By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII | HTML | PDF ]

Look for this book on Amazon

We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

Title: Little Journeys to the Homes of the Great Philosophers, Volume 8
Author: Hubbard, Elbert, 1856-1915
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
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.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Little Journeys to the Homes of the Great Philosophers, Volume 8" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.


Little Journeys to the Homes of Great Philosophers



Memorial Edition

New York





     I do not think it possible for a better man to be injured by a
     worse.... To a good man nothing is evil, neither while living nor
     when dead, nor are his concerns neglected by the gods.

                                               --_The Republic_

[Illustration: SOCRATES]

It was four hundred seventy years before Christ that Socrates was born.
He never wrote a book, never made a formal address, held no public
office, wrote no letters, yet his words have come down to us sharp,
vivid and crystalline. His face, form and features are to us
familiar--his goggle eyes, bald head, snub nose and bow-legs! The habit
of his life--his goings and comings, his arguments and wrangles, his
infinite leisure, his sublime patience, his perfect faith--all these
things are plain, lifting the man out of the commonplace and setting him

The "Memorabilia" of Xenophon and the "Dialogues" of Plato give us
Boswellian pictures of the man.

Knowing the man, we know what he would do; and knowing what he did, we
know the man.

Socrates was the son of Sophroniscus, a stonecutter, and his wife
Phænarete. In boyhood he used to carry dinner to his father, and sitting
by, he heard the men, in their free and easy way, discuss the plans of
Pericles. These workmen didn't know the plans--they were only privates
in the ranks, but they exercised their prerogatives to criticize, and
while working to assist, did right royally disparage and condemn. Like
sailors who love their ship, and grumble at grub and grog, yet on shore
will allow no word of disparagement to be said, so did these Athenians
love their city, and still condemn its rulers--they exercised the
laborer's right to damn the man who gives him work.

Little did the workmen guess--little did his father guess--that this
pug-nosed boy, making pictures in the sand with his big toe, would also
leave his footprints on the sands of time, and a name that would rival
that of Phidias and Pericles!

Socrates was a product of the Greek renaissance. Great men come in
groups, like comets sent from afar. Athens was seething with thought and
feeling: Pericles was giving his annual oration--worth thousands of
weekly sermons--and planning his dream in marble; Phidias was cutting
away the needless portions of the white stone of Pentelicus and
liberating wondrous forms of beauty; Sophocles was revealing the
possibilities of the stage; Æschylus was pointing out the way as a
playwright; and the passion for physical beauty was everywhere an
adjunct of religion.

Prenatal influences, it seems, played their part in shaping the destiny
of Socrates. His mother followed the profession of Sairy Gamp, and made
her home with a score of families, as she was needed. The trained nurse
is often untrained, and is a regular encyclopedia of esoteric family
facts. She wipes her mouth on her apron and is at home in every room of
the domicile from parlor to pantry. Then as now she knew the trials and
troubles of her clients, and all domestic underground happenings
requiring adjustment she looked after as she was "disposed."

Evidently Phænarete was possessed of considerable personality, for we
hear of her being called to Mythæia on a professional errand shortly
before the birth of Socrates; and in a month after his birth, a similar
call came from another direction, and the bald little philosopher was
again taken along--from which we assume, following in the footsteps of
Conan Doyle, that Socrates was no bottle-baby. The world should be
grateful to Phænarete that she did not honor the Sairy Gamp precedents
and observe the Platonic maxim, "Sandal-makers usually go barefoot": she
gave her customers an object-lesson in well-doing as well as teaching
them by precept. None of her clients did so well as she--even though her
professional duties were so exacting that domesticity to her was merely

It was only another case of the amateur distancing the professional.

       *       *       *       *       *

From babyhood we lose sight of Socrates until we find him working at his
father's trade as a sculptor. Certainly he had a goodly degree of skill,
for the "Graces" which he carved were fair and beautiful and admired by
many. This was enough: he just wanted to reveal what he could do; and
then to show that to have no ambition was his highest ambition, he threw
down his tools and took off his apron for good. He was then thirty-five
years old. Art is a jealous mistress, and demands that "thou shalt have
no other gods before me." Socrates did not concentrate on art. His mind
went roaming the world of philosophy, and for his imagination the
universe was hardly large enough.

I said that he deliberately threw down his tools; but possibly this was
by request, for he had acquired a habit of engaging in much wordy
argument and letting the work slide. He went out upon the streets to
talk, and in the guise of a learner he got in close touch with all the
wise men of Athens by stopping them and asking questions. In physique he
was immensely strong--hard work had developed his muscles, plain fare
had made him oblivious of the fact that he had a stomach, and as for
nerves, he had none to speak of.

Socrates did not marry until he was about forty. His wife was scarcely
twenty. Of his courtship we know nothing, but sure it is Socrates did
not go and sue for the lady's hand in the conventional way, nor seek to
gain the consent of her parents by proving his worldly prospects. His
apparel was costly as his purse could buy, not gaudy nor expressed in
fancy. It consisted of the one suit that he wore, for we hear of his
repairing beyond the walls to bathe in the stream, and of his washing
his clothing, hanging it on the bushes and waiting for it to dry before
going back to the city. As for shoes, he had one pair, and since he
never once wore them, going barefoot Summer and Winter, it is presumed
that they lasted well. One can not imagine Socrates in an opera-hat--in
fact, he wore no hat, and he was bald. I record the fact so as to
confound those zealous ones who badger the bald as a business, who have
recipes concealed on their persons, and who assure us that baldness has
its rise in headgear.

Socrates belonged to the leisure class. His motto was, "Know Thyself."
He considered himself of much more importance than any statue he could
make, and to get acquainted with himself as being much more desirable
than to know physical phenomena. His plan of knowing himself was to ask
everybody questions, and in their answers he would get a true reflection
of his own mind. His intellect would reply to theirs, and if his
questions dissolved their answers into nothingness, the supremacy of his
own being would be apparent; and if they proved his folly he was equally
grateful--if he was a fool, his desire was to know it. So sincere was
Socrates in this wish to know himself that never did he show the
slightest impatience nor resentment when the argument was turned upon

He looked upon his mind as a second party, and sat off and watched it
work. Should it become confused or angered, it would be proof of its
insufficiency and littleness. If Socrates ever came to know himself, he
knew this fact: as an economic unit he was an absolute failure; but as a
gadfly, stinging men into thinking for themselves, he was a success. A
specialist is a deformity contrived by Nature to get the work done.
Socrates was a thought-specialist, and the laziest man who ever lived in
a strenuous age. The desire of his life was to live without
desire--which is essentially the thought of Nirvana. He had the power
never to exercise his power except in knowing himself.

He accepted every fact, circumstance and experience of life, and counted
it gain. Life to him was a precious privilege, and what were regarded as
unpleasant experiences were as much a part of life as the pleasant ones.
He who succeeds in evading unpleasant experiences cheats himself out of
so much life. You know yourself by watching yourself to see what you do
when you are thwarted, crossed, contradicted, or deprived of certain
things supposed to be desirable. If you always get the desirable things,
how do you know what you would do if you didn't have them? You exchange
so much life for the thing, that's all, and thus do we see Socrates
anticipating Emerson's Essay on Compensation.

Everything is bought with a price--all things are of equal value--no one
can cheat you, for to be cheated is a not undesirable experience, and in
the act, if you are really filled with the thought, "Know Thyself," you
get the compensation by increase in mental growth.

However, to deliberately go in search of experience, Socrates said,
would be a mistake, because then you would so multiply impressions that
none would be of any avail and your life would be burned out. To clutch
life by the throat and demand that it shall stand and deliver is to
place yourself so out of harmony with your environment that you will get

Above all things, we must be calm, self-centered, never anxious, and be
always ready to accept whatever the gods may send. The world will come
to us if we only wait. It will be seen that Socrates is at once the
oldest and most modern of thinkers. He was the first to express the New
Thought. A thought, to Socrates, was more of a reality than a block of
marble--a moral principle was just as persistent as a chemical agent.

