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Title: Post-Prandial Philosophy
Author: Allen, Grant, 1848-1899
Language: English
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These Essays appeared originally in _The Westminster Gazette_, and have
only been so far modified here as is necessary for purposes of volume
publication. They aim at being suggestive rather than exhaustive: I
shall be satisfied if I have provoked thought without following out each
train to a logical conclusion. Most of the Essays are just what they
pretend to be--crystallisations into writing of ideas suggested in
familiar conversation.

G. A.

Hind Head, _March_ 1894.




   II. IN THE MATTER OF ARISTOCRACY                9

  III. SCIENCE IN EDUCATION                       18

   IV. THE THEORY OF SCAPEGOATS                   27

    V. AMERICAN DUCHESSES                         35

   VI. IS ENGLAND PLAYED OUT?                     44

  VII. THE GAME AND THE RULES                     53

 VIII. THE RÔLE OF PROPHET                        61


    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




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 Æschylus 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.



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 mediæval 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 mediæval 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 mediæval 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 mediæval costumes, too childish for the civilised and cultivated

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



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

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 Cucurbitaceæ, 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!"



"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 à 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

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 Cæsar, 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

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 Mérimée'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.



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 Ægean 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

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.



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

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 _pâté 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

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.



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 _rôle_ 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 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

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 Chrysanthème." 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!

For our own age, too, is a second Elizabethan. It blossoms out daily
into such flowers of fancy as never bloomed before, save then, on
British soil. When men tell you nowadays we have "no great writers
left," believe not the silly parrot cry. Nay, rather, laugh it down for
them. We move in the midst of one of the mightiest epochs earth has ever
seen, an epoch which will live in history hereafter side by side with
the Athens of Pericles, the Rome of Augustus, the Florence of Lorenzo,
the England of Elizabeth. Don't throw away your birthright by ignoring
the fact. Live up to your privileges. Gaze around you and know. Be a
conscious partaker in one of the great ages of humanity.



In the first of these after-dinner _causeries_ I ventured humbly to
remark that Patriotism was a vulgar vice of which I had never been
guilty. That innocent indiscretion of mine aroused at the moment some
unfavourable comment. I confess I was sorry for it. But I passed it by
at the time, lest I should speak too hastily and lose my temper. I recur
to the subject now, at the hour of the cigarette, when man can discourse
most genially of his bitterest enemy. And Monopoly is mine. Its very
name is hateful.

I don't often say what I think. At least, not much of it. I don't often
get the chance. And, besides, being a timid and a modest man, I'm afraid
to. But just this once, I'm going to "try it on." Object to my opinions
as you will. But still, let me express them. Strike--but hear me!

Has it ever occurred to you that one object of reading is to learn
things you never thought of before, and would never think of now, unless
you were told them?

Patriotism is one of the Monopolist Instincts. And the Monopolist
Instincts are the greatest enemies of the social life in humanity. They
are what we have got in the end to outlive. The test of a man's place in
the scale of being is how far he has outlived them. They are surviving
relics of the ape and tiger. But we must let the ape and tiger die. We
must begin to be human.

I will take Patriotism first, because it is the most specious of them
all, and has still a self-satisfied way of masquerading as a virtue. But
after all what is Patriotism? "My country, right or wrong; and just
because it is _my_ country." It is nothing more than a wider form of
selfishness. Often enough, indeed, it is even a narrow one. It means,
"My business interests against the business interests of other people;
and let the taxes of my fellow-citizens pay to support them." At other
times it is pure Jingoism. It means, "_My_ country against other
countries! _My_ army and navy against other fighters! _My_ right to
annex unoccupied territory over the equal right of all other people!
_My_ power to oppress all weaker nationalities, all inferior races!" It
_never_ means anything good. For if a cause is just, like Ireland's, or
once Italy's, then 'tis the good man's duty to espouse it with warmth,
be it his own or another's. And if a cause be bad, then 'tis the good
man's duty to oppose it tooth and nail, irrespective of your
"Patriotism." True, a good man will feel more sensitively anxious that
justice should be done by the particular State of which he happens
himself to be a member than by any other, because he is partly
responsible for the corporate action; but then, people who feel deeply
this joint moral responsibility of all the citizens are not praised as
patriots but reviled as unpatriotic. To urge that our own country should
strive with all its might to be better, higher, purer, nobler, juster
than other countries around it--the only kind of Patriotism worth a
brass farthing in a righteous man's eyes--is accounted by most men both
wicked and foolish.

Patriotism, then, is the collective or national form of the Monopolist
Instincts. And like all those Instincts, it is a relic of savagery,
which the Man of the Future is now engaged in out-living.

Property is the next form. That, on the very face of it, is a viler and
more sordid one. For Patriotism at least can lay claim to some
expansiveness beyond mere individual interest; whereas property stops
dead short at the narrowest limits. It is not "Us against the world!"
but "Me against my fellow-citizens!" It is the final result of the
industrial war in its most hideous avatar. Look how it scars the fair
face of our England with its anti-social notice-boards, "Trespassers
will be prosecuted!" It says, in effect, "This is my land. God made it;
but I have acquired it and tabooed it. The grass on it grows green; but
only for me. The mountains rise beautiful; no foot of man, save mine and
my gamekeepers', shall tread them. The waterfalls gleam fresh and cool
in the glen: avaunt there, you non-possessors; _you_ shall never see
them! All this is my own. And I choose to monopolise it."

Or is it the capitalist? "I will add field to field," he says, in
despite of his own scripture; "I will join railway to railway. I will
juggle into my own hands all the instruments for the production of
wealth that I can lay hold of; and I will use them for myself against
the producer and the consumer. I will enrich myself by 'corners' on the
necessaries of life; I will make food dear for the poor, that I myself
may roll in needless luxury. I will monopolise whatever I can seize, and
the people may eat straw." That temper, too, humanity must outlive. And
those who can't outlive it of themselves, or be warned in time, must be
taught by stern lessons that their race has outstripped them.

As for slavery, 'tis now gone. That was the vilest of them all. It was
the naked assertion of the Monopolist platform: "You live, not for
yourself, but wholly and solely for me. I disregard your life entirely,
and use you as my chattel." It died at last of the moral indignation of
humanity. It died when a Southern court of so-called justice formulated
in plain words the underlying principle of its hateful creed: "A black
man has no rights which a white man is bound to respect." That finally
finished it. We no longer allow every man to "wallop his own nigger."
And though the last relics of it die hard in Queensland, South Africa,
Demerara, we have at least the satisfaction of knowing that one
Monopolist Instinct out of the group is pretty well bred out of us.

Except as regards women! There, it lingers still. The Man says even now
to himself:--"This woman is mine. If she ventures to have a heart or a
will of her own, woe betide her! I have tabooed her for life; let any
other man touch her, let her look at any other man--and--knife,
revolver, or law court, they shall both of them answer for it!" There
you have in all its natural ugliness another Monopolist Instinct--the
deepest-seated of all, the vilest, the most barbaric. She is not yours:
she is her own: unhand her! The Turk takes his offending slave, sews her
up in a sack, and flings her into the Bosphorus. The Christian
Englishman drags her shame before an open court, and divorces her with
contumely. Her shame, I say, in the common phrase, because though to me
it is no shame that any human being should follow the dictates of his or
her own heart, it is a shame to the woman in the eyes of the world, and
a life of disgrace she must live thenceforward. All this is Monopoly and
essentially slavery. As man lives down the Ape and Tiger stage, he will
learn to say, rather: "Be mine while you can; but the day you cease to
feel you can be mine willingly, don't disgrace your own body by yielding
it up where your soul feels loathing; don't consent to be the mother of
children by a father you despise or dislike or are tired of. Let us kiss
and part. Go where you will; and my good will go with you!" Till the man
can say that with a sincere heart, why, to borrow a phrase from George
Meredith, he may have passed Seraglio Point, but he hasn't rounded Cape
Turk yet.

You find that a hard saying, do you? You kick against freedom for wife
or daughter? Well, yes, no doubt; you are still a Monopolist. But,
believe me, the earnest and solemn expression of a profound belief never
yet did harm to any one. I look forward to the time when women shall be
as free in every way as men, not by levelling down, but by levelling up;
not, as some would have us think, by enslaving the men, but by
elevating, emancipating, unshackling the women.

There is a charming little ditty in Louis Stevenson's "Child's Garden of
Verse," which always seems to me to sum up admirably the Monopolist
attitude. Here it is. Look well at it:--

  "When I am grown to man's estate
  I shall be very proud and great,
  And tell the other girls and boys,
  Not to meddle with _my_ toys."

That is the way of the Monopolist. It catches him in the very act. He
says to all the world: "Hands off! My property! Don't walk on my grass!
Don't trespass in my park! Beware of my gunboats! No trifling with my
women! I am the king of the castle. You meddle with me at your peril."

"Ours!" not "Mine!" is the watchword of the future.



"He was a mere amateur; but still, he did some good work in science."

Increasingly of late years I have heard these condescending words
uttered, in the fatherland of Bacon, of Newton, of Darwin, when some
Bates or Spottiswoode has been gathered to his fathers. It was not so
once. Time was when all English science was the work of amateurs--and
very well indeed the amateurs did it. I don't think anybody who does me
the honour to cognise my humble individuality at all will ever be likely
to mistake me for a _laudator temporis acti_. On the contrary, so far as
I can see, the past seems generally to have been such a distinct failure
all along the line that the one lesson we have to learn from it is, to
go and do otherwise. I am one on that point with Shelley and Rousseau.
But it does not follow, because most old things are bad, that all new
things and rising things are necessarily and indisputably in their own
nature excellent. Novelties, too, may be retrograde. And even our
great-grandfathers occasionally blundered upon something good in which
we should do well to imitate them. The amateurishness of old English
science was one of these good things now in course of abolition by the
fashionable process of Germanisation.

Don't imagine it was only for France that 1870 was fatal. The sad
successes of that deadly year sent a wave of triumphant Teutonism over
the face of Europe.

I suppose it is natural to man to worship success; but ever since 1870
it is certainly the fact that if you wish to gain respect and
consideration for any proposed change of system you must say, "They do
it so in Germany." In education and science this is especially the case.
Pedants always admire pedants. And Germany having shown herself to be
easily first of European States in her pedant-manufacturing machinery,
all the assembled dominies of all the rest of the world exclaimed with
one voice, "Go to! Let us Germanise our educational system!"

Now, the German is an excellent workman in his way. Patient, laborious,
conscientious, he has all the highest qualities of the ideal
brick-maker. He produces the best bricks, and you can generally depend
upon him to turn out both honest and workmanlike articles. But he is not
an architect. For the architectonic faculty in its highest developments
you must come to England. And he is not a teacher or expounder. For the
expository faculty in its purest form, the faculty that enables men to
flash forth clearly and distinctly before the eyes of others the facts
and principles they know and perceive themselves, you must go to France.
Oh, dear, yes; we may well be proud of England. Remember, I have already
disclaimed more than once in these papers the vulgar error of
patriotism. But freedom from that narrow vice does not imply inability
to recognise the good qualities of one's own race as well as the bad
ones. And the Englishman, left to himself and his own native methods,
used to cut a very respectable figure indeed in the domain of science.
No other nation has produced a Newton or a Darwin. The Englishman's way
was to get up an interest in a subject first; and then, working back
from the part of it that specially appealed to his own tastes, to make
himself master of the entire field of inquiry. This natural and
thoroughly individualistic English method enabled him to arrive at new
results in a way impossible to the pedantically educated German--nay,
even to the lucidly and systematically educated Frenchman. It was the
plan to develop "mere amateurs," I admit; but it was also the plan to
develop discoverers and revolutionisers of science. For the man most
likely to advance knowledge is not the man who knows in an encyclopædic
rote-work fashion the whole circle of the sciences, but the man who
takes a fresh interest for its own sake in some particular branch of

Darwin was a "mere amateur." He worked at things for the love of them.
So were Murchison, Lyell, Benjamin Franklin, Herschel. So were or are
Bates, Herbert Spencer, Alfred Russel Wallace. "Mere amateurs!" every
man of them.

In an evil hour, however, our pastors and masters in conclave assembled
said to one another, "Come now, let us Teutonise English scientific
education." And straightway they Teutonised it. And there began to arise
in England a new brood of patent machine-made scientists--excellent men
in their way, authorities on the Arachnida, knowing all about everything
that could be taught in the schools, but lacking somehow the supreme
grace of the old English originality. They are first-rate specialists, I
allow; and I don't deny that a civilised country has all need of
specialists. Nay, I even admit that the day of the specialist has only
just begun. He will yet go far; he will impose himself and his yoke upon
us. But don't let us therefore make the grand mistake of concluding that
our fine old English birthright in science--the birthright that gave us
our Newtons, our Cavendishes, our Darwins, our Lyells--was all folly and
error. Don't let us spoil ourselves in order to become mere second-hand
Germans. Let us recognise the fact that each nation has a work of its
own to do in the world; and that as star from star, so one nation
differeth from another in glory. Let each of us thank the goodness and
the grace that on his birth have smiled, that he was born of English
breed, and not a German child.

"Don't you think," a military gentleman once said to me, "the Germans
are wonderful organisers?" "No," I answered, "I don't; but I think
they're excellent drill-sergeants."

There are people who drop German authorities upon you as if a Teutonic
name were guarantee enough for anything. They say, "Hausberger asserts,"
or "According to Schimmelpenninck." This is pure fetichism. Believe me,
your man of science isn't necessarily any the better because he comes to
you with the label, "Made in Germany." The German instinct is the
instinct of Frederick William of Prussia--the instinct of drilling. Very
thorough and efficient men in their way it turns out; men versed in all
the lore of their chosen subject. If they are also men of transcendent
ability (as often happens), they can give us a comprehensive view of
their own chosen field such as few Englishmen (except Sir Archibald
Geikie, and he's a Scot) can equal. If I wanted to select a learned man
for a special Government post--British Museum, and so forth--I dare say
I should often be compelled to admit, as Government often admits, that
the best man then and there obtainable is the German. But if I wanted to
train Herbert Spencers and Faradays, I would certainly _not_ send them
to Bonn or to Berlin. John Stuart Mill was an English Scotchman,
educated and stuffed by his able father on the German system; and how
much of spontaneity, of vividness, of _verve_, we all of us feel John
Stuart Mill lost by it! One often wonders to what great, to what still
greater, things that lofty brain might not have attained, if only James
Mill would have given it a chance to develop itself naturally!

Our English gift is originality. Our English keynote is individuality.
Let us cling to those precious heirlooms of our Celtic ancestry, and
refuse to be Teutonised. Let us discard the lessons of the Potsdam
grenadiers. Let us write on the pediment of our educational temple, "No
German need apply." Let us disclaim that silly phrase "A mere amateur."
Let us return to the simple faith in direct observation that made
English science supreme in Europe.

