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Title: Mental Efficiency - And Other Hints to Men and Women
Author: Bennett, Arnold, 1867-1931
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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    +-----------------------------------------------------------+
    | Transcriber's Note:                                       |
    |                                                           |
    | Obvious typographical errors have been corrected. For     |
    | a complete list, please see the end of this document.     |
    |                                                           |
    +-----------------------------------------------------------+

       *       *       *       *       *



MENTAL EFFICIENCY



         +--------------------------------------------+
         |             BY ARNOLD BENNETT              |
         |                                            |
         |                  _Novels_                  |
         |                                            |
         |            THE OLD WIVES' TALE             |
         |          HELEN WITH THE HIGH HAND          |
         |            THE BOOK OF CARLOTTA            |
         |                BURIED ALIVE                |
         |                A GREAT MAN                 |
         |                  LEONORA                   |
         |            WHOM GOD HATH JOINED            |
         |            A MAN FROM THE NORTH            |
         |           ANNA OF THE FIVE TOWNS           |
         |                THE GLIMPSE                 |
         |                                            |
         |           _Pocket Philosophies_            |
         |                                            |
         |       HOW TO LIVE ON 24 HOURS A DAY        |
         |             THE HUMAN MACHINE              |
         |               LITERARY TASTE               |
         |             MENTAL EFFICIENCY              |
         |                                            |
         |              _Miscellaneous_               |
         |                                            |
         |       CUPID AND COMMONSENSE: A Play        |
         |       WHAT THE PUBLIC WANTS: A Play        |
         |         THE TRUTH ABOUT AN AUTHOR          |
         |          THE FEAST OF ST. FRIEND           |
         |                                            |
         |          GEORGE H. DORAN COMPANY           |
         |                  NEW YORK                  |
         +--------------------------------------------+



MENTAL EFFICIENCY

AND OTHER HINTS
TO
MEN AND WOMEN

BY

ARNOLD BENNETT

Author of "How to Live on 24 Hours a Day"
"The Old Wives' Tale," etc.

GEORGE H. DORAN COMPANY
PUBLISHERS           NEW YORK



Copyright, 1911
By George H. Doran Company



CONTENTS


                                                             Page

I. Mental Efficiency                                            7
    The Appeal                                                  7
    The Replies                                                13
    The Cure                                                   19
    Mental Calisthenics                                        24

II. Expressing One's Individuality                             32

III. Breaking with the Past                                    39

IV. Settling Down in Life                                      45

V. Marriage                                                    53
    The Duty of It                                             53
    The Adventure of It                                        59
    The Two Ways of It                                         65

VI. Books                                                      72
    The Physical Side                                          72
    The Philosophy of Book Buying                              78

VII. Success                                                   84
    Candid Remarks                                             84
    The Successful and the Unsuccessful                        91
    The Inwardness of Success                                  97

VIII. The Petty Artificialities                               104

IX. The Secret of Content                                     112



I

MENTAL EFFICIENCY


THE APPEAL

If there is any virtue in advertisements--and a journalist should be
the last person to say that there is not--the American nation is
rapidly reaching a state of physical efficiency of which the world has
probably not seen the like since Sparta. In all the American
newspapers and all the American monthlies are innumerable illustrated
announcements of "physical-culture specialists," who guarantee to make
all the organs of the body perform their duties with the mighty
precision of a 60 h.p. motor-car that never breaks down. I saw a book
the other day written by one of these specialists, to show how perfect
health could be attained by devoting a quarter of an hour a day to
certain exercises. The advertisements multiply and increase in size.
They cost a great deal of money. Therefore they must bring in a great
deal of business. Therefore vast numbers of people must be worried
about the non-efficiency of their bodies, and on the way to achieve
efficiency. In our more modest British fashion, we have the same
phenomenon in England. And it is growing. Our muscles are growing
also. Surprise a man in his bedroom of a morning, and you will find
him lying on his back on the floor, or standing on his head, or
whirling clubs, in pursuit of physical efficiency. I remember that
once I "went in" for physical efficiency myself. I, too, lay on the
floor, my delicate epidermis separated from the carpet by only the
thinnest of garments, and I contorted myself according to the fifteen
diagrams of a large chart (believed to be the _magna charta_ of
physical efficiency) daily after shaving. In three weeks my collars
would not meet round my prize-fighter's neck; my hosier reaped immense
profits, and I came to the conclusion that I had carried physical
efficiency quite far enough.

A strange thing--was it not?--that I never had the idea of devoting a
quarter of an hour a day after shaving to the pursuit of mental
efficiency. The average body is a pretty complicated affair, sadly
out of order, but happily susceptible to culture. The average mind is
vastly more complicated, not less sadly out of order, but perhaps even
more susceptible to culture. We compare our arms to the arms of the
gentleman illustrated in the physical efficiency advertisement, and we
murmur to ourselves the classic phrase: "This will never do." And we
set about developing the muscles of our arms until we can show them
off (through a frock coat) to women at afternoon tea. But it does not,
perhaps, occur to us that the mind has its muscles, and a lot of
apparatus besides, and that these invisible, yet paramount, mental
organs are far less efficient than they ought to be; that some of them
are atrophied, others starved, others out of shape, etc. A man of
sedentary occupation goes for a very long walk on Easter Monday, and
in the evening is so exhausted that he can scarcely eat. He wakes up
to the inefficiency of his body, caused by his neglect of it, and he
is so shocked that he determines on remedial measures. Either he will
walk to the office, or he will play golf, or he will execute the
post-shaving exercises. But let the same man after a prolonged
sedentary course of newspapers, magazines, and novels, take his mind
out for a stiff climb among the rocks of a scientific, philosophic, or
artistic subject. What will he do? Will he stay out all day, and
return in the evening too tired even to read his paper? Not he. It is
ten to one that, finding himself puffing for breath after a quarter of
an hour, he won't even persist till he gets his second wind, but will
come back at once. Will he remark with genuine concern that his mind
is sadly out of condition and that he really must do something to get
it into order? Not he. It is a hundred to one that he will tranquilly
accept the _status quo_, without shame and without very poignant
regret. Do I make my meaning clear?

I say, without a _very poignant_ regret, because a certain vague
regret is indubitably caused by realizing that one is handicapped by a
mental inefficiency which might, without too much difficulty, be
cured. That vague regret exudes like a vapour from the more cultivated
section of the public. It is to be detected everywhere, and especially
among people who are near the half-way house of life. They perceive
the existence of immense quantities of knowledge, not the smallest
particle of which will they ever make their own. They stroll forth
from their orderly dwellings on a starlit night, and feel dimly the
wonder of the heavens. But the still small voice is telling them that,
though they have read in a newspaper that there are fifty thousand
stars in the Pleiades, they cannot even point to the Pleiades in the
sky. How they would like to grasp the significance of the nebular
theory, the most overwhelming of all theories! And the years are
passing; and there are twenty-four hours in every day, out of which
they work only six or seven; and it needs only an impulse, an effort,
a system, in order gradually to cure the mind of its slackness, to
give "tone" to its muscles, and to enable it to grapple with the
splendours of knowledge and sensation that await it! But the regret is
not poignant enough. They do nothing. They go on doing nothing. It is
as though they passed for ever along the length of an endless table
filled with delicacies, and could not stretch out a hand to seize. Do
I exaggerate? Is there not deep in the consciousness of most of us a
mournful feeling that our minds are like the liver of the
advertisement--sluggish, and that for the sluggishness of our minds
there is the excuse neither of incompetence, nor of lack of time, nor
of lack of opportunity, nor of lack of means?

Why does not some mental efficiency specialist come forward and show
us how to make our minds do the work which our minds are certainly
capable of doing? I do not mean a quack. All the physical efficiency
specialists who advertise largely are not quacks. Some of them achieve
very genuine results. If a course of treatment can be devised for the
body, a course of treatment can be devised for the mind. Thus we might
realize some of the ambitions which all of us cherish in regard to the
utilization in our spare time of that magnificent machine which we
allow to rust within our craniums. We have the desire to perfect
ourselves, to round off our careers with the graces of knowledge and
taste. How many people would not gladly undertake some branch of
serious study, so that they might not die under the reproach of having
lived and died without ever really having known anything about
anything! It is not the absence of desire that prevents them. It is,
first, the absence of will-power--not the will to begin, but the will
to continue; and, second, a mental apparatus which is out of
condition, "puffy," "weedy," through sheer neglect. The remedy, then,
divides itself into two parts, the cultivation of will-power, and the
getting into condition of the mental apparatus. And these two branches
of the cure must be worked concurrently.

I am sure that the considerations which I have presented to you must
have already presented themselves to tens of thousands of my readers,
and that thousands must have attempted the cure. I doubt not that many
have succeeded. I shall deem it a favour if those readers who have
interested themselves in the question will communicate to me at once
the result of their experience, whatever its outcome. I will make such
use as I can of the letters I receive, and afterwards I will give my
own experience.


THE REPLIES

The correspondence which I have received in answer to my appeal shows
that at any rate I did not overstate the case. There is, among a vast
mass of reflecting people in this country, a clear consciousness of
being mentally less than efficient, and a strong (though ineffective)
desire that such mental inefficiency should cease to be. The desire is
stronger than I had imagined, but it does not seem to have led to
much hitherto. And that "course of treatment for the mind," by means
of which we are to "realize some of the ambitions which all of us
cherish in regard to the utilization in our spare time of the
magnificent machine which we allow to rust within our craniums"--that
desiderated course of treatment has not apparently been devised by
anybody. The Sandow of the brain has not yet loomed up above the
horizon. On the other hand, there appears to be a general expectancy
that I personally am going to play the rôle of the Sandow of the
brain. Vain thought!

I have been very much interested in the letters, some of which, as a
statement of the matter in question, are admirable. It is perhaps not
surprising that the best of them come from women--for (genius apart)
woman is usually more touchingly lyrical than man in the yearning for
the ideal. The most enthusiastic of all the letters I have received,
however, is from a gentleman whose notion is that we should be
hypnotised into mental efficiency. After advocating the establishment
of "an institution of practical psychology from whence there can be
graduated fit and proper people whose efforts would be in the
direction of the subconscious mental mechanism of the child or even
the adult," this hypnotist proceeds: "Between the academician, whose
specialty is an inconsequential cobweb, the medical man who has got it
into his head that he is the logical foster-father for psychonomical
matters, and the blatant 'professor' who deals with monkey tricks on a
few somnambules on the music-hall stage, you are allowing to go
unrecognized one of the most potent factors of mental development." Am
I? I have not the least idea what this gentleman means, but I can
assure him that he is wrong. I can make more sense out of the remarks
of another correspondent who, utterly despising the things of the
mind, compares a certain class of young men to "a halfpenny bloater
with the roe out," and asserts that he himself "got out of the groove"
by dint of having to unload ten tons of coal in three hours and a half
every day during several years. This is interesting and it is
constructive, but it is just a little beside the point.

A lady, whose optimism is indicated by her pseudonym, "Espérance,"
puts her finger on the spot, or, rather, on one of the spots, in a
very sensible letter. "It appears to me," she says, "that the great
cause of mental inefficiency is lack of concentration, perhaps
especially in the case of women. I can trace my chief failures to this
cause. Concentration, is a talent. It may be in a measure cultivated,
but it needs to be inborn.... The greater number of us are in a state
of semi-slumber, with minds which are only exerted to one-half of
their capability." I thoroughly agree that inability to concentrate is
one of the chief symptoms of the mental machine being out of
condition. "Espérance's" suggested cure is rather drastic. She says:
"Perhaps one of the best cures for mental sedentariness is arithmetic,
for there is nothing else which requires greater power of
concentration." Perhaps arithmetic might be an effective cure, but it
is not a practical cure, because no one, or scarcely any one, would
practise it. I cannot imagine the plain man who, having a couple of
hours to spare of a night, and having also the sincere desire but not
the will-power to improve his taste and knowledge, would deliberately
sit down and work sums by way of preliminary mental calisthenics. As
Ibsen's puppet said: "People don't do these things." Why do they not?
The answer is: Simply because they won't; simply because human nature
will not run to it. "Espérance's" suggestion of learning poetry is
slightly better.

Certainly the best letter I have had is from Miss H. D. She says:
"This idea [to avoid the reproach of 'living and dying without ever
really knowing anything about anything'] came to me of itself from
somewhere when I was a small girl. And looking back I fancy that the
thought itself spurred me to do something in this world, to get into
line with people who did things--people who painted pictures, wrote
books, built bridges, or did something beyond the ordinary. This only
has seemed to me, all my life since, worth while." Here I must
interject that such a statement is somewhat sweeping. In fact, it
sweeps a whole lot of fine and legitimate ambitions straight into the
rubbish heap of the Not-worth-while. I think the writer would wish to
modify it. She continues: "And when the day comes in which I have not
done some serious reading, however small the measure, or some writing
... or I have been too sad or dull to notice the brightness of colour
of the sun, of grass and flowers, of the sea, or the moonlight on the
water, I think the day ill-spent. So I must think the _incentive_ to
do a little each day beyond the ordinary towards the real culture of
the mind, is the beginning of the cure of mental inefficiency." This
is very ingenious and good. Further: "The day comes when the mental
habit has become a part of our life, and we value mental work for the
work's sake." But I am not sure about that. For myself, I have never
valued work for its own sake, and I never shall. And I only value such
mental work for the more full and more intense consciousness of being
alive which it gives me.