       *       *       *       *       *

The silken-robed and perfumed Sophist was sport and game for Socrates.
For him Socrates recognized no closed season. If Socrates ever came near
losing his temper, it was in dealing with this Edmund Russell of Athens.
Grant Allen used to say, "The spores of everything are everywhere, and a
certain condition breeds a certain microbe." A period of prosperity
always warms into life this social paragon, who lives in a darkened room
hung with maroon drapery where incense is burned and a turbaned Hindu
carries your card to the master, who faces the sun and exploits a
prie-dieu when the wind blows east. Athens had these men of refined
elegance, Rome evolved them, London has had her day, New York knows
them, and Chicago--I trust I will not be contradicted when I say that
Chicago understands her business! And so we find these folks who
cultivate a pellucid passivity, a phthisicky whisper, a supercilious
smirk, and who win our smothered admiration and give us gooseflesh by
imparting a taupe tinge of mystery to all their acts and words, thus
proving to the assembled guests that they are the Quality and Wisdom
will die with them.

This lingo of meaningless words and high-born phrases always set
Socrates by the ears, and when he could corner a Sophist, he would very
shortly prick his pretty toy balloon, until at last the tribe fled him
as a pestilence. Socrates stood for sanity. The Sophist represented
moonshine gone to seed, and these things, proportioned ill, drive men

Extremes equalize themselves: the pendulum swings as far this way as it
does that. The saponaceous Sophist who renounced the world and yet lived
wholly in a world of sense, making vacuity pass legal tender for
spirituality, and the priest who, mystified with a mumble of words,
evolved a Diogenes who lived in a tub, wore regally a robe of rags, and
once went into the temple, and cracking a louse on the altar-rail, said
solemnly, "Thus does Diogenes sacrifice to all the gods at once!" are
but two sides of the same shield.

In Socrates was a little jollity and much wisdom pickled in the scorn of
Fortune; but the Sophists inwardly bowed down and worshiped the fickle
dame on idolatrous knees. Socrates won immortality because he did not
want it, and the Sophists secured oblivion because they deserved it.

       *       *       *       *       *

We hear of Socrates going to Aspasia, and holding long conversations
with her "to sharpen his mind." Aspasia did not go out in society much:
she and Pericles lived very simply. It is worth while to remember that
the most intellectual woman of her age was democratic enough to be on
friendly terms with the barefoot philosopher who went about regally
wrapped in a table-spread. Socrates did not realize the flight of time
when making calls--he went early and stayed late. Possibly prenatal
influences caused him often to call before breakfast and remain until
after supper.

Just imagine Pericles, Aspasia and Socrates sitting at table--with
Walter Savage Landor behind the arras making notes! Doubtless Socrates
and Mrs. Pericles did most of the talking, while the First Citizen of
Athens listened and smiled indulgently now and then as his mind wandered
to construction contracts and walking delegates. Pericles, the builder
of a city--Pericles, first among practical men since time began, and
Socrates, who jostles history for first place among those who have done
nothing but talk--imagine these two eating melons together, while
Aspasia, gentle and kind, talks of spirit being more than matter and
love being greater than the Parthenon!

Socrates is usually spoken of as regarding women with slight favor, but
I have noticed that your genus woman-hater holds the balance true by
really being a woman-lover. If a man is enough interested in women to
hate them, note this: he is only searching for the right woman, the
woman who compares favorably with the ideal woman in his own mind. He
measures every woman by this standard, just as Ruskin compared all
modern painters with Turner and discarded them with fitting adjectives
as they receded from what he regarded as the perfect type. If Ruskin had
not been much interested in painters, would he have written scathing
criticisms about them?

In several instances we hear of Socrates reminding his followers that
they are "weak as women," and he was the first to say "woman is an
undeveloped man." But Socrates was a great admirer of human beauty,
whether physical or spiritual, and his abrupt way of stopping beautiful
women on the streets and bluntly telling them they were beautiful,
doubtless often confirmed their suspicions. And thus far he was
pleasing, but when he went on to ask questions so as to ascertain
whether their mental estate compared with their physical, why, that was
slightly different. It is good to hear him say, "There is no sex in
intellect," and also, "I have long held the opinion that the female sex
is nothing inferior to ours, save only in strength of body and possibly
in steadiness of judgment." And Xenophon quotes him thus: "It is more
delightful to hear the virtue of a good woman described than if the
painter Zeuxis were to show me the portrait of the fairest woman in the

Perhaps Thackeray is right when he says, "The men who appreciate woman
most are those who have felt the sharpness of her claws." That is to
say, things show up best on the darkest background. If so, let us give
Xantippe due credit. She tested the temper of the sage by railing on him
and deluging him with Socratic propositions, not waiting for the
answers; she often broke in with a broom upon his introspective efforts
to know himself; if this were not enough, she dashed buckets of
scrubbing-water over him; presents that were sent him by admiring
friends she used as targets for her mop and wit; if he invited friends
with faith plus to dine, she upset the table, dishes and all, before
them--not much to their loss; she occasionally elbowed her way through a
crowd where her husband was entertaining the listeners upon the divine
harmonies, and would tear off his robe and lead him home by the ear. But
these things never ruffled Socrates--he might roll his eyes in comic
protest at the audiences as he was being led away captive, but no
resentment was shown. He had the strength of a Hercules, but he was a
far better non-resistant than Tolstoy, because he took his medicine with
a wink, while Fate is obliged to hold the nose of the author of "Anna
Karenina," who never sees the comedy of an inward struggle and an
outward compliance, any more than does the benedict, safely entrenched
under the bed, who shouts out, "I defy thee, I defy thee!" as did
Mephisto when Goethe thrust him into Tophet.

       *       *       *       *       *

The popular belief is that Xantippe, the wife of Socrates, was a shrew,
and had she lived in New England in Cotton Mather's time would have been
a candidate for the ducking-stool. Socrates said he married her for
discipline. A man in East Aurora, however, has recently made it plain to
himself that Xantippe was possessed of a great and acute intellect. She
knew herself, and she knew her liege as he never did--he was too close
to his subject to get the perspective. She knew that under right
conditions his name would live as one of the world's great teachers, and
so she set herself to supply the conditions. She deliberately sacrificed
herself and put her character in a wrong light before the world in order
that she might benefit the world. Most women have a goodly grain of
ambition for themselves, and if their husbands have genius, their
business is not to prove it, but to show that they themselves are not
wholly commonplace.

Not so Xantippe--she was quite willing to be misunderstood that her
husband might live.

What the world calls a happy marriage is not wholly good--ease is bought
with a price. Suppose Xantippe and Socrates had settled down and lived
in a cottage with a vine growing over the portico, and two rows of
hollyhocks leading from the front gate to the door; a pathway of
coal-ashes lined off with broken crockery, and inside the house all
sweet, clean and tidy; Socrates earning six drachmas a day carving
marble, with double pay for overtime, and he handing the pay-envelope
over to her each Saturday night, keeping out just enough for tobacco,
and she putting a tidy sum in the Ægean Savings-Bank every month--why,
what then?

Well, that would have been an end of Socrates. Xantippe was big enough
to know this and so she supplied the domestic cantharides and drove him
out upon the streets--he grew to care very little for her, not much for
the children, nothing for his home. She drove him out into the world of
thought, instead of allowing him to settle down and be content with her

I once knew a sculptor--another sculptor--an elemental bit of nature,
original and, better still, aboriginal. He used to sleep out under the
stars so as to wake up in the night and see the march of the Milky Way,
and watch the Pleiades disappear over the brink of the western horizon.
He wore a flannel shirt, thick-soled shoes, and overalls, no hat, and
his hair was thick and coarse as a horse's mane. This man had talent,
and he had sublime conceptions, great dreams, and splendid aspirations.
His soul was struggling to find expression. "Leave him alone," I said.
"He needs time to ripen. He is a Michelangelo in embryo!"