And may the Lord gi'e us Britons a guid conceit o' oorsel's!



Strange that the wealthiest class in the wealthiest country in the world
should so long have been content to inhabit a squalid village!

I'm not going to compare London, as Englishmen often do, with Paris or
Vienna. I won't do two great towns that gross injustice. And, indeed,
comparison here is quite out of the question. You don't compare Oxford
with Little Peddlington, or Edinburgh with Thrums, and then ask which is
the handsomest. Things must be alike in kind before you can begin to
compare them. And London and Paris are not alike in kind. One is a city,
and a noble city; the other is a village, and a squalid village.

No; I will not even take a humbler standard of comparison, and look at
London side by side with Brussels, Antwerp, Munich, Turin. Each of those
is a city, and a fine city in its way; but each of them is small. Still,
even by their side, London is again but a squalid village. I insist upon
that point, because, misled by their ancient familiarity with London,
most Englishmen have had their senses and understandings so blunted on
this issue, that they really don't know what is meant by a town, or a
fine town, when they see one. And don't suppose it's because London is
in Britain and these other towns out of it that I make these remarks:
for Bath is a fine town, Edinburgh is a fine town, even Glasgow and
Newcastle are towns, while London is still a straggling, sprawling,
invertebrate, inchoate, overgrown village. I am as free, I hope, from
anti-patriotic as from patriotic prejudice. The High Street in Oxford,
Milsom Street in Bath, Princes Street in Edinburgh, those are all fine
streets that would attract attention even in France or Germany. But the
Strand, Piccadilly, Regent Street, Oxford Street--good Lord, deliver us!

One more _caveat_ as to my meaning. When I cite among real towns
Brussels, Antwerp, and Munich, I am not thinking of the treasures of art
those beautiful places contain; that is another and altogether higher
question. Towns supreme in this respect often lag far behind others of
less importance--lag behind in those external features and that general
architectural effectiveness which rightly entitle us to say in a broad
sense, "This is a fine city." Florence, for example, contains more
treasures of art in a small space than any other town of Europe; yet
Florence, though undoubtedly a town, and even a fine town, is not to be
compared in this respect, I do not say with Venice or Brussels, but even
with Munich or Milan. On the other hand, London contains far more
treasures of art in its way than Boston, Massachusetts; but Boston is a
handsome, well-built, regular town, while London--well, I will spare you
the further repetition of the trite truism that London is a squalid
village. In one word, the point I am seeking to bring out here is that a
town, as a town, is handsome or otherwise, not in virtue of the works of
art or antiquity it contains, but in virtue of its ground-plan, its
architecture, its external and visible decorations and places--the
Louvre, the Boulevards, the Champs Elysées, the Place de l'Opéra.

Now London has no ground-plan. It has no street architecture. It has no
decorations, though it has many uglifications. It is frankly and simply
and ostentatiously hideous. And being wholly wanting in a system of any
sort--in organic parts, in idea, in views, in vistas--it is only a
village, and a painfully uninteresting one.

Most Englishmen see London before they see any other great town. They
become so familiarised with it that their sense of comparison is dulled
and blunted. I had the good fortune to have seen many other great towns
before I ever saw London: and I shall never forget my first sense of
surprise at its unmitigated ugliness.

Get on top of an omnibus--I don't say in Paris, from the Palais Royal to
the Arc de Triomphe, but in Brussels, from the Gare du Nord to the
Palais de Justice--and what do you see? From end to end one unbroken
succession of noble and open prospects. I'm not thinking now of the
Grande Place in the old town, with its magnificent collection of
mediæval buildings; the Great Fire effectively deprived us of our one
sole chance of such an element of beauty in modern London. I confine
myself on purpose to the parts of Brussels which are purely recent, and
might have been imitated at a distance in London, if there had been any
public spirit or any public body in England to imitate them. (But
unhappily there was neither.) Recall to mind as you read the strikingly
handsome street view that greets you as you emerge from the Northern
Station down the great central Boulevards to the Gare du Midi--all built
within our own memory. Then think of the prospects that gradually unfold
themselves as you rise on the hill; the fine vista north towards Sainte
Marie de Schaarbeck; the beautiful Rue Royale, bounded by that charming
Parc; the unequalled stretch of the Rue de la Régence, starting from the
Place Royale with Godfrey of Bouillon, and ending with the imposing mass
of the Palais de Justice. It is to me a matter for mingled surprise and
humiliation that so many Englishmen can look year after year at that
glorious street--perhaps the finest in the world--and yet never think to
themselves, "Mightn't we faintly imitate some small part of this in our
wealthy, ugly, uncompromising London?"

I always say to Americans who come to Europe: "When you go to England,
don't see our towns, but see our country. Our country is something
unequalled in the world: while our towns!--well, anyway, keep away from

With the solitary and not very brilliant exception of the Embankment,
there isn't a street in London where one could take a stranger to admire
the architecture. Compare that record with the new Boulevards in
Antwerp, where almost every house is worth serious study: or with the
Ring at Cologne (to keep close home all the time), where one can see
whole rows of German Renaissance houses of extraordinary interest. What
street in London can be mentioned in this respect side by side with
Commonwealth Avenue or Beacon Street in Boston; with Euclid Avenue in
Cleveland, Ohio; with the upper end of Fifth Avenue, New York; nay, even
with the new Via Roma at Genoa? Why is it that we English can't get on
the King's Road at Brighton anything faintly approaching that splendid
sea front on the Digue at Ostend, or those coquettish white villas that
line the Promenade des Anglais at Nice? The blight of London seems to
lie over all Southern England.

Paris looks like the capital of a world-wide empire. London, looks like
a shapeless neglected suburb, allowed to grow up by accident anyhow. And
that's just the plain truth of it. 'Tis a fortuitous concourse of
hap-hazard houses.

"But we are improving somewhat. The County Council is opening out a few
new thoroughfares piecemeal." Oh yes, in an illogical, unsystematic,
English patchwork fashion, we are driving a badly-designed, unimpressive
new street or two, with no expansive sense of imperial greatness,
through the hopelessly congested and most squalid quarters. But that is
all. No grand, systematic, reconstructive plan, no rising to the height
of the occasion and the Empire! You tinker away at a Shaftesbury Avenue.
Parochial, all of it. And there you get the real secret of our futile
attempts at making a town out of our squalid village. The fault lies all
at the door of the old Corporation, and of the people who made and still
make the old Corporation possible. For centuries, indeed, there was
really no London, not even a village; there was only a scratch
collection of contiguous villages. The consequence was that here, at the
centre of national life, the English people grew wholly unaccustomed to
the bare idea of a town, and managed everything piecemeal, on the petty
scale of a country vestry. The vestryman intelligence has now overrun
the land; and if the London County Council ever succeeds at last in
making the congeries of villages into--I do not say a city, for that is
almost past praying for, but something analogous to a second-rate
Continental town, it will only be after long lapse of time and violent
struggles with the vestryman level of intellect and feeling.

London had many great disadvantages to start with. She lay in a dull and
marshy bottom, with no building stone at hand, and therefore she was
forecondemned by her very position to the curse of brick and stucco,
when Bath, Oxford, Edinburgh, were all built out of their own quarries.
Then fire destroyed all her mediæval architecture, leaving her only
Westminster Abbey to suggest the greatness of her losses. But
brick-earth and fire have been as nothing in their way by the side of
the evil wrought by Gog and Magog. When five hundred trembling ghosts of
naked Lord Mayors have to answer for their follies and their sins
hereafter, I confidently expect the first question in the appalling
indictment will be, "Why did you allow the richest nation on earth to
house its metropolis in a squalid village?"

We have a Moloch in England to whom we sacrifice much. And his hateful
name is Vested Interest.



A certain story is told about Mr. Ruskin, no doubt apocryphal, but at
any rate characteristic. A young lady, fresh from the Abyss of
Bayswater, met the sage one evening at dinner--a gushing young lady, as
many such there be--who, aglow with joy, boarded the Professor at once
with her private art-experiences. "Oh, Mr. Ruskin," she cried, clasping
her hands, "do you know, I hadn't been two days in Florence before I
discovered what you meant when you spoke about the supreme
unapproachableness of Botticelli." "Indeed?" Ruskin answered. "Well,
that's very remarkable; for it took me, myself, half a lifetime to
discover it."

The answer, of course, was meant to be crushing. How should _she_, a
brand plucked from the burning of Bayswater, be able all at once, on the
very first blush, to appreciate Botticelli? And it took the greatest
critic of his age half a lifetime! Yet I venture to maintain, for all
that, that the young lady was right, and that the critic was wrong--if
such a thing be conceivable. I know, of course, that when we speak of
Ruskin we must walk delicately, like Agag. But still, I repeat it, the
young lady was right; and it was largely the unconscious, pervasive
action of Mr. Ruskin's own personality that enabled her to be so.

It's all the Zeitgeist: that's where it is. The slow irresistible
Zeitgeist. Fifty years ago, men's taste had been so warped and distorted
by current art and current criticism that they _couldn't_ see
Botticelli, however hard they tried at it. He was a sealed book to our
fathers. In those days it required a brave, a vigorous, and an original
thinker to discover any merit in any painter before Raffael, except
perhaps, as Goldsmith wisely remarked, Perugino. The man who went then
to the Uffizi or the Pitti, after admiring as in duty bound his High
Renaissance masters, found himself suddenly confronted with the Judith
or the Calumny, and straightway wondered what manner of strange wild
beasts these were that some insane early Tuscan had once painted to
amuse himself in a lucid interval. They were not in the least like the
Correggios and the Guidos, the Lawrences and the Opies, that the men of
that time had formed their taste upon, and accepted as their sole
artistic standards. To people brought up upon pure David and
Thorvaldsen, the Primavera at the Belle Arti must naturally have seemed
like a wild freak of madness. The Zeitgeist then went all in the
direction of cold lifeless correctness; the idea that the painter's soul
counted for something in art was an undreamt of heresy.

On your way back from Paris some day, stop a night at Amiens and take
the Cathedral seriously. Half the stately interior of that glorious
thirteenth century pile is encrusted and overlaid by hideous gewgaw
monstrosities of the flashiest Bernini and _baroque_ period. There they
sprawl their obtrusive legs and wave their flaunting theatrical wings to
the utter destruction of all repose and consistency in one of the
noblest and most perfect buildings of Europe. Nowadays, any child, any
workman can see at a glance how ugly and how disfiguring those floppy
creatures are; it is impossible to look at them without saying to
oneself: "Why don't they clear away all this high-faluting rubbish, and
let us see the real columns and arches and piers as their makers
designed them?" Yet who was it that put them there, those unspeakable
angels in muslin drapery, those fly-away nymphs and graces and seraphim?
Why, the best and most skilled artists of their day in Europe. And
whence comes it that the merest child can now see instinctively how out
of place they are, how disfiguring, how incongruous? Why, because the
Gothic revival has taught us all by degrees to appreciate the beauty and
delicacy of a style which to our eighteenth century ancestors was mere
barbaric mediævalism; has taught us to admire its exquisite purity, and
to dislike the obstrusive introduction into its midst of incongruous and
meretricious Bernini-like flimsiness.

The Zeitgeist has changed, and we have changed with it.

It is just the same with our friend Botticelli. Scarce a dozen years
ago, it was almost an affectation to pretend you admired him. It is no
affectation now. Hundreds of assorted young women from the Abyss of
Bayswater may rise any morning here in sacred Florence and stand
genuinely enchanted before the Adoration of the Kings, or the Venus who
floats on her floating shell in a Botticellian ocean. And why? Because
Leighton, Holman Hunt, Rossetti, Burne-Jones, Madox Brown, Strudwick,
have led them slowly up to it by golden steps innumerable. Thirty years
ago the art of the early Tuscan painters was something to us Northerners
exotic, strange, unconnected, archæological. Gradually, it has been
brought nearer and nearer to us on the walls of the Grosvenor and the
New Gallery, till now he that runs may read; the ingenuous maiden,
fished from the Abyss of Bayswater, can drink in at a glance what it
took a Ruskin many years of his life and much slow development to attain
to piecemeal.

That is just what all great men are for--to make the world accept as a
truism in the generation after them what it rejected as a paradox in the
generation before them.

Not, of course, that there isn't a little of affectation, and still more
of fashion, to the very end in all of it. An immense number of people,
incapable of genuinely admiring anything for its own sake at all, are
anxious only to be told what they "ought to admire, don't you know," and
will straightway proceed as conscientiously as they can to get up an
admiration for it. A friend of mine told me a beautiful example. Two
aspiring young women, of the limp-limbed, short-haired, æsthetic
species, were standing rapt before the circular Madonna at the Uffizi.
They had gazed at it long and lovingly, seeing it bore on its frame the
magic name of Botticelli. Of a sudden one of the pair happened to look a
little nearer at the accusing label. "Why, this is not Sandro," she
cried, with a revulsion of disgust; "this is only Aless." And
straightway they went off from the spot in high dudgeon at having been
misled as they supposed into examining the work of "another person of
the same name."

Need I point the moral of my apologue, in this age of enlightenment, by
explaining, for the benefit of the junior members, that the gentleman's
full name was really Alessandro, and that both abbreviations are
impartially intended to cover his one and indivisible personality? The
first half is official, like Alex.; the second affectionate and
familiar, like Sandy.

Still, even after making due allowance for such humbugs as these, a vast
residuum remains of people who, if born sixty years ago, could never by
any possibility have been made to see there was anything admirable in
Lippi, Botticelli, Giotto; but who, having been born thirty years ago,
see it without an effort. Hundreds who read these lines must themselves
remember the unmistakable thrill of genuine pleasure with which they
first gazed upon the Fra Angelicos at San Marco, the Memlings at Bruges,
the Giottos in the Madonna dell' Arena at Padua. To many of us, those
are real epochs in our inner life. To the men of fifty years ago, the
bare avowal itself would have seemed little short of affected silliness.

Is the change all due to the teaching of the teachers and the preaching
of the preachers? I think not entirely. For, after all, the teachers and
the preachers are but a little ahead of the age they live in. They see
things earlier; they help to lead us up to them; but they do not wholly
produce the revolutions they inaugurate. Humanity as a whole develops
consistently along certain pre-established and predestined lines. Sooner
or later, a certain point must inevitably be reached; but some of us
reach it sooner, and most of us later. That's all the difference. Every
great change is mainly due to the fact that we have all already attained
a certain point in development. A step in advance becomes inevitable
after that, and one after another we are sure to take it. In one word,
what it needed a man of genius to see dimly thirty years ago, it needs a
singular fool not to see clearly nowadays.