Miss H. D.'s remedies are vague. As to lack of will-power, "the first
step is to realize your weakness; the next step is to have ordinary
shame that you are defective." I doubt, I gravely doubt, if these
steps would lead to anything definite. Nor is this very helpful: "I
would advise reading, observing, writing. I would advise the use of
every sense and every faculty by which we at last learn the sacredness
of life." This is begging the question. If people, by merely wishing
to do so, could regularly and seriously read, observe, write, and use
every faculty and sense, there would be very little mental
inefficiency. I see that I shall be driven to construct a programme
out of my own bitter and ridiculous experiences.


THE CURE

    "But tasks in hours of insight willed
    Can be through hours of gloom fulfilled."

The above lines from Matthew Arnold are quoted by one of my very
numerous correspondents to support a certain optimism in this matter
of a systematic attempt to improve the mind. They form part of a
beautiful and inspiring poem, but I gravely fear that they run counter
to the vast mass of earthly experience. More often than not I have
found that a task willed in some hour of insight can _not_ be
fulfilled through hours of gloom. No, no, and no! To will is easy: it
needs but the momentary bright contagion of a stronger spirit than
one's own. To fulfil, morning after morning, or evening after evening,
through months and years--this is the very dickens, and there is not
one of my readers that will not agree with me. Yet such is the elastic
quality of human nature that most of my correspondents are quite ready
to ignore the sad fact and to demand at once: "what shall we will?
Tell us what we must will." Some seem to think that they have solved
the difficulty when they have advocated certain systems of memory and
mind-training. Such systems may be in themselves useful or
useless--the evidence furnished to me is contradictory--but were they
perfect systems, a man cannot be intellectually born again merely by
joining a memory-class. The best system depends utterly on the man's
power of resolution. And what really counts is not the system, but the
spirit in which the man handles it. Now, the proper spirit can only be
induced by a careful consideration and realization of the man's
conditions--the limitations of his temperament, the strength of
adverse influences, and the lessons of his past.

Let me take an average case. Let me take your case, O man or woman of
thirty, living in comfort, with some cares, and some responsibilities,
and some pretty hard daily work, but not too much of any! The question
of mental efficiency is in the air. It interests you. It touches you
nearly. Your conscience tells you that your mind is less active and
less informed than it might be. You suddenly spring up from the
garden-seat, and you say to yourself that you will take your mind in
hand and do something with it. Wait a moment. Be so good as to sink
back into that garden-seat and clutch that tennis racket a little
longer. You have had these "hours of insight" before, you know. You
have not arrived at the age of thirty without having tried to carry
out noble resolutions--and failed. What precautions are you going to
take against failure this time? For your will is probably no stronger
now than it was aforetime. You have admitted and accepted failure in
the past. And no wound is more cruel to the spirit of resolve than
that dealt by failure. You fancy the wound closed, but just at the
critical moment it may reopen and mortally bleed you. What are your
precautions? Have you thought of them? No. You have not.

I have not the pleasure of your acquaintance. But I know you because I
know myself. Your failure in the past was due to one or more of three
causes. And the first was that you undertook too much at the
beginning. You started off with a magnificent programme. You are
something of an expert in physical exercises--you would be ashamed
not to be, in these physical days--and so you would never attempt a
hurdle race or an uninterrupted hour's club-whirling without some
preparation. The analogy between the body and the mind ought to have
struck you. _This_ time, please do not form an elaborate programme. Do
not form any programme. Simply content yourself with a preliminary
canter, a ridiculously easy preliminary canter. For example (and I
give this merely as an example), you might say to yourself: "Within
one month from this date I will read twice Herbert Spencer's little
book on 'Education'--sixpence--and will make notes in pencil inside
the back cover of the things that particularly strike me." You remark
that that is nothing, that you can do it "on your head," and so on.
Well, do it. When it is done you will at any rate possess the
satisfaction of having resolved to do something and having done it.
Your mind will have gained tone and healthy pride. You will be even
justified in setting yourself some kind of a simple programme to
extend over three months. And you will have acquired some general
principles by the light of which to construct the programme. But best
of all, you will have avoided failure, that dangerous wound.

The second possible cause of previous failure was the disintegrating
effect on the will-power of the ironic, superior smile of friends.
Whenever a man "turns over a new leaf" he has this inane giggle to
face. The drunkard may be less ashamed of getting drunk than of
breaking to a crony the news that he has signed the pledge. Strange,
but true! And human nature must be counted with. Of course, on a few
stern spirits the effect of that smile is merely to harden the
resolution. But on the majority its influence is deleterious.
Therefore don't go and nail your flag to the mast. Don't raise any
flag. Say nothing. Work as unobtrusively as you can. When you have won
a battle or two you can begin to wave the banner, and then you will
find that that miserable, pitiful, ironic, superior smile will die
away ere it is born.

The third possible cause was that you did not rearrange your day.
Idler and time-waster though you have been, still you had done
_something_ during the twenty-four hours. You went to work with a kind
of dim idea that there were twenty-six hours in every day. _Something
large and definite has to be dropped._ Some space in the rank jungle
of the day has to be cleared and swept up for the new operations.
Robbing yourself of sleep won't help you, nor trying to "squeeze in" a
time for study between two other times. Use the knife, and use it
freely. If you mean to read or think half an hour a day, arrange for
an hour. A hundred per cent. margin is not too much for a beginner. Do
you ask me where the knife is to be used? I should say that in nine
cases out of ten the rites of the cult of the body might be
abbreviated. I recently spent a week-end in a London suburb, and I was
staggered by the wholesale attention given to physical recreation in
all its forms. It was a gigantic debauch of the muscles on every side.
It shocked me. "Poor withering mind!" I thought. "Cricket, and
football, and boating, and golf, and tennis have their 'seasons,' but
not thou!" These considerations are general and prefatory. Now I must
come to detail.


MENTAL CALISTHENICS

I have dealt with the state of mind in which one should begin a
serious effort towards mental efficiency, and also with the probable
causes of failure in previous efforts. We come now to what I may call
the calisthenics of the business, exercises which may be roughly
compared to the technical exercises necessary in learning to play a
musical instrument. It is curious that a person studying a musical
instrument will have no false shame whatever in doing mere exercises
for the fingers and wrists while a person who is trying to get his
mind into order will almost certainly experience a false shame in
going through performances which are undoubtedly good for him. Herein
lies one of the great obstacles to mental efficiency. Tell a man that
he should join a memory class, and he will hum and haw, and say, as I
have already remarked, that memory isn't everything; and, in short, he
won't join the memory class, partly from indolence, I grant, but more
from false shame. (Is not this true?) He will even hesitate about
learning things by heart. Yet there are few mental exercises better
than learning great poetry or prose by heart. Twenty lines a week for
six months: what a "cure" for debility! The chief, but not the only,
merit of learning by heart as an exercise is that it compels the mind
to concentrate. And the most important preliminary to self-development
is the faculty of concentrating at will. Another excellent exercise is
to read a page of no-matter-what, and then immediately to write
down--in one's own words or in the author's--one's full recollection
of it. A quarter of an hour a day! No more! And it works like magic.

This brings me to the department of writing. I am a writer by
profession; but I do not think I have any prejudices in favour of the
exercise of writing. Indeed, I say to myself every morning that if
there is one exercise in the world which I hate, it is the exercise of
writing. But I must assert that in my opinion the exercise of writing
is an indispensable part of any genuine effort towards mental
efficiency. I don't care much what you write, so long as you compose
sentences and achieve continuity. There are forty ways of writing in
an unprofessional manner, and they are all good. You may keep "a full
diary," as Mr. Arthur Christopher Benson says he does. This is one of
the least good ways. Diaries, save in experienced hands like those of
Mr. Benson, are apt to get themselves done with the very minimum of
mental effort. They also tend to an exaggeration of egotism, and if
they are left lying about they tend to strife. Further, one never
knows when one may not be compelled to produce them in a court of
law. A journal is better. Do not ask me to define the difference
between a journal and a diary. I will not and I cannot. It is a
difference that one feels instinctively. A diary treats exclusively of
one's self and one's doings; a journal roams wider, and notes whatever
one has observed of interest. A diary relates that one had lobster
mayonnaise for dinner and rose the next morning with a headache,
doubtless attributable to mental strain. A journal relates that
Mrs. ----, whom one took into dinner, had brown eyes, and an agreeable
trick of throwing back her head after asking a question, and gives her
account of her husband's strange adventures in Colorado, etc. A diary
is

    All I, I, I, I, itself I

(to quote a line of the transcendental poetry of Mary Baker G. Eddy).
A journal is the large spectacle of life. A journal may be special or
general. I know a man who keeps a journal of all cases of current
superstition which he actually encounters. He began it without the
slightest suspicion that he was beginning a document of astounding
interest and real scientific value; but such was the fact. In default
of a diary or a journal, one may write essays (provided one has the
moral courage); or one may simply make notes on the book one reads. Or
one may construct anthologies of passages which have made an
individual and particular appeal to one's tastes. Anthology
construction is one of the pleasantest hobbies that a person who is
not mad about golf and bridge--that is to say, a thinking person--can
possibly have; and I recommend it to those who, discreetly mistrusting
their power to keep up a fast pace from start to finish, are anxious
to begin their intellectual course gently and mildly. In any event,
writing--the act of writing--is vital to almost any scheme. I would
say it was vital to every scheme, without exception, were I not sure
that some kind correspondent would instantly point out a scheme to
which writing was obviously not vital.

After writing comes thinking. (The sequence may be considered odd, but
I adhere to it.) In this connexion I cannot do better than quote an
admirable letter which I have received from a correspondent who wishes
to be known only as "An Oxford Lecturer." The italics (except the
last) are mine, not his. He says: "Till a man has got his physical
brain completely under his control--_suppressing its too-great
receptivity, its tendencies to reproduce idly the thoughts of others,
and to be swayed by every passing gust of emotion_--I hold that he
cannot do a tenth part of the work that he would then be able to
perform with little or no effort. Moreover, work apart, he has not
entered upon his kingdom, and unlimited possibilities of future
development are barred to him. Mental efficiency can be gained by
constant practice in meditation--i.e., by concentrating the mind, say,
for but ten minutes daily, but with absolute regularity, on some of
the highest thoughts of which it is capable. Failures will be
frequent, but they must be regarded with simple indifference and
dogged perseverance in the path chosen. If that path be followed
_without intermission_ even for a few weeks the results will speak for
themselves." I thoroughly agree with what this correspondent says, and
am obliged to him for having so ably stated the case. But I regard
such a practice of meditation as he indicates as being rather an
"advanced" exercise for a beginner. After the beginner has got under
way, and gained a little confidence in his strength of purpose, and
acquired the skill to define his thoughts sufficiently to write them
down--then it would be time enough, in my view, to undertake what "An
Oxford Lecturer" suggests. By the way, he highly recommends Mrs. Annie
Besant's book, _Thought Power: Its Control and Culture_. He says that
it treats the subject with scientific clearness, and gives a practical
method of training the mind, I endorse the latter part of the
statement.

So much for the more or less technical processes of stirring the mind
from its sloth and making it exactly obedient to the aspirations of
the soul. And here I close. Numerous correspondents have asked me to
outline a course of reading for them. In other words, they have asked
me to particularize for them the aspirations of their souls. My
subject, however, was not self-development My subject was mental
efficiency as a means to self-development. Of course, one can only
acquire mental efficiency in the actual effort of self-development.
But I was concerned, not with the choice of route; rather with the
manner of following the route. You say to me that I am busying myself
with the best method of walking, and refusing to discuss where to go.
Precisely. One man cannot tell another man where the other man wants
to go.

If he can't himself decide on a goal he may as well curl up and
expire, for the root of the matter is not in him. I will content
myself with pointing out that the entire universe is open for
inspection. Too many people fancy that self-development means
literature. They associate the higher life with an intimate knowledge
of the life of Charlotte Brontë, or the order of the plays of
Shakespeare. The higher life may just as well be butterflies, or
funeral customs, or county boundaries, or street names, or mosses, or
stars, or slugs, as Charlotte Brontë or Shakespeare. Choose what
interests you. Lots of finely-organized, mentally-efficient persons
can't read Shakespeare at any price, and if you asked them who was the
author of _The Tenant of Wildfell Hall_ they might proudly answer
Emily Brontë, if they didn't say they never heard of it. An accurate
knowledge of _any_ subject, coupled with a carefully nurtured sense of
the relativity of that subject to other subjects, implies an enormous
self-development. With this hint I conclude.