Did he ripen? Not he. He married a Wellesley girl of good family. She,
too, had ideas about art--she painted china-buttons for shirtwaists,
embroidered chasubles and sang "The Rosary" in a raucous Quinsigamond
voice. The big barbarian became respectable, and the last time I saw
him he wore a Tuxedo and was passing out platitudes and raspberry-shrub
at a lawn-party. The Wellesley girl had tamed her bear--they were very
happy, he assured me, and she was preparing a course of lectures for him
which he was to give at Mrs. Jack Gardner's. A Xantippe might have saved

       *       *       *       *       *

A captious friend once suggested to Socrates this: "If you prize the
female nature so highly, how does it happen that you do not instruct
Xantippe?"--a rather indelicate proposition to put to a married man. And
Socrates, quite unruffled, replied: "My friend, if one wants to learn
horsemanship, does he choose a tame horse or one with mettle and a hard
mouth? I wish to converse with all sorts of people, and I believe that
nothing can disturb me after I grow accustomed to the tongue of

Again we hear of his suggesting that his wife's scolding tongue may have
been only the buzzing of his own waspish thoughts, and if he did not
call forth these qualities in her they would not otherwise have
appeared. And so, beholding her impatience and unseemliness, he would
realize the folly of an ill temper and thus learn by antithesis to curb
his own. Old Doctor Johnson used to have a regular menagerie of
wrangling, jangling, quibbling, dissatisfied pensioners in his
household; and so far as we know he never learned the truth that all
pensioners are dissatisfied. "If I can stand things at home, I can stand
things anywhere," he once said to Boswell, as much as to say, "If I can
stand things at home, I can stand even you." Goldsmith referred to
Boswell as a cur; Garrick said he thought he was a bur. Socrates had a
similar satellite by the name of Cheropho, a dark, dirty, weazened, and
awfully serious little man of the tribe of Buttinsky, who sat
breathlessly trying to catch the pearls that fell from the ample mouth
of the philosopher. Aristophanes referred to Cheropho as "Socrates'
bat," a play-off on Minerva and her bird of night, the owl. There were
quite a number of these "bats," and they seemed to labor under the same
hallucination that catches the lady students of the Pundit Vivakenanda
H. Darmapala: they think that wisdom is to be imparted by word of mouth,
and that by listening hard and making notes one can become very wise.
Socrates said again and again, "Character is a matter of growth and all
I hope to do is to make you think for yourselves."

That chilly exclusiveness which regards a man's house as his castle, his
home, the one sacred spot, and all outside as the cold and cruel world,
was not the ideal of Socrates. His family was his circle of friends, and
these were of all classes and conditions, from the First Citizen to
beggars on the street.

He made no charge for his teaching, took up no collections, and never
inaugurated a Correspondence School. America has produced one man who
has been called a reincarnation of Socrates; that man was Bronson
Alcott, who peddled clocks and forgot the flight of time whenever any
one would listen to him expound the unities. Alcott once ran his
wheelbarrow into a neighbor's garden and was proceeding to load his
motor-car with cabbages, beets and potatoes. Glancing up, the
philosopher saw the owner of the garden looking at him steadfastly over
the wall. "Don't look at me that way," called Alcott with a touch of
un-Socratic acerbity, "don't look at me that way--I need these things
more than you!" and went on with the annexation.

The idea that all good things are for use and belong to all who need
them was a favorite maxim of Socrates. The furniture in his house never
exceeded the exemption clause. Once we find him saying that Xantippe
complained because he did not buy her a stewpan, but since there was
nothing to put in it, he thought her protests ill-founded.

The climate of Athens is about like that of Southern California--one
does not need to bank food and fuel against the coming of Winter. Life
can be adjusted to its simplest forms. From his fortieth to his fiftieth
year, Socrates worked every other Thursday; then he retired from active
life, and Xantippe took in plain sewing.

Socrates was surely not a good provider, but if he had provided more for
his family, he would have provided less for the world. The wealthy Crito
would have turned his pockets inside out for Socrates, but Socrates had
all he wished, and explained that as it was he had to dance at home in
order to keep down the adipose. Aristides, who was objectionable because
he so shaped his conduct that he was called "The Just" and got himself
ostracized, was one of his dear friends. Antisthenes, the original
Cynic, used to walk six miles and back every day to hear Socrates talk.
The Cynic was a rich man, but so captivated was he with the preaching
of Socrates that he adopted the life of simplicity and dressed in rags
and boycotted both the barber and the bath. On one occasion Socrates
looked sharply at a rent in the cloak of his friend and said, "Ah,
Antisthenes, through that hole in your cloak I see your vanity!"

Xenophon sat at the feet of Socrates for a score of years, and then
wrote his recollections of him as a vindication of his character. Euclid
of Megara was nearly eighty when he came to Socrates as a pupil, trying
to get rid of his ill-temper and habit of ironical reply. Cebes and
Simmias left their native country and became Greek citizens for his
sake. Charmides, the pampered son of wealthy parents, learned pedagogics
by being shown that, in households where there were many servants, the
children got cheated out of their rightful education because others did
all the work, and to deprive a child of the privilege of being useful
was to rob him of so much life. Æschines, the ambitious son of a
sausage-maker, was advised by Socrates to borrow money of himself on
long time without interest, by reducing his wants. So pleased was the
recipient with this advice, that he went to publishing Socratic
dialogues as a business and had the felicity to fail with tidy

But the two men who loom largest in the life of Socrates are Alcibiades
and Plato--characters very much unlike.

Alcibiades was twenty-one years old when we find him first. He was
considered the handsomest young man in Athens. He was aristocratic,
proud, insolent, and needlessly rich. He had a passion for gambling,
horse-racing, dog-fighting, and indulged in the churchly habit of doing
that which he ought not and leaving undone that which he should have
done. He was worse than that degenerate scion of a proud ancestry, who
a-kneiping went with his lady friends in the Cincinnati fountain, after
the opera, on a wager. He whipped a man who admitted he did not have a
copy of the "Iliad" in his house; publicly destroyed the record of a
charge against one of his friends; and when his wife applied for a
divorce, he burst into the courtroom and vacated proceedings by carrying
the lady off by force. At banquets he would raise a disturbance, and
while he was being forcibly ejected from one door, his servants would
sneak in at another and steal the silverware, which he would give away
as charity. He also indulged in the Mark Antony trick of rushing into
houses at night and pulling good folks out of bed by the heels, and then
running away before they were barely awake.

His introduction to Socrates came in an attempt to break up a Socratic
prayer-meeting. Socrates succeeded in getting the roysterer to listen
long enough to turn the laugh on him and show all concerned that the
life of a rowdy was the life of a fool. Alcibiades had expected Socrates
to lose his temper, but it was Alcibiades who gave way, and blurted out
that he could not hope to beat his antagonist talking, but he would like
to wrestle with him.

Legend has it that Socrates gave the insolent young man a shock by
instantly accepting his challenge. In the bout that followed, the
philosopher, built like a gorilla, got a half-Nelson on his man, who was
a little the worse for wine, and threw him so hard, jumping on his
prostrate form with his knees, that the aristocratic hoodlum was laid up
for a moon. Ever after Alcibiades had a thorough respect for Socrates.
They became fast friends, and whenever the old man talked in the Agora,
Alcibiades was on hand to keep order.

When war came with Sparta and her allies in the Peloponnesus they
enlisted, Socrates going as corporal and Alcibiades as captain. They
occupied the same tent during the entire campaign. Socrates proved a
fearless soldier, and walked the winter ice in bare feet, often pulling
his belt one hole tighter in lieu of breakfast, to show the complaining
soldiers that endurance was the thing that won battles. At the battle of
Delium, when there was a rout, Xenophon says Socrates walked off the
field leisurely, arm in arm with the general, explaining the nature of

Through the influence of Socrates, the lawless Alcibiades was tamed and
became almost a model citizen, although his head was hardly large enough
for a philosopher.

"Say what you will, you'll find it all in Plato," said Emerson. If
Socrates had done nothing else but give bent to the mind of Plato, he
would deserve the gratitude of the centuries. Plato is the mine to
which all thinkers turn for treasure. When they first met, Plato was
twenty and Socrates sixty, and for ten years, to the day of Socrates'
death, they were together almost constantly. Plato died aged eighty-one,
and for fifty years he had lived but to record the dialogues of
Socrates. It was curiosity that first attracted this fine youth to the
old man--Socrates was so uncouth that he was amusing. Plato was
interested in politics, and like most Athenian youths, was intent on
having a good time. However, he was no rowdy, like Alcibiades: he was
suave, gracious, and elegant in all of his acts. He had been taught by
the Sophists and the desire of his life was to seem, rather than to be.
By very gentle stages, Plato began to perceive that to make an
impression on society was not worth working for--the thing to do was to
be yourself, and yourself at your best. And we can give no better answer
to the problem of life than Plato gives in the words of Socrates: "It is
better to be than to seem. To live honestly and deal justly is the meat
of the whole matter."