Men don't marry nowadays. So everybody tells us. And I suppose we may
therefore conclude, by a simple act of inference, that women in turn
don't marry either. It takes two, of course, to make a quarrel--or a

Why is this? "Young people nowadays want to begin where their fathers
left off." "Men are made so comfortable at present in their clubs."
"College-bred girls have no taste for housekeeping." "Rents are so high
and manners so luxurious." Good heavens, what silly trash, what puerile
nonsense! Are we all little boys and girls, I ask you, that we are to
put one another off with such transparent humbug? Here we have to deal
with a primitive instinct--the profoundest and deepest-seated instinct
of humanity, save only the instincts of food and drink and of
self-preservation. Man, like all other animals, has two main functions:
to feed his own organism, and to reproduce his species. Ancestral habit
leads him, when mature, to choose himself a mate--because he loves her.
It drives him, it urges him, it goads him irresistibly. If this profound
impulse is really lacking to-day in any large part of our race, there
must be some correspondingly profound and adequate reason for it. Don't
let us deceive ourselves with shallow platitudes which may do for
drawing-rooms. This is philosophy, even though post-prandial. Let us try
to take a philosophic view of the question at issue, from the point of
vantage of a biological outlook.

Before you begin to investigate the causes of a phenomenon _quelconque_,
'tis well to decide whether the phenomenon itself is there to

Taking society throughout--_not_ in the sense of those "forty families"
to which the term is restricted by Lady Charles Beresford--I doubt
whether marriage is much out of fashion. Statistics show a certain
decrease, it is true, but not an alarming one. Among the labouring
classes, I imagine men, and also women, still wed pretty frequently.
When people say, "Young men won't marry nowadays," they mean young men
in a particular stratum of society, roughly bounded by a silk hat on
Sundays. Now, when you and I were young (I take it for granted that you
and I are approaching the fifties) young men did marry; even within this
restricted area, 'twas their wholesome way in life to form an attachment
early with some nice girl in their own set, and to start at least with
the idea of marrying her. Toward that goal they worked; for that end
they endured and sacrificed many things. True, even then, the long
engagement was the rule; but the long engagement itself meant some
persistent impulse, some strong impetus marriage-wards. The desire of
the man to make this woman his own, the longing to make this woman
happy--normal and healthy endowments of our race--had still much
driving-power. Nowadays, I seriously think I observe in most young men
of the middle class around me a distinct and disastrous weakening of the
impulse. They don't fall in love as frankly, as honestly, as
irretrievably as they used to do. They shilly-shally, they pick and
choose, they discuss, they criticise. They say themselves these futile
foolish things about the club, and the flat, and the cost of living.
They believe in Malthus. Fancy a young man who believes in Malthus! They
seem in no hurry at all to get married. But thirty or forty years ago,
young men used to rush by blind instinct into the toils of
matrimony--because they couldn't help themselves. Such Laodicean
luke-warmness betokens in the class which exhibits it a weakening of
impulse. That weakening of impulse is really the thing we have to
account for.

Young men of a certain type don't marry, because--they are less of young
men than formerly.

Wild animals in confinement seldom propagate their kind. Only a few
caged birds will continue their species. Whatever upsets the balance of
the organism, in an individual or a race tends first of all to affect
the rate of reproduction. Civilise the red man, and he begins to
decrease at once in numbers. Turn the Sandwich Islands into a trading
community, and the native Hawaiian refuses forthwith to give hostages to
fortune. Tahiti is dwindling. From the moment the Tasmanians were taken
to Norfolk Island, not a single Tasmanian baby was born. The Jesuits
made a model community of Paraguay; but they altered the habits of the
Paraguayans so fast that the reverend fathers, who were, of course,
themselves celibates, were compelled to take strenuous and even
grotesque measures to prevent the complete and immediate extinction of
their converts. Other cases in abundance I might quote an I would; but I
limit myself to these. They suffice to exhibit the general principle
involved; any grave upset in the conditions of life affects first and at
once the fertility of a species.

"But colonists often increase with rapidity." Ay, marry, do they, where
the conditions of life are easy. At the present day most colonists go to
fairly civilised regions; they are transported to their new home by
steamboat and railway; they find for the most part more abundant
provender and more wholesome surroundings than in their native country.
There is no real upset. Better food and easier life, as Herbert Spencer
has shown, result (other things equal) in increased fertility. His
chapters on this subject in the "Principles of Biology" should be read
by everybody who pretends to talk on questions of population. But in new
and difficult colonies the increase is slight. Whatever compels greater
wear and tear of the nervous system proves inimical to the reproductive
function. The strain and stress of co-ordination with novel
circumstances and novel relations affect most injuriously the organic
balance. The African negro has long been accustomed to agricultural toil
and to certain simple arts in his own country. Transported to the West
Indies and the United States, he found life no harder than of old, if
not, indeed, easier. He had abundant food, protection, security, a kind
of labour for which he was well adapted. Instead of dying out,
therefore, he was fruitful, and multiplied, and replenished the earth
amazingly. But the Red Indian, caught blatant in the hunting stage,
refused to be tamed, and could not swallow civilisation. He pined and
dwined and decreased in his "reservations." The change was too great,
too abrupt, too brusque for him. The papoose before long became an
extinct animal.

Is not the same thing true of the middle class of England? Civilisation
and its works have come too quickly upon us. The strain and stress of
correlating and co-ordinating the world we live in are getting too much
for us. Railways, telegraphs, the penny post, the special edition, have
played havoc at last with our nervous systems. We are always on the
stretch, rushing and tearing perpetually. We bolt our breakfasts; we
catch the train or 'bus by the skin of our teeth, to rattle us into the
City; we run down to Scotland or over to Paris on business; we lunch in
London and dine in Glasgow, Belfast, or Calcutta. (Excuse imagination.)
The tape clicks perpetually in our ears the last quotation in Eries; the
telephone rings us up at inconvenient moments. Something is always
happening somewhere to disturb our equanimity; we tear open the _Times_
with feverish haste, to learn that Kimberleys or Jabez Balfour have
fallen, that Matabeleland has been painted red, that shares have gone
up, or gone down, or evaporated. Life is one turmoil of excitement and
bustle. Financially, 'tis a series of dissolving views; personally 'tis
a rush; socially, 'tis a mosaic of deftly-fitted engagements. Drop out
one piece, and you can never replace it. You are full next week from
Monday to Saturday--business all day, what calls itself pleasure (save
the mark!) all evening. Poor old Leisure is dead. We hurry and scurry
and flurry eternally. One whirl of work from morning till night: then
dress and dine: one whirl of excitement from night till morning. A snap
of troubled sleep, and again _da capo_. Not an hour, not a minute, we
can call our own. A wire from a patient ill abed in Warwickshire! A wire
from a client hard hit in Hansards! Endless editors asking for more
copy! more copy! Alter to suit your own particular trade, and 'tis the
life of all of us.

The first generation after Stephenson and the Rocket pulled through with
it somehow. They inherited the sound constitutions of the men who sat on
rustic seats in the gardens of the twenties. The second
generation--that's you and me--felt the strain of it more severely: new
machines had come in to make life still more complicated: sixpenny
telegrams, Bell and Edison, submarine cables, evening papers,
perturbations pouring in from all sides incessantly; the suburbs
growing, the hubbub increasing, Metropolitan railways, trams, bicycles,
innumerable: but natheless we still endured, and presented the world all
the same with a third generation. That third generation--ah me! there
comes the pity of it! One fancies the impulse to marry and rear a family
has wholly died out of it. It seems to have died out most in the class
where the strain and stress are greatest. I don't think young men of
that class to-day have the same feelings towards women of their sort as
formerly. Nobody, I trust, will mistake me for a reactionary: in most
ways, the modern young man is a vast improvement on you and me at
twenty-five. But I believe there is really among young men in towns less
chivalry, less devotion, less romance than there used to be. That, I
take it, is the true reason why young men don't marry. With certain
classes and in certain places a primitive instinct of our race has
weakened. They say this weakening is accompanied in towns by an increase
in sundry hateful and degrading vices. I don't know if that is so; but
at least one would expect it. Any enfeeblement of the normal and natural
instinct of virility would show itself first in morbid aberrations. On
that I say nothing. I only say this--that I think the present crisis in
the English marriage market is due, not to clubs or the comfort of
bachelor quarters, but to the cumulative effect of nervous



It is admitted on all hands by this time, I suppose, that the best way
of learning is by eye, not by ear. Therefore the authorities that
prescribe for us our education among all classes have decided that we
shall learn by ear, not by eye. Which is just what one might expect from
a vested interest.

Of course this superiority of sight over hearing is pre-eminently true
of natural science--that is to say, of nine-tenths among the subjects
worth learning by humanity. The only real way to learn geology, for
example, is not to mug it up in a printed text-book, but to go into the
field with a geologist's hammer. The only real way to learn zoology and
botany is not by reading a volume of natural history, but by collecting,
dissecting, observing, preserving, and comparing specimens. Therefore,
of course, natural science has never been a favourite study in the eyes
of school-masters, who prefer those subjects which can be taught in a
room to a row of boys on a bench, and who care a great deal less than
nothing for any subject which isn't "good to examine in." Educational
value and importance in after life have been sacrificed to the teacher's
ease and convenience, or to the readiness with which the pupil's
progress can be tested on paper. Not what is best to learn, but what is
least trouble to teach in great squads to boys, forms the staple of our
modern English education. They call it "education," I observe in the
papers, and I suppose we must fall in with that whim of the profession.

But even the subjects which belong by rights to the ear can nevertheless
be taught by the eye more readily. Everybody knows how much easier it is
to get up the history and geography of a country when you are actually
in it than when you are merely reading about it. It lives and moves
before you. The places, the persons, the monuments, the events, all
become real to you. Each illustrates each, and each tends to impress the
other on the memory. Sight burns them into the brain without conscious
effort. You can learn more of Egypt and of Egyptian history, culture,
hieroglyphics, and language in a few short weeks at Luxor or Sakkarah
than in a year at the Louvre and the British Museum. The Tombs of the
Kings are worth many papyri. The mere sight of the temples and obelisks
and monuments and inscriptions, in the places where their makers
originally erected them, gives a sense of reality and interest to them
all that no amount of study under alien conditions can possibly equal.
We have all of us felt that the only place to observe Flemish art to the
greatest advantage is at Ghent and Bruges and Brussels and Antwerp; just
as the only place to learn Florentine art as it really was is at the
Uffizi and the Bargello.

These things being so, the authorities who have charge of our public
education, primary, secondary, and tertiary, have decided in their
wisdom--to do and compel the exact contrary. Object-lessons and the
visible being admittedly preferable to rote-lessons and the audible,
they have prescribed that our education, so called, shall be mainly an
education not in things and properties, but in books and reading. They
have settled that it shall deal almost entirely and exclusively with
language and with languages; that words, not objects, shall be the facts
it impresses on the minds of the pupils. In our primary schools they
have insisted upon nothing but reading and writing, with just a
smattering of arithmetic by way of science. In our secondary schools
they have insisted upon nothing but Greek and Latin, with about an equal
leaven of algebra and geometry. This mediæval fare (I am delighted that
I can thus agree for once with Professor Ray Lankester) they have thrust
down the throats of all the world indiscriminately; so much so that
nowadays people seem hardly able at last to conceive of any other than a
linguistic education as possible. You will hear many good folk who talk
with contempt of Greek and Latin; but when you come to inquire what new
mental pabulum they would substitute for those quaint and grotesque
survivals of the Dark Ages, you find what they want instead is--modern
languages. The idea that language of any sort forms no necessary element
in a liberal education has never even occurred to them. They take it for
granted that when you leave off feeding boys on straw and oats you must
supply them instead with hay and sawdust.

Not that I rage against Greek and Latin as such. It is well we should
have many specialists among us who understand them, just as it is well
we should have specialists in Anglo-Saxon and Sanskrit. I merely mean
that they are not the sum and substance of educational method. They are
at best but two languages of considerable importance to the student of
purely human evolution.

Furthermore, even these comparatively useless linguistic subjects could
themselves be taught far better by sight than by hearing. A week at Rome
would give your average boy a much clearer idea of the relations of the
Capitol with the Palatine than all the pretty maps in Dr. William
Smith's Smaller Classical Dictionary. It would give him also a sense of
the reality of the Latin language and the Latin literature, which he
could never pick up out of a dog-eared Livy or a thumb-marked Æneid. You
have only to look across from the top of the Janiculum, towards the
white houses of Frascati, to learn a vast deal more about the Alban
hills and the site of Tusculum than ever you could mug up from all the
geography books in the British Museum. The way to learn every subject on
earth, even book-lore included, is not out of books alone, but by actual

And yet it is impossible for any one among us to do otherwise than
acquiesce in this vicious circle. Why? Just because no man can
dissociate himself outright from the social organism of which he forms a
component member. He can no more do so than the eye can dissociate
itself from the heart and lungs, or than the legs can shake themselves
free from the head and stomach. We have all to learn, and to let our
boys learn, what authority decides for us. We can't give them a better
education than the average, even if we know what it is and desire to
impart it, because the better education, though abstractly more
valuable, is now and here the inlet to nothing. Every door is barred
with examinations, and opens but to the golden key of the crammer. Not
what is of most real use and importance in life, but what "pays best" in
examination, is the test of desirability. We are the victims of a
system; and our only hope of redress is not by sporadic individual
action but by concerted rebellion. We must cry out against the abuse
till at last we are heard by dint of our much speaking. In a world so
complex and so highly organised as ours, the individual can only do
anything in the long run by influencing the mass--by securing the
co-operation of many among his fellows.

Meanwhile, I believe it is gradually becoming the fact that our girls,
who till lately were so very ill-taught, are beginning to know more of
what is really worth knowing than their public-school-bred brothers. For
the public school still goes on with the system of teaching it has
derived direct from the thirteenth century; while the girls' schools,
having started fair and fresh, are beginning to assimilate certain newer
ideas belonging to the seventeenth and even the eighteenth. In time they
may conceivably come down to the more elementary notions of the present
generation. Less hampered by professions and examinations than the boys,
the girls are beginning to know something now, not indeed of the
universe in which they live, its laws and its properties, but of
literature and history, and the principal facts about human development.
Yet all the time, the boys go on as ever with Musa, Musæ, like so many
parrots, and are turned out at last, in nine cases out of ten, with just
enough smattering of Greek and Latin grammar to have acquired a
life-long distaste for Horace and an inconquerable incapacity for
understanding Æschylus. One year in Italy with their eyes open would be
worth more than three at Oxford; and six months in the fields with a
platyscopic lens would teach them strange things about the world around
them that all the long terms at Harrow and Winchester have failed to
discover to them. But that would involve some trouble to the teacher.

