing about unobserved, whose head we can safely undertake to punch for it.
"It's all the fault of those confounded paid agitators."
Every American woman is by birth a duchess.
There, you see, I have taken you in. When you saw the heading, "American Duchesses," you thought I was going to purvey some piquant scandal about high-placed ladies; and you straightway began to read my essay. That shows I rightly interpreted your human nature. There's a deal of human nature flying about unrecognised. Yet when I said duchesses, I actually meant it. For the American woman is the only real aristocrat now living in America.
These remarks are forced upon me by a brilliant afternoon on the Promenade des Anglais. All Nice is there, in its cosmopolitan butterfly variety, flaunting itself in the sun in the very ugly dresses now in fashion. I don't know why, but the mode of the moment consists in making everything as exaggerated as possible, and sedulously hiding the natural contours of the human figure. But let that pass; the day is too fine for a man to be critical. The band is playing Mascagni's last in the Jardin Public; the carriages are drawn up beside the palms and judas-trees that fringe the Paillon; the sous-officiers are strolling along the wall with their red caps stuck jauntily just a trifle on one side, as though to mow down nursemaids were the one legitimate occupation of the brav' militaire. And among them all, proud, tall, disdainful, glide the American duchesses, cold, critical, high-toned, yet ready to strike up, should opportunity serve, appropriate acquaintance with their natural equals, the dukes of Europe.
"And the American dukes?"—There aren't any. "But these ladies' husbands and fathers and brothers?"—Oh, they're business men, working hard for the duchesses in Wall Street, or on 'Change in Chicago. And that's why I say quite seriously the American woman is the only real aristocrat now living in America. Everybody who has seen much of Americans must have noticed for himself how really superior American women are, on the average, to the men of their kind. I don't mean merely that they are better dressed, and better groomed, and better got up, and better mannered than their brothers. I mean that they have a real superiority in the things worth having—the things that are more excellent—in education, culture, knowledge, taste, good feeling. And the reason is not far to seek. They represent the only leisured class in America. They are the one set of people from Maine to California who have time to read, to think, to travel, to look at good pictures, to hear good music, to mix with society that can improve and elevate them. They have read Daudet; they have seen the Vatican. The women thus form a natural aristocracy—the only aristocracy the country possesses.
I am aware that in saying this I take my life in my hands. I shall be prepared to defend myself from the infuriated Westerner with the usual argument, which I shall carry about loaded in all its chambers in my right-hand pocket. I am also aware that less infuriated Easterners, choosing their own more familiar weapon, will inundate my leisure with sardonic inquiries whether I don't consider Oliver Wendell Holmes or Charles Eliot Norton (thus named in full) the equal in culture of the average American woman. Well, I frankly admit these cases and thousands like them; indeed I have had the good fortune to number among my personal acquaintances many American gentlemen whose chivalrous breeding would have been conspicuous (if you will believe it) even at Marlborough House. I will also allow that in New York, in Boston, and less abundantly in other big towns of America, men of leisure, men of culture, and men of thought are to be found, as wide-minded and as gentle-natured as this race of ours makes them. But that doesn't alter the general fact that, taking them in the lump, American men stand a step or two lower in the scale of humanity than American women. One need hardly ask why. It is because the men are almost all immersed and absorbed in business, while the women are fine ladies who stop at home, and read, and see, and interest themselves widely in numberless directions.
The consequence is that nowhere, as a rule, does the gulf between the sexes yawn so wide as in America. One can often observe it in the brothers and sisters of the same family. And it runs in the opposite direction from the gulf in Europe. With us, as a rule, the men are better educated, and more likely to have read and seen and thought widely, than the women. In America, the men are generally so steeped in affairs as to be materialised and encysted; they take for the most part a hard-headed, solid-silver view of everything, and are but little influenced by abstract conceptions. Their horizon is bounded by the rim of the dollar. Nay, owing to the eager desire to get a good start by beginning life early, their education itself is generally cut short at a younger age than their sisters'; so that, even at the outset, the girls have often a decided superiority in knowledge and culture. Amanda reads Paul Bourget and John Oliver Hobbes; she has some slight tincture of Latin, Greek, and German; while Cyrus knows nothing but English and arithmetic, the quotations for prime pork and the state of the market for Futures. Add to this that the women are more sensitive, more delicate, more naturally refined, as well as unspoilt by the trading spirit, and you get the real reasons for the marked and, in some ways, unusual superiority of the American woman.