Plato was not a disciple--he was big enough not to ape the manners and
eccentricities of his Master--he saw beneath the rough husk and beyond
the grotesque outside the great controlling purpose in the life of
Socrates. He would be himself--and himself at his best--and he would
seek to satisfy the Voice within, rather than to try to please the
populace. Plato still wore his purple cloak, and the elegance and grace
of his manner were not thrown aside.

Wouldn't it have been worth our while to travel miles to see these
friends: the one old, bald, short, fat, squint-eyed, barefoot; and the
other with all the poise of aristocratic youth--tall, courtly and
handsome, wearing his robe with easy, regal grace! And so they have
walked and talked adown the centuries, side by side, the most perfect
example that can be named of that fine affection which often exists
between teacher and scholar.

Plato's "Republic," especially, gives us an insight into a very great
and lofty character. From his tower of speculation, Plato scanned the
future, and saw that the ideal of education was to have it continue
through life, for none but the life of growth and development ever
satisfies. And love itself turns to ashes of roses if not used to help
the soul in her upward flight. It was Plato who first said, "There is no
profit where no pleasure's ta'en." He further perceived that in the life
of education, the sexes must move hand in hand; and he also saw that,
while religions are many and seemingly diverse, goodness and kindness
are forever one.

His faith in the immortality of the soul was firm, but whether we are to
live in another world or not, he said there is no higher wisdom than to
live here and now--live our highest and best--cultivate the receptive
mind and the hospitable heart, "partaking of all good things in

It takes these two to make the whole. There is no virtue in poverty--no
merit in rags--the uncouth qualities in Socrates were not a
recommendation. Yet he was himself. But Plato made good, in his own
character, all that Socrates lacked. Some one has said that Fitzgerald's
Omar is two-thirds Fitzgerald and one-third Omar. In his books, Plato
modestly puts his wisest maxims into the mouth of his master, and just
how much Plato and how much Socrates there is in the "Dialogues," we
will never know until we get beyond the River Styx.

       *       *       *       *       *

Socrates was deeply attached to Athens, and he finally became the best
known figure in the city. He criticized in his own frank, fearless way
all the doings of the times--nothing escaped him. He was a
self-appointed investigating committee in all affairs of state, society
and religion. Hypocrisy, pretense, affectation and ignorance trembled at
his approach. He was feared, despised and loved. But those who loved him
were as one in a hundred. He became a public nuisance. The charge
against him was just plain heresy--he had spoken disrespectfully of the
gods and through his teaching he had defiled the youth of Athens. Ample
warning had been given to him, and opportunity to run away was provided,
but he stuck like a leech, asking the cost of banquets and making
suggestions about all public affairs.

He was arrested, bailed by Plato and Crito, and tried before a jury of
five hundred citizens. Socrates insisted on managing his own case. A
rhetorician prepared an address of explanation, and the culprit was
given to understand that if he read this speech to his judges and said
nothing else, it would be considered as an apology and he would be
freed--the intent of the trial being more to teach the old man a lesson
in minding his own business than to injure him.

But Socrates replied to his well-meaning friend, "Think you I have not
spent my whole life in preparing for this one thing?" And he handed back
the smoothly polished manuscript with a smile. Montaigne says, "Should
a suppliant voice have been heard out of the mouth of Socrates now;
should that lofty virtue strike sail in the very height of its glory,
and his rich and powerful nature be committed to flowing rhetoric as a
defense? Never!"

Socrates cross-questioned his accusers in the true Socratic style and
showed that he had never spoken disrespectfully of the gods: he had only
spoken disrespectfully of their absurd conception of the gods. And here
is a thought which is well to consider even yet: The so-called "infidel"
is often a man of great gentleness of spirit, and his disbelief is not
in God, but in some little man's definition of God--a distinction the
little man, being without humor, can never see.

When Socrates had confounded his accusers, this time not giving them the
satisfaction of the last word, he launched out on a general criticism of
the city, and told where its rulers were gravely at fault. Being
cautioned to bridle his tongue, he replied, "When your generals at
Potidæa and Amphipolis and Delium assigned my place in the battle I
remained there, did my work, and faced the peril, and think you that
when Deity has assigned me my duty at this pass in life I should,
through fear of death, evade it, and shirk my post?"

This man appeared at other times, to some, as an idle loafer, but now he
arose to a sublime height. He repeated with emphasis all he had ever
said against their foolish superstitions, and arraigned the waste and
futility of the idle rich. The power of the man was revealed as never
before, and those who had intended to let him go with a fine, now
thought it best to dispose of him. The safety of the state was
endangered by such an agitator--the question of religion is really not
what has sent the martyrs to the stake--it is the politician, not the
priest, who fears the heretic.

By a small majority, Socrates was found guilty and sentenced to death.
Let Plato tell of that last hour--he has done it once for all:

     When he had done speaking, Crito said, "And have you any commands
     for us, Socrates--anything to say about your children, or any other
     matter in which we can serve you?"

     "Nothing particular," he said; "only, as I have always told you, I
     would have you to look to your own conduct; that is a service which
     you may always be doing to me and mine as well as to yourselves."

     "We will do our best," said Crito. "But in what way would you have
     us bury you?"

     "In any way that you like; only you must get hold of me, and take
     care that I do not walk away from you." Then he turned to us, and
     added with a smile: "I can not make Crito believe that I am the
     same Socrates who has been talking and conducting the argument; he
     fancies that I am the other Socrates whom he will soon see, a dead
     body--and he asks, 'How shall he bury me?' And though I have spoken
     many words in the endeavor to show that when I have drunk the
     poison I shall leave you and go to the joys of the blessed--these
     words of mine, with which I comforted you and myself, have had, as
     I perceive, no effect upon Crito. And therefore I want you to be
     surety for me now, as he was surety for me at the trial: but let
     the promise be of another sort; for he was my surety to the judges
     that I would remain, but you must be my surety to him that I shall
     not remain, but go away and depart; and then he will suffer less at
     my death, and not be grieved when he sees my body being burned. I
     would not have him sorrow at my hard lot, or say at the
     burial,'Thus we lay out Socrates,' or, 'Thus we follow him to the
     grave or bury him'; for false words are not only evil in
     themselves, but they infect the soul with evil. Be of good cheer
     then, my dear Crito, and say that you are burying my body only, and
     do with that as is usual, and as you think best."

     When he had spoken these words, he arose and went into the
     bath-chamber with Crito, who bid us wait; and we waited, talking
     and thinking of the subject of discourse, and also of the greatness
     of our sorrow; he was like a father of whom we were being bereaved,
     and we were about to pass the rest of our lives as orphans. When he
     had taken his bath, his children were brought to him--and the women
     of his family also came, and he talked to them and gave them a few
     directions in the presence of Crito; and he then dismissed them and
     returned to us.

     Now the hour of sunset was near. When he came out, he sat down with
     us again after his bath, but not much was said. Soon the jailer,
     who was the servant, entered and stood by him, saying: "To you,
     Socrates, whom I know to be the noblest and gentlest and best of
     all who ever came to this place, I will not impute the angry
     feelings of other men, who rage and swear at me when, in obedience
     to the authorities, I bid them drink the poison--indeed I am sure
     that you will not be angry with me; for others, as you are aware,
     and not I, are the guilty cause. And so fare you well, and try to
     bear lightly what must needs be; you know my errand." Then bursting
     into tears, he turned away, and went out.

     Socrates looked at him and said, "I return your good wishes, and
     will do as you bid." Then turning to us, he said: "How charming the
     man is! Since I have been in prison, he has always been coming to
     see me, and at times, he would talk to me, and was as good as could
     be to me, and now see how generously he sorrows for me. But we must
     do as he says, Crito; let the cup be brought."