What a misfortune it is that we should thus be compelled to let our
boys' schooling interfere with their education!



I have picked up on the moor the chrysalis of a common English
butterfly. As I sit on the heather and turn it over attentively, while
it wriggles in my hands, I can't help thinking how closely it resembles
the present condition of our British commonwealth. It is a platitude,
indeed, to say that "this is an age of transition." But it would be
truer and more graphic perhaps to put it that this is an age in which
England, and for the matter of that every other European country as
well, is passing through something like the chrysalis stage in its

But, first of all, do you clearly understand what a chrysalis is driving
at? It means more than it seems; the change that goes on within that
impassive case is a great deal more profound than most people imagine.
When the caterpillar is just ready to turn into a butterfly it lies by
for a while, full of internal commotion, and feels all its organs slowly
melting one by one into a sort of indistinguishable protoplasmic pulp;
chaos precedes the definite re-establishment of a fresh form of order.
Limbs and parts and nervous system all disappear for a time, and then
gradually grow up again in new and altered types. The caterpillar, if it
philosophised on its own state at all (which seems to be very little the
habit of well-conducted caterpillars, as of well-conducted young
ladies), might easily be excused for forming just at first the
melancholy impression that a general dissolution was coming over it
piecemeal. It must begin by feeling legs and eyes and nervous centres
melt away by degrees into a common indistinguishable organic pulp, out
of which the new organs only slowly form themselves in obedience to the
law of some internal impulse. But when the process is all over, and--hi,
presto!--the butterfly emerges at last from the chrysalis condition,
what does it find but that instead of having lost everything it has new
and stronger legs in place of the old and feeble ones; it has nerves and
brain more developed than before; it has wings for flight instead of
mere creeping little feet to crawl with? What seemed like chaos was
really nothing more than the necessary kneading up of all component
parts into a plastic condition which precedes every fresh departure in
evolution. The old must fade before the new can replace it.

Now I am not going to work this perhaps somewhat fanciful analogy to
death, or pretend it is anything more than a convenient metaphor. Still,
taken as such, it is not without its luminosity. For a metaphor, by
supplying us with a picturable representation, often enables us really
to get at the hang of the thing a vast deal better than the most solemn
argument. And I fancy communities sometimes pass through just such a
chrysalis stage, when it seems to the timid and pessimistic in their
midst as if every component element of the State (but especially the one
in which they themselves and their friends are particularly interested)
were rushing violently down a steep place to eternal perdition. Chaos
appears to be swallowing up everything. "The natural relations of
classes" disappear. Faiths melt; churches dissolve; morals fade; bonds
fail; a universal magma of emancipated opinion seems to take the place
of old-established dogma. The squires and the parsons of the
period--call them scribes or augurs--wring their hands in despair, and
cry aloud that they don't know what the world is coming to. But, after
all, it is only the chrysalis stage of a new system. The old social
order must grow disjointed and chaotic before the new social order can
begin to evolve from it. The establishment of a plastic consistency in
the mass is the condition precedent of the higher development.

Not, of course, that this consideration will ever afford one grain of
comfort to the squires and the parsons of each successive epoch; for
what _they_ want is not the reasonable betterment of the whole social
organism, but the continuance of just this particular type of squiredom
and parsonry. That is what they mean by "national welfare;" and any
interference with it they criticise in all ages with the current
equivalent for the familiar Tory formula that "the country is going to
the devil."

Sometimes these great social reconstructions of which I speak are forced
upon communities by external factors interfering with their fixed
internal order, as happened when the influx of northern barbarians broke
up the decaying and rotten organism of the Roman Empire. Sometimes,
again, they occur from internal causes, in an acute, and so to speak,
inflammatory condition, as at the French Revolution. But sometimes, as
in our own time and country, they are slowly brought about by organic
development, so as really to resemble in all essential points the
chrysalis type of evolution. Politically, socially, theologically,
ethically, the old fixed beliefs seem at such periods to grow fluid or
plastic. New feelings and habits and aspirations take their place. For a
while a general chaos of conflicting opinions and nascent ideas is
produced. The mass for the moment seems formless and lawless. Then new
order supervenes, as the magma settles down and begins to crystallise;
till at last, I'm afraid, the resulting social organism becomes for the
most part just as rigid, just as definite, just as dogmatic, just as
exacting, as the one it has superseded. The caterpillar has grown into a
particular butterfly.

Through just such a period of reconstruction Europe in general and
Britain in particular are now in all likelihood beginning to pass. And
they will come out at the other end translated and transfigured. Laws
and faiths and morals will all of them have altered. There will be a new
heaven and a new earth for the men and women of the new epoch. Strange
that people should make such a fuss about a detail like Home Rule, when
the foundations of society are all becoming fluid. Don't flatter
yourself for a moment that your particular little sect or your
particular little dogma is going to survive the gentle cataclysm any
more than my particular little sect or my particular little dogma. All
alike are doomed to inevitable reconstruction. "We can't put the
Constitution into the melting-pot," said Mr. John Morley, if I recollect
his words aright. But at the very moment when he said it, in my humble
opinion, the Constitution was already well into the melting-pot, and
even beginning to simmer merrily. Federalism, or something extremely
like it, may with great probability be the final outcome of that
particular melting; though anything else is perhaps just as probable,
and in any case the melting is general, not special. The one thing we
can guess with tolerable certainty is that the melting-pot stage has
begun to overtake us, socially, ethically, politically,
ecclesiastically; and that what will emerge from the pot at the end of
it must depend at last upon the relative strength of those unknown
quantities--the various formative elements.

Being the most optimistic of pessimists, however, I will venture (after
this disclaimer of prophecy) to prophesy one thing alone: 'Twill be a
butterfly, not a grub, that comes out of our chrysalis.

Beyond that, I hold all prediction premature. We may guess and we may
hope, but we can have no certainty. Save only the certainty that no
element will outlive the revolution unchanged--not faiths, nor classes,
nor domestic relations, nor any other component factor of our complex
civilisation. All are becoming plastic in the organic plasm; all are
losing features in the common mass of the melting-pot. For that reason,
I never trouble my head for a moment when people object to me that this,
that, or the other petty point of detail in Bellamy's Utopia or William
Morris's Utopia, or my own little private and particular Utopia, is
impossible, or unrealisable, or wicked, or hateful. For these, after
all, are mere Utopias; their details are the outcome of individual
wishes; what will emerge must be, not a Utopia at all, either yours or
mine, but a practical reality, full of shifts and compromises most
unphilosophical and illogical--a practical reality distasteful in many
ways to all us Utopia-mongers. "The Millennium by return of post" is no
more realisable to-day than yesterday. The greatest of revolutions can
only produce that unsatisfactory result, a new human organisation.

Yet, it is something, after all, to believe at least that the grub will
emerge into a full-fledged butterfly. Not, perhaps, quite as glossy in
the wings as we could wish; but a butterfly all the same, not a crawling



I have always regarded Monte Carlo as an Influence for Good. It helps to
keep so many young men off the Stock Exchange.

Let me guard against an obvious but unjust suspicion. These remarks are
not uttered under the exhilarating effect of winning at the tables.
Quite the contrary. It is the Bank that has broken the Man to-day
at Monte Carlo. They are rather due to the chastening and
thought-compelling influence of persistent loss, not altogether
unbalanced by a well-cooked lunch at perhaps the best restaurant in any
town of Europe. I have lost my little pile. The eight five-franc pieces
which I annually devote out of my scanty store to the tutelary god of
roulette have been snapped up, one after another, in breathless haste,
by the sphinx-like croupiers, impassive priests of that rapacious deity,
and now I am sitting, cleaned out, by the edge of the terrace, on a
brilliant, cloudless, February afternoon, looking across the zoned and
belted bay towards the beautiful grey hills of Rocca-bruna and the
gleaming white spit of Bordighera in the distance. 'Tis a modest
tribute, my poor little forty francs. Surely the veriest puritan, the
oiliest Chadband of them all, will allow a humble scribbler, at so cheap
a yearly rate, to purchase wisdom, not unmixed with tolerance, at the
gilded shrine of Fors Fortuna!

For what a pother, after all, the unwise of this world are wont to make
about one stranded gambling-house, in a remote corner of Liguria! If
they were in earnest or sincere, how small a matter they would think it!
Of course, when I say so, hypocrisy holds up its hands in holy horror.
But that is the way with the purveyors of mint, cumin, and anise; they
raise a mighty hubbub over some unimportant detail--in order to feel
their consciences clear when business compels them to rob the widow and
the orphan. In reality, though Monte Carlo is bad enough in its way--do
I not pay it unwilling tribute myself twice a year out of the narrow
resources of The Garret, Grub Street?--it is but a skin-deep surface
symptom of a profound disease which attacks the heart and core in London
and Paris. Compared with Panama, Argentines, British South Africans, and
Liberators, Monte Carlo is a mole on the left ankle.

"The Devil's advocate!" you say. Well, well, so be it. The fact is, the
supposed moral objection to gambling as such is a purely commercial
objection of a commercial nation; and the reason so much importance is
attached to it in certain places is because at that particular vice men
are likely to lose their money. It is largely a fetish, like the
sinfulness of cards, of dice, of billiards. Moreover, the objection is
only to the _kind_ of gambling. There is another kind, less open, at
which you stand a better chance to win yourself, while other parties
stand a better chance to lose; and that kind, which is played in great
gambling-houses known as the Stock Exchange and the Bourse, is
considered, morally speaking, as quite innocuous. Large fortunes are
made at this other sort of gambling, which, of course, sanctifies and
almost canonises it. Indeed, if you will note, you will find not only
that the objection to gambling pure and simple is commonest in the most
commercial countries, but also that even there it is commonest among the
most commercial classes. The landed aristocracy, the military, and the
labouring men have no objection to betting; nor have the Neapolitan
lazzaroni, the Chinese coolies. It is the respectable English
counting-house that discourages the vice, especially among the clerks,
who are likely to make the till or the cheque-book rectify the little
failures of their flutter on the Derby.

Observe how artificial is the whole mild out-cry: how absolutely it
partakes of the nature of damning the sins you have no mind to! Here, on
the terrace where I sit, and where ladies in needlessly costly robes are
promenading up and down to exhibit their superfluous wealth
ostentatiously to one another, my ear is continuously assailed by the
constant _ping, ping, ping_ of the pigeon-shooting, and my peace
disturbed by the flapping death-agonies of those miserable victims. Yet
how many times have you heard the tables at Monte Carlo denounced to
once or never that you have heard a word said of the poor mangled
pigeons? And why? Because nobody loses much money at pigeon-matches.
That is legitimate sport, about as good and as bad as pheasant or
partridge shooting--no better, no worse, in spite of artificial
distinctions; and nobody (except the pigeons) has any interest in
denouncing it. Legend has it at Monte Carlo, indeed, that when the
proprietors of the Casino wished to take measures "pour attirer les
Anglais" they held counsel with the wise men whether it was best to
establish and endow an English church or a pigeon-shooting tournament.
And the church was in a minority. Since then, I have heard more than one
Anglican Bishop speak evil of the tables, but I have never heard one of
them say a good word yet for the boxed and slaughtered pigeons.

Let me take a more striking because a less hackneyed case--one that
still fewer people would think of. Everybody who visits Monte Carlo gets
there, of course, by the P.L.M. If you know this coast at all you will
know that P.L.M. is the curt and universal abbreviation for the Paris,
Lyon, Méditerranée Railway Company--in all probability the most gigantic
and wickedest monopoly on the face of this planet. Yet you never once
heard a voice raised yet against the company as a company. Individual
complaints get into the _Times_, of course, about the crowding of the
_train de luxe_, the breach of faith as to places, and the discomforts
of the journey; but never a glimmering conception seems to flit across
the popular mind that here is a Colossal Wrong, compared to which Monte
Carlo is but as a flea-bite to the Asiatic cholera. This chartered abuse
connects the three biggest towns in France--Paris, Lyon, Marseilles--and
is absolutely without competitors. It can do as it likes; and it does
it, regardless--I say "regardless," without qualification, because the
P.L.M. regards nobody and nothing. Yet one hears of no righteous
indignation, no uprising of the people in their angry thousands, no
moral recognition of the monopoly as a Wicked Thing, to be fought tooth
and nail, without quarter given. It probably causes a greater aggregate
of human misery in a week than Monte Carlo in a century. Besides, the
one is compulsory, the other optional. You needn't risk a louis on the
tables unless you choose, but, like it or lump it, if you're bound for
Nice or Cannes or Mentone, you must open your mouth and shut your eyes
and see what P.L.M. will send you. Our own railways, indeed, are by no
means free from blame at the hands of the Democracy: the South-Eastern
has not earned the eternal gratitude of its season-ticket holders; the
children of the Great Western do not rise up and call it blessed.
(Except, indeed, in the most uncomplimentary sense of blessing.) But the
P.L.M. goes much further than these; and I have always held that the one
solid argument for eternal punishment consists in the improbability that
its Board of Directors will be permitted to go scot-free for ever after
all their iniquities.

I am not wholly joking. I mean the best part of it. Great monopolies
that abuse their trust are far more dangerous enemies of public morals
than an honest gambling-house at every corner. Monte Carlo as it stands
is just a concentrated embodiment of all the evils of our anti-social
system, and the tables are by far the least serious among them. It is an
Influence for Good, because it mirrors our own world in all its naked,
all its over-draped hideousness. There it rears its meretricious head,
that gaudy Palace of Sin, appropriately decked in its Haussmanesque
architecture and its coquettish gardens, attracting to itself all the
idle, all the vicious, all the rich, all the unworthy, from every corner
of Europe and America. But Monte Carlo didn't make them; it only gathers
to its bosom its own chosen children from the places where they are
produced--from London, Paris, Brussels, New York, Berlin, St.
Petersburg. The vices of our organisation begot these over-rich folk,
begot their diamond-decked women, and their clipped French poodles with
gold bangles spanning their aristocratic legs. These are the spawn of
land-owning, of capitalism, of military domination, of High Finance, of
all the social ills that flesh is heir to. I feel as I pace the terrace
in the broad Mediterranean sunshine, that I am here in the midst of the
very best society Europe affords. That is to say, the very worst. The
dukes and the money-lenders, the Jay Goulds and the Reinachs. The
idlest, the cruellest: the hereditary drones, the successful
blood-suckers. But to find fault with them only for trying to
win one another's ill-gotten gold at a fair and open game of
_trente-et-quarante_, with the odds against them, and then to say
nothing about the way they came by it, is to make a needless fuss about
a trifle of detail, while overlooking the weightiest moral problems of

Whoever allows red herrings like these to be trailed across the path of
his moral consciousness, to the detriment of the scent which should lead
him straight on to the lairs of gigantic evils, deserves little credit
either for conscience or sagacity. My son, be wise. Strike at the root
of the evil. Let Monte Carlo go, but keep a stern eye on London



We Celts henceforth will rule the roost in Britain.