II

EXPRESSING ONE'S INDIVIDUALITY


A most curious and useful thing to realize is that one never knows the
impression one is creating on other people. One may often guess pretty
accurately whether it is good, bad, or indifferent--some people render
it unnecessary for one to guess, they practically inform one--but that
is not what I mean. I mean much more than that. I mean that one has
one's self no mental picture corresponding to the mental picture which
one's personality leaves in the minds of one's friends. Has it ever
struck you that there is a mysterious individual going around, walking
the streets, calling at houses for tea, chatting, laughing, grumbling,
arguing, and that all your friends know him and have long since added
him up and come to a definite conclusion about him--without saying
more than a chance, cautious word to you; and that that person is
_you_? Supposing that _you_ came into a drawing-room where you were
having tea, do you think you would recognize yourself as an
individuality? I think not. You would be apt to say to yourself, as
guests do when disturbed in drawing-rooms by other guests: "Who's this
chap? Seems rather queer, I hope he won't be a bore." And your first
telling would be slightly hostile. Why, even when you meet yourself in
an unsuspected mirror in the very clothes that you have put on that
very day and that you know by heart, you are almost always shocked by
the realization that you are you. And now and then, when you have gone
to the glass to arrange your hair in the full sobriety of early
morning, have you not looked on an absolute stranger, and has not that
stranger piqued your curiosity? And if it is thus with precise
external details of form, colour, and movement, what may it not be
with the vague complex effect of the mental and moral individuality?

A man honestly tries to make a good impression. What is the result?
The result merely is that his friends, in the privacy of their minds,
set him down as a man who tries to make a good impression. If much
depends on the result of a single interview, or a couple of
interviews, a man may conceivably force another to accept an
impression of himself which he would like to convey. But if the
receiver of the impression is to have time at his disposal, then the
giver of the impression may just as well sit down and put his hands in
his pockets, for nothing that he can do will modify or influence in
any way the impression that he will ultimately give. The real impress
is, in the end, given unconsciously, not consciously; and further, it
is received unconsciously, not consciously. It depends partly on both
persons. And it is immutably fixed beforehand. There can be no final
deception. Take the extreme case, that of the mother and her son. One
hears that the son hoodwinks his mother. Not he! If he is cruel,
neglectful, overbearing, she is perfectly aware of it. He does not
deceive her, and she does not deceive herself. I have often thought:
If a son could look into a mother's heart, what an eye-opener he would
have! "What!" he would cry. "This cold, impartial judgment, this keen
vision for my faults, this implacable memory of little slights, and
injustices, and callousnesses committed long ago, in the breast of my
mother!" Yes, my friend, in the breast of your mother. The only
difference between your mother and another person is that she takes
you as you are, and loves you for what you are. She isn't blind: do
not imagine it.

The marvel is, not that people are such bad judges of character, but
that they are such good judges, especially of what I may call
fundamental character. The wiliest person cannot for ever conceal his
fundamental character from the simplest. And people are very stern
judges, too. Think of your best friends--are you oblivious of their
defects? On the contrary, you are perhaps too conscious of them. When
you summon them before your mind's eye, it is no ideal creation that
you see. When you meet them and talk to them you are constantly making
reservations in their disfavour--unless, of course, you happen to be a
schoolgirl gushing over like a fountain with enthusiasm. It is well,
when one is judging a friend, to remember that he is judging you with
the same godlike and superior impartiality. It is well to grasp the
fact that you are going through life under the scrutiny of a band of
acquaintances who are subject to very few illusions about you, whose
views of you are, indeed, apt to be harsh and even cruel. Above all
it is advisable to comprehend thoroughly that the things in your
individuality which annoy your friends most are the things of which
you are completely unconscious. It is not until years have passed that
one begins to be able to form a dim idea of what one has looked like
to one's friends. At forty one goes back ten years, and one says
sadly, but with a certain amusement: "I must have been pretty blatant
then. I can see how I must have exasperated 'em. And yet I hadn't the
faintest notion of it at the time. My intentions were of the best.
Only I didn't know enough." And one recollects some particularly crude
action, and kicks one's self.... Yes, that is all very well; and the
enlightenment which has come with increasing age is exceedingly
satisfactory. But you are forty now. What shall you be saying of
yourself at fifty? Such reflections foster humility, and they foster
also a reluctance, which it is impossible to praise too highly, to
tread on other people's toes.

A moment ago I used the phrase "fundamental character." It is a
reminiscence of Stevenson's phrase "fundamental decency." And it is
the final test by which one judges one's friends. "After all, he's a
decent fellow." We must be able to use that formula concerning our
friends. Kindliness of heart is not the greatest of human
qualities--and its general effect on the progress of the world is not
entirely beneficent--but it is the greatest of human qualities in
friendship. It is the least dispensable quality. We come back to it
with relief from more brilliant qualities. And it has the great
advantage of always going with a broad mind. Narrow-minded people are
never kind-hearted. You may be inclined to dispute this statement:
please think it over; I am inclined to uphold it.

We can forgive the absence of any quality except kindliness of heart.
And when a man lacks that, we blame him, we will not forgive him. This
is, of course, scandalous. A man is born as he is born. And he can as
easily add a cubit to his stature as add kindliness to his heart. The
feat never has been done, and never will be done. And yet we blame
those who have not kindliness. We have the incredible, insufferable,
and odious audacity to blame them. We think of them as though they had
nothing to do but go into a shop and buy kindliness. I hear you say
that kindliness of heart can be "cultivated." Well, I hate to have
even the appearance of contradicting you, but it can only be
cultivated in the botanical sense. You can't cultivate violets on a
nettle. A philosopher has enjoined us to suffer fools gladly. He had
more usefully enjoined us to suffer ill-natured persons gladly.... I
see that in a fit of absentmindedness I have strayed into the pulpit.
I descend.



III

BREAKING WITH THE PAST


On that dark morning we woke up, and it instantly occurred to us--or
at any rate to those of us who have preserved some of our illusions
and our _naïveté_--that we had something to be cheerful about, some
cause for a gay and strenuous vivacity; and then we remembered that it
was New Year's Day, and there were those Resolutions to put into
force! Of course, we all smile in a superior manner at the very
mention of New Year's Resolutions; we pretend they are toys for
children, and that we have long since ceased to regard them seriously
as a possible aid to conduct. But we are such deceivers, such
miserable, moral cowards, in such terror of appearing naïve, that I
for one am not to be taken in by that smile and that pretence. The
individual who scoffs at New Year's Resolutions resembles the woman
who says she doesn't look under the bed at nights; the truth is not in
him, and in the very moment of his lying, could his cranium suddenly
become transparent, we should see Resolutions burning brightly in his
brain like lamps in Trafalgar Square. Of this I am convinced, that
nineteen-twentieths of us got out of bed that morning animated by that
special feeling of gay and strenuous vivacity which Resolutions alone
can produce. And nineteen-twentieths of us were also conscious of a
high virtue, forgetting that it is not the making of Resolutions, but
the keeping of them, which renders pardonable the consciousness of
virtue.

And at this hour, while the activity of the Resolution is yet in full
blast, I would wish to insist on the truism, obvious perhaps, but apt
to be overlooked, that a man cannot go forward and stand still at the
same time. Just as moralists have often animadverted upon the tendency
to live in the future, so I would animadvert upon the tendency to live
in the past. Because all around me I see men carefully tying
themselves with an unbreakable rope to an immovable post at the bottom
of a hill and then struggling to climb the hill. If there is one
Resolution more important than another it is the Resolution to break
with the past. If life is not a continual denial of the past, then it
is nothing. This may seem a hard and callous doctrine, but you know
there are aspects of common sense which decidedly are hard and
callous. And one finds constantly in plain common-sense persons (O
rare and select band!) a surprising quality of ruthlessness mingled
with softer traits. Have you not noticed it? The past is absolutely
intractable. One can't do anything with it. And an exaggerated
attention to it is like an exaggerated attention to sepulchres--a sign
of barbarism. Moreover, the past is usually the enemy of cheerfulness,
and cheerfulness is a most precious attainment.

Personally, I could even go so far as to exhibit hostility towards
grief, and a marked hostility towards remorse--two states of mind
which feed on the past instead of on the present. Remorse, which is
not the same thing as repentance, serves no purpose that I have ever
been able to discover. What one has done, one has done, and there's an
end of it. As a great prelate unforgettably said, "Things are what
they are, and the consequences of them will be what they will be. Why,
then, attempt to deceive ourselves"--that remorse for wickedness is a
useful and praiseworthy exercise? Much better to forget. As a matter
of fact, people "indulge" in remorse; it is a somewhat vicious form of
spiritual pleasure. Grief, of course, is different, and it must be
handled with delicate consideration. Nevertheless, when I see, as one
does see, a man or a woman dedicating existence to sorrow for the loss
of a beloved creature, and the world tacitly applauding, my feeling is
certainly inimical. To my idea, that man or woman is not honouring,
but dishonouring, the memory of the departed; society suffers, the
individual suffers, and no earthly or heavenly good is achieved. Grief
is of the past; it mars the present; it is a form of indulgence, and
it ought to be bridled much more than it often is. The human heart is
so large that mere remembrance should not be allowed to tyrannize over
every part of it.

But cases of remorse and absorbing grief are comparatively rare. What
is not rare is that misguided loyalty to the past which dominates the
lives of so many of us. I do not speak of leading principles, which
are not likely to incommode us by changing; I speak of secondary yet
still important things. We will not do so-and-so because we have never
done it--as if that was a reason! Or we have always done so-and-so,
therefore we must always do it--as if _that_ was logic! This
disposition to an irrational Toryism is curiously discoverable in
advanced Radicals, and it will show itself in the veriest trifles. I
remember such a man whose wife objected to his form of hat (not that I
would call so crowning an affair as a hat a trifle!). "My dear," he
protested, "I have always worn this sort of hat. It may not suit me,
but it is absolutely impossible for me to alter it now." However, she
took him by means of an omnibus to a hat shop and bought him another
hat and put it on his head, and made a present of the old one to the
shop assistant, and marched him out of the shop. "There!" she said,
"you see how impossible it is." This is a parable. And I will not
insult your intelligence by applying it.

The faculty that we chiefly need when we are in the resolution-making
mood is the faculty of imagination, the faculty of looking at our
lives as though we had never looked at them before--freshly, with a
new eye. Supposing that you had been born mature and full of
experience, and that yesterday had been the first day of your life,
you would regard it to-day as an experiment, you would challenge each
act in it, and you would probably arrange to-morrow in a manner that
showed a healthy disrespect for yesterday. You certainly would not
say: "I have done so-and-so once, therefore I must keep on doing it."
The past is never more than an experiment. A genuine appreciation of
this fact will make our new Resolutions more valuable and drastic than
they usually are. I have a dim notion that the most useful Resolution
for most of us would be to break quite fifty per cent. of all the vows
we have ever made. "Do not accustom yourself to enchain your
_volatility_ with vows.... Take this warning; it is of great
importance." (The wisdom is Johnson's, but I flatter myself on the
italics.)



IV

SETTLING DOWN IN LIFE


The other day a well-known English novelist asked me how old I thought
she was, _really_. "Well," I said to myself, "since she has asked for
it, she shall have it; I will be as true to life as her novels." So I
replied audaciously: "Thirty-eight." I fancied I was erring if at all,
on the side of "really," and I trembled. She laughed triumphantly. "I
am forty-three," she said. The incident might have passed off entirely
to my satisfaction had she not proceeded: "And now tell me how old
_you_ are." That was like a woman. Women imagine that men have no
reticences, no pretty little vanities. What an error! Of course I
could not be beaten in candour by a woman. I had to offer myself a
burnt sacrifice to her curiosity, and I did it, bravely but not
unflinchingly. And then afterwards the fact of my age remained with
me, worried me, obsessed me. I saw more clearly than ever before that
age was telling on me. I could not be blind to the deliberation of my
movements in climbing stairs and in dressing. Once upon a time the
majority of persons I met in the street seemed much older than myself.
It is different now. The change has come unperceived. There is a
generation younger than mine that smokes cigars and falls in love.
Astounding! Once I could play left-wing forward for an hour and a half
without dropping down dead. Once I could swim a hundred and fifty feet
submerged at the bottom of a swimming-bath. Incredible! Simply
incredible!... Can it be that I have already lived?

And lo! I, at the age of nearly forty, am putting to myself the old
questions concerning the intrinsic value of life, the fundamentally
important questions: What have I got out of it? What am I likely to
get out of it? In a word, what's it worth? If a man can ask himself a
question more momentous, radical, and critical than these questions, I
would like to know what it is. Innumerable philosophers have tried to
answer these questions in a general way for the average individual,
and possibly they have succeeded pretty well. Possibly I might derive
benefit from a perusal of their answers. But do you suppose I am going
to read them? Not I! Do you suppose that I can recall the wisdom that
I happen already to have read? Not I! My mind is a perfect blank at
this moment in regard to the wisdom of others on the essential
question. Strange, is it not? But quite a common experience, I
believe. Besides, I don't actually care twopence what any other
philosopher has replied to my question. In this, each man must be his
own philosopher. There is an instinct in the profound egoism of human
nature which prevents us from accepting such ready-made answers. What
is it to us what Plato thought? Nothing. And thus the question remains
ever new, and ever unanswered, and ever of dramatic interest. The
singular, the highly singular thing is--and here I arrive at my
point--that so few people put the question to themselves in time, that
so many put it too late, or even die without putting it.