That, I think, in large part explains the fascination which American women undoubtedly exercise over a considerable class of European men. In the European man the American woman often recognises for the first time the male of her species. Unaccustomed at home to as general a level of culture and feeling as she finds among the educated gentlemen of Europe, she likes their society and makes her preference felt by them. Now man is a vain animal. You are a man yourself, and must recognise at once the truth of the proposition. As soon as he sees a woman likes him, he instantly returns the compliment with interest. In point of fact, he usually falls in love with her. Of course I admit the large number of concomitant circumstances which disturb the problem; I admit on the one hand the tempting shekels of the Californian heiress, and on the other hand the glamour and halo that still surround the British coronet. Nevertheless, after making all deductions for these disturbing factors, I submit there remains a residual phenomenon thus best interpreted. If anybody denies it, I would ask him one question—how does it come that so many Englishmen, Frenchmen, and Italians marry American women, while so few Englishwomen, French women, or Italian women marry American men? Surely the American men have also the shekels; surely it is something even in Oregon or Montana to have inspired an honourable passion in a Lady Elizabeth or a dowager countess. I think the true explanation is that our men are attracted by American women, but our women are not equally attracted by American men, and that the quality of the articles has something to do with it.
The American duchess, I take it, comes over to Europe, and desires incontinently to drag the European duke at the wheels of her chariot. And the European duke is fascinated in turn, partly by this very fact, partly by the undeniable freshness, brightness, and delicate culture of the American woman. For there is no burking the truth that in many respects the American woman carries about her a peculiar charm ungranted as yet to her European sisters. It is the charm of freedom, of ease, of a certain external and skin-deep emancipation—an emancipation which goes but a little way down, yet adds a quaint and piquant grace of manner. What she conspicuously lacks, on the other hand, is essential femininity; by which I don't mean womanliness—of that she has enough and to spare—but the wholesome physical and instinctive qualities which go to make up a sound and well-equipped wife and mother. The lack of these underlying muliebral qualities more than counterbalances to not a few Europeans the undoubted vivacity, originality, and freshness of the American woman. She is a dainty bit of porcelain, unsuited for use; a delicate exotic blossom, for drawing-room decoration, where many would prefer robust fruit-bearing faculties.
I dropped into the Opera House here at Nice the other night, and found they were playing "Carmen"—which is always interesting. Well, you may perhaps remember that when that creature of passion, the gipsy heroine, wishes to gain or retain a man's affections, she throws a rose at him, and then he cannot resist her. That is Merimee's symbolism. Art is full of these sacrifices of realism to reticence. Outside the opera, it is not with roses that women enslave us. But the American duchess relies entirely upon the use of the rose; and that is just where she fails to interest so many of us in Europe.
And now I think it's almost time for me to go and hunt up the material arguments for that rusty six-shooter.
IS ENGLAND PLAYED OUT?
Britain is now the centre of civilisation. Will it always be so? Is our commercial supremacy decaying or not? Have we begun to reach the period of inevitable decline? Or is decline indeed inevitable at all? Might a nation go on being great for ever? If so, are we that nation? If not, have we yet arrived at the moment when retrogression becomes a foregone conclusion? These are momentous questions. Dare I try, under the mimosas on the terrace, to resolve them?
Most people have talked of late as though the palmy days of England were fairly over. The down grade lies now before us. But, then, so far as I can judge, most people have talked so ever since the morning when Hengist and Horsa, Limited, landed from their three keels in the Isle of Thanet. Gildas is the oldest historian of these islands, and his work consists entirely of a good old Tory lament in the Ashmead-Bartlett strain upon the degeneracy of the times and the proximate ruin of the British people. Gildas wrote some fourteen hundred years ago or thereabouts—and the country is not yet quite visibly ruined. On the contrary, it seems to the impartial eye a more eligible place of residence to-day than in the stirring times of the Saxon invasion. Hence, for the last two or three centuries, I have learned to discount these recurrent Jeremiads of Toryism, and to judge the question of our decadence or progress by a more rational standard.
There is only one such rational standard; and that is, to discover the causes and conditions of our commercial prosperity, and then to inquire whether those causes and conditions are being largely altered or modified by the evolution of new phases. If they are, England must begin to decline; if they are not, her day is not yet come. Home Rule she will survive; even the Eight Hours bogey, we may presume, will not finally dispose of her.