What is that you mutter? "A very inopportune moment to proclaim the
fact." Well, no, I don't think so. And I'm sorry to hear you say it, for
if there _is_ a quality on which I plume myself, it's the delicate tact
that makes me refrain from irritating the susceptibilities of the
sensitive Saxon. See how polite I am to him! I call him sensitive. But,
opportune or inopportune, Lord Salisbury says we are a Celtic fringe. I
beg to retort, we are the British people.

"Conquered races," say my friends. Well, grant it for a moment. But in
civilised societies, conquerors have, sooner or later, to amalgamate
with the conquered. And where the vanquished are more numerous, they
absorb the victors instead of being absorbed by them. That is the
Nemesis of conquest. Rome annexed Etruria; and Etruscan Mæcenas,
Etruscan Sejanus organised and consolidated the Roman Empire. Rome
annexed Italy; and the _Jus Italicum_ grew at last to be the full Roman
franchise. Rome annexed the civilised world; and the provinces under
Cæsar blotted out the Senate. Britain is passing now through the
self-same stage. One inevitable result of the widening of the electorate
has been the transfer of power from the Teutonic to the Celtic half of
Britain. I repeat, we are no longer a Celtic fringe: at the polls, in
Parliament, we are the British people. Lord Salisbury may fail to
perceive that fact, or, as I hold more probable, may affect to ignore
it. What will such tactics avail? The ostrich is not usually counted
among men as a perfect model of political wisdom.

And _are_ we, after all, the conquered peoples? Meseems, I doubt it.
They say we Celts dearly love a paradox--which is perhaps only the
sensible Saxon way of envisaging the fact that we catch at new truths
somewhat quicker than other people. At any rate, 'tis a pet little
paradox of my own that we have never been conquered, and that to our
unconquered state we owe in the main our Radicalism, our Socialism, our
ingrained love of political freedom. We are tribal not feudal; we think
the folk more important than his lordship. The Saxon of the south-east
is the conquered man: he has felt on his neck for generations the heel
of feudalism. He is slavish; he is snobbish; he dearly loves a lord. He
shouts himself hoarse for his Beaconsfield or his Salisbury. Till
lately, in his rural avatar, he sang but one song--

  "God bless the squire and his relations,
  And keep us in our proper stations."

Trite, isn't it? but so is the Saxon intelligence.

Seriously--for at times it is well to be serious--South-Eastern England,
the England of the plains, has been conquered and enslaved in a dozen
ages by each fresh invader. Before the dawn of history, Heaven knows
what shadowy Belgæ and Iceni enslaved it. But historical time will serve
our purpose. The Roman enslaved it, but left Caledonia and Hibernia
free, the Cambrian, the Silurian, the Cornishman half-subjugated. The
Saxon and Anglian enslaved the east, but scarcely crossed over the
watershed of the western ocean. The Dane, in turn, enslaved the Saxon in
East Anglia and Yorkshire. The Norman ground all down to a common
servitude between the upper and nether millstones of the feudal
system--the king and the nobleman. At the end of it all, Teutonic
England was reduced to a patient condition of contented serfdom: it had
accommodated itself to its environment: no wish was left in it for the
assertion of its freedom. To this day, the south-east, save where
leavened and permeated by Celtic influences, hugs its chains and loves
them. It produces the strange portent of the Conservative working-man,
who yearns to be led by Lord Randolph Churchill.

With the North and the West, things go wholly otherwise. Even Cornwall,
the earliest Celtic kingdom to be absorbed, was rather absorbed than
conquered. I won't go into the history of the West Welsh of Somerset,
Devon, and Cornwall at full length, because it would take ten pages to
explain it; and I know that readers are too profoundly interested in the
Shocking Murder in the Borough Road to devote half-an-hour to the origin
and evolution of their own community. It must suffice to say that the
Devonian and Cornubian Welsh coalesced with the West Saxon for
resistance to their common enemy the Dane, and that the West Saxon
kingdom was made supreme in Britain by the founder of the English
monarchy--one Dunstan, a monk from the West Welsh Abbey of Glastonbury.
Wales proper, overrun piecemeal by Norman filibusterers, was roughly
annexed by the Plantagenet kings; but it was only pacified under the
Welsh Tudors, and was never at any time thoroughly feudalised.
Glendower's rebellion, Richmond's rebellion, the Wesleyan revolt, the
Rebecca riots, the tithe war, are all continuous parts of the ceaseless
reaction of gallant little Wales against Teutonic aggression. "An alien
Church" still disturbs the Principality. The Lake District and
Ayrshire--Celtic Cumbria and Strathclyde--only accepted by degrees the
supremacy of the Kings of England and Scotland. The brother of a Scotch
King was Prince of Cumbria, as the elder son of an English King was
Prince of Wales. Indeed, David of Cumbria, who became David I. of
Scotland, was the real consolidator of the Scotch kingdom. Cumbria was
no more conquered by the Saxon Lothians than Scotland was conquered by
the accession of James I. or by the Act of Union. That means absorption,
conciliation, a certain degree of tribal independence. For Ireland, we
know that the "mere Irish" were never subjugated at all till the days of
Henry VII.; that they had to be reconquered by Cromwell and by William
of Orange; that they rebelled more or less throughout the eighteenth
century; and that they have been thorns in the side of Tory England
through the whole of the nineteenth. As for the Highlands, they held out
against the Stuarts till England had rejected that impossible dynasty;
and then they rallied round the Stuarts as the enemies of the Saxon.
General Wade's roads and the forts in the Great Glen, aided by a few
trifles of Glencoe massacres, kept them quiet for a moment. But it was
only for a moment. The North is once more in open revolt. Dr. Clark and
the crofters are its mode of expressing itself.

Nor is that all. The Celtic ideas have remained unaltered. Of course, I
am not silly enough to believe there is any such thing as a Celtic race.
I use the word merely as a convenient label for the league of the
unconquered peoples in Britain. Ireland alone contains half-a-dozen
races; and none of them appear to have anything in common with the Pict
of Aberdeenshire or the West-Welsh of Cornwall. All I mean when I speak
of Celtic ideas and Celtic ideals is the ideas and ideals proper and
common to unconquered races. As compared with the feudalised and
contented serf of South-Eastern England, are not the Irish peasant, the
Scotch clansman, the "statesman" of the dales, the Cornish miner, free
men every soul of them? English landlordism, imposed from without upon
the crofter of Skye or the rack-rented tenant of a Connemara hillside,
has never crushed out the native feeling of a right to the soil, the
native resistance to an alien system. The south-east, I assert, has been
brutalised into acquiescent serfdom by a long course of feudalism; the
west and north still retain the instincts of freemen.

As long as South-Eastern England and the Normanised or feudalised Saxon
lowlands of Scotland contained all the wealth, all the power, and most
of the population of Britain, the Celtic ideals had no chance of
realising themselves. But the industrial revolution of the present
century has turned us right-about-face, has transferred the balance of
power from the secondary strata to the primary strata in Britain; from
the agricultural lowlands to the uplands of coal and iron, the cotton
factories, the woollen trade. Great industrial cities have grown up in
the Celtic or semi-Celtic area--Glasgow, Liverpool, Manchester, Leeds,
Bradford, Sheffield, Belfast, Aberdeen, Cardiff. The Celt--that is to
say, the mountaineer and the man of the untouched country--reproduces
his kind much more rapidly than the Teuton. The Highlander and the
Irishman swarm into Glasgow; the Irishman and the Welshman swarm into
Liverpool; the west-countryman into Bristol; Celts of all types into
London, Southampton, Newport, Birmingham, Sheffield. This eastward
return-wave of Celts upon the Teuton has leavened the whole mass; if you
look at the leaders of Radicalism in England you will find they bear,
almost without exception, true Celtic surnames. Chartists and Socialists
of the first generation were marshalled by men of Cymric descent, like
Ernest Jones and Robert Owen, or by pure-blooded Irishmen like Fergus
O'Connor. It is not a mere accident that the London Socialists of the
present day should be led by Welshmen like William Morris, or by the
eloquent brogue of Bernard Shaw's audacious oratory. We Celts now lurk
in every corner of Britain; we have permeated it with our ideas; we have
inspired it with our aspirations; we have roused the Celtic remnant in
the south-east itself to a sense of their wrongs; and we are marching
to-day, all abreast, to the overthrow of feudalism. If Lord Salisbury
thinks we are a Celtic fringe he is vastly mistaken. But he doesn't
really think so: 'tis a piece of his ponderous Saxon humour. Talk of
"Batavian grace," indeed! Well, the Cecils came first from the fens of



Conservatism, I believe, is mainly due to want of imagination.

In saying this, I do not for a moment mean to deny the other and equally
obvious truth that Conservatism, in the lump, is a euphemism for
selfishness. But the two ideas have much in common. Selfish people are
apt to be unimaginative: unimaginative people are apt to be selfish.
Clearly to realise the condition of the unfortunate is the beginning of
philanthropy. Clearly to realise the rights of others is the beginning
of justice. "Put yourself in his place" strikes the keynote of ethics.
Stupid people can only see their own side of a question: they cannot
even imagine any other side possible. So, as a rule, stupid people are
Conservative. They cling to what they have; they dread revision,
redistribution, justice. Also, if a man has imagination he is likely to
be Radical, even though selfish; while if he has no imagination he is
likely to be Conservative, even though otherwise good and kind-hearted.
Some men are Conservative from defects of heart, while some are
Conservative from defects of head. Conversely, most imaginative people
are Radical; for even a bad man may sometimes uphold the side of right
because he has intelligence enough to understand that things might be
better managed in the future for all than they are in the present.

But when I say that Conservatism is mainly due to want of imagination, I
mean more than that. Most people are wholly unable to conceive in their
own minds any state of things very different from the one they have been
born and brought up in. The picturing power is lacking. They can
conceive the past, it is true, more or less vaguely--because they have
always heard things once were so, and because the past is generally
realisable still by the light of the relics it has bequeathed to the
present. But they can't at all conceive the future. Imagination fails
them. Innumerable difficulties crop up for them in the way of every
proposed improvement. Before there was any County Council for London,
such people thought municipal government for the metropolis an insoluble
problem. Now that Home Rule quivers trembling in the balance, they think
it would pass the wit of man to devise in the future a federal league
for the component elements of the United Kingdom; in spite of the fact
that the wit of man has already devised one for the States of the Union,
for the Provinces of the Dominion, for the component Cantons of the
Swiss Republic. To the unimaginative mind difficulties everywhere seem
almost insuperable. It shrinks before trifles. "Impossible!" said
Napoleon. "There is no such word in my dictionary!" He had been trained
in the school of the French Revolution--which was _not_ carried out by
unimaginative pettifoggers.

To people without imagination any change you propose seems at once
impracticable. They are ready to bring up endless objections to the mode
of working it. There would be this difficulty in the way, and that
difficulty, and the other one. You would think, to hear them talk, the
world as it stands was absolutely perfect, and moved without a hitch in
all its bearings. They don't see that every existing institution just
bristles with difficulties--and that the difficulties are met or got
over somehow. Often enough while they swallow the camel of existing
abuses they strain at some gnat which they fancy they see flying in at
the window of Utopia or of the Millennium. "If your reform were
carried," they say in effect, "we should, doubtless, get rid of such and
such flagrant evils; but the streets in November would be just as muddy
as ever, and slight inconvenience might be caused in certain improbable
contingencies to the duke or the cotton-spinner, the squire or the
mine-owner." They omit to note that much graver inconvenience is caused
at present to the millions who are shut out from the fields and the
sunshine, who are sweated all day for a miserable wage, or who are
forced to pay fancy prices for fuel to gratify the rapacity of a handful
of coal-grabbers.

Lack of imagination makes people fail to see the evils that are; makes
them fail to realise the good that might be.

I often fancy to myself what such people would say if land had always
been communal property, and some one now proposed to hand it over
absolutely to the dukes, the squires, the game-preservers, and the
coal-owners. "'Tis impossible," they would exclaim; "the thing wouldn't
be workable. Why, a single landlord might own half Westminster! A single
landlord might own all Sutherlandshire! The hypothetical Duke of
Westminster might put bars to the streets; he might impede locomotion;
he might refuse to let certain people to whom he objected take up their
residence in any part of his territory; he might prevent them from
following their own trades or professions; he might even descend to such
petty tyranny as tabooing brass plates on the doors of houses. And what
would you do then? The thing isn't possible. The Duke of Sutherland,
again, might shut up all Sutherlandshire; might turn whole vast tracts
into grouse-moor or deer-forest; might prevent harmless tourists from
walking up the mountains. And surely free Britons would never submit to
_that_. The bare idea is ridiculous. The squire of a rural parish might
turn out the Dissenters; might refuse to let land for the erection of
chapels; might behave like a petty King Augustus of Scilly. Indeed,
there would be nothing to prevent an American alien from buying up
square miles of purple heather in Scotland, and shutting the inhabitants
of these British Isles out of their own inheritance. Sites might be
refused for needful public purposes; fancy prices might be asked for
pure cupidity. Speculators would job land for the sake of unearned
increment; towns would have to grow as landlords willed, irrespective of
the wants or convenience of the community. Theoretically, I don't even
see that Lord Rothschild mightn't buy up the whole area of Middlesex,
and turn London into a Golden House of Nero. Your scheme can't be
worked. The anomalies are too obvious."

They are indeed. Yet I doubt whether the unimaginative would quite have
foreseen them: the things they foresee are less real and possible. But
they urge against every reform such objections as I have parodied; and
they urge them about matters of far less vital importance. The existing
system exists; they know its abuses, its checks and its counter-checks.
The system of the future does not yet exist; and they can't imagine how
its far slighter difficulties could ever be smoothed over. They are not
the least staggered by the appalling reality of the Duke of Westminster
or the Duke of Sutherland; not the least staggered by the sinister power
of a conspiracy of coal-owners to paralyse a great nation with the
horrors of a fuel famine. But they _are_ staggered by their bogey that
State ownership of land might give rise to a certain amount of jobbery
and corruption on the part of officials. They think it better that the
dukes and the squires should get all the rent than that the State should
get most of it, with the possibility of a percentage being corruptly
embezzled by the functionaries who manage it. This shows want of
imagination. It is as though one should say to one's clerk, "All your
income shall be paid in future to the Duke of Westminster, and not to
yourself, for his sole use and benefit; because we, your employers, are
afraid that if we give you your salary in person, you may let some of it
be stolen from you or badly invested." How transparently absurd! We want
our income ourselves, to spend as we please. We would rather risk losing
one per cent. of it in bad investments than let all be swallowed up by
the dukes and the landlords.