     "Not yet," said Crito; "the sun is still upon the hill-tops, and
     many a one has taken the draft late, and after the announcement has
     been made to him, he has eaten and drunk and indulged in sensual
     delights; do not hasten then--there is still time."

     Socrates said: "Yes, Crito, and they of whom you speak are right in
     doing thus, but I do not think that I should gain anything by
     drinking the poison a little later; I should be sparing and saving
     a life which is already gone: I could only laugh at myself for
     this. Please then to do as I say, and not to refuse me."

     Crito, when he heard this, made a sign to the servant; and the
     servant went in, and remained for some time, and then returned with
     the jailer carrying the cup of poison. Socrates said, "You, my good
     friend, who are experienced in these matters, shall give me
     directions how I am to proceed." The man answered, "You have only
     to walk about until your legs are heavy, and then to lie down, and
     the poison will act." At the same time, he handed the cup to
     Socrates, who, in the easiest and gentlest manner, without the
     least fear or change of color or feature, looking at the man with
     his eyes, Echecrates, as his manner was, took the cup and said:
     "What do you say about making the libation out of this cup to any
     god? May I, or not?" The man answered, "We only prepare, Socrates,
     just so much as we deem enough." "I understand," he said. "Yet I
     may and must pray to the gods to prosper my journey from this to
     that other world--may this, then, which is my prayer, be granted to
     me!" Then holding the cup to his lips, quite readily and
     cheerfully, he drank off the poison. And hitherto most of us had
     been able to control our sorrow; but now we saw him drinking, and
     saw, too, that he had finished the draft, we could no longer
     forbear, and in spite of myself, my own tears were flowing fast; so
     that I covered my face and wept over myself, for certainly I was
     not weeping over him, but at the thought of my own calamity in
     having lost such a companion. Nor was I the first, for Crito, when
     he found himself unable to restrain his tears, had got up and moved
     away, and I followed; and at that moment, Apollodorus, who had been
     weeping all the time, broke out into a loud cry, which made cowards
     of us all. Socrates alone retained his calmness. "What is this
     strange outcry?" he said, "I sent away the women mainly in order
     that they might not offend in this way, for I have heard that a man
     should die in peace. Be quiet, then, and have patience." When we
     heard that, we were ashamed, and refrained our tears; and he
     walked about until, as he said, his legs began to fail, and then he
     lay on his back, according to directions, and the man who gave him
     the poison, now and then looked at his feet and legs; and after a
     while, he pressed his foot hard and asked him if he could feel; and
     he said, "No"; and then his leg, and so upwards and upwards, and
     showed us that he was cold and stiff. And he felt them himself, and
     said, "When the poison reaches the heart, that will be the end." He
     was beginning to grow cold, when he uncovered his face, for he had
     covered himself up, and said (they were his last words), "Crito, I
     owe a cock to Asclepius; will you remember to pay the debt?"

     "The debt shall be paid," said Crito. "Is there anything else?"
     There was no answer to this question; but in a minute or two, a
     movement was heard, and the attendants uncovered him; his eyes were
     set, and Crito closed his eyes and mouth.

     Such was the end, Echecrates, of our friend, whom I may truly call
     the wisest, the justest, and best of all the men whom I have ever


     If we wish to be just judges of all things, let us first persuade
     ourselves of this: that there is not one of us without fault; no
     man is found who can acquit himself; and he who calls himself
     innocent does so with reference to a witness, and not to his

                                                --_Letters of Seneca_

[Illustration: SENECA]

True Americans and patriotic, who live in York State, often refer you to
the life of Red Jacket as proof that "Seneca" is an Iroquois Indian
word. The Indians, however, whom we call the Senecas never called
themselves thus until they took to strong water and became civilized.
Before that they were the Tsonnundawaonas. The Dutch traders, intent on
pelts and pelf, called them the Sinnekaas, meaning the valiant or the
beautiful. Then came that fateful day when the Reverend Peleg Spooner,
the discoverer of the Erie Canal, journeyed to Niagara Falls, and having
influence with the authorities at Washington, gave to towns along the
way these names: Troy, Rome, Ithaca, Syracuse, Ilion, Manlius, Homer,
Corfu, Palmyra, Utica, Delhi, Memphis and Marathon. He really exhausted
Grote's "History of Greece" and Gibbon's "Rome," revealing a most
depressing lack of humor. This classic flavor of the map of New York is
as surprising to English tourists as was the discovery to Hendrik Hudson
when, on sailing up the North River, he found on nearing Albany that the
river bore the same name as himself.

       *       *       *       *       *

In the eighteenth chapter of the Acts of the Apostles we read of Paul
being brought before Gallio, Proconsul of Achaia. And the accusers,
clutching the bald and bow-legged bachelor by the collar, bawl out to
the Judge, "This fellow persuadeth men to worship God contrary to law!"

And the little man is about to make reply, when Gallio says, with a
touch of impatience: "If indeed it were a matter of wrong or of wicked
villainy, O ye Jews, reason would that I should bear with you: but if
they are questions about words and names and your own law, look to it
yourselves; I am not minded to be a judge of these matters!" And the
account concludes, "And he drove them from the judgment-seat."

That is to say, he gave Saint Paul a "nolle pros." Had Gallio wished to
be severe, he might have put the quietus on Christianity for all time,
for Saint Paul had all there was of it stowed in his valiant head and

Gallio was the elder brother of Seneca; his right name was Annæus
Seneca, but he changed it to Junius Gallio, in honor of a patron who had
especially befriended him in youth.

Gallio seems to have been a man of good, sturdy commonsense--he could
distinguish between right living and a mumble of words, man-made rules,
laws such as heresy, blasphemy, Sabbath-breaking and marrying one's
deceased wife's sister. The Moqui Indians believe that if any one is
allowed to have a photograph taken of himself he will dry up in a month
and blow away. Moreover, lists of names are not wanting with memoranda
of times and places. In America there are yet people who hotly argue as
to what mode of baptism is correct; who talk earnestly about the "saved"
and the "lost"; and who will tell you of the "heathen" and those who are
"without the pale." They seem to think that the promise, "Seek and ye
shall find, knock and it shall be opened unto you," applies only to the
Caucasian race.

In the earlier translations of Seneca there were printed various letters
that were supposed to have passed between Saint Paul and Seneca. Later
editors have dropped them out for lack of authenticity. But the fact
that Saint Paul met Seneca's brother face to face, as well as the fact
that the brother was willing to discuss right living, but had no time to
waste on the Gemara and theological quibbles, is undisputed.

       *       *       *       *       *

It was the proud boast of Augustus that he found Rome a place of brick
and left it a city of marble. Commercial prosperity buys the leisure
upon which letters flourish. We flout the businessman, but without him
there would be no poets. Poets write for the people who have time to
read. And out of the surplus that is left after securing food, we buy
books. Augustus built his marble city, and he also made Vergil, Horace,
Ovid and Livy possible.

Augustus reigned forty-four years, and it was in the twenty-seventh year
of his reign that there was born in Bethlehem of Judæa a Babe who was to
revolutionize the calendar. The Dean of Ely subtly puts forth the
suggestive thought that if it had not been for Augustus we might never
have heard of Jesus. It was Augustus who made Jerusalem a Roman
Province; and it was the economic and political policy of Augustus that
evolved the Scribes and Pharisees; and ill-gotten gains made the
hypocrites and publicans possible; then comes Pontius Pilate with his
receding chin.

Jesus was seventeen years old when Augustus died--Augustus never heard
of him, and the Roman's unprophetic mind sent no searchlight into the
future, neither did his eyes behold the Star in the East.

We are all making and shaping history, and how much, none of us knows,
any more than did Augustus.

Julius Cæsar had no son to take his place, so he named his nephew,
Augustus, his heir. Augustus was succeeded by Tiberius, his adopted
child. Caligula, successor of Tiberius, was the son of the great Roman
General, Germanicus. Caligula revealed his good sense by drinking life
to its lees in a reign of four years, dying without heirs--Nature
refusing to transmit either infamy or genius. Claudius, an uncle of
Caligula, accepted the vacant place, as it seemed to him there was no
one else could fill it so well. Claudius had the felicity to be married
four times, and left several sons, but Fate had it that he should be
followed by Nero, his stepson, who called himself "Cæsar," yet in whose
veins there leaped not a single Cæsarean corpuscle.