Now, the centre of civilisation is not a fixed point. It has varied from time to time, and may yet vary. In the very earliest historical period, there was hardly such a thing as a centre of civilisation at all. There were civilisations in Egypt, Assyria, Babylonia, Etruria; discrete civilisations of the river valleys, mostly, which scarcely came into contact with one another in their first beginnings; any more than our own came into contact once with the civilisations of China, of Japan, of Peru, of Mexico. As yet there was no world-commerce, no mutual communication of empire with empire. It was in the AEgean and the eastern basin of the Mediterranean that navigation first reached the point where great commercial ports and free intercourse became possible. The Phoenicians, and later the Greeks, were the pioneers of the new era. Tyre, Athens, Miletus, Rhodes, occupied the centre of the nascent world, and bound together Assyria, Babylonia, Egypt, Asia Minor, Greece, Sicily, and Italy in one mercantile system. A little later, Hellas itself enlarged, so as to include Syracuse, Byzantium, Alexandria, Cyrene, Cumae, Neapolis, Massilia. The inland sea became "a Greek lake." But as navigation thus slowly widened to the western Mediterranean basin, the centre of commerce had to shift perforce from Hellas to the mid-point of the new area. Two powerful trading towns occupied such a mid-point in the Mediterranean—Rome and Carthage; and they were driven to fight out the supremacy of the world (the world as it then existed) between them. With the Roman Empire, the circle extended so as to take in the Atlantic coasts, Gaul, Spain, and Britain, which then, however, lay not at the centre but on the circumference of civilisation. During the Middle Ages, when navigation began to embrace the great open sea as well as the Mediterranean, a double centre sprang up: the Italian Republics, Venice, Florence, Genoa, Pisa, were still the chief carriers; but the towns of Flanders, Bruges, Ghent, and Antwerp began to compete with them, and the Atlantic states, France, England, the Low Countries, rose into importance. By and by, as time goes on, the discoveries of Columbus and of Vasco di Gama open out new tracks. Suddenly commerce is revolutionised. France, England, Spain, become nearer to America and India than Italy; so Italy declines; while the Atlantic states usurp the first place as the centres of civilisation.
Our own age brings fresh seas into the circle once more. It is no longer the Atlantic, the Mediterranean, or the Indian Ocean that alone count; the Pacific also begins to be considered. China, Japan, the Cape; Chili, Peru, the Argentine; California, British Columbia, Australia, New Zealand; all of them are parts of the system of to-day; civilisation is world-wide.
Has this change of area altered the central position of England? Not at all, save to strengthen it. If you look at the hemisphere of greatest land, you will see that England occupies its exact middle. Insular herself, and therefore all made up of ports, she is nearer all ports in the world than any other country is or ever can be. I don't say that this insures for her perpetual dominion, such as Virgil prophesied for the Roman Empire; but I do say it makes her a hard country to beat in commercial competition. It accounts for Liverpool, London, Glasgow, Newcastle; it even accounts in a way for Manchester, Birmingham, Leeds, and Sheffield. England now stands at the mathematical centre of the practical world, and unless some Big Thing occurs to displace her, she must continue to stand there. It takes a great deal to upset the balance of an entire planet.
Is anything now displacing her? Well, there is the fact that railways are making land-carriage to-day more important relatively to water-carriage than at any previous period. That may, perhaps, in time shift the centre of the world from an island like England to the middle of a great land area, like Chicago or Moscow. And, no doubt, if ever the centre shifts at all, it will shift towards Western America, or rather the prairie region. But, just at present, what are the greatest commercial towns of the world? All ports to a man. And the day when it will be otherwise, if ever, seems still far distant. Look at the newest countries. What are their great focal points? Every one of them ports. Melbourne and Sydney; Rio, Buenos Ayres, and Valparaiso; Cape Town, San Francisco, Bombay, Calcutta, Yokohama. Chicago itself, the most vital and the quickest grower among modern towns, owes half its importance to the fact that there water-carriage down the Great Lakes begins; though it owes the other half, I admit, to the converse fact that all the great trans-continental railways have to bend south at that point to avoid Lake Michigan. Still, on the whole, I think, as long as conditions remain what they are, the commercial supremacy of England is in no immediate danger. It is these great permanent geographical factors that make or mar a country, not Eight Hours Bills or petty social reconstructions. Said the Lord Mayor of London to petulant King James, when he proposed to remove the Court to Oxford, "May it please your Majesty not to take away the Thames also."