It is the same throughout. Want of imagination makes people exaggerate
the difficulties and dangers of every new scheme, because they can't
picture constructively to themselves the details of its working. Men
with great picturing power, like Shelley or Robespierre, are always very
advanced Radicals, and potentially revolutionists. The difficulty _they_
see is not the difficulty of making the thing work, but the difficulty
of convincing less clear-headed people of its desirability and
practicability. A great many Conservatives, who are Conservative from
selfishness, would be Radicals if only they could feel for themselves
that even their own petty interests and pleasures are not really
menaced. The squires and the dukes can't realise how much happier even
they would be in a free, a beautiful, and a well-organised community.
Imaginative minds can picture a world where everything is so ordered
that life comes as a constant æsthetic delight to everybody. They know
that that world could be realised to-morrow--if only all others could
picture it to themselves as vividly as they do. But they also know that
it can only be attained in the end by long ages of struggle, and by slow
evolution of the essentially imaginative ethical faculty. For right
action depends most of all, in the last resort, upon a graphic
conception of the feelings of others.



The place known as Abroad is not nearly so nice a country to live in as
England. The people who inhabit Abroad are called Foreigners. They are
in every way and at all times inferior to Englishmen.

These Post-Prandials used once to be provided with a sting in their
tail, like the common scorpion. By way of change, I turn them out now
with a sting in their head, like the common mosquito. Mosquitoes are
much less dangerous than scorpions, but they're a deal more irritating.

Not that I am sanguine enough to expect I shall irritate Englishmen.
Your Englishman is far too cock-sure of the natural superiority of
Britons to Foreigners, the natural superiority of England to Abroad,
ever to be irritated by even the gentlest criticism. He accepts it all
with lordly indifference. He brushes it aside as the elephant might
brush aside the ineffective gadfly. No proboscis can pierce that
pachydermatous hide of his. If you praise him to his face, he accepts
your praise as his obvious due, with perfect composure and without the
slightest elation. If you blame him in aught, he sets it down to your
ignorance and mental inferiority. You say to him, "Oh, Englishman, you
are great; you are wise; you are rich beyond comparison. You are noble;
you are generous; you are the prince among nations." He smiles a calm
smile, and thinks you a very sensible fellow. But you add, "Oh, my lord,
if I may venture to say so, there is a smudge on your nose, which I make
bold to attribute to the settlement of a black on your intelligent
countenance." He is not angry. He is not even contemptuously amused. He
responds, "My friend, you are wrong. There is never a smudge on my
immaculate face. No blacks fly in London. The sky is as clear there in
November as in August. All is pure and serene and beautiful." You
answer, "Oh, my lord, I admit the force of your profound reasoning. You
light the gas at ten in the morning only to show all the world you can
afford to burn it." At that, he gropes his way along Pall Mall to his
club, and tells the men he meets there how completely he silenced you.

And yet, My Lord Elephant, there is use in mosquitoes. Mr. Mattieu
Williams once discovered the final cause of fleas. Certain people, said
he, cannot be induced to employ the harmless necessary tub. For them,
Providence designed the lively flea. He compels them to scratch
themselves. By so doing they rouse the skin to action and get rid of
impurities. Now, this British use of the word Abroad is a smudge on the
face of the otherwise perfect Englishman. Perchance a mosquito-bite may
induce him to remove it with a little warm water and a cambric

To most Englishmen, the world divides itself naturally into two unequal
and non-equivalent portions--Abroad and England. Of these two, Abroad is
much the larger country; but England, though smaller, is vastly more
important. Abroad is inhabited by Frenchmen and Germans, who speak their
own foolish and chattering languages. Part of it is likewise pervaded by
Chinamen, who wear pigtails; and the outlying districts belong to the
poor heathen, chiefly interesting as a field of missionary enterprise,
and a possible market for Manchester piece-goods. We sometimes invest
our money abroad, but then we are likely to get it swallowed up in
Mexicans or Egyptian Unified. If you ask most people what has become of
Tom, they will answer at once with the specific information, "Oh, Tom
has gone Abroad." I have one stereotyped rejoinder to an answer like
that. "What part of Abroad, please?" That usually stumps them. Abroad is
Abroad; and like the gentleman who was asked in examination to "name the
minor prophets," they decline to make invidious distinctions. It is
nothing to them whether he is tea-planting in the Himalayas, or
sheep-farming in Australia, or orange-growing in Florida, or ranching in
Colorado. If he is not in England, why then he is elsewhere; and
elsewhere is Abroad, one and indivisible.

In short, Abroad answers in space to that well-known and definite date,
the Olden Time, in chronology.

People will tell you, "Foreigners do this"; "Foreigners do that";
"Foreigners smoke so much"; "Foreigners always take coffee for
breakfast." "Indeed," I love to answer; "I've never observed it myself
in Central Asia." 'Tis Parson Adams and the Christian religion. Nine
English people out of ten, when they talk of Abroad, mean what they call
the Continent; and when they talk of the Continent, they mean France,
Germany, Switzerland, Italy; in short, the places most visited by
Englishmen when they consent now and again to go Abroad for a holiday.
"I don't like Abroad," a lady once said to me on her return from Calais.
Foreigners, in like manner, means Frenchmen, Germans, Swiss, Italians.
In the country called Abroad, the most important parts are the parts
nearest England; of the people called Foreigners, the most important are
those who dress like Englishmen. The dim black lands that lie below the
horizon are hardly worth noticing.

Would it surprise you to learn that most people live in Asia? Would it
surprise you to learn that most people are poor benighted heathen, and
that, of the remainder, most people are Mahommedans, and that of the
Christians, who come next, most people are Roman Catholics, and that, of
the other Christian sects, most people belong to the Greek Church, and
that, last of all, we get Protestants, more particularly Anglicans,
Wesleyans, Baptists? Have you ever really realised the startling fact
that England is an island off the coast of Europe? that Europe is a
peninsula at the end of Asia? that France, Germany, Italy, are the
fringe of Russia? Have you ever really realised that the
English-speaking race lives mostly in America? that the country is
vastly more populous than London? that our class is the froth and the
scum of society? Think these things out, and try to measure them on the
globe. And when you speak of Abroad, do please specify what part of it.

Abroad is not all alike. There are differences between Poland, Peru, and
Palestine. What is true of France is not true of Fiji. Distinguish
carefully between Timbuctoo, Tobolsk, and Toledo.

It is not our insularity that makes us so insular. 'Tis a gift of the
gods, peculiar to Englishmen. The other inhabitants of these Isles of
Britain are comparatively cosmopolitan. The Scotchman goes everywhere;
the world is his oyster. Ireland is an island still more remote than
Great Britain; but the Irishman has never been so insular as the
English. I put that down in part to his Catholicism: his priests have
been wheels in a world-wide system; his relations have been with Douai,
St. Omer, and Rome; his bishops have gone pilgrimages and sat on Vatican
Councils; his kinsmen are the MacMahons in France, the O'Donnels in
Spain, the Taafes in Austria. Even in the days of the Regency this was
so: look at Lever and his heroes! When England drank port, County Clare
drank claret. But ever since the famine, Ireland has expanded. Every
Irishman has cousins in Canada, in Australia, in New York, in San
Francisco. The Empire is Irish, with the exception of India; and India,
of course, is a Scotch dependency. Irishmen and Scotchmen have no such
feelings about Abroad and its Foreigners as Londoners entertain. But
Englishmen never quite get over the sense that everybody must needs
divide the world into England and Elsewhere. To the end no Englishman
really grasps the fact that to Frenchmen and Germans he himself is a
foreigner. I have met John Bulls who had passed years in Italy, but who
spoke of the countrymen of Cæsar and Dante and Leonardo and Garibaldi
with the contemptuous toleration one might feel towards a child or an
Andaman Islander. These Italians could build Giotto's campanile; could
paint the Transfiguration; could carve the living marble on the tombs of
the Medici; could produce the Vita Nuova; could beget Galileo, Galvani,
Beccaria; but still--they were Foreigners. Providence in its wisdom has
decreed that they must live Abroad--just as it has decreed that a
comprehension of the decimal system and its own place in the world
should be limitations eternally imposed upon the English intellect.



As I strolled across the moor this afternoon towards Waverley, I saw
Jones was planting out that bare hillside of his with Douglas pines and
Scotch firs and new strains of silver birches. They will improve the
landscape. And I thought as I scanned them, "How curious that most
people entirely overlook this constant betterment and beautifying of
England! You hear them talk much of the way bricks and mortar are
invading the country; you never hear anything of this slow and silent
process of planting and developing which has made England into the
prettiest and one of the most beautiful countries in Europe."

What's that you say? "Astonished to find I have a good word of any sort
to put in for England!" Why, dear me, how irrational you are! I just
_love_ England. Can any man with eyes in his head and a soul for beauty
do otherwise? England and Italy--there you have the two great glories of
Europe. Italy for towns, for art, for man's handicraft; England for
country, for nature, for green lanes and lush copses. Was it not one
that loved Italy well who sighed in Italy--

  "Oh, to be in England now that April's there?"

And who that loves Italy, and knows England, too, does not echo
Browning's wish when April comes round again on dusty Tuscan hilltops?
At Perugia, last spring, through weeks of tramontana, how one yearned
for the sight of yellow English primroses! Not love England, indeed!
Milton's England, Shelley's England; the England of the skylark, the
dog-rose, the honeysuckle! Not love England, forsooth! Why, I love every
flower, every blade of grass in it. Devonshire lane, close-cropped down,
rich water-meadow, bickering brooklet: ah me, how they tug at one's
heartstrings in Africa! No son of the soil can love England as those
love her very stones who have come from newer lands over sea to her
ivy-clad church-towers, her mouldering castles, her immemorial elms, the
berries on her holly, the may in her hedgerows. Are not all these bound
up in our souls with each cherished line of Shakespeare and Wordsworth?
do they not rouse faint echoes of Gray and Goldsmith? Even before I ever
set foot in England, how I longed to behold my first cowslip, my first
foxglove! And now, I have wandered through the footpaths that run
obliquely across English pastures, picking meadowsweet and fritillaries,
for half a lifetime, till I have learned by heart every leaf and every
petal. You think because I dislike one squalid village--"The Wen," stout
English William Cobbett delighted to call it--I don't love England. You
think because I see some spots on the sun of the English character, I
don't love Englishmen. Why, how can any man who speaks the English
tongue, and boasts one drop of English blood in his veins, not be proud
of England? England, the mother of poets and thinkers; England, that
gave us Newton, Darwin, Spencer; England, that holds in her lap Oxford,
Salisbury, Durham; England of daisy and heather and pine-wood! Are we
hewn out of granite, to be cold before England?

Upon my soul, your unseasonable interruption has almost made me forget
what I was going to say; it has made me grow warm, and drop into poetry.

England, I take it, is certainly the prettiest country in Europe. It is
almost the most beautiful. I say "almost," because I bethink me of
Norway and Switzerland. I say "country," because I bethink me of Rome,
Venice, Florence. But, taking it as country, and as country alone,
nothing else approaches it. Have you ever thought why? Man made the
town, says the proverb, and God made the country. Not so in England.
There, man made the country, and beautified it exceedingly. In itself,
the land of south-eastern England is absolutely the same as the land of
Northern France--that hideous tract about Boulogne and Amiens which we
traverse in silence every time we run across by Calais to Paris. Chalk
and clay and sandstone stretch continuously under sea from Kent and
Sussex to Flanders and Picardy. The Channel burst through, and made the
Straits of Dover; but the land on either side was and still is
geologically and physically identical. What has made the difference?
Man, the planter and gardener. England is beautiful by copse and
hedgerow, by pine-clad ridge and willow-covered hollow, by meadows
interspersed with great spreading oaks, by pastures where drowsy sheep,
deep-fleeced and ruddy-stained, huddle under the shade of ancestral
beech-trees. Its loveliness is human. In itself, I believe, the actual
contour of England cannot once have been much better than the contour of
northern France--though nowadays it is hard indeed to realise it.
Judicious planting, and a constant eye to picturesque effect in scenery,
have made England what she is--the garden of Europe.

Of course there are parts of the country which owed, and still owe,
their beauty to their wildness--Dartmoor, Exmoor, the West Riding of
Yorkshire, the Surrey hills, the Peak in Derbyshire. Yet even these
depend more than you would believe, when you take them in detail, on the
art of the forester. The view from Leith Hill embraces John Evelyn's
woods at Wotton: the larches that cover one Jura-like gorge were set
there well within your and my memory. But elsewhere in England the hand
of man has done absolutely everything. The American, when he first
visits England, is charmed on his way up from Liverpool to London by the
exquisite air of antique cultivation and soft rural beauty. The very
sward is moss-like. Thoroughly wild country, indeed, unless bold and
mountainous, does not often please one. It is apt to be bare,
unattractive, and desolate. Witness the Veldt, the Steppes, the
prairies. You may go through miles and miles of the States and Canada,
where the wildness for the most part rather repels than delights you. I
do not say everywhere; in places the wilderness will blossom like a
rose; boggy margins of lakes, fallen trunks in the forest overgrown with
wild flowers, make scenes unattainable in our civilised England. Even
our roughest scenery is comparatively man-made: our heaths are game
preserves; our woodlands are thinned of superfluous underbrush; our
moors are relieved by deliberate plantations. But England in her own way
is unique and unrivalled. Such parks, such greensward, such grassy
lawns, such wooded tilth, are wholly unknown elsewhere. Compare the
blank fields and long poplar-fringed high roads of central France with
our Devon or our Warwickshire, and you get at once a just measure of the
vast, the unspeakable difference.