The guardian and tutor of Nero was Lucius Seneca, the greatest, best and
wisest man of his time, a fact I here state in order to show the vanity
of pedagogics. Harking back once more to Augustus, let it be known that
but for him Seneca would probably have never left his mark upon this
bank and shoal of time. Seneca was a Spaniard, born in Cordova, a Roman
Province, that was made so by Augustus, under whose kindly and placating
influence all citizens of Hispania became Roman citizens--just as, when
California was admitted to the Union, every man in the State was
declared a naturalized citizen of the United States, the act being
performed for political purposes, based on the precedents of Augustus,
and never done before nor since in America.

Seneca was four years old when his father's family moved from Cordova
to Rome; this was three years before the birth of Christ. Years pass,
but the human heart is forever the same. The elder Seneca, Marcus
Seneca, had ambitions--he was a great man in Cordova: he could memorize
a list of two thousand words. These words had no relationship one to
another, and Marcus Seneca could not put words together so as to make
good sense, but his name was "Loisette": he had a scheme of mnemonics
that he imparted for a consideration. He was also a teacher of
elocution, and had compiled a yearbook of the sayings of Horace, which
secured him a knighthood. Augustus paid his colonists pretty
compliments, very much as England gives out brevets to Strathcona and
other worthy Canadians, who raise troops of horse to fight England's
battles in South Africa when duty calls.

Marcus Seneca made haste to move to Rome when Augustus let down the
bars. Rome was the center of the art-world, the home of letters, and all
that made for beauty and excellence. There were three boys and a girl in
the Seneca family.

The elder boy, Annæus, was to become Gallio, the Roman governor, and
have his name mentioned in the most widely circulated book the world has
ever known; the second boy was Lucius, the subject of this sketch; the
younger boy, Mela, was to become the father of Lucan, the poet.

The sister of Seneca became the wife of the Roman Governor of Egypt. It
was at a time when the scheming rapacity of women was so much in
evidence that the Senate debated whether it should not forbid its
representatives abroad to be accompanied by their wives. France has seen
such times--England and America have glanced that way. Women, like men,
often do not know that the big prizes gravitate where they belong;
instead, they set traps for them, lie in wait and consider prevarication
and duplicity better than truth. When women use their beauty, their wit
and their pink persons in politics, trouble lies low around the corner.
But this sister of Seneca was never seen in public unless it was at her
husband's side; she asked no favors, and presents sent to her personally
by provincials were politely returned. The province praised her, and
perhaps what was better, didn't know her, and begged the Emperor to send
them more of such excellent and virtuous women--from which we infer that
virtue consists in minding one's own business.

In making up a list of great mothers, do not leave out Helvia, mother of
three sons and a daughter who made their mark upon the times. It is no
small thing to be a great mother!

Women of intellect were not much appreciated then, but Seneca dedicated
his "Consolations," his best book, to his mother. The very mintage of
his mind was for her, and again and again he tells of her insight, her
gentle wit, and her appreciation of all that was beautiful and best in
the world of thought. In a letter addressed to her when he was past
forty, he says, "You never stained your face with walnut-juice nor
rouge; you never wore gowns cut conspicuously low; your ornaments were a
loveliness of mind and person that time could not tarnish."

But the father had the knighthood, and he called his family to witness
it at odd times and sundry.

In Rome, Marcus Seneca made head as he never did in Cordova. There he
was only Marcus Micawber: but here his memory feats won him the
distinction that genius deserves. There is a grave question whether a
verbal memory does not go with a very mediocre intellect, but Marcus
said this argument was put out by a man with no memory worth mentioning.

Rome was at her ripest flower--the petals were soon to loosen and
flutter to the ground, but nobody thought so--they never do. Everywhere
the Roman legions were victorious, and commerce sailed the seas in
prosperous ships. Power manifests itself in conspicuous waste, and the
habit grows until conspicuous waste imagines itself power. Conditions in
Rome had evolved our old friend, the Sophist, the man who lived but to
turn an epigram, to soulfully contemplate a lily, to sigh mysteriously,
and cultivate the far-away look. These men were elocutionists who
gesticulated in curves, and let the thought follow the attitude. They
were not content to be themselves, but chased the airy, fairy fabric of
a fancy and called it life.

       *       *       *       *       *

The pretense and folly of Roman society made the Sophists possible--like
all sects they ministered to a certain cast of mind. Over against the
Sophists there were the Stoics, the purest, noblest and sanest of all
ancient cults, corresponding very closely to our Quakers, before Worth
and Wanamaker threw them a hawse and took them in tow. It is a tide of
feeling produces a sect, not a belief: primitive Christianity was a
revulsion from Phariseeism, and a William Penn and a wan Ann Lee form
the antithesis of an o'ervaulting, fantastic and soulless ritual.

The father of Seneca hung upon the favor of the Sophists: he taught them
mnemonics, rhetoric and elocution, and the fact that he was a courtly
Spaniard was in his favor--we dote on a foreign accent and relish the
thing that comes from afar.

Marcus Seneca was getting rich. He never perceived the absurdity of a
life of make-believe; but his son, Lucius Seneca, heir to his mother's
discerning mind, when nineteen years old forswore the Sophists, and
sided with the unpopular Stoics, much to the chagrin of the father.

Seneca--let us call him so after this--wore the simple white robe of the
Stoics, without ornament or jewelry. He drank no wine, and ate no meat.
Vegetarianism comes in waves, and it is interesting to see that in an
essay on the subject, Seneca plagiarizes every argument put forth by
Colonel Ernest Crosby, even to mentioning a butcher as an "executioner,"
his goods as "dead corpses," and the customers as "cannibals."

This kind of talk did not help the family peace, and the father spoke of
disowning the son, if he did not cease affronting the Best Society.

Soon after, the Emperor Tiberius issued an edict banishing all "strange
sects who fasted on feast-days, and otherwise displeased the gods." This
was a suggestion for the benefit of the Crosbyites. It is with a feeling
of downright disappointment that we find Seneca shortly appearing in an
embroidered robe, and making a speech wherein the moderate use of wine
is recommended, also the flesh of animals for those who think they need

This, doubtless, is the same speech we, too, would have made had we been
there; but we want our hero to be strong, and defy even an Emperor, if
he comes between the man and his right to eat what he wishes and wear
what he listeth, and we blame him for not doing the things we never do.
But Seneca was getting on in the world--he had become a lawyer, and his
Sophist training was proving its worth. Henry Ward Beecher, in reply to
a young man who asked him if he advised the study of elocution, said,
"Elocution is all right, but you will have to forget it all before you
become an orator." Seneca was shedding his elocution, and losing himself
in his work. A successful lawsuit had brought him before the public as a
strong advocate. He was able to think on his feet. His voice was low,
musical and effective, and the word, "dulcis," was applied to him as it
was to his brother, Gallio. Possibly there was something in ol' Marcus
Micawber's pedagogic schemes, after all!

In moderating his Stoic philosophy, Seneca gives us the key to his
character: the man wanted to be gentle and kind; he wished to affront
neither his father nor society; so he compromised--he would please and
placate. Ease and luxury appealed to him, and yet his cool intellect
stood off, and reviewing the proceeding pronounced it base. He succumbed
to the strongest attraction, and attempted the feat of riding two horses
at once.

From his twentieth year, Seneca dallied with the epigram, found solace
in a sentence, and got a sweet, subtle joy by taking a thought captive.
Lucullus tells us of the fine intoxication of oratory, but neither opium
nor oratory imparts a finer thrill than successfully to drive a flock of
clauses, and round up an idea, roping it in careless grace, with what my
lord Hamlet calls words, words, words.