"But our competitors? We are being driven out of our markets." Oh, yes, if that's all you mean, I don't suppose we shall always be able in everything to keep up our exclusive position. Our neighbours, who (bar the advantage of insularity, which means a coast and a port always close at hand) seem nearly as well situated as we are for access to the world-markets, are beginning to wake up and take a slice of the cake from us. Germany is manufacturing; Belgium is smelting; Antwerp is exporting; America is occupying her own markets. But that's a very different thing indeed from national decadence. We may have to compete a little harder with our rivals, that's all. The Boom may be over; but the Thames remains: the geographical facts are still unaltered. And notice that all the time while there's been this vague talk about "bad times"—income-tax has been steadily increasing, London has been steadily growing, every outer and visible sign of commercial prosperity has been steadily spreading. Have our watering-places shrunk? Have our buildings been getting smaller and less luxurious? If Antwerp has grown, how about Hull and Cardiff? "Well, perhaps the past is all right; but consider the future! Eight hours are going to drive capital out of the country!" Rubbish! I'm not a political economist, thank God; I never sank quite so low as that. And I'm not speaking for or against Eight Hours: I'm only discounting some verbose nonsense. But I know enough to see that the capital of a country can no more be exported than the land or the houses. Can you drive away the London and North-Western Railway? Can you drive away the factories of Manchester, the mines of the Black Country, the canals, the buildings, the machinery, the docks, the plant, the apparatus? Impossible, on the very face of it! Most of the capital of a country is fixed in its soil, and can't be uprooted. People fall into this error about driving away capital because they know you can sell particular railway shares or a particular factory and leave the country with the proceeds, provided somebody else is willing to buy; but you can't sell all the railways and all the factories in a lump, and clear out with the capital. No, no; England stands where she does, because God put her there; and until He invents a new order of things (which may, of course, happen any day—as, for example, if aerial navigation came in) she must continue, in spite of minor changes, to maintain in the main her present position.
But a truce to these frivolities! The little Italian boy next door calls me to play ball with him, with a green lemon from the garden. Vengo, Luigi, vengo! I return at once to the realities of life, and dismiss such shadows.
THE GAME AND THE RULES.
A sportive friend of mine, a mighty golfer, is fond of saying, "You Radicals want to play the game without the rules." To which I am accustomed mildly to retort, "Not at all; but we think the rules unfair, and so we want to see them altered."
Now life is a very peculiar game, which differs in many important respects even from compulsory football. The Rugby scrimmage is mere child's play by the side of it. There's no possibility of shirking it. A medical certificate won't get you off; whether you like it or not, play you must in your appointed order. We are all unwilling competitors. Nobody asks our naked little souls beforehand whether they would prefer to be born into the game or to remain, unfleshed, in the limbo of non-existence. Willy nilly, every one of us is thrust into the world by an irresponsible act of two previous players; and once there, we must play out the set as best we may to the bitter end, however little we like it or the rules that order it.
That, it must be admitted, makes a grave distinction from the very outset between the game of human life and any other game with which we are commonly acquainted. It also makes it imperative upon the framers of the rules so to frame them that no one player shall have an unfair or unjust advantage over any of the others. And since the penalty of bad play, or bad success in the match, is death, misery, starvation, it behoves the rule-makers to be more scrupulously particular as to fairness and equity than in any other game like cricket or tennis. It behoves them to see that all start fair, and that no hapless beginner is unduly handicapped. To compel men to take part in a match for dear life, whether they wish it or not, and then to insist that some of them shall wield bats and some mere broom-sticks, irrespective of height, weight, age, or bodily infirmity, is surely not fair. It justifies the committee in calling for a revision.
But things are far worse than even that in the game as actually played in Europe. What shall we say of rules which decide dogmatically that one set of players are hereditarily entitled to be always batting, while another set, less lucky, have to field for ever, and to be fined or imprisoned for not catching? What shall we say of rules which give one group a perpetual right to free lunch in the tent, while the remainder have to pick up what they can for themselves by gleaning among the stubble? How justify the principle in accordance with which the captain on one side has an exclusive claim to the common ground of the club, and may charge every player exactly what he likes for the right to play upon it?—especially when the choice lies between playing on such terms, or being cast into the void, yourself and your family. And then to think that the ground thus tabooed by one particular member may be all Sutherlandshire, or, still worse, all Westminster! Decidedly, these rules call for instant revision; and the unprivileged players must be submissive indeed who consent to put up with them.
Friends and fellow-members, let us cry with one voice, "The links for the players!"
Once more, just look at the singular rule in our own All England club, by which certain assorted members possess a hereditary right to veto all decisions of the elective committee, merely because they happen to be their fathers' sons, and the club long ago very foolishly permitted the like privilege to their ancestors! That is an irrational interference with the liberty of the players which hardly anybody nowadays ventures to defend in principle, and which is only upheld in some half-hearted way (save in the case of that fossil anachronism, the Duke of Argyll) by supposed arguments of convenience. It won't last long now; there is talk in the committee of "mending or ending it." It shows the long-suffering nature of the poor blind players at this compulsory game of national football that they should ever for one moment permit so monstrous an assumption—permit the idea that one single player may wield a substantive voice and vote to outweigh tens of thousands of his fellow-members!