I am firmly convinced that an immense proportion of my instructed
fellow-creatures do not merely omit to strike the balance-sheet of
their lives, they omit even the preliminary operation of taking
stock. They go on, and on, and on, buying and selling they know not
what, at unascertained prices, dropping money into the till and taking
it out. They don't know what goods are in the shop, nor what amount is
in the till, but they have a clear impression that the living-room
behind the shop is by no means as luxurious and as well-ventilated as
they would like it to be. And the years pass, and that beautiful
furniture and that system of ventilation are not achieved. And then
one day they die, and friends come to the funeral and remark: "Dear
me! How stuffy this room is, and the shop's practically full of
trash!" Or, some little time before they are dead, they stay later
than usual in the shop one evening, and make up their minds to take
stock and count the till, and the disillusion lays them low, and they
struggle into the living-room and murmur: "I shall never have that
beautiful furniture, and I shall never have that system of
ventilation. If I had known earlier, I would have at least got a few
inexpensive cushions to go on with, and I would have put my fist
through a pane in the window. But it's too late now. I'm used to
Windsor chairs, and I should feel the draught horribly."

If I were a preacher, and if I hadn't got more than enough to do in
minding my own affairs, and if I could look any one in the face and
deny that I too had pursued for nearly forty years the great British
policy of muddling through and hoping for the best--in short, if
things were not what they are, I would hire the Alhambra Theatre or
Exeter Hall of a Sunday night--preferably the Alhambra, because more
people would come to my entertainment--and I would invite all men and
women over twenty-six. I would supply the seething crowd with what
they desired in the way of bodily refreshment (except spirits--I would
draw the line at poisons), and having got them and myself into a nice
amiable expansive frame of mind, I would thus address them--of course
in ringing eloquence that John Bright might have envied:

  Men and women (I would say), companions in the universal pastime
  of hiding one's head in the sand,--I am about to impart to you the
  very essence of human wisdom. It is not abstract. It is a
  principle of daily application, affecting the daily round in its
  entirety, from the straphanging on the District Railway in the
  morning to the straphanging on the District Railway the next
  morning. Beware of hope, and beware of ambition! Each is
  excellently tonic, like German competition, in moderation. But all
  of you are suffering from self-indulgence in the first, and very
  many of you are ruining your constitutions with the second. Be it
  known unto you, my dear men and women, that existence rightly
  considered is a fair compromise between two instincts--the
  instinct of hoping one day to live, and the instinct to live here
  and now. In most of you the first instinct has simply got the
  other by the throat and is throttling it. Prepare to live by all
  means, but for heaven's sake do not forget to live. You will never
  have a better chance than you have at present. You may think you
  will have, but you are mistaken. Pardon this bluntness. Surely you
  are not so naïve as to imagine that the road on the other side of
  that hill there is more beautiful than the piece you are now
  traversing! Hopes are never realized; for in the act of
  realization they become something else. Ambitions may be attained,
  but ambitions attained are rather like burnt coal, ninety per
  cent. of the heat generated has gone up the chimney instead of
  into the room. Nevertheless, indulge in hopes and ambitions,
  which, though deceiving, are agreeable deceptions; let them cheat
  you a little, a lot. But do not let them cheat you too much. This
  that you are living now is life itself--it is much more life
  itself than that which you will be living twenty years hence.
  Grasp that truth. Dwell on it. Absorb it. Let it influence your
  conduct, to the end that neither the present nor the future be
  neglected. You search for happiness? Happiness is chiefly a matter
  of temperament. It is exceedingly improbable that you will by
  struggling gain more happiness than you already possess. In fine,
  settle down at once into _life_. (Loud cheers.)

The cheers would of course be for the refreshments.

There is no doubt that the mass of the audience would consider that I
had missed my vocation, and ought to have been a caterer instead of a
preacher. But, once started, I would not be discouraged. I would keep
on, Sunday night after Sunday night. Our leading advertisers have
richly proved that the public will believe anything if they are told
of it often enough. I would practise iteration, always with
refreshments. In the result, it would dawn upon the corporate mind
that there was some glimmering of sense in my doctrine, and people
would at last begin to perceive the folly of neglecting to savour the
present, the folly of assuming that the future can be essentially
different from the present, the fatuity of dying before they have
begun to live.



V

MARRIAGE


THE DUTY OF IT

Every now and then it becomes necessary to deal faithfully with that
immortal type of person, the praiser of the past at the expense of the
present. I will not quote Horace, as by all the traditions of letters
I ought to do, because Horace, like the incurable trimmer that he was,
"hedged" on this question; and I do not admire him much either. The
praiser of the past has been very rife lately. He has told us that
pauperism and lunacy are mightily increasing, and though the exact
opposite has been proved to be the case and he has apologized, he will
have forgotten the correction in a few months, and will break out
again into renewed lamentation. He has told us that we are physically
deteriorating, and in such awful tones that we have shuddered, and
many of us have believed. And considering that the death-rate is
decreasing, that slums are decreasing, that disease is decreasing,
that the agricultural labourer eats more than ever he did, our
credence does not do much credit to our reasoning powers, does it? Of
course, there is that terrible "influx" into the towns, but I for one
should be much interested to know wherein the existence of the rustic
in times past was healthier than the existence of the town-dwellers of
to-day. The personal appearance of agricultural veterans does not help
me; they resemble starved 'bus-drivers twisted out of shape by
lightning.

But the _pièce de résistance_ of the praiser of the past is now
marriage, with discreet hints about the birth-rate. The praiser of the
past is going to have a magnificent time with the subject of marriage.
The first moanings of the tempest have already been heard. Bishops
have looked askance at the birth-rate, and have mentioned their
displeasure. The matter is serious. As the phrase goes, "it strikes at
the root." We are marrying later, my friends. Some of us, in the hurry
and pre-occupation of business, are quite forgetting to marry. It is
the duty of the citizen to marry and have children, and we are
neglecting our duty, we are growing selfish! No longer are produced
the glorious "quiverfuls" of old times! Our fathers married at twenty;
we marry at thirty-five. Why? Because a gross and enervating luxury
has overtaken us. What will become of England if this continues? There
will be no England! Hence we must look to it! And so on, in the same
strain.

I should like to ask all those who have raised and will raise such
outcries. Have you read "X"? Now, the book that I refer to as "X" is a
mysterious work, written rather more than a hundred years ago by an
English curate. It is a classic of English science; indeed, it is one
of the great scientific books of the world. It has immensely
influenced all the scientific thought of the nineteenth century,
especially Darwin's. Mr. H.G. Wells, as cited in "Chambers's
Cyclopædia of English Literature," describes it as "the most
'shattering' book that ever has or will be written." If I may make a
personal reference, I would say that it affected me more deeply than
any other scientific book that I have read. Although it is perfectly
easy to understand, and free from the slightest technicality, it is
the most misunderstood book in English literature, simply because it
is _not_ read. The current notion about it is utterly false. It might
be a powerful instrument of education, general and sociological, but
publishers will not reprint it--at least, they do not. And yet it is
forty times more interesting and four hundred times more educational
than Gilbert White's remarks on the birds of Selborne. I will leave
you to guess what "X" is, but I do not offer a prize for the solution
of a problem which a vast number of my readers will certainly solve at
once.

If those who are worrying themselves about the change in our system of
marriage would read "X," they would probably cease from worrying. For
they would perceive that they had been putting the cart before the
horse; that they had elevated to the dignity of fundamental principles
certain average rules of conduct which had sprung solely from certain
average instincts in certain average conditions, and that they were
now frightened because, the conditions having changed, the rules of
conduct had changed with them. One of the truths that "X" makes clear
is that conduct conforms to conditions, and not conditions to conduct.

The payment of taxes is a duty which the citizen owes to the state.
Marriage, with the begetting of children, is not a duty which the
citizen owes to the state. Marriage, with its consequences, is a
matter of personal inclination and convenience. It never has been
anything else, and it never will be anything else. How could it be
otherwise? If a man goes against inclination and convenience in a
matter where inclination is "of the essence of the contract," he
merely presents the state with a discontented citizen (if not two) in
exchange for a contented one! The happiness of the state is the sum of
the happiness of all its citizens; to decrease one's own happiness,
then, is a singular way of doing one's duty to the state! Do you
imagine that when people married early and much they did so from a
sense of duty to the state--a sense of duty which our "modern luxury"
has weakened? I imagine they married simply because it suited 'em.
They married from sheer selfishness, as all decent people do marry.
And do those who clatter about the duty of marriage kiss the girls of
their hearts with an eye to the general welfare? I can fancy them
saying, "My angel, I love you--from a sense of duty to the state. Let
us rear innumerable progeny--from a sense of duty to the state." How
charmed the girls would be!

If the marrying age changes, if the birth-rate shows a sympathetic
tendency to follow the death-rate (as it must--see "X"), no one need
be alarmed. Elementary principles of right and wrong are not trembling
on their bases. The human conscience is not silenced. The nation is
not going to the dogs. Conduct is adjusting itself to new conditions,
and that is all. We may not be able to see exactly _how_ conditions
are changing; that is a detail; our descendants will see exactly;
meanwhile the change in our conduct affords us some clew. And although
certain nervous persons do get alarmed, and do preach, and do "take
measures," the rest of us may remain placid in the sure faith that
"measures" will avail nothing whatever. If there are two things set
high above legislation, "movements," crusades, and preaching, one is
the marrying age and the other is the birth-rate. For there the
supreme instinct comes along and stamps ruthlessly on all insincere
reasonings and sham altruisms; stamps on everything, in fact, and
blandly remarks: "I shall suit my own convenience, and no one but
Nature herself (with a big, big N) shall talk to _me_. Don't pester me
with Right and Wrong. I _am_ Right and Wrong...." Having thus
attempted to clear the ground a little of fudge, I propose next to
offer a few simple remarks on marriage.


THE ADVENTURE OF IT

Having endeavoured to show that men do not, and should not, marry from
a sense of duty to the state or to mankind, but simply and solely from
an egoistic inclination to marry, I now proceed to the individual case
of the man who is "in a position to marry" and whose affections are
not employed. Of course, if he has fallen in love, unless he happens
to be a person of extremely powerful will, he will not weigh the pros
and cons of marriage; he will merely marry, and forty thousand cons
will not prevent him. And he will be absolutely right and justified,
just as the straw as it rushes down the current is absolutely right
and justified. But the privilege of falling in love is not given to
everybody, and the inestimable privilege of falling deeply in love is
given to few. However, the man whom circumstances permit to marry but
who is not in love, or is only slightly amorous, will still think of
marriage. How will he think of it?

I will tell you. In the first place, if he has reached the age of
thirty unscathed by Aphrodite, he will reflect that that peculiar
feeling of romantic expectation with which he gets up every morning
would cease to exist after marriage--and it is a highly agreeable
feeling! In its stead, in moments of depression, he would have the
feeling of having done something irremediable, of having definitely
closed an avenue for the outlet of his individuality. (Kindly remember
that I am not describing what this human man ought to think. I am
describing what he does think.) In the second place, he will reflect
that, after marriage, he could no longer expect the charming welcomes
which bachelors so often receive from women; he would be "done with"
as a possibility, and he does not relish the prospect of being done
with as a possibility. Such considerations, all connected more or
less with the loss of "freedom" (oh, mysterious and thrilling word!),
will affect his theoretical attitude. And be it known that even the
freedom to be lonely and melancholy is still freedom.

Other ideas will suggest themselves. One morning while brushing his
hair he will see a gray hair, and, however young he may be, the
anticipation of old age will come to him. A solitary old age! A
senility dependent for its social and domestic requirements on
condescending nephews and nieces, or even more distant relations!
Awful! Unthinkable! And his first movement, especially if he has read
that terrible novel, "_Fort comme la Mort_," of De Maupassant, is to
rush out into the street and propose to the first girl he encounters,
in order to avoid this dreadful nightmare of a solitary old age. But
before he has got as far as the doorstep he reflects further. Suppose
he marries, and after twenty years his wife dies and leaves him a
widower! He will still have a solitary old age, and a vastly more
tragical one than if he had remained single. Marriage is not,
therefore, a sure remedy for a solitary old age; it may intensify the
evil. Children? But suppose he doesn't have any children! Suppose,
there being children, they die--what anguish! Suppose merely that they
are seriously ill and recover--what an ageing experience! Suppose they
prove a disappointment--what endless regret! Suppose they "turn out
badly" (children do)--what shame! Suppose he finally becomes dependent
upon the grudging kindness of an ungrateful child--what a supreme
humiliation! All these things are occurring constantly everywhere.
Suppose his wife, having loved him, ceased to love him, or suppose he
ceased to love his wife! _Ces choses ne se commandent pas_--these
things do not command themselves. Personally, I should estimate that
in not one per cent. even of romantic marriages are the husband and
wife capable of _passion_ for each other after three years. So brief
is the violence of love! In perhaps thirty-three per cent. passion
settles down into a tranquil affection--which is ideal. In fifty per
cent. it sinks into sheer indifference, and one becomes used to one's
wife or one's husband as to one's other habits. And in the remaining
sixteen per cent. it develops into dislike or detestation. Do you
think my percentages are wrong, you who have been married a long time
and know what the world is? Well, you may modify them a little--you
won't want to modify them much.