The early Christian Fathers spoke of him as "our Seneca." His writings
abound in the purest philosophy--often seemingly paraphrasing Saint
Paul--and every argument for directness of speech, simplicity, manliness
and moderation is put forth. His writings became the rage in Rome: at
feasts he read his essays on the Ideal Life, just as the disciples of
Tolstoy often travel by the gorge road, and give banquets in honor of
the man who no longer attends one; or princely paid preachers glorify
the Man who said to His apostles, "Take neither scrip nor purse."

Seneca was a combination of Delsarte and Emerson. He was as popular as
Henry Irving, and as wise as Thomas Brackett Reed. His writings were in
demand; when he spoke in public, crowds hung upon his words, and the
families of the great and powerful sent him their sons, hoping he would
impart the secret of success. The world takes a man at the estimate he
puts upon himself. Seneca knew enough to hold himself high. Honors came
his way, and the wealth he acquired is tokened in those five hundred
tables, inlaid with ivory, to which at times he invited his friends to
feast. As a lawyer, he took his pick of cases, and rarely appeared,
except on appeal, before the Emperor. The poise of his manner, the
surety of his argument, the gentle grace of his diction, caused him to
be likened to Julius Cæsar.

And this led straight to exile, and finally--death. To mediocrity,
genius is unforgivable.

       *       *       *       *       *

There are various statements to the effect that Claudius was a mental
defective, a sort of town fool, patronized by the nobles for their sport
and jest. We are also told that he was made Emperor by the Pretorian
Guards, in a spirit of rollicking bravado. Men too much abused must have
some merit, or why should the pack bay so loudly? Possibly it is true
that, in the youth of Claudius, his mother used to declare, when she
wanted a strong comparison, "He is as big a fool as my son, Claudius."
But then the mother of Wellington used exactly the same expression; and
Byron's mother had a way of referring to the son who was to rescue her
from oblivion, and send her name down the corridors of time, as "that
lame brat."

Claudius was a brother of the great Germanicus, and was therefore an
uncle of Caligula. Caligula was the worst ruler that Rome ever had; and
he was a brother of Agrippina, mother of Nero. This precious pair had a
most noble and generous father, and their gentle mother was a fit mate
for the great Germanicus--these things are here inserted for the
edification of folks who take stock in that pleasant fallacy, the Law of
Heredity, and who gleefully chase the genealogical anise-seed trail.

Caligula happily passed out without an heir, and Claudius, next of kin,
put himself in the way of the Pretorian Guard, and was declared Emperor.

He was then fifty years old, a grass-widower--twice over--and on the
lookout for a wife. He was neither wise nor great, nor was he very bad;
he was kind--after dinner--and generous when rightly approached. Canon
Farrar likened Claudius to King James the First, who gave us our English
Bible. His comparison is worth quoting, not alone for the truth it
contains, but because it is an involuntary paraphrase of the faultless
literary style of the Roman rhetors. Says Canon Farrar: "Both were
learned, and both were eminently unwise. Both were authors, and both
were pedants. Both delegated their highest powers to worthless
favorites, and both enriched these favorites with such foolish
liberality that they remained poor themselves. Both of them, though of
naturally good dispositions, were misled by selfishness into acts of
cruelty; and both of them, though laborious in the discharge of duty,
succeeded only in rendering royalty ridiculous. King James kept Sir
Walter Raleigh, the brightest intellect of his time, in prison; and
Claudius sent Seneca, the greatest man in his kingdom, into exile."

New-made kings sweep clean. The impulses of Claudius were right and
just, a truthful statement I here make in pleasant compliment to a
brother author. The man was absent-minded, had much faith in others, and
moved in the line of least resistance. Like most students and authors,
he was decidedly littery. He secured a divorce from one wife because she
cleaned up his room in his absence so that he could never find
anything; and the other wife got a divorce from him because he refused
to go out evenings and scintillate in society--but this was before he
was made Emperor.

God knows, people had their troubles then as now. To take this man who
loved his slippers and easy-chair, and who was happy with a roll of
papyrus, and plunge him into a seething pot of politics, not to mention
matrimony, was refined cruelty.

The matchmakers were busy, and soon Claudius was married to Messalina,
the handsomest summer-girl in Rome.

For a short time he bore up bravely, and was filled with the wish to
benefit and bless. One of his first acts was to recall Julia and
Agrippina from exile, they having been sent away in a fit of jealous
anger by their brother, the infamous Caligula.

Julia was beautiful and intellectual, and she had a high regard for

Agrippina was beautiful and infamous, and pretended that she loved

Both men were undone. Seneca's friendship for Julia, as far as we know,
was of a kind that did honor to both, but they made a too conspicuous
pair of intellects. The fear and jealousy of Claudius was aroused by his
young and beautiful wife, who showed him that Seneca, the courtly, was
plotting for the throne, and in this ambition Julia was a party. A
charge of undue intimacy with Julia, the beloved niece and ward of the
Emperor, was brought against Seneca, and he was exiled to Corsica.
Imagine Edmund Burke sent to Saint Helena, or John Hay to the Dry
Tortugas, and you get the idea.

The sensitive nature of Seneca did not bear up under exile as we would
have wished. Unlike Victor Hugo at Guernsey, he was alone, and
surrounded by savages. Yet even Victor Hugo lifted up his voice in
bitter complaint. Seneca failed to anticipate that, in spite of the
barrenness of Corsica, it would some day produce a man who would jostle
his Roman Cæsar for first place on history's page.

At Corsica, Seneca produced some of his loftiest and best literature.
Exile and imprisonment are such favorable conditions for letters, having
done so much for authorship, that the wonder is the expedient has fallen
into practical disuse. Banishment gave Seneca an opportunity to put into
execution some of the ideas he had so long expressed concerning the
simple life, and certain it is that the experience was not without its
benefits, and at times the grim humor of it all came to him.

Read the history of Greek ostracism, and one can almost imagine that it
was devised by the man's friends--a sort of heroic treatment prescribed
by a great spiritual physician. Personality repels as well as attracts:
the people grow tired of hearing Aristides called the Just--he is
exiled. For a few days there is a glad relief; then his friends begin to
chant his praises--he is missed. People tell of all the noble, generous
things he would do if he were only here.

If he were only here!

Petitions are circulated for his return.

The law's delay ensues, and this but increases desire. Hate for the man
has turned to pity, and pity turns to love, as starch turns to gluten.

The man comes back, and is greeted with boughs and bays, with love and
laurel. His homecoming is that of a conquering hero. If the Supreme
Court were to issue an injunction requiring all husbands to separate
themselves by at least a hundred miles from their wives, for several
months in every year, it would cut down divorces ninety-five per cent,
add greatly to domestic peace, render race-suicide impossible, and
generally liberate millions of love vibrations that would otherwise lie

       *       *       *       *       *

As an example of female depravity, Valeria Messalina was sister in crime
to Jezebel, Bernice, Drusilla, Salome and Herodias.

Damned by a dower of beauty, with men at her feet whenever she so
ordered, her ambition knew no limit. This type of dictatorial womanhood
starts out by making conquests of individual men, but the conquests of
pretty women are rarely genuine. Women hold no monopoly on duplicity,
and there is a deep vein of hypocrisy in men that prompts their playing
a part, and letting the woman use them. When the time is ripe, they toss
her away as they do any other plaything, as Omar suggests the potter
tosses the luckless pots to hell.

When Julia and Agrippina were recalled, the act was done without
consulting Messalina; and we can imagine her rage when these two women,
as beautiful as herself, came back without her permission. Messalina had
never found favor in the eyes of Seneca--he treated her with patronizing
patience, as though she were a spoilt child.

Now that Julia was back, Messalina hatched the plot that struck them
both. Messalina insisted that the wealth of Seneca should be
confiscated. Claudius at this rebelled.

History is replete with instances of great men ruled by their barbers
and coachmen. Claudius left the affairs of state to Narcissus, his
private secretary; Polybius, his literary helper; and Pallas, his
accountant. These men were all of lowly birth, and had all risen in the
ranks from menial positions, and one of them at least had been sold as a
slave, and afterward purchased his freedom. Then there was Felix, the
ex-slave, another protege of Claudius, who trembled when Paul of Tarsus
told him a little wholesome truth. These men were all immensely rich,
and once, when Claudius complained of poverty, a bystander said, "You
should go into partnership with a couple of your freedmen, and then your
finances would be all right." The fact that Narcissus, Pallas and
Polybius constituted the real government is nothing against them, any
more than it is to the discredit of certain Irish refugees that they
manage the municipal machinery of New York City--it merely proves the
impotence of the men who have allowed the power to slip from their
grasp, and ride as passengers when they should be at the throttle.