These questions of procedure, however, are after all small matters. It is the real hardships of the game that most need to be tackled. Why should one player be born into the sport with a prescriptive right to fill some easy place in the field, while another has to fag on from morning to night in the most uninteresting and fatiguing position? Why should pate de foie gras and champagne-cup in the tent be so unequally distributed? Why should those who have made fewest runs and done no fielding be admitted to partake of these luxuries, free of charge, while those who have borne the brunt of the fight, those who have suffered from the heat of the day, those who have contributed most to the honour of the victory, are turned loose, unfed, to do as they can for themselves by hook or by crook somehow? These are the questions some of us players are now beginning to ask ourselves; and we don't find them efficiently answered by the bald statement that we "want to play the game without the rules," and that we ought to be precious glad the legislators of the club haven't made them a hundred times harder against us.
No, no; the rules themselves must be altered. Time was, indeed, when people used to think they were made and ordained by divine authority. "Cum privilegio" was the motto of the captains. But we know very well now that every club settles its own standing orders, and that it can alter and modify them as fundamentally as it pleases. Lots of funny old saws are still uttered upon this subject—"There must always be rich and poor;" "You can't interfere with economical laws;" "If you were to divide up everything to-morrow, at the end of a fortnight you'd find the same differences and inequalities as ever." The last-named argument (I believe it considers itself by courtesy an argument) is one which no self-respecting Radical should so much as deign to answer. Nobody that I ever heard of for one moment proposed to "divide up everything," or, for that matter, anything: and the imputation that somebody did or does is a proof either of intentional malevolence or of crass stupidity. Neither should be encouraged; and you encourage them by pretending to take them seriously. It is the initial injustices of the game that we Radicals object to—the injustices which prevent us from all starting fair and having our even chance of picking up a livelihood. We don't want to "divide up everything"—a most futile proceeding; but we do want to untie the legs and release the arms of the handicapped players. To drop metaphor at last, it is the conditions we complain about. Alter the conditions, and there would be no need for division, summary or gradual. The game would work itself out spontaneously without your intervention.
The injustice of the existing set of rules simply appals the Radical. Yet oddly enough, this injustice itself appeals rather to the comparative looker-on than to the heavily-handicapped players in person. They, poor creatures, dragging their log in patience, have grown so accustomed to regarding the world as another man's oyster, that they put up uncomplainingly for the most part with the most patent inequalities. Perhaps 'tis their want of imagination that makes them unable to conceive any other state of things as even possible—like the dog who accepts kicking as the natural fate of doghood. At any rate, you will find, if you look about you, that the chief reformers are not, as a rule, the ill-used classes themselves, but the sensitive and thinking souls who hate and loathe the injustice with which others are treated. Most of the best Radicals I have known were men of gentle birth and breeding. Not all: others, just as earnest, just as eager, just as chivalrous, sprang from the masses. Yet the gently-reared preponderate. It is a common Tory taunt to say that the battle is one between the Haves and the Have-nots. That is by no means true. It is between the selfish Haves, on one side, and the unselfish Haves, who wish to see something done for the Have-nots, on the other. As for the poor Have-nots themselves, they are mostly inarticulate. Indeed, the Tory almost admits as much when he alters his tone and describes the sympathising and active few as "paid agitators."
For myself, however, I am a born Conservative. I hate to see any old custom or practice changed; unless, indeed, it is either foolish or wicked—like most existing ones.
THE ROLE OF PROPHET.
One great English thinker and artist once tried the rash experiment of being true to himself—of saying out boldly, without fear or reserve, the highest and noblest and best that was in him. He gave us the most exquisite lyrics in the English language; he moulded the thought of our first youth as no other poet has ever yet moulded it; he became the spiritual father of the richest souls in two succeeding generations of Englishmen. And what reward did he get for it? He was expelled from his university. He was hounded out of his country. He was deprived of his own children. He was denied the common appeal to the law and courts of justice. He was drowned, an exile, in a distant sea, and burned in solitude on a foreign shore. And after his death he was vilified and calumniated by wretched penny-a-liners, or (worse insult still) apologised for, with half-hearted shrugs, by lukewarm advocates. The purest in life and the most unselfish in purpose of all mankind, he was persecuted alive with the utmost rancour of hate, and pursued when dead with the vilest shafts of malignity. He never even knew in his scattered grave the good he was to do to later groups of thinkers.
It was a noble example, of course; but not, you will admit, an alluring one for others to follow.