The risk of finding one's self ultimately among the sixteen per cent.
can be avoided by the simple expedient of not marrying. And by the
same expedient the other risks can be avoided, together with yet
others that I have not mentioned. It is entirely obvious, then (in
fact, I beg pardon for mentioning it), that the attitude towards
marriage of the heart-free bachelor must be at best a highly cautious
attitude. He knows he is already in the frying-pan (none knows
better), but, considering the propinquity of the fire, he doubts
whether he had not better stay where he is. His life will be calmer,
more like that of a hibernating snake; his sensibilities will be
dulled; but the chances of poignant suffering will be very materially
reduced.

So that the bachelor in a position to marry but not in love will
assuredly decide in theory against marriage--that is to say, if he is
timid, if he prefers frying-pans, if he is lacking in initiative, if
he has the soul of a rat, if he wants to live as little as possible,
if he hates his kind, if his egoism is of the miserable sort that
dares not mingle with another's. But if he has been more happily
gifted he will decide that the magnificent adventure is worth plunging
into; the ineradicable and fine gambling instinct in him will urge him
to take, at the first chance, a ticket in the only lottery permitted
by the British Government. Because, after all, the mutual sense of
ownership felt by the normal husband and the normal wife is something
unique, something the like of which cannot be obtained without
marriage. I saw a man and a woman at a sale the other day; I was too
far off to hear them, but I could perceive they were having a most
lively argument--perhaps it was only about initials on pillowcases;
they were _absorbed_ in themselves; the world did not exist for them.
And I thought: "What miraculous exquisite Force is it that brings
together that strange, sombre, laconic organism in a silk hat and a
loose, black overcoat, and that strange, bright, vivacious, querulous,
irrational organism in brilliant fur and feathers?" And when they
moved away the most interesting phenomenon in the universe moved away.
And I thought: "Just as no beer is bad, but some beer is better than
other beer, so no marriage is bad." The chief reward of marriage is
something which marriage is bound to give--companionship whose
mysterious _interestingness_ nothing can stale. A man may hate his
wife so that she can't thread a needle without annoying him, but when
he dies, or she dies, he will say: "Well, _I was interested_." And one
always is. Said a bachelor of forty-six to me the other night:
"Anything is better than the void."


THE TWO WAYS OF IT

Sabine and other summary methods of marrying being now abandoned by
all nice people, there remain two broad general ways. The first is the
English way. We let nature take her course. We give heed to the
heart's cry. When, amid the hazards and accidents of the world, two
souls "find each other," we rejoice. Our instinctive wish is that they
shall marry, if the matter can anyhow be arranged. We frankly
recognise the claim of romance in life, and we are prepared to make
sacrifices to it. We see a young couple at the altar; they are in
love. Good! They are poor. So much the worse! But nevertheless we feel
that love will pull them through. The revolting French system of
bargain and barter is the one thing that we can neither comprehend nor
pardon in the customs of our great neighbours. We endeavour to be
polite about that system; we simply cannot. It shocks our finest,
tenderest feelings. It is so obviously contrary to nature.

The second is the French way, just alluded to as bargain and barter.
Now, if there is one thing a Frenchman can neither comprehend nor
pardon in the customs of a race so marvellously practical and sagacious
as ourselves, it is the English marriage system. He endeavours to be
polite about it, and he succeeds. But it shocks his finest, tenderest
feelings. He admits that it is in accordance with nature; but he is apt
to argue that the whole progress of civilisation has been the result of
an effort to get away from nature. "What! Leave the most important
relation into which a man can enter to the mercy of chance, when a mere
gesture may arouse passion, or the colour of a corsage induce desire!
No, you English, you who are so self-controlled, you are not going
seriously to defend that! You talk of love as though it lasted for
ever. You talk of sacrificing to love; but what you really sacrifice,
or risk sacrificing, is the whole of the latter part of married
existence for the sake of the first two or three years. Marriage is not
one long honeymoon. We wish it were. When _you_ agree to a marriage you
fix your eyes on the honeymoon. When _we_ agree to a marriage we try to
see it as it will be five or ten years hence. We assert that, in the
average instance, five years after the wedding it doesn't matter
whether or not the parties were in love on the wedding-day. Hence we
will not yield to the gusts of the moment. Your system is, moreover, if
we may be permitted the observation, a premium on improvidence; it is,
to some extent, the result of improvidence. You can marry your
daughters without dowries, and the ability to do so tempts you to
neglect your plain duty to your daughters, and you do not always resist
the temptation. Do your marriages of 'romance' turn out better than our
marriages of prudence, of careful thought, of long foresight? We do not
think they do."

So much for the two ways. Patriotism being the last refuge of a
scoundrel, according to Doctor Johnson, I have no intention of
judging between them, as my heart prompts me to do, lest I should be
accused of it. Nevertheless, I may hint that, while perfectly
convinced by the admirable logic of the French, I am still, with the
charming illogicalness of the English, in favour of romantic marriages
(it being, of course, understood that dowries _ought_ to be far more
plentiful than they are in England). If a Frenchman accuses me of
being ready to risk sacrificing the whole of the latter part of
married life for the sake of the first two or three years, I would
unhesitatingly reply: "Yes, I _am_ ready to risk that sacrifice. I
reckon the first two or three years are worth it." But, then, I am
English, and therefore romantic by nature. Look at London, that city
whose outstanding quality is its romantic quality; and look at the
Englishwomen going their ways in the wonderful streets thereof! Their
very eyes are full of romance. They may, they do, lack _chic_, but
they are heroines of drama. Then look at Paris; there is little
romance in the fine right lines of Paris. Look at the Parisiennes.
They are the most astounding and adorable women yet invented by
nature. But they aren't romantic, you know. They don't know what
romance is. They are so matter-of-fact that when you think of their
matter-of-factness it gives you a shiver in the small of your back.

To return. One may view the two ways in another light. Perhaps the
difference between them is, fundamentally, less a difference between
the ideas of two races than a difference between the ideas of two
"times of life"; and in France the elderly attitude predominates. As
people get on in years, even English people, they are more and more in
favour of the marriage of reason as against the marriage of romance.
Young people, even French people, object strongly to the theory and
practice of the marriage of reason. But with them the unique and
precious ecstasy of youth is not past, whereas their elders have
forgotten its savour. Which is right? No one will ever be able to
decide. But neither the one system nor the other will apply itself
well to all or nearly all cases. There have been thousands of romantic
marriages in England of which it may be said that it would have been
better had the French system been in force to prevent their existence.
And, equally, thousands of possible romantic marriages have been
prevented in France which, had the English system prevailed there,
would have turned out excellently. The prevalence of dowries in
England would not render the English system perfect (for it must be
remembered that money is only one of several ingredients in the French
marriage), but it would considerably improve it. However, we are not a
provident race, and we are not likely to become one. So our young men
must reconcile themselves to the continued absence of dowries.

The reader may be excused for imagining that I am at the end of my
remarks. I am not. All that precedes is a mere preliminary to what
follows. I want to regard the case of the man who has given the
English system a fair trial and found it futile. Thus, we wait on
chance in England. We wait for love to arrive. Suppose it doesn't
arrive? Where is the English system then? Assume that a man in a
position to marry reaches thirty-five or forty without having fallen
in love. Why should he not try the French system for a change? Any
marriage is better than none at all. Naturally, in England, he
couldn't go up to the Chosen Fair and announce: "I am not precisely in
love with you, but will you marry me?" He would put it differently.
And she would understand. And do you think she would refuse?



VI

BOOKS


THE PHYSICAL SIDE

The chief interest of many of my readers is avowedly books; they may,
they probably do, profess other interests, but they are primarily
"bookmen," and when one is a bookman one is a bookman during about
twenty-three and three-quarter hours in every day. Now, bookmen are
capable of understanding things about books which cannot be put into
words; they are not like mere subscribers to circulating libraries;
for them a book is not just a book--it is a _book_. If these lines
should happen to catch the eye of any persons not bookmen, such
persons may imagine that I am writing nonsense; but I trust that the
bookmen will comprehend me. And I venture, then, to offer a few
reflections upon an aspect of modern bookishness that is becoming
more and more "actual" as the enterprise of publishers and the
beneficent effects of education grow and increase together. I refer to
"popular editions" of classics.

Now, I am very grateful to the devisers of cheap and handy editions.
The first book I ever bought was the first volume of the first modern
series of presentable and really cheap reprints, namely, Macaulay's
"Warren Hastings," in "Cassell's National Library" (sixpence, in
cloth). That foundation stone of my library has unfortunately
disappeared beneath the successive deposits, but another volume of the
same series, F.T. Palgrave's "Visions of England" (an otherwise scarce
book), still remains to me through the vicissitudes of seventeen years
of sale, purchase, and exchange, and I would not care to part with it.
I have over two hundred volumes of that inestimable and incomparable
series, "The Temple Classics," besides several hundred assorted
volumes of various other series. And when I heard of the new
"Everyman's Library," projected by that benefactor of bookmen, Mr.
J.M. Dent, my first impassioned act was to sit down and write a
postcard to my bookseller ordering George Finlay's "The Byzantine
Empire," a work which has waited sixty years for popular recognition.
So that I cannot be said to be really antagonistic to cheap reprints.

Strong in this consciousness, I beg to state that cheap and handy
reprints are "all very well in their way"--which is a manner of saying
that they are not the Alpha and Omega of bookishness. By expending £20
yearly during the next five years a man might collect, in cheap and
handy reprints, all that was worth having in classic English
literature. But I for one would not be willing to regard such a
library as a real library. I would regard it as only a cheap edition
of a library. There would be something about it that would arouse in
me a certain benevolent disdain, even though every volume was well
printed on good paper and inoffensively bound. Why? Well, although it
is my profession in life to say what I feel in plain words, I do not
know that in this connection I _can_ say what I feel in plain words. I
have to rely on a sympathetic comprehension of my attitude in the
bookish breasts of my readers.

In the first place, I have an instinctive antipathy to a "series." I
do not want "The Golden Legend" and "The Essays of Elia" uniformed
alike in a regiment of books. It makes me think of conscription and
barracks. Even the noblest series of reprints ever planned (not at all
cheap, either, nor heterogeneous in matter), the Tudor Translations,
faintly annoys me in the mass. Its appearances in a series seems to me
to rob a book of something very delicate and subtle in the aroma of
its individuality--something which, it being inexplicable, I will not
try to explain.

In the second place, most cheap and handy reprints are small in size.
They may be typographically excellent, with large type and opaque
paper; they may be convenient to handle; they may be surpassingly
suitable for the pocket and the very thing for travel; they may save
precious space where shelf-room is limited; but they are small in
size. And there is, as regards most literature, a distinct moral value
in size. Do I carry my audience with me? I hope so. Let "Paradise
Lost" be so produced that you can put it in your waistcoat pocket, and
it is no more "Paradise Lost." Milton needs a solid octavo form, with
stoutish paper and long primer type. I have "Walpole's Letters" in
Newnes's "Thin Paper Classics," a marvellous volume of near nine
hundred pages, with a portrait and a good index and a beautiful
binding, for three and six, and I am exceedingly indebted to Messrs.
Newnes for creating that volume. It was sheer genius on their part to
do so. I get charming sensations from it, but sensations not so
charming as I should get from Mrs. Paget Toynbee's many-volumed and
grandiose edition, even aside from Mrs. Toynbee's erudite notes and
the extra letters which she has been able to print. The same letter in
Mrs. Toynbee's edition would have a higher æsthetic and moral value
for me than in the "editionlet" of Messrs. Newnes. The one cheap
series which satisfies my desire for size is Macmillan's "Library of
English Classics," in which I have the "Travels" of that mythical
personage, Sir John Mandeville. But it is only in paying for it that
you know this edition to be cheap, for it measures nine inches by six
inches by two inches.

And in the third place, when one buys series, one only partially
chooses one's books; they are mainly chosen for one by the publisher.
And even if they are not chosen for one by the publisher, they are
suggested _to_ one by the publisher. Not so does the genuine bookman
form his library. The genuine bookman begins by having specific
desires. His study of authorities gives him a demand, and the demand
forces him to find the supply. He does not let the supply create the
demand. Such a state of affairs would be almost humiliating, almost
like the _parvenu_ who calls in the wholesale furnisher and decorator
to provide him with a home. A library must be, primarily, the
expression of the owner's personality.

Let me assert again that I am strongly in favour of cheap series of
reprints. Their influence though not the very finest, is undisputably
good. They are as great a boon as cheap bread. They are indispensable
where money or space is limited, and in travelling. They decidedly
help to educate a taste for books that are neither cheap nor handy;
and the most luxurious collectors may not afford to ignore them
entirely. But they have their limitations, their disadvantages. They
cannot form the backbone of a "proper" library. They make, however,
admirable embroidery to a library. My own would look rather plain if
it was stripped of them.