And man has done it all. Alone he did it. Often as I take my walks
abroad--and when I say abroad I mean in England--I see men at work
dotting about exotics of variegated foliage on some barren hillside, and
I say to myself, "There, before my eyes, goes on the beautifying of
England." Thirty years ago, the North Downs near Dorking were one bare
stretch of white chalky sheep-walk; half of them still remain so; the
other half has been planted irregularly with copses and spinneys, which
serve to throw up and enhance the beauty of the unaltered intervals.
Beech and larch in autumn tints set off smooth patches of grass and
juniper. Within the last few years, the downs about Leatherhead have
been similarly diversified. Much of the loveliness of rural England is
due, one must frankly confess, to the big landlords. Though the great
houses love us not, we must allow at least that the great houses have
cared for the trees in the hedge-rows, and for the timber in the
meadows, as well as for the covert that sheltered their pheasants, their
foxes, and their gamekeepers. But almost as much of England's charm is
due to individual small owners or occupiers. 'Tis they who have planted
the grounds about villa or cottage; they who have stocked the sweet old
gardens of yew and box, of hollyhock and peony; they who have given us
the careless rustic grace of the English village. Still, one way or
another, man has done it all, whether in grange or in manor-house, in
palatial estate or in labourer's holding. Look at the French or Belgian
hamlet by the side of the English one; look at the French or Belgian
farm by the side of our English wealth in wooded glen or sheltered
homestead. Bricks and mortar are _not_ covering the whole of England.
That is only true of the squalid purlieus and outliers of London,
whither Londoners gravitate by mutual attraction. If you _will_ go and
live in a dingy suburb, you can't reasonably complain that all the
world's suburban. Being the most cheerful of pessimists, a dweller in
the country all the days of my life, I have no hesitation in expressing
my profound conviction that within my memory more has been done to
beautify than to uglify England. Only, the beautification has been quiet
and unobtrusive, while the uglification has been obvious and
concentrated. It takes half a year to jerry-build a dingy street, but it
takes a decade for newly-planted trees to give the woodland air by
imperceptible stages to a stretch of country.



Yesterday, at Bordighera, I strolled up the hills behind the town to
Sasso. It is a queer little cluster of gleaming white-washed houses that
top the crest of a steep ridge; and, like many other Italian villages,
it makes a brave show from a distance, though within it is full of evil
smells and all uncleanness. But I found it had a church--a picturesquely
ugly and dilapidated church; and without and within, this church was
decorated by inglorious hands with very naïve and rudimentary frescoes.
The Four Evangelists were there, in flowing blue robes; and the Four
Greater Prophets, with long white beards; and the Madonna, appearing in
most wooden clouds; and the Patron Saint tricked out for his Festa in
gorgeous holiday episcopal vestments. That was all--just the common
everyday Italian country church that everybody has seen turned out to
pattern with manufacturing regularity a hundred times over! Yet, as I
sat among the olive-terraces looking down the steep slope into the
Borghetto valley, and across the gorge to the green pines on the Cima,
it set me thinking. 'Tis a bad habit one falls into when one has nothing
better to turn one's mind to.

We English, coming to Italy with our ideas fully formed about everything
on heaven and earth, naturally say to ourselves, "Great heart alive,
what sadly degraded frescoes! To think the art of Raphael and Andrea del
Sarto should degenerate even here, in their own land, to such a childish
level!" But we are wrong, for all that. It is Raphael and Andrea who
rose, not my poor nameless Sasso artists who sank and degenerated. Italy
was capable of producing her great painters in her own great day, just
because in thousands of such Italian villages there were work-a-day
artisans in form and colour capable of turning out such ridiculous daubs
as those that decorate this tawdry church on the Ligurian hilltop.

We English, in short, think of it all the wrong way uppermost. We think
of it topsy-turvy, beginning at the end, while evolution invariably
begins at the beginning. The Raphaels and Andreas, to put it in brief,
were the final flower and fullest outcome of whole races of church
decorators in infantile fresco.

Everywhere you go in Italy, this truth is forced upon your attention
even to the present day. Art here is no exotic. It smacks of the soil;
it springs spontaneous, like a weed; it burgeons of itself out of the
heart of the people. Not high art, understand well; not the art of
Burne-Jones and Whistler and Puvis de Chavannes and Sar Peladan.
Commonplace everyday art, that is a trade and a handicraft, like the
joiner's or the shoemaker's. Look up at your ceiling; it's overrun with
festoons of crude red and blue flowers, or it's covered with cupids and
graces, or it bristles with arabesques and unmeaning phantasies. Every
wall is painted; every grotto decorated. Sham landscapes, sham loggias,
sham parapets are everywhere. The sham windows themselves are provided,
not only with sham blinds and sham curtains, but even with sham
coquettes making sham eyes or waving sham handkerchiefs at passers-by
below them. Open-air fresco painting is still a living art, an art
practised by hundreds and thousands of craftsmen, an art as alive as
cookery or weaving. The Italian decorates everything; his pottery, his
house, his church, his walls, his palaces. And the only difference he
feels between the various cases is, that in some of them a higher type
of art is demanded by wealth and skill than in the others. No wonder,
therefore, he blossomed out at last into Michael Angelo's frescoes in
the Sistine Chapel!

To us English, on the contrary, high art is something exotic, separate,
alone, _sui generis_. We never think of the plaster star in the middle
of our ceiling as belonging even to the same range of ideas as, say, the
frescoes in the Houses of Parliament.

A nation in such a condition as that is never truly artistic. The artist
with us, even now, is an exceptional product. Art for a long time in
England had nothing at all to do with the life of the people. It was a
luxury for the rich, a curious thing for ladies' and gentlemen's
consumption, as purely artificial as the stuccoed Italian villa in which
they insisted on shivering in our chilly climate. And the pictures it
produced were wholly alien to the popular wants and the popular
feelings; they were part of an imported French, Italian, and Flemish
tradition. English art has only slowly outgrown this stage, just in
proportion as truly artistic handicrafts have sprung up here and there,
and developed themselves among us. Go into the Cantagalli or the Ginori
potteries at Florence, and you will see mere boys and girls, untrained
children of the people, positively disporting themselves, with childish
glee, in painting plates and vases. You will see them, not slavishly
copying a given design of the master's, but letting their fancy run riot
in lithe curves and lines, in griffons and dragons and floral
twists-and-twirls of playful extravagance. They revel in ornament. Now,
it is out of the loins of people like these that great artists spring by
nature--not State-taught, artificial, made-up artists, but the real
spontaneous product, the Lippi and Botticelli, the hereditary craftsmen,
the born painters. And in England nowadays it is a significant fact that
a large proportion of the truest artists--the innovators, the men who
are working out a new style of English art for themselves, in accordance
with the underlying genius of the British temperament, have sprung from
the great industrial towns--Birmingham, Manchester, Leicester--where
artistic handicrafts are now once more renascent. I won't expose myself
to further ridicule by repeating here (what I nevertheless would firmly
believe, were it not for the scoffers) that a large proportion of them
are of Celtic descent--belong, in other words, to that section of the
complex British nationality in which the noble traditions of decorative
art never wholly died out--that section which was never altogether
enslaved and degraded by the levelling and cramping and soul-destroying
influences of manufacturing industrialism.

In Italy, art is endemic. In England, in spite of all we have done to
stimulate it of late years with guano and other artificial manures, it
is still sporadic.

The case of music affords us an apt parallel. Till very lately, I
believe, our musical talent in Britain came almost entirely from the
cathedral towns. And why? Because there, and there alone, till quite a
recent date, there existed a hereditary school of music, a training of
musicians from generation to generation among the mass of the people.
Not only were the cathedral services themselves a constant school of
taste in music, but successive generations of choristers and organists
gave rise to something like a musical caste in our episcopal centres. It
is true, our vocalists have always come mainly from Wales, from the
Scotch Highlands, from Yorkshire, from Ireland. But for that there is, I
believe, a sufficient physical reason. For these are clearly the most
mountainous parts of the United Kingdom; and the clear mountain air
seems to produce on the average a better type of human larynx than the
mists of the level. The men of the lowland, say the Tyrolese, croak like
frogs in their marshes; but the men of the upland sing like nightingales
on their tree-tops. And indeed, it would seem as if the mountain people
were always calling to one another across intervening valleys, always
singing and whistling and shouting over their work in a way that gives
tone to the whole vocal mechanism. Witness Welsh penillion singing. And
wherever this fine physical endowment goes hand in hand with a delicate
ear and a poetic temperament, you get your great vocalist, your Sims
Reeves or your Patti. But in England proper it was only in the cathedral
towns that music was a living reality to the people; and it was in the
cathedral towns, accordingly, during the dark ages of art, that
exceptional musical ability was most likely to show itself. More
particularly was this so on the Welsh border, where the two favouring
influences of race and practice coincided--at Gloucester, Worcester,
Hereford, long known for the most musical towns in England.

Cause and effect act and react. Art is a product of the artistic
temperament. The artistic temperament is a product of the long
hereditary cultivation of art. And where a broad basis of this
temperament exists among the people, owing to intermixture of
artistically-minded stocks, one is liable to get from time to time that
peculiar combination of characteristics--sensuous, intellectual,
spiritual--which results in the highest and truest artist.



You ask me what would be the position of women in an ideal community.
Well, after dinner, imagination may take free flight. Suppose, till the
coffee comes, we discuss that question.

Woman, I take it, differs from man in being the sex sacrificed to
reproductive necessities.

Whenever I say this, I notice my good friends, the women's-rights women,
with whom I am generally in pretty close accord, look annoyed and hurt.
I can never imagine why. I regard this point as an original inequality
of nature, which it should be the duty of human society to redress as
far as possible, like all other inequalities. Women are not on the
average as tall as men; nor can they lift as heavy weights, or undergo,
as a rule, so much physical labour. Yet civilised society recognises
their equal right to the protection of our policemen, and endeavours to
neutralise their physical inequality by the collective guarantee of all
the citizens. In the same way I hold that women in the lump have a
certain disadvantage laid upon them by nature, in the necessity that
some or most among them should bear children; and this disadvantage I
think the men in a well-ordered State would do their best to compensate
by corresponding privileges. If women endure on our behalf the great
public burden of providing future citizens for the community, the least
we can do for them in return is to render that burden as honourable and
as little onerous as possible. I can never see that there is anything
unchivalrous in frankly admitting these facts of nature; on the
contrary, it seems to me the highest possible chivalry to recognise in
woman, as woman, high or low, rich or poor, the potential mother, who
has infinite claims on that ground alone to our respect and sympathy.

Nor do I mean to deny, either, that the right to be a mother is a sacred
and peculiar privilege of women. In a well-ordered community, I believe,
that privilege will be valued high, and will be denied to no fitting
mother by any man. While maternity is from one point of view a painful
duty, a burden imposed upon a single sex for the good of the whole, it
is from another point of view a privilege and a joy, and from a third
point of view the natural fulfilment of a woman's own instincts, the
complement of her personality, the healthy exercise of her normal
functions. Just as in turn the man's part in providing physically for
the support of the woman and the children is from one point of view a
burden imposed upon him, but from another point of view a precious
privilege of fatherhood, and from a third point of view the proper
outlet for his own energy and his own faculties.

In an ideal State, then, I take it, almost every woman would be a
mother, and almost every woman a mother of not more than about four
children. An average of something like four is necessary, we know, to
keep up population, and to allow for infant mortality, inevitable
celibates, and so forth. Few women in such a State would abstain from
maternity, save those who felt themselves physically or morally unfitted
for the task; for in proportion as they abstained, either the State must
lack citizens to carry on its life, or an extra and undue burden would
have to be cast upon some other woman. And it may well be doubted
whether in a well-ordered and civilised State any one woman could
adequately bear, bring up, and superintend the education of more than
four young citizens. Hence we may conclude that while no woman save the
unfit would voluntarily shirk the duties and privileges of maternity,
few (if any) women would make themselves mothers of more than four
children. Four would doubtless grow to be regarded in such a community
as the moral maximum; while it is even possible that improved
sanitation, by diminishing infant mortality and adult ineffectiveness,
might make a maximum of three sufficient to keep up the normal strength
of the population.

In an ideal community, again, the woman who looked forward to this great
task on behalf of the race would strenuously prepare herself for it
beforehand from childhood upward. She would not be ashamed of such
preparation; on the contrary, she would be proud of it. Her duty would
be no longer "to suckle fools and chronicle small beer," but to produce
and bring up strong, vigorous, free, able, and intelligent citizens.
Therefore, she must be nobly educated for her great and important
function--educated physically, intellectually, morally. Let us forecast
her future. She will be well clad in clothes that allow of lithe and
even development of the body; she will be taught to run, to play games,
to dance, to swim; she will be supple and healthy, finely moulded and
knit in limb and organ, beautiful in face and features, splendid and
graceful in the native curves of her lissom figure. No cramping
conventions will be allowed to cage her; no worn-out moralities will be
tied round her neck like a mill-stone to hamper her. Intellectually she
will be developed to the highest pitch of which in each individual case
she proves herself capable--educated, not in the futile linguistic
studies which have already been tried and found wanting for men, but in
realities and existences, in the truths of life, in recognition of her
own and our place among immensities. She will know something worth
knowing of the world she lives in, its past and its present, the
material of which it is made, the forces that inform it, the energies
that thrill through it. Something, too, of the orbs that surround it, of
the sun that lights it, of the stars that gleam upon it, of the seasons
that govern it. Something of the plants and herbs that clothe it, of the
infinite tribes of beast and bird that dwell upon it. Something of the
human body, its structure and functions, the human soul, its origin and
meaning. Something of human societies in the past, of institutions and
laws, of creeds and ideas, of the birth of civilisation, of progress and
evolution. Something, too, of the triumphs of art, of sculpture and
painting, of the literature and the poetry of all races and ages. Her
mind will be stored with the best thoughts of the thinkers. Morally, she
will be free; her emotional development, instead of being narrowly
checked and curbed, will have been fostered and directed. She will have
a heart to love, and be neither ashamed nor afraid of it. Thus nurtured
and trained, she will be a fit mate for a free man, a fit mother for
free children, a fit citizen for a free and equal community.

Her life, too, will be her own. She will know no law but her higher
instincts. No man will be able to buy or to cajole her. And in order
that she may possess this freedom to perfection, that she may be no
husband's slave, no father's obedient and trembling daughter, I can see
but one way: the whole body of men in common must support in perfect
liberty the whole body of women. The collective guarantee must protect
them against individual tyranny. Thus only can women be safe from the
bribery of the rich husband, from the dictation of the father from whom
there are "expectations." In the ideal State, I take it, every woman
will be absolutely at liberty to dispose of herself as she will, and no
man will be able to command or to purchase her, to influence her in any
way, save by pure inclination.