"Be true to yourself," say the copy-book moralists, "and you may be sure the result will at last be justified." No doubt; but in how many centuries? And what sort of life will you lead yourself, meanwhile, for your allotted space of threescore years and ten, unless haply hanged, or burned, or imprisoned before it? What the copy-book moralists mean is merely this—that sooner or later your principles will triumph, which may or may not be the case according to the nature of the principles. But even suppose they do, are you to ignore yourself in the interim—you, a human being with emotions, sensations, domestic affections, and, in the majority of instances, wife and children on whom to expend them? Why should it be calmly taken for granted by the world that if you have some new and true thing to tell humanity (which humanity, of course, will toss back in your face with contumely and violence) you are bound to blurt it out, with childish unreserve, regardless of consequences to yourself and to those who depend upon you? Why demand of genius or exceptional ability a gratuitous sacrifice which you would deprecate as wrong and unjust to others in the ordinary citizen? For the genius, too, is a man, and has his feelings.
The fact is, society considers that in certain instances it has a right to expect the thinker will martyrise himself on its account, while it stands serenely by and heaps faggots on the pile, with every mark of contempt and loathing. But society is mistaken. No man is bound to martyrise himself; in a great many cases a man is bound to do the exact opposite. He has given hostages to Fortune, and his first duty is to the hostages. "We ask you for bread," his children may well say, "and you give us a noble moral lesson. We ask you for clothing, and you supply us with a beautiful poetical fancy." This is not according to bargain. Wife and children have a first mortgage on a man's activities; society has only a right to contingent remainders.
A great many sensible men who had truths of deep import to deliver to the world must have recognised these facts in all times and places, and must have held their tongues accordingly. Instead of speaking out the truths that were in them, they must have kept their peace, or have confined themselves severely to the ordinary platitudes of their age and nation. Why ruin yourself by announcing what you feel and believe, when all the reward you will get for it in the end will be social ostracism, if not even the rack, the stake, or the pillory? The Shelleys and Rousseaus there's no holding, of course; they will run right into it; but the Goethes—oh, no, they keep their secret. Indeed, I hold it as probable that the vast majority of men far in advance of their times have always held their tongues consistently, save for mere common babble, on Lord Chesterfield's principle that "Wise men never say."
The role of prophet is thus a thankless and difficult one. Nor is it quite certainly of real use to the community. For the prophet is generally too much ahead of his times. He discounts the future at a ruinous rate, and he takes the consequences. If you happen ever to have read the Old Testament you must have noticed that the prophets had generally a hard time of it.
The leader is a very different stamp of person. He stands well abreast of his contemporaries, and just half a pace in front of them; and he has power to persuade even the inertia of humanity into taking that one half-step in advance he himself has already made bold to adventure. His post is honoured, respected, remunerated. But the prophet gets no thanks, and perhaps does mankind no benefit. He sees too quick. And there can be very little good indeed in so seeing. If one of us had been an astronomer, and had discovered the laws of Kepler, Newton, and Laplace in the thirteenth century, I think he would have been wise to keep the discovery to himself for a few hundred years or so. Otherwise, he would have been burned for his trouble. Galileo, long after, tried part of the experiment a decade or so too soon, and got no good by it. But in moral and social matters the danger is far graver. I would say to every aspiring youth who sees some political or economical or ethical truth quite clearly: "Keep it dark! Don't mention it! Nobody will listen to you; and you, who are probably a person of superior insight and higher moral aims than the mass, will only destroy your own influence for good by premature declarations. The world will very likely come round of itself to your views in the end; but if you tell them too soon, you will suffer for it in person, and will very likely do nothing to help on the revolution in thought that you contemplate. For thought that is too abruptly ahead of the mass never influences humanity."
"But sometimes the truth will out in spite of one!" Ah, yes, that's the worst of it. Do as I say, not as I do. If possible, repress it.
It is a noble and beautiful thing to be a martyr, especially if you are a martyr in the cause of truth, and not, as is often the case, of some debasing and degrading superstition. But nobody has a right to demand of you that you should be a martyr. And some people have often a right to demand that you should resolutely refuse the martyr's crown on the ground that you have contracted prior obligations, inconsistent with the purely personal luxury of martyrdom. 'Tis a luxury for a few. It befits only the bachelor, the unattached, and the economically spareworthy.