THE PHILOSOPHY OF BOOK-BUYING

For some considerable time I have been living, as regards books, with
the minimum of comfort and decency--with, in fact, the bare
necessaries of life, such necessaries being, in my case, sundry
dictionaries, Boswell, an atlas, Wordsworth, an encyclopædia,
Shakespere, Whitaker, some De Maupassant, a poetical anthology,
Verlaine, Baudelaire, a natural history of my native county, an old
directory of my native town, Sir Thomas Browne, Poe, Walpole's
Letters, and a book of memoirs that I will not name. A curious list,
you will say. Well, never mind! We do not all care to eat beefsteak
and chip potatoes off an oak table, with a foaming quart to the right
hand. We have our idiosyncrasies. The point is that I existed on the
bare necessaries of life (very healthy--doctors say) for a long time.
And then, just lately, I summoned energy and caused fifteen hundred
volumes to be transported to me; and I arranged them on shelves; and
I re-arranged them on shelves; and I left them to arrange themselves
on shelves.

Well, you know, the way that I walk up and down in front of these
volumes, whose faces I had half-forgotten, is perfectly infantile. It
is like the way of a child at a menagerie. There, in its cage, is that
1839 edition of Shelley, edited by Mrs. Shelley, that I once nearly
sold to the British Museum because the Keeper of Printed Books thought
he hadn't got a copy--only he had! And there, in a cage by himself,
because of his terrible hugeness, is the 1652 Paris edition of
Montaigne's Essays. And so I might continue, and so I would continue,
were it not essential that I come to my argument.

Do you suppose that the presence of these books, after our long
separation, is making me read more than I did? Do you suppose I am
engaged in looking up my favourite passages? Not a bit. The other
evening I had a long tram journey, and, before starting, I tried to
select a book to take with me. I couldn't find one to suit just the
tram-mood. As I had to _catch_ the tram I was obliged to settle on
something, and in the end I went off with nothing more original than
"Hamlet," which I am really too familiar with.... Then I bought an
evening paper, and read it all through, including advertisements. So I
said to myself: "This is a nice result of all my trouble to resume
company with some of my books!" However, as I have long since ceased
to be surprised at the eccentric manner in which human nature refuses
to act as one would have expected it to act, I was able to keep calm
and unashamed during this extraordinary experience. And I am still
walking up and down in front of my books and enjoying them without
reading them.

I wish to argue that a great deal of cant is talked (and written)
about reading. Papers such as the "Anthenæum," which nevertheless I
peruse with joy from end to end every week, can scarcely notice a new
edition of a classic without expressing, in a grieved and pessimistic
tone, the fear that more people buy these agreeable editions than read
them. And if it is so? What then? Are we only to buy the books that we
read? The question has merely to be thus bluntly put, and it answers
itself. All impassioned bookmen, except a few who devote their whole
lives to reading, have rows of books on their shelves which they have
never read, and which they never will read. I know that I have
hundreds such. My eye rests on the works of Berkeley in three volumes,
with a preface by the Right Honourable Arthur James Balfour. I cannot
conceive the circumstances under which I shall ever read Berkeley; but
I do not regret having bought him in a good edition, and I would buy
him again if I had him not; for when I look at him some of his virtue
passes into me; I am the better for him. A certain aroma of philosophy
informs my soul, and I am less crude than I should otherwise be. This
is not fancy, but fact.

Taking Berkeley simply as an instance, I will utilise him a little
further. I ought to have read Berkeley, you say; just as I ought to
have read Spenser, Ben Jonson, George Eliot, Victor Hugo. Not at all.
There is no "ought" about it. If the mass of obtainable first-class
literature were, as it was perhaps a century ago, not too large to be
assimilated by a man of ordinary limited leisure _in_ his leisure and
during the first half of his life, then possibly there might be an
"ought" about it. But the mass has grown unmanageable, even by those
robust professional readers who can "grapple with whole libraries."
And I am not a professional reader. I am a writer, just as I might be
a hotel-keeper, a solicitor, a doctor, a grocer, or an earthenware
manufacturer. I read in my scanty spare time, and I don't read in all
my spare time, either. I have other distractions. I read what I feel
inclined to read, and I am conscious of no duty to finish a book that
I don't care to finish. I read in my leisure, not from a sense of
duty, not to improve myself, but solely because it gives me pleasure
to read. Sometimes it takes me a month to get through one book. I
expect my case is quite an average case. But am I going to fetter my
buying to my reading? Not exactly! I want to have lots of books on my
shelves because I know they are good, because I know they would amuse
me, because I like to look at them, and because one day I might have a
caprice to read them. (Berkeley, even thy turn may come!) In short, I
want them because I want them. And shall I be deterred from possessing
them by the fear of some sequestered and singular person, some person
who has read vastly but who doesn't know the difference between a J.S.
Muria cigar and an R.P. Muria, strolling in and bullying me with the
dreadful query: "_Sir, do you read your books?_"

Therefore I say: In buying a book, be influenced by two considerations
only. Are you reasonably sure that it is a good book? Have you a
desire to possess it? Do not be influenced by the probability or the
improbability of your reading it. After all, one does read a certain
proportion of what one buys. And further, instinct counts. The man who
spends half a crown on Stubbs's "Early Plantagenets" instead of going
into the Gaiety pit to see "The Spring Chicken," will probably be the
sort of man who can suck goodness out of Stubbs's "Early Plantagenets"
years before he bestirs himself to read it.



VII

SUCCESS


CANDID REMARKS

There are times when the whole free and enlightened Press of the
United Kingdom seems to become strangely interested in the subject of
"success," of getting on in life. We are passing through such a period
now. It would be difficult to name the prominent journalists who have
not lately written, in some form or another, about success. Most
singular phenomenon of all, Dr. Emil Reich has left Plato, duchesses,
and Claridge's Hotel, in order to instruct the million readers of a
morning paper in the principles of success! What the million readers
thought of the Doctor's stirring and strenuous sentences I will not
imagine; but I know what I thought, as a plain man. After taking due
cognizance of his airy play with the "constants" and "variables" of
success, after watching him treat "energetics" (his wonderful new
name for the "science" of success) as though because he had made it
end in "ics" it resembled mathematics, I thought that the sublime and
venerable art of mystification could no further go. If my
fellow-pilgrim through this vale of woe, the average young man who
arrives at Waterloo at 9.40 every morning with a cigarette in his
mouth and a second-class season over his heart and vague aspirations
in his soul, was half as mystified as I was, he has probably ere this
decided that the science of success has all the disadvantages of
algebra without any of the advantages of cricket, and that he may as
well leave it alone lest evil should befall him. On the off-chance
that he has come as yet to no decision about the science of success, I
am determined to deal with the subject in a disturbingly candid
manner. I feel that it is as dangerous to tell the truth about success
as it is to tell the truth about the United States; but being
thoroughly accustomed to the whistle of bullets round my head, I will
nevertheless try.

Most writers on success are, through sheer goodness of heart, wickedly
disingenuous. For the basis of their argument is that nearly any one
who gives his mind to it can achieve success. This is, to put it
briefly, untrue. The very central idea of success is separation from
the multitude of plain men; it is perhaps the only idea common to all
the various sorts of success--differentiation from the crowd. To
address the population at large, and tell it how to separate itself
from itself, is merely silly. I am now, of course, using the word
success in its ordinary sense. If human nature were more perfect than
it is, success in life would mean an intimate knowledge of one's self
and the achievement of a philosophic inward calm, and such a goal
might well be reached by the majority of mortals. But to us success
signifies something else. It may be divided into four branches: (1)
Distinction in pure or applied science. This is the least gross of all
forms of success as we regard it, for it frequently implies poverty,
and it does not by any means always imply fame. (2) Distinction in the
arts. Fame and adulation are usually implied in this, though they do
not commonly bring riches with them. (3) Direct influence and power
over the material lives of other men; that is to say, distinction in
politics, national or local. (4) Success in amassing money. This last
is the commonest and easiest. Most forms of success will fall under
one of these heads. Are they possible to that renowned and
much-flattered person, the man in the street? They are not, and well
you know it, all you professors of the science of success! Only a
small minority of us can even become rich.

Happily, while it is true that success in its common acceptation is,
by its very essence, impossible to the majority, there is an
accompanying truth which adjusts the balance; to wit, that the
majority do not desire success. This may seem a bold saying, but it is
in accordance with the facts. Conceive the man in the street suddenly,
by some miracle, invested with political power, and, of course, under
the obligation to use it. He would be so upset, worried, wearied, and
exasperated at the end of a week that he would be ready to give the
eyes out of his head in order to get rid of it. As for success in
science or in art, the average person's interest in such matters is so
slight, compared with that of the man of science or the artist, that
he cannot be said to have an interest in them. And supposing that
distinction in them were thrust upon him he would rapidly lose that
distinction by simple indifference and neglect. The average person
certainly wants some money, and the average person does not usually
rest until he has got as much as is needed for the satisfaction of his
instinctive needs. He will move the heaven and earth of his
environment to earn sufficient money for marriage in the "station" to
which he has been accustomed; and precisely at that point his genuine
desire for money will cease to be active. The average man has this in
common with the most exceptional genius, that his career in its main
contours is governed by his instincts. The average man flourishes and
finds his ease in an atmosphere of peaceful routine. Men destined for
success flourish and find their ease in an atmosphere of collision and
disturbance. The two temperaments are diverse. Naturally the average
man dreams vaguely, upon occasion; he dreams how nice it would be to
be famous and rich. We all dream vaguely upon such things. But to
dream vaguely is not to desire. I often tell myself that I would give
anything to be the equal of Cinquevalli, the juggler, or to be the
captain of the largest Atlantic liner. But the reflective part of me
tells me that my yearning to emulate these astonishing personages is
not a genuine desire, and that its realization would not increase my
happiness.

To obtain a passably true notion of what happens to the mass of
mankind in its progress from the cradle to the grave, one must not
attempt to survey a whole nation, nor even a great metropolis, nor
even a very big city like Manchester or Liverpool. These panoramas are
so immense and confusing that they defeat the observing eye. It is
better to take a small town of, say, twenty or thirty thousand
inhabitants--such a town as most of us know, more or less intimately.
The extremely few individuals whose instincts mark them out to take
part in the struggle for success can be identified at once. For the
first thing they do is to leave the town. The air of the town is not
bracing enough for them. Their nostrils dilate for something keener.
Those who are left form a microcosm which is representative enough of
the world at large. Between the ages of thirty and forty they begin to
sort themselves out. In their own sphere they take their places. A
dozen or so politicians form the town council and rule the town. Half
a dozen business men stand for the town's commercial activity and its
wealth. A few others teach science and art, or are locally known as
botanists, geologists, amateurs of music, or amateurs of some other
art. These are the distinguished, and it will be perceived that they
cannot be more numerous than they are. What of the rest? Have they
struggled for success and been beaten? Not they. Do they, as they grow
old, resemble disappointed men? Not they. They have fulfilled
themselves modestly. They have got what they genuinely tried to get.
They have never even gone near the outskirts of the battle for
success. But they have not failed. The number of failures is
surprisingly small. You see a shabby, disappointed, ageing man flit
down the main street, and someone replies to your inquiry: "That's
So-and-so, one of life's failures, poor fellow!" And the very tone in
which the words are uttered proves the excessive rarity of the real
failure. It goes without saying that the case of the handful who have
left the town in search of the Success with the capital S has a
tremendous interest of curiosity for the mass who remain. I will
consider it.


THE SUCCESSFUL AND THE UNSUCCESSFUL

Having boldly stated that success is not, and cannot be, within grasp
of the majority, I now proceed to state, as regards the minority, that
they do not achieve it in the manner in which they are commonly
supposed to achieve it. And I may add an expression of my thankfulness
that they do not. The popular delusion is that success is attained by
what I may call the "Benjamin Franklin" method. Franklin was a very
great man; he united in his character a set of splendid qualities as
various, in their different ways, as those possessed by Leonardo da
Vinci. I have an immense admiration for him. But his Autobiography
does make me angry. His Autobiography is understood to be a classic,
and if you say a word against it in the United States you are apt to
get killed. I do not, however, contemplate an immediate visit to the
United States, and I shall venture to assert that Benjamin Franklin's
Autobiography is a detestable book and a misleading book. I can recall
only two other volumes which I would more willingly revile. One is
_Samuel Budgett: The Successful Merchant_, and the other is _From Log
Cabin to White House_, being the history of President Garfield. Such
books may impose on boys, and it is conceivable that they do not harm
boys (Franklin, by the way, began his Autobiography in the form of a
letter to his son), but the grown man who can support them without
nausea ought to go and see a doctor, for there is something wrong with
him.