In such a State, most women would naturally desire to be mothers. Being
healthy, strong, and free, they would wish to realise the utmost
potentialities of their own organisms. And when they had done their duty
as mothers, they would not care much, I imagine, for any further outlets
for their superfluous energy. I don't doubt they would gratify to the
full their artistic sensibilities and their thirst for knowledge. They
would also perform their duties to the State as citizens, no less than
the men. But having done these things I fancy they would have done
enough; the margin of their life would be devoted to dignified and
cultivated leisure. They would leave to men the tilling of the soil, the
building and navigation of marine or aerial ships, the working of mines
and metals, the erection of houses, the construction of roads, railways,
and communications, perhaps even the entire manufacturing work of the
community. Medicine and the care of the sick might still be a charge to
some; education to most; art, in one form or another, to almost all. But
the hard work of the world might well be left to men, upon whom it more
naturally and fitly devolves. No hateful drudgery of "earning a
livelihood." Women might rest content with being free and beautiful,
cultivated and artistic, good citizens to the State, the mothers and
guardians of the coming generations. If any woman asks more than this,
she is really asking less--for she is asking that a heavier burden
should be cast on some or most of her sex, in order to relieve the
minority of a duty which to well-organised women ought to be a

"But all this has no practical bearing!" I beg your pardon. An ideal has
often two practical uses. In the first place, it gives us a pattern
towards which we may approximate. In the second place, it gives us a
standard by which we may judge whether any step we propose to take is a
step forward or a step backward.



A Second Chamber acts as a drag. Progress is always uphill work. So we
are at pains to provide a drag beforehand--for an uphill journey.

There, in one word, you have the whole philosophy of Second Chambers.

How, then, did the nations of Europe come to hamper their legislative
systems with such a useless, such an illogical adjunct? In sackcloth and
ashes, let us confess the truth--we English led them astray: on us the
shame; to us the dishonour. Theorists, indeed (wise after the fact, as
is the wont of theorists), have discovered or invented an imaginary
function for Second Chambers. They are to preserve the people, it seems,
from the fatal consequences of their own precipitancy. As though the
people--you and I--the vast body of citizens, were a sort of foolish
children, to be classed with infants, women, criminals, and imbeciles (I
adopt the chivalrous phraseology of an Act of Parliament), incapable of
knowing their own minds for two minutes together, and requiring to be
kept straight by the fatherly intervention of Dukes of Marlborough or
Marquises of Ailesbury. The ideal picture of the level-headed peers
restraining the youthful impetuosity of the representatives of the
people from committing to-day some rash act which they would gladly
repent and repeal to-morrow, is both touching and edifying. But it
exists only in the minds of the philosophers, who find a reason for
everything just because it is there. Members of Parliament, I have
observed, seem to know their own minds every inch as well as earls--nay,
even as marquises.

The plain fact of the matter is, all the Second Chambers in the world
are directly modelled upon the House of Lords, that Old Man of the Sea
whom England, the weary Titan, is now striving so hard to shake off her
shoulders. The mother of Parliaments is responsible for every one of
them. Senates and Upper Houses are just the result of irrational
Anglomania. When constitutional government began to exist, men turned
unanimously to the English Constitution as their model and pattern. That
was perfectly natural. Evolutionists know that evolution never proceeds
on any other plan than by reproduction, with modification, of existing
structures. America led the way. She said, "England has a House of
Commons; therefore we must have a House of Representatives. England has
also a House of Lords; nature has not dowered us with those exalted
products, but we will do what we can; we will imitate it by a Senate."
Monarchical France followed her lead; so did Belgium, Italy,
civilisation in general. I believe even Japan rejoices to-day in the
august dignity of a Second Chamber. But mark now the irony of it. They
all of them did this thing to be entirely English. And just about the
time when they had completed the installation of their peers or their
senators, England, who set the fashion, began to discover in turn she
could manage a great deal better herself without them.

And then what do the philosophers do? Why, they prove to you the
necessity of a Second Chamber by pointing to the fact that all civilised
nations have got one--in imitation of England. Furthermore, it being
their way to hunt up abstruse and recondite reasons for what is on the
face of it ridiculous, they argue that a Second Chamber is a necessary
wheel in the mechanism of popular representative government. A foolish
phrase, which has come down to us from antiquity, represents the
populace as inevitably "fickle," a changeable mob, to be restrained by
the wisdom of the seniors and optimates. As a matter of fact, the
populace is never anything of the sort. It is dogged, slow,
conservative, hard to move; it advances step by step, a patient,
sure-footed beast of burden; and when once it has done a thing, it never
goes back upon it. I believe this silly fiction of the "fickleness" of
the mob is mainly due to the equally silly fictions of prejudiced Greek
oligarchs about the Athenian assembly--which was an assembly of
well-to-do and cultivated slave-owners. I do not swallow all that
Thucydides chooses to tell us in his one-sided caricature about Cleon's
appointment to the command at Sphacteria, or about the affair of
Mitylene; and even if I did, I think it has nothing to do with the
question. But on such utterly exploded old-world ideas is the whole
modern argument of the Second Chamber founded.

Does anybody really believe great nations are so incapable of managing
their own affairs for themselves through their duly-elected
representatives that they are compelled to check their own boyish ardour
by means of the acts of an irresponsible and non-elective body? Does
anybody believe that the House of Commons works too fast, and gets
through its public business too hurriedly? Does anybody believe we
improve things in England at such a break-neck pace that we require the
assistance of Lord Salisbury and Lord St. Leonards to prevent us from
rushing straight down a steep place into the sea, like the swine of
Gadara? If they do, I congratulate them on their psychological acumen
and their political wisdom.

What the Commons want is not a drag, but a goad--nay, rather, a

No; the plain truth of the matter is this: all the Second Chambers in
the world owe their existence, not to any deliberate plan or reason, but
to the mere accident that the British nobles, not having a room big
enough to sit in with the Commons, took to sitting separately, and
transacted their own business as a distinct assembly. With so much
wisdom are the kingdoms of the earth governed! How else could any one in
his senses have devised the idea of creating one deliberative body on
purpose to mutilate or destroy the work of another? to produce from time
to time a periodical crisis or a periodical deadlock? There is not a
country in the world with a Second Chamber that doesn't twice a year
kick and plunge to get rid of it.

The House of Lords was once a reality. It consisted of the
ecclesiastical hierarchy--the bishops and mitred abbots; with the
official hierarchy--the great nobles, who were also great satraps of
provinces, and great military commanders. It was thus mainly made up of
practical life-members, appointed by merit. The peers, lay and
spiritual, were the men who commended themselves to the sovereign as
able administrators. Gradually, with prolonged peace, the hereditary
element choked and swamped the nominated element. The abbots
disappeared, the lords multiplied. The peer ceased to be the leader of a
shire, and sank into a mere idle landowner. Wealth alone grew at last to
be a title to the peerage. The House of Lords became a House of
Landlords. And the English people submitted to the claim of
irresponsible wealth or irresponsible acres to exercise a veto upon
national legislation. The anomaly, utterly indefensible in itself, had
grown up so slowly that the public accepted it--nay, even defended it.
And other countries, accustomed to regard England--the Pecksniff among
nations--as a perfect model of political wisdom, swallowed half the
anomaly, and all the casuistical reasoning that was supposed to justify
it, without a murmur. But if we strip the facts bare from the glamour
that surrounds them, the plain truth is this--England allows an assembly
of hereditary nobodies to retard or veto its legislation nowadays,
simply because it never noticed the moment when a practical House of
administrative officers lapsed into a nest of plutocrats.

Mend or end? As it stands, the thing is a not-even-picturesque mediæval
relic. If we English were logical, we would arrange that any man who
owned so many thousand acres of land, or brewed so many million bottles
of beer per annum, should _ipso facto_ be elevated to the peerage. Why
should not gallons of gin confer an earldom direct, and Brighton A's be
equivalent to a marquisate? Why not allow the equal claim of screws and
pills with coal and iron? Why disregard the native worth of annatto and
nitrates? Baron Beecham or Lord Sunlight is a first-rate name. As it is,
we make petty and puerile distinctions. Beer is in, but whiskey is out;
and even in beer itself, if I recollect aright, Dublin stout wore a
coronet for some months or years before English pale ale attained the
dignity of a barony. No Minister has yet made chocolate a viscount. At
present, banks and minerals go in as of right, while soap is left out in
the cold, and even cotton languishes. If the Chancellor of the Exchequer
put up titles to auction, while abolishing the legislative function of
the Lords, there would be millions in it. But as we English are not
logical, our mending would probably resolve itself into fatuous
tinkering. We might get rid of the sons, but leave the fathers. We might
flood the Lords with life peers, but leave the veto. Such tactics are
too Britannic. "Stone dead hath no fellow!"



A few pages back, I ventured to remark that in Utopia or the Millennium
the women of the community would probably be supported in common by the
labour of the men, and so be secured complete independence of choice and
action. When these essays first appeared in a daily newspaper, a Leader
among Women wrote to me in reply, "What a paradise you open up to us!
Alas for the reality! The question is--could women ever be really
independent if men supplied the means of existence? They would always
feel they had the right to control us. The difference of the position of
a woman in marriage when she has got a little fortune of her own is
something miraculous. Men adore money, and the possession of it inspires
them with an involuntary respect for the happy possessor."

Now I got a great many letters in answer to these Post-Prandials as they
originally came out--some of them, strange to say, not wholly
complimentary. As a rule, I am too busy a man to answer letters: and I
take this opportunity of apologising to correspondents who write to tell
me I am a knave or a fool, for not having acknowledged direct their
courteous communications. But this friendly criticism seems to call for
a reply, because it involves a question of principle which I have often
noted in all discussions of Utopias and Millennia.

For my generous critic seems to take it for granted that women are not
now dependent on the labour of men for their support--that some, or even
most of them, are in a position of freedom. The plain truth of it
is--almost all women depend for everything upon one man, who is or may
be an absolute despot. A very small number of women have "money of their
own," as we quaintly phrase it--that is to say, are supported by the
labour of many among us, either in the form of rent or in the form of
interest on capital bequeathed to them. A woman with five thousand a
year from Consols, for example, is in the strictest sense supported by
the united labour of all of us--she has a first mortgage to that amount
upon the earnings of the community. You and I are taxed to pay her. But
is she therefore more dependent than the woman who lives upon what she
can get out of the scanty earnings of a drunken husband? Does the
community therefore think it has a right to control her? Not a bit of
it. She is in point of fact the only free woman among us. My dream was
to see all women equally free--inheritors from the community of so much
of its earnings; holders, as it were, of sufficient world-consols to
secure their independence.

That, however, is not the main point to which I desire just now to
direct attention. I want rather to suggest an underlying fallacy of all
so-called individualists in dealing with schemes of so-called
Socialism--for to me your Socialist is the true and only individualist.
My correspondent's argument is written from the standpoint of the class
in which women have or may have money. But most women have none; and
schemes of reconstruction must be for the benefit of the many. So-called
individualists seem to think that under a more organised social state
they would not be so able to buy pictures as at present, not so free to
run across to California or Kamschatka. I doubt their premiss, for I
believe we should all of us be better off than we are to-day; but let
that pass; 'tis a detail. The main thing is this: they forget that most
of us are narrowly tied and circumscribed at present by endless
monopolies and endless restrictions of land or capital. I should like to
buy pictures; but I can't afford them. I long to see Japan; but I shall
never get there. The man in the street may desire to till the ground:
every acre is appropriated. He may wish to dig coal: Lord Masham
prevents him. He may have a pretty taste in Venetian glass: the flints
on the shore are private property; the furnace and the implements belong
to a capitalist. Under the existing _régime_, the vast mass of us are
hampered at every step in order that a few may enjoy huge monopolies.
Most men have no land, so that one man may own a county. And they call
this Individualism!

In considering any proposed change, whether imminent or distant, in
practice or in day-dream, it is not fair to take as your standard of
reference the most highly-favoured individuals under existing
conditions. Nor is it fair to take the most unfortunate only. You should
look at the average.

Now the average man, in the world as it wags, is a farm-labourer, an
artisan, a mill-hand, a navvy. He has untrammelled freedom of contract
to follow the plough on another man's land, or to work twelve hours a
day in another man's factory, for that other man's benefit--provided
always he can only induce the other man to employ him. If he can't, he
is at perfect liberty to tramp the high road till he drops with fatigue,
or to starve, unhindered, on the Thames Embankment. He may live where he
likes, as far as his means permit; for example, in a convenient court
off Seven Dials. He may make his own free bargain with grasping landlord
or exacting sweater. He may walk over every inch of English soil, with
the trifling exception of the millions of acres where trespassers will
be prosecuted. Even travel is not denied him: Florence and Venice are
out of his beat, it is true; but if he saves up his loose cash for a
couple of months, he may revel in the Oriental luxury of a third-class
excursion train to Brighton and back for three shillings. Such
advantages does the _régime_ of landlord-made individualism afford to
the average run of British citizen. If he fails in the race, he may
retire at seventy to the ease and comfort of the Union workhouse, and be
buried inexpensively at the cost of his parish.

The average woman in turn is the wife of such a man, dependent upon him
for what fraction of his earnings she can save from the public-house. Or
she is a shop-girl, free to stand all day from eight in the morning till
ten at night behind a counter, and to throw up her situation if it
doesn't suit her. Or she is a domestic servant, enjoying the glorious
liberty of a Sunday out every second week, and a walk with her young man
every alternate Wednesday after eight in the evening. She has full leave
to do her love-making in the open street, and to get as wet as she
chooses in Regent's Park on rainy nights in November. Look the question
in the face, and you will see for yourself that the mass of mothers in
every community are dependent for support, not upon men in general, but
upon a single man, their husband, against whose caprices and despotism
they have no sort of protection. Even the few women who are, as we say,
"independent," how are they supported, save by the labour of many men
who work to keep them in comfort or luxury? They are landowners, let us
put it; and then they are supported by the labour of their farmers and
ploughmen. Or they hold North-Western shares; and then they are
supported by the labour of colliers, and stokers, and guards, and
engine-drivers. And so on throughout. The plain fact is, either a woman
must earn her own livelihood by work, which, in the case of the mothers
in a community, is bad public policy; or else she must be supported by a
man or men, her husband, or her labourers.

My day-dream was, then, to make every woman independent, in precisely
the same sense that women of property are independent at present. Would
it give them a consciousness of being unduly controlled if they derived
their support from the general funds of the body politic, of which they
would be free and equal members and voters? Well, look at similar cases
in our own England. The Dukes of Marlborough derive a heavy pension from
the taxes of the country; but I have never observed that any Duke of
Marlborough of my time felt himself a slave to the imperious taxpayer.
Mr. Alfred Russel Wallace is justly the recipient of a Civil List
annuity; but that hasn't prevented his active and essentially
individualist brain from inventing Land Nationalisation. Mr. Robert
Buchanan very rightly draws another such annuity for good work done; but
Mr. Buchanan's name is not quite the first that rises naturally to my
lips as an example of cowed and cringing sycophancy to the ideas and
ideals of his fellow-citizens. No, no; be sure of it, this terror is a
phantom. One master is real, realisable, instant; but to be dependent
upon ten million is just what we always describe as independence.



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