"These be pessimistic pronouncements," you say. Well, no, not exactly. For, after all, we must never shut our eyes to the actual; and in the world as it is, meliorism, not optimism, is the true opposite of pessimism. Optimist and pessimist are both alike in a sense, seeing they are both conservative; they sit down contented—the first with the smug contentment that says "All's well; I have enough; why this fuss about others?" the second with the contentment of blank despair that says, "All's hopeless; all's wrong; why try uselessly to mend it?" The meliorist attitude, on the contrary, is rather to say, "Much is wrong; much painful; what can we do to improve it?" And from this point of view there is something we can all do to make martyrdom less inevitable in the end, for the man who has a thought, a discovery, an idea, to tell us. Such men are rare, and their thought, when they produce it, is sure to be unpalatable. For, if it were otherwise, it would be thought of our own type—familiar, banal, commonplace, unoriginal. It would encounter no resistance, as it thrilled on its way through our brain, from established errors. What the genius and the prophet are there for is just that—to make us listen to unwelcome truths, to compel us to hear, to drive awkward facts straight home with sledge-hammer force to the unwilling hearts and brains of us. Not what you want to hear, or what I want to hear, is good and useful for us; but what we don't want to hear, what we can't bear to think, what we hate to believe, what we fight tooth and nail against. The man who makes us listen to that is the seer and the prophet; he comes upon us like Shelley, or Whitman, or Ibsen, and plumps down horrid truths that half surprise, half disgust us. He shakes us out of our lethargy. To such give ear, though they say what shocks you. Weigh well their hateful ideas. Avoid the vulgar vice of sneering and carping at them. Learn to examine their nude thought without shrinking, and examine it all the more carefully when it most repels you. Naked verity is an acquired taste; it is never beautiful at first sight to the unaccustomed vision. Remember that no question is finally settled; that no question is wholly above consideration; that what you cherish as holiest is most probably wrong; and that in social and moral matters especially (where men have been longest ruled by pure superstitions) new and startling forms of thought have the highest a priori probability in their favour. Dismiss your idols. Give every opinion its fair chance of success—especially when it seems to you both wicked and ridiculous, recollecting that it is better to let five hundred crude guesses run loose about the world unclad, than to crush one fledgling truth in its callow condition. To the Greeks, foolishness: to the Jews, a stumbling-block. If you can't be one of the prophets yourself, you can at least abstain from helping to stone them.
Dear me! These reflections to-day are anything but post-prandial. The gnocchi and the olives must certainly have disagreed with me. But perhaps it may some of it be "wrote sarcastic." I have heard tell there is a thing called irony.
THE ROMANCE OF THE CLASH OF RACES.
The world has expanded faster in the last thirty years than in any previous age since "the spacious days of great Elizabeth." And with its expansion, of course, our ideas have widened. I believe Europe is now in the midst of just such an outburst of thought and invention as that which followed the discovery of America, and of the new route to India by the Cape of Good Hope. But I don't want to insist too strongly upon that point, because I know a great many of my contemporaries are deeply hurt by the base and spiteful suggestion that they and their fellows are really quite as good as any fish that ever came out of the sea before them. I only desire now to call attention for a moment to one curious result entailed by this widening of the world upon our literary productivity—a result which, though obvious enough when one comes to look at it, seems to me hitherto to have strangely escaped deliberate notice.
In one word, the point of which I speak is the comparative cosmopolitanisation of letters, and especially the introduction into literary art of the phenomena due to the Clash of Races.
This Clash itself is the one picturesque and novel feature of our otherwise somewhat prosaic and machine-made epoch; and, therefore, it has been eagerly seized upon, with one accord, by all the chief purveyors of recent literature, and especially of fiction. They have espied in it, with technical instinct, the best chance for obtaining that fresh interest which is essential to the success of a work of art. We were all getting somewhat tired, it must be confessed, of the old places and the old themes. The insipid loves of Anthony Trollope's blameless young people were beginning to pall upon us. The jaded palate of the Anglo-Celtic race pined for something hot, with a touch of fresh spice in it. It demanded curried fowl and Jamaica peppers. Hence, on the one hand, the sudden vogue of the novelists of the younger countries—Tolstoi and Tourgenieff, Ibsen and Bjornson, Mary Wilkins and Howells—who transplanted us at once into fresh scenes, new people: hence, on the other hand, the tendency on the part of our own latest writers—the Stevensons, the Hall Caines, the Marion Crawfords, the Rider Haggards—to go far afield among the lower races or the later civilisations for the themes of their romances.
Alas, alas, I see breakers before me! Must I pause for a moment in the flowing current of a paragraph to explain, as in an aside, that I include Marion Crawford of set purpose among "our own" late writers, while I count Mary Wilkins and Howells as Transatlantic aliens? Experience teaches me that I must; else shall I have that annoying animalcule, the microscopic critic, coming down upon me in print with his petty objection that "Mr. Crawford is an American." Go to, oh, blind one! And Whistler also, I suppose, and Sargent, and, perhaps, Ashmead Bartlett! What! have you read "Sarracinesca" and not learnt that its author is European to the core? 'Twas for such as you that the Irishman invented his brilliant retort: "And if I was born in a stable would I be a horse?"