"I began now," blandly remarks Franklin, "to have some acquaintance
among the young people of the town that were lovers of reading, with
whom I spent my evenings very pleasantly; _and gained money by my
industry and frugality_." Or again: "It was about this time I
conceived the bold and arduous project of arriving at moral
perfection.... I made a little book, in which I allotted a page for
each of the virtues. I ruled each page with red ink, so as to have
seven columns, one for each day of the week.... I crossed these
columns with thirteen red lines, marking the beginning of each line
with the first letter of one of the virtues; on which line, and in its
proper column, I might mark, by a little black spot, every fault I
found upon examination to have been committed respecting that virtue,
upon that day." Shade of Franklin, where'er thou art, this is really a
little bit stiff! A man may be excused even such infamies of
priggishness, but truly he ought not to go and write them down,
especially to his son. And why the detail about red ink? If Franklin's
son was not driven to evil courses by the perusal of that monstrous
Autobiography, he must have been a man almost as astounding as his
father. Now Franklin could only have written his "immortal classic"
from one of three motives: (1) Sheer conceit. He was a prig, but he
was not conceited. (2) A desire that others should profit by his
mistakes. He never made any mistakes. Now and again he emphasizes some
trifling error, but that is "only his fun." (3) A desire that others
should profit by the recital of his virtuous sagacity to reach a
similar success. The last was undoubtedly his principal motive. Honest
fellow, who happened to be a genius! But the point is that his success
was in no way the result of his virtuous sagacity. I would go further,
and say that his dreadful virtuous sagacity often hindered his
success.

No one is a worse guide to success than your typical successful man. He
seldom understands the reasons of his own success; and when he is asked
by a popular magazine to give his experiences for the benefit of the
youth of a whole nation, it is impossible for him to be natural and
sincere. He knows the kind of thing that is expected from him, and if
he didn't come to London with half a crown in his pocket he probably
did something equally silly, and he puts _that_ down, and the note of
the article or interview is struck, and good-bye to genuine truth!
There recently appeared in a daily paper an autobiographic-didactic
article by one of the world's richest men which was the most
"inadequate" article of the sort that I have ever come across.
Successful men forget so much of their lives! Moreover, nothing is
easier than to explain an accomplished fact in a nice, agreeable,
conventional way. The entire business of success is a gigantic tacit
conspiracy on the part of the minority to deceive the majority.

Are successful men more industrious, frugal, and intelligent than men
who are not successful? I maintain that they are not, and I have
studied successful men at close quarters. One of the commonest
characteristics of the successful man is his idleness, his immense
capacity for wasting time. I stoutly assert that as a rule successful
men are by habit comparatively idle. As for frugality, it is
practically unknown among the successful classes: this statement
applies with particular force to financiers. As for intelligence, I
have over and over again been startled by the lack of intelligence in
successful men. They are, indeed, capable of stupidities that would be
the ruin of a plain clerk. And much of the talk in those circles which
surround the successful man is devoted to the enumeration of instances
of his lack of intelligence. Another point: successful men seldom
succeed as the result of an ordered arrangement of their lives; they
are the least methodical of creatures. Naturally when they have
"arrived" they amuse themselves and impress the majority by being
convinced that right from the start, with a steady eye on the goal,
they had carefully planned every foot of the route.

No! Great success never depends on the practice of the humbler
virtues, though it may occasionally depend on the practice of the
prouder vices. Use industry, frugality, and common sense by all
means, but do not expect that they will help you to success. Because
they will not. I shall no doubt be told that what I have just written
has an immoral tendency, and is a direct encouragement to sloth,
thriftlessness, etc. One of our chief national faults is our
hypocritical desire to suppress the truth on the pretext that to admit
it would encourage sin, whereas the real explanation is that we are
afraid of the truth. I will not be guilty of that fault. I do like to
look a fact in the face without blinking. I am fully persuaded that,
per head, there is more of the virtues in the unsuccessful majority
than in the successful minority. In London alone are there not
hundreds of miles of streets crammed with industry, frugality, and
prudence? Some of the most brilliant men I have known have been
failures, and not through lack of character either. And some of the
least gifted have been marvellously successful. It is impossible to
point to a single branch of human activity in which success can be
explained by the conventional principles that find general acceptance.
I hear you, O reader, murmuring to yourself: "This is all very well,
but he is simply being paradoxical for his own diversion." I would
that I could persuade you of my intense seriousness! I have
endeavoured to show what does not make success. I will next endeavour
to show what does make it. But my hope is forlorn.


THE INWARDNESS OF SUCCESS

Of course, one can no more explain success than one can explain
Beethoven's C minor symphony. One may state what key it is written in,
and make expert reflections upon its form, and catalogue its themes,
and relate it to symphonies that preceded it and symphonies that
followed it, but in the end one is reduced to saying that the C minor
symphony is beautiful--because it is. In the same manner one is
reduced to saying that the sole real difference between success and
failure is that success succeeds. This being frankly admitted at the
outset, I will allow myself to assert that there are three sorts of
success. Success A is the accidental sort. It is due to the thing we
call chance, and to nothing else. We are all of us still very
superstitious, and the caprices of chance have a singular effect upon
us. Suppose that I go to Monte Carlo and announce to a friend my firm
conviction that red will turn up next time, and I back red for the
maximum and red does turn up; my friend, in spite of his intellect,
will vaguely attribute to me a mysterious power. Yet chance alone
would be responsible. If I did that six times running all the players
at the table would be interested in me. If I did it a dozen times all
the players in the Casino would regard me with awe. Yet chance alone
would be responsible. If I did it eighteen times my name would be in
every newspaper in Europe. Yet chance alone would be responsible. I
should be, in that department of human activity, an extremely
successful man, and the vast majority of people would instinctively
credit me with gifts that I do not possess.

If such phenomena of superstition can occur in an affair where the
agency of chance is open and avowed, how much more probable is it that
people should refuse to be satisfied with the explanation of "sheer
accident" in affairs where it is to the interest of the principal
actors to conceal the rôle played by chance! Nevertheless, there can
be no doubt in the minds of persons who have viewed success at close
quarters that a proportion of it is due solely and utterly to chance.
Successful men flourish to-day, and have flourished in the past, who
have no quality whatever to differentiate them from the multitude. Red
has turned up for them a sufficient number of times, and the universal
superstitious instinct not to believe in chance has accordingly
surrounded them with a halo. It is merely ridiculous to say, as some
do say, that success is never due to chance alone. Because nearly
everybody is personally acquainted with reasonable proof, on a great
or a small scale, to the contrary.

The second sort of success, B, is that made by men who, while not
gifted with first-class talents, have, beyond doubt, the talent to
succeed. I should describe these men by saying that, though they
deserve something, they do not deserve the dazzling reward known as
success. They strike us as overpaid. We meet them in all professions
and trades, and we do not really respect them. They excite our
curiosity, and perhaps our envy. They may rise very high indeed, but
they must always be unpleasantly conscious of a serious reservation in
our attitude towards them. And if they could read their obituary
notices they would assuredly discern therein a certain chilliness,
however kindly we acted up to our great national motto of _De mortuis
nil nist bunkum_. It is this class of success which puzzles the social
student. How comes it that men without any other talent possess a
mysterious and indefinable talent to succeed? Well, it seems to me
that such men always display certain characteristics. And the chief of
these characteristics is the continual, insatiable _wish_ to succeed.
They are preoccupied with the idea of succeeding. We others are not so
preoccupied. We dream of success at intervals, but we have not the
passion for success. We don't lie awake at nights pondering upon it.

The second characteristic of these men springs naturally from the
first. They are always on the look-out. This does not mean that they
are industrious. I stated in a previous article my belief that as a
rule successful men are not particularly industrious. A man on a raft
with his shirt for a signal cannot be termed industrious, but he will
keep his eyes open for a sail on the horizon. If he simply lies down
and goes to sleep he may miss the chance of his life, in a very
special sense. The man with the talent to succeed is the man on the
raft who never goes to sleep. His indefatigable orb sweeps the main
from sunset to sunset. Having sighted a sail, he gets up on his hind
legs and waves that shirt in so determined a manner that the ship is
bound to see him and take him off. Occasionally he plunges into the
sea, risking sharks and other perils. If he doesn't "get there," we
hear nothing of him. If he does, some person will ultimately multiply
by ten the number of sharks that he braved: that person is called a
biographer.

Let me drop the metaphor. Another characteristic of these men is that
they seem to have the exact contrary of what is known as common sense.
They will become enamoured of some enterprise which infallibly
impresses the average common-sense person as a mad and hopeless
enterprise. The average common-sense person will demolish the hopes of
that enterprise by incontrovertible argument. He will point out that
it is foolish on the face of it, that it has never been attempted
before, and that it responds to no need of humanity. He will say to
himself: "This fellow with his precious enterprise has a twist in his
brain. He can't reply to my arguments, and yet he obstinately persists
in going on." And the man destined to success does go on. Perhaps the
enterprise fails; it often fails; and then the average common-sense
person expends much breath in "I told you so's." But the man continues
to be on the look-out. His thirst is unassuaged; his taste for
enterprises foredoomed to failure is incurable. And one day some
enterprise foredoomed to failure develops into a success. We all hear
of it. We all open our mouths and gape. Of the failures we have heard
nothing. Once the man has achieved success, the thing becomes a habit
with him. The difference between a success and a failure is often so
slight that a reputation for succeeding will ensure success, and a
reputation for failing will ensure failure. Chance plays an important
part in such careers, but not a paramount part. One can only say that
it is more useful to have luck at the beginning than later on. These
"men of success" generally have pliable temperaments. They are not
frequently un-moral, but they regard a conscience as a good servant
and a bad master. They live in an atmosphere of compromise.

There remains class C of success--the class of sheer high merit. I am
not a pessimist, nor am I an optimist. I try to arrive at the truth,
and I should say that in putting success C at ten per cent. of the sum
total of all successes, I am being generous to class C. Not that I
believe that vast quantities of merit go unappreciated. My reason for
giving to Class C only a modest share is the fact that there is so
little sheer high merit. And does it not stand to reason that high
merit must be very exceptional? This sort of success needs no
explanation, no accounting for. It is the justification of our
singular belief in the principle of the triumph of justice, and it is
among natural phenomena perhaps the only justification that can be
advanced for that belief. And certainly when we behold the spectacle
of genuine distinguished merit gaining, without undue delay and
without the sacrifice of dignity or of conscience, the applause of the
kind-hearted but obtuse and insensible majority of the human race, we
have fair reason to hug ourselves.



VIII

THE PETTY ARTIFICIALITIES


The phrase "petty artificialities," employed by one of the
correspondents in the great Simple Life argument, has stuck in my
mind, although I gave it a plain intimation that it was no longer
wanted there. Perhaps it sheds more light than I had at first imagined
on the mental state of the persons who use it when they wish to
arraign the conditions of "modern life." A vituperative epithet is
capable of making a big show. "Artificialities" is a sufficiently
scornful word, but when you add "petty" you somehow give the quietus
to the pretensions of modern life. Modern life had better hide its
diminished head, after that. Modern life is settled and done for--in
the opinion of those who have thrown the dart. Only it isn't done for,
really, you know. "Petty," after all, means nothing in that connexion.
Are there, then, artificialities which are not "petty," which are
noble, large, and grand? "Petty" means merely that the users of the
word are just a little cross and out of temper. What they think they
object to is artificialities of any kind, and so to get rid of their
spleen they refer to "petty" artificialities. The device is a common
one, and as brilliant as it is futile. Rude adjectives are like blank
cartridge. They impress a vain people, including the birds of the air,
but they do no execution.

At the same time, let me admit that I deeply sympathize with the
irritated users of the impolite phrase "petty artificialities." For it
does at any rate show a "divine discontent"; it does prove a high
dissatisfaction with conditions which at best are not the final
expression of the eternal purpose. It does make for a sort of crude
and churlish righteousness. I well know that feeling which induces one
to spit out savagely the phrase "petty artificialities of modern
life." One has it usually either on getting up or on going to bed.
What a petty artificial business it is, getting up, even for a male!
Shaving! Why shave? And then going to a drawer and choosing a necktie.
Fancy an immortal soul, fancy a fragment of the eternal and
indestructible energy, which exists from everlasting to everlasting,
deliberately expending its activity on the choice of a necktie! Why a
necktie? Then one goes downstairs and exchanges banal phrases with
other immortals. And one can't start breakfast immediately, because
some sleepy mortal is late.

Why babble? Why wait? Why not say straight out: "Go to the deuce, all
of you! Here it's nearly ten o'clock, and me anxious to begin living
the higher life at once instead of fiddling around in petty
artificialities. Shut up, every one of you. Give me my bacon
instantly, and let me gobble it down quick and be off. I'm sick of
your ceremonies!" This would at any rate not be artificial. It would
save time. And if a similar policy were strictly applied through the
day, one could retire to a well-earned repose in the full assurance
that the day had been simplified. The time for living the higher life,
the time for pushing forward those vast schemes of self-improvement
which we all cherish, would decidedly have been increased. One would
not have that maddening feeling, which one so frequently does have
when the shades of night are falling fast, that the day had been
"frittered away." And yet--and yet--I gravely doubt whether this
wholesale massacre of those poor petty artificialities would bring us
appreciably nearer the millennium.