Not merely, however, do our younger writers go into strange and novel places for the scenes of their stories; the important point to notice in the present connection is that, consciously or unconsciously to themselves, they have perceived the mighty influence of this Clash of Races, and have chosen the relations of the civilised people with their savage allies, or enemies, or subjects, as the chief theme of their handicraft. 'Tis a momentous theme, for it encloses in itself half the problems of the future. The old battles are now well-nigh fought out; but new ones are looming ahead for us. The cosmopolitanisation of the world is introducing into our midst strange elements of discord. A conglomerate of unwelded ethnical elements usurps the stage of history. America and South Africa have already their negro question; California and Australia have already their Chinese question; Russia is fast getting her Asiatic, her Mahommedan question. Even France, the most narrowly European in interest of European countries, has yet her Algeria, her Tunis, her Tonquin. Spain has Cuba and the Philippines. Holland has Java. Germany is burdening herself with the unborn troubles of a Hinterland. And as for England, she staggers on still under the increasing load of India, Hong Kong, Singapore, South Africa, the West Indies, Fiji, New Guinea, North Borneo—all of them rife with endless race-questions, all pregnant with difficulties.
Who can be surprised that amid this seething turmoil of colours, instincts, creeds, and languages, art should have fastened upon the race-problems as her great theme for the moment? And she has fastened upon them everywhere. France herself has not been able to avoid the contagion. Pierre Loti is the most typical French representative of this vagabond spirit; and the question of the peoples naturally envisages itself to his mind in true Gallic fashion in the "Mariage de Loti" and in "Madame Chrysantheme." He sees it through a halo of vague sexual sentimentalism. In England, it was Rider Haggard from the Cape who first set the mode visibly; and nothing is more noteworthy in all his work than the fact that the interest mainly centres in the picturesque juxtaposition and contrast of civilisation and savagery. Once the cue was given, what more natural than that young Rudyard Kipling, fresh home from India, brimming over with genius and with knowledge of two concurrent streams of life that flow on side by side yet never mingle, should take up his parable in due course, and storm us all by assault with his light field artillery? Then Robert Louis Stevenson, born a wandering Scot, with roving Scandinavian and fiery Celtic blood in his veins, must needs settle down, like a Viking that he is, in far Samoa, there to charm and thrill us by turns with the romance of Polynesia. The example was catching. Almost without knowing it, other writers have turned for subjects to similar fields. "Dr. Isaacs," "Paul Patoff," "By Proxy," were upon us. Even Hall Caine himself, in some ways a most insular type of genius, was forced in "The Scapegoat" to carry us off from Cumberland and Man to Morocco. Sir Edwin Arnold inflicts upon us the tragedies of Japan. I have been watching this tendency long myself with the interested eye of a dealer engaged in the trade, and therefore anxious to keep pace with every changing breath of popular favour: and I notice a constant increase from year to year in the number of short stories in magazines and newspapers dealing with the romance of the inferior races. I notice, also, that such stories are increasingly successful with the public. This shows that, whether the public knows it or not itself, the question of race is interesting it more and more. It is gradually growing to understand the magnitude of the change that has come over civilisation by the inclusion of Asia, Africa, and Australasia within its circle. Even the Queen is learning Hindustani.
There is a famous passage in Green's "Short History of the English People" which describes in part that strange outburst of national expansion under Elizabeth, when Raleigh, Drake, and Frobisher scoured the distant seas, and when at home "England became a nest of singing birds," with Shakespeare, Spenser, Fletcher, and Marlow. "The old sober notions of thrift," says the picturesque historian, "melted before the strange revolutions of fortune wrought by the New World. Gallants gambled away a fortune at a sitting, and sailed off to make a fresh one in the Indies." (Read rather to-day at Kimberley, Johannesburg, Vancouver.) "Visions of galleons loaded to the brim with pearls and diamonds and ingots of silver, dreams of El Dorados where all was of gold, threw a haze of prodigality and profusion over the imagination of the meanest seaman. The wonders, too, of the New World kindled a burst of extravagant fancy in the Old. The strange medley of past and present which distinguishes its masques and feastings only reflected the medley of men's thoughts.... A 'wild man' from the Indies chanted the Queen's praises at Kenilworth, and Echo answered him. Elizabeth turned from the greetings of sibyls and giants to deliver the enchanted lady from her tyrant, 'Sans Pitie.' Shepherdesses welcomed her with carols of the spring, while Ceres and Bacchus poured their corn and grapes at her feet." Oh, gilded youth of the Gaiety, mutato nomine de te Fabula narratur. Yours, yours is this glory!