For there is one thing, and a thing of fundamental importance, which
the revolutionists against petty artificialities always fail to
appreciate, and that is the necessity and the value of convention. I
cannot in a paragraph deal effectively with this most difficult and
complex question. I can only point the reader to analogous phenomena
in the arts. All the arts are a conventionalization, an ordering of
nature. Even in a garden you put the plants in rows, and you
subordinate the well-being of one to the general well-being. The sole
difference between a garden and the wild woods is a petty
artificiality. In writing a sonnet you actually cramp the profoundest
emotional conceptions into a length and a number of lines and a
jingling of like sounds arbitrarily fixed beforehand! Wordsworth's
"The world is too much with us" is a solid, horrid mass of petty
artificiality. Why couldn't the fellow say what he meant and have
done with it, instead of making "powers" rhyme with "ours," and
worrying himself to use exactly a hundred and forty syllables? As for
music, the amount of time that must have been devoted to petty
artificiality in the construction of an affair like Bach's Chaconne is
simply staggering. Then look at pictures, absurdly confined in frames,
with their ingenious contrasts of light and shade and mass against
mass. Nothing but petty artificiality! In other words, nothing but
"form"--"form" which is the basis of all beauty, whether material or
otherwise.

Now, what form is in art, conventions (petty artificialities) are in
life. Just as you can have too much form in art, so you can have too
much convention in life. But no art that is not planned in form is
worth consideration, and no life that is not planned in convention can
ever be satisfactory. Convention is not the essence of life, but it is
the protecting garment and preservative of life, and it is also one
very valuable means by which life can express itself. It is largely
symbolic; and symbols, while being expressive, are also great
time-savers. The despisers of petty artificialities should think of
this. Take the striking instance of that pettiest artificiality,
leaving cards. Well, searchers after the real, what would you
substitute for it? If you dropped it and substituted nothing, the
result would tend towards a loosening of the bonds of society, and it
would tend towards the diminution of the number of your friends. And
if you dropped it and tried to substitute something less artificial
and more real, you would accomplish no more than you accomplish with
cards, you would inconvenience everybody, and waste a good deal of
your own time. I cannot too strongly insist that the basis of
convention is a symbolism, primarily meant to display a regard for the
feelings of other people. If you do not display a regard for the
feelings of other people, you may as well go and live on herbs in the
desert. And if you are to display such a regard you cannot do it more
expeditiously, at a smaller outlay of time and brains, than by
adopting the code of convention now generally practised. It comes to
this--that you cannot have all the advantages of living in the desert
while you are living in a society. It would be delightful for you if
you could, but you can't.

There are two further reasons for the continuance of conventionality.
And one is the mysterious but indisputable fact that the full beauty
of an activity is never brought out until it is subjected to
discipline and strict ordering and nice balancing. A life without
petty artificiality would be the life of a tiger in the forest. A
beautiful life, perhaps, a life of "burning bright," but not reaching
the highest ideal of beauty! Laws and rules, forms and ceremonies are
good in themselves, from a merely æsthetic point of view, apart from
their social value and necessity.

And the other reason is that one cannot always be at the full strain
of "self-improvement," and "evolutionary progress," and generally
beating the big drum. Human nature will not stand it. There is, if we
will only be patient, ample time for the "artificial" as well as for
the "real." Those persons who think that there isn't, ought to return
to school and learn arithmetic. Supposing that all "petty
artificialities" were suddenly swept away, and we were able to show
our regard and consideration for our fellow creatures by the swift
processes of thought alone, we should find ourselves with a terrible
lot of time hanging heavy on our hands. We can no more spend all our
waking hours in consciously striving towards higher things than we can
dine exclusively off jam. What frightful prigs we should become if we
had nothing to do but cultivate our noblest faculties! I beg the
despisers of artificiality to reflect upon these observations, however
incomplete these observations may be, and to consider whether they
would be quite content if they got what they are crying out for.



IX

THE SECRET OF CONTENT


I have said lightly à propos of the conclusion arrived at by several
correspondents and by myself that the cry for the simple life was
merely a new form of the old cry for happiness, that I would explain
what it was that made life worth living for me. The word has gone
forth, and I must endeavour to redeem my promise. But I do so with
qualms and with diffidence. First, there is the natural instinct
against speaking of that which is in the core of one's mind. Second,
there is the fear, nearly amounting to certainty, of being
misunderstood or not comprehended at all. And third, there is the
absurd insufficiency of space. However!... For me, spiritual content
(I will not use the word "happiness," which implies too much) springs
essentially from no mental or physical facts. It springs from the
spiritual fact that there is something higher in man than the mind,
and that that something can control the mind. Call that something the
soul, or what you will. My sense of security amid the collisions of
existence lies in the firm consciousness that just as my body is the
servant of my mind, so is my mind the servant of _me_. An unruly
servant, but a servant--and possibly getting less unruly every day!
Often have I said to that restive brain: "Now, O mind, sole means of
communication between the divine _me_ and all external phenomena, you
are not a free agent; you are a subordinate; you are nothing but a
piece of machinery; and obey me you _shall_."

The mind can only be conquered by regular meditation, by deciding
beforehand what direction its activity ought to take, and insisting
that its activity takes that direction; also by never leaving it idle,
undirected, masterless, to play at random like a child in the streets
after dark. This is extremely difficult, but it can be done, and it is
marvellously well worth doing. The fault of the epoch is the absence
of meditativeness. A sagacious man will strive to correct in himself
the faults of his epoch. In some deep ways the twelfth century had
advantages over the twentieth. It practised meditation. The twentieth
does Sandow exercises. Meditation (I speak only for myself) is the
least dispensable of the day's doings. What do I force my mind to
meditate upon? Upon various things, but chiefly upon one.

Namely, that Force, Energy, Life--the Incomprehensible has many
names--is indestructible, and that, in the last analysis, there is
only one single, unique Force, Energy, Life. Science is gradually
reducing all elements to one element. Science is making it
increasingly difficult to conceive matter apart from spirit.
Everything lives. Even my razor gets "tired." And the fatigue of my
razor is no more nor less explicable than my fatigue after a passage
of arms with my mind. The Force in it, and in me, has been
transformed, not lost. All Force is the same force. Science just now
has a tendency to call it electricity; but I am indifferent to such
baptisms. The same Force pervades my razor, my cow in my field, and
the central _me_ which dominates my mind: the same force in different
stages of evolution. And that Force persists forever. In such paths
do I compel my mind to walk daily. Daily it has to recognize that the
mysterious Ego controlling it is a part of that divine Force which
exists from everlasting to everlasting, and which, in its ultimate
atoms, nothing can harm. By such a course of training, even the mind,
the coarse, practical mind, at last perceives that worldly accidents
don't count.

"But," you will exclaim, "this is nothing but the immortality of the
soul over again!" Well, in a slightly more abstract form, it is. (I
never said I had discovered anything new.) I do not permit myself to
be dogmatic about the persistence of personality, or even of
individuality after death. But, in basing my physical and mental life
on the assumption that there is something in me which is
indestructible and essentially changeless, I go no further than
science points. Yes, if it gives you pleasure, let us call it the
immortality of the soul. If I miss my train, or my tailor disgraces
himself, or I lose that earthly manifestation of Force that happens to
be dearest to me, I say to my mind: "Mind, concentrate your powers
upon the full realization of the fact that I, your master, am immortal
and beyond the reach of accidents." And my mind, knowing by this time
that I am a hard master, obediently does so. Am I, a portion of the
Infinite Force that existed billions of years ago, and which will
exist billions of years hence, going to allow myself to be worried by
any terrestrial physical or mental event? I am not. As for the
vicissitudes of my body, that servant of my servant, it had better
keep its place, and not make too much fuss. Not that any fuss
occurring in either of these outward envelopes of the eternal _me_
could really disturb me. The eternal is calm; it has the best reason
for being so.

So you say to yourselves: "Here is a man in a penny weekly paper
advocating daily meditation upon the immortality of the soul as a cure
for discontent and unhappiness! A strange phenomenon!" That it should
be strange is an indictment of the epoch. My only reply to you is
this: Try it. Of course, I freely grant that such meditation, while it
"casts out fear," slowly kills desire and makes for a certain high
indifference; and that the extinguishing of desire, with an
accompanying indifference, be it high or low, is bad for youth. But I
am not a youth, and to-day I am writing for those who have tasted
disillusion: which youth has not. Yet I would not have you believe
that I scorn the brief joys of this world. My attitude towards them
would fain be that of Socrates, as stated by the incomparable Marcus
Aurelius: "He knew how to lack, and how to enjoy, those things in the
lack whereof most men show themselves weak; and in the fruition,
intemperate."

Besides commanding my mind to dwell upon the indestructibly and final
omnipotence of the Force which is me, I command it to dwell upon the
logical consequence of that _unity_ of force which science is now
beginning to teach. The same essential force that is _me_ is also
_you_. Says the Indian proverb: "I met a hundred men on the road to
Delhi, and they were all my brothers." Yes, and they were all my twin
brothers, if I may so express it, and a thousand times closer to me
even than the common conception of twin brothers. We are all of us the
same in essence; what separates us is merely differences in our
respective stages of evolution. Constant reflection upon this fact
must produce that universal sympathy which alone can produce a
positive content. It must do away with such ridiculous feelings as
blame, irritation, anger, resentment. It must establish in the mind an
all-embracing tolerance. Until a man can look upon the drunkard in his
drunkenness, and upon the wife-beater in his brutality, with pure and
calm compassion; until his heart goes out instinctively to every other
manifestation of the unique Force; until he is surcharged with an
eager and unconquerable benevolence towards everything that lives;
until he has utterly abandoned the presumptuous practice of judging
and condemning--he will never attain real content. "Ah!" you exclaim
again, "he has nothing newer to tell us than that 'the greatest of
these is charity'!" I have not. It may strike you as excessively
funny, but I have discovered nothing newer than that. I merely remind
you of it. Thus it is, twins on the road to Delhi, by continual
meditation upon the indestructibility of Force, that I try to
cultivate calm, and by continual meditation upon the oneness of Force
that I try to cultivate charity, being fully convinced that in
calmness and in charity lies the secret of a placid if not ecstatic
happiness. It is often said that no thinking person can be happy in
this world. My view is that the more a man thinks the more happy he is
likely to be. I have spoken. I am overwhelmingly aware that I have
spoken crudely, abruptly, inadequately, confusedly.



THE END



THE NOVELS OF ARNOLD BENNETT


WHOM GOD HATH JOINED:

                                             Price $1.20 Net

WHOM GOD HATH JOINED is a dramatic presentation of the working of the
English divorce laws. Their injustice to woman has long been
acknowledged; Arnold Bennett proves them almost as unjust to man.

The novel is a stern morality, with laughter interspersed. It
possesses the sincerity and vitality which come of a careful study of
the problem.

It contains passages of the most brilliant motive analysis which have
been written in recent years. It presents a vivid world of actual
personages.


THE GLIMPSE:

_The Adventures of a Soul._                  Price $1.20 Net

The story is told of a man who passed over to the Other Side and
remained there long enough to gain a glimpse--only to return again.

Written with the careful realism which distinguishes all Arnold
Bennett's work, it is curious to note the fine use that he makes of
his realistic genius in the handling of a visionary situation.


A MAN FROM THE NORTH:

                                             Price $1.20 Net

The story of a young man from the Five Towns, who comes up London to
seek his fortune. He is grossly ignorant of life and naively curious
about love. This is the history of his adventures towards love and of
his enlightenment.

All the loneliness, passion and quenchless curiosity of youth are in
these pages--and the magic power of youth to wrap about the
commonplace the cloak of romance.

GEORGE H. DORAN COMPANY, Publishers



ARNOLD BENNETT: PLAYS


CUPID AND COMMON-SENSE:

_A Play in Four Acts, with a Preface on the Crisis in the Theatre._

                                             Price $1.00 Net

"Cupid and Common-Sense" reads well, and reads as if it would prove
still more effective and enjoyable when acted.--_The Scotsman._


WHAT THE PUBLIC WANTS: A Play.

                                             Price $1.00 Net

This clever comedy, based on modern neswpaperdom, reveals Arnold
Bennett in another phase.


POLITE FARCES: Three Plays.

                                             Price $1.00 Net

The three farces which comprise this book deal with possible domestic
and refined crises of everyday life.


THE HONEYMOON:

_A Comedy in Three Acts._                    Price $1.00 Net

Originality without grotesquerie and satire without malice combine to
make a play that is full of sparkle and genuine charm.


THE GREAT ADVENTURE:

_A Play of Fancy in Four Acts._              Price $1.00 Net

The play based on Mr. Bennett's successful novel, "Buried Alive." As
the novel stands out among humorous fiction so THE GREAT ADVENTURE
stands out among modern comedies.


ARNOLD BENNETT AND EDWARD KNOBLAUCH

MILESTONES:

_A Play in Three Acts._                      Price $1.00 Net

This is the play which has created a sensation because of its boldness
and novelty. It passes, in rapid survey, three generations--the
milestones of the last half century. A big New York success.


GEORGE H. DORAN COMPANY, Publishers


       *       *       *       *       *

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    | Typographical errors corrected in text:                   |
    |                                                           |
    | Page 110: artificialties replaced with artificialities    |
    | Page 114: prevades replaced with pervades                 |
    |                                                           |
    +-----------------------------------------------------------+

       *       *       *       *       *





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