Messalina managed her husband by alternate cajolings and threats. He was
proud of her saucy beauty, and it was pleasing to an old man's vanity to
think that other people thought she loved him. She bore him two sons--by
name, Brittanicus and Germanicus. A local wit of the day said, "It was
kind of Messalina to present her husband with these boys, otherwise he
would never have had any claim on them."

But the lines were tightening around Messalina, and she herself was
drawing the cords. She had put favorites in high places, banished
enemies, and ordered the execution of certain people she did not like.
Narcissus and Pallas gave her her own way, because they knew Claudius
must find her out for himself. They let her believe that she was the
real power behind the throne. Her ambitions grew--she herself would be
ruler--she gave it out that Claudius was insane. Finally she decided
that the time was right for a "coup de grace." Claudius was absent from
Rome, and Messalina wedded at high noon with young Silius, her lover.
She was led to believe that the army would back her up, and proclaim her
son, Brittanicus, Emperor, in which case, she herself and Silius would
be the actual rulers. The wedding festivities were at their height, when
the cry went up that Claudius had returned, and was approaching to
demand vengeance. Narcissus, the wily, took up the shout, and
panic-stricken, Messalina fled for safety in one way and Silius in

Narcissus followed the woman, adding to her drunken fright by telling
her that Claudius was close behind, and suggested that she kill herself
before the wronged man should appear. A dagger was handed her, and she
stabbed herself ineffectually in hysteric haste. The kind secretary
then, with one plunge of his sword, completed the work so well begun.

A truthful account of Messalina's death was told to Claudius while he
was at dinner. He finished the meal without saying a word, gave a
present to the messenger, and went about his business, asking no
questions, and never again mentioned the matter.

The fact is worthy of note that the name of Messalina is never once
mentioned by Seneca. He pitied her vileness and villainy so much he
could not hate her. He saw, with prophetic vision, what her end would
be; and when her passing occurred, he was too great and lofty in spirit
to manifest satisfaction.

       *       *       *       *       *

Scarcely had the funeral of Messalina occurred, when there was a pretty
scramble among the eligible to see who should solace the stricken
widower. Among other matrimonial candidates was Agrippina, a beautiful
widow, twenty-nine in June, rich in her own right, and with only a small
encumbrance in the way of a ten-year-old boy, Nero by name.

Agrippina was a niece of Claudius, and such marriages were considered
unnatural; but Agrippina had subtly shown that, the deceased Emperor
being her brother, she already had a sort of claim on the throne, and
her marriage with Claudius would strengthen the State. Then she
marshaled her charms past Claudius, in a phalanx and back, and so they
were married. There was much pomp and ceremony at the wedding, and the
high priest pronounced the magic words--I trust I use the right

Very soon after her marriage, Agrippina recalled Seneca from exile. It
was the infamous Messalina who had disgraced him and sent him away, and
for Agrippina, the sister of Julia, to bring him back, was regarded as a
certificate of innocence, and a great diplomatic move for Agrippina.

When Seneca returned, the whole city went out to meet him. It is not at
all likely that Seneca had a suspicion of the true character of
Agrippina, any more than Claudius--which sort of tends to show the
futility of philosophy.

How could Seneca read her true character when it had not really been
formed? No one knows what he will do until he gets a good chance. It is
unkind condition that keeps most of us where we belong.

And even while the honeymoon--or should we say the harvest-moon?--was at
full, Seneca was made the legal guardian and tutor of Nero, the son of
the Empress, and became a member of the royal household. This was done
in gratitude, and to make amends, if possible, for the wrong of
banishment inflicted upon the man by scandalously linking his name with
that of the sister of the woman who was now First Lady of the Land.

Seneca was then forty-nine years of age. He had fifteen years of life
yet before him, and was to gain much valuable experience, and get an
insight into a side of existence he had not yet known.

Agrippina was born in Cologne, which was called, in her honor, Colonia
Agrippina, and now has been shortened to its present form. Whenever you
buy cologne, remember where the word came from.

Agrippina, from her very girlhood, had a thirst for adventure, and her
aim was high. When fourteen, she married Domitius, a Roman noble, thirty
years her senior. He was as worthless a rogue as ever wore out his
physical capacity for sin in middle life, and filled his dying days with
crimes that were only mental. He knew himself so well that when Nero was
born he declared that the issue of such a marriage could only breed a
being who would ruin the State--a monster with his father's vices and
his mother's insatiable ambition.

Agrippina was woman enough to hate this man with an utter detestation;
but he was rich, and so she endured him for ten years, and then assisted
Nature in making him food for worms.

The intensity of Agrippina's nature might have been used for happy ends
if the stream of her life had not been so early dammed and polluted. She
loved her child with a clutching, feverish affection, and declared that
he would some day rule Rome. This was not really such a far-away dream,
when we remember that her brother was then Emperor and childless. Her
thought was more for her child than for herself, and her expectation was
that he would succeed Caligula. The persistency with which she told this
ambition for her boy is both beautiful and pathetic. Every mother sees
her own life projected in her child, and within certain bounds this is
right and well.

Glimpses of kindness and right intent are shown when Agrippina recalled
Seneca, and when she became the mother of the motherless children of
Claudius. She publicly adopted these children, and for a time gave them
every attention and advantage that was bestowed upon her own son. Gibbon
says for one woman to mother another woman's children is a diplomatic
card often played, but Gibbon sometimes quibbles.

Gradually the fierce desire of Agrippina's heart began to manifest
itself. She plotted and arranged that Nero should marry Octavia, the
daughter of Claudius. Octavia was seven years older than Nero, but the
sooner the marriage could be brought about, the better--it would give
her a double hold on the throne. To this end suitors for the hand of
Octavia were disgraced by false charges, and sent off into exile, and
the same fate came to at least three young women who stood in the way.

But the one real obstacle was Claudius himself--he was sixty, and might
be so absurd as to live to be eighty. Locusta, a famous professional
chemist, was employed, and the deed was done by Agrippina serving the
deadly dish herself. The servants carried Claudius off to bed, thinking
he was merely drunk, but he was to wake no more.

Burrus, the blunt and honest old soldier, Captain of the Pretorian
Guard, sided with Agrippina; Brittanicus, the son of Claudius, was kept
out of the way, and Nero was proclaimed Emperor.

Here Seneca seems to have shown his good influence, and sent home a
desire in the heart of Agrippina to serve her people with moderation and
justice. She had attained her ends: her son, a youth of fifteen, was
Emperor, and his guardian, the great and gentle Seneca, the man of her
own choosing, was the actual ruler. She was the sister of one Emperor,
wife of another, and now mother of a third--surely this was glory enough
to satisfy one woman's ambition!

Then there came to Rome the famed Quinquennium Neronis, when, for five
years, peace and plenty smiled. It is a trite saying that men who can
not manage their own finances can look after those of a nation, but
Seneca was a businessman who proved his ability to manage his own
private affairs and also succeeded in managing the exchequer of a
kingdom. During his reign, gladiatorial contests were relieved of their
savage brutality, work was given to many, education became popular, and
people said, "The Age of Augustus has returned."

But the greatest men are not the greatest teachers. Seneca's policy with
his pupil, Nero, was one of concession.

A close study of the youth of Nero reveals the same traits that outcrop
in one-half the students at Harvard--traits ill-becoming to grown-up
men, but not at all alarming in youth. Nero was self-willed and
occasionally had tantrums--but a tantrum is only a little whirl-wind of
misdirected energy. A tantrum is life plus--it is better far than
stagnation, and usually works up into useful life, and sometimes into
great art. We have some verses written by Nero in his seventeenth year
that show a good Class B sophomoric touch. He danced, played in the
theatricals, raced horses, fought dogs, twanged the harp, and exploited
various other musical instruments. He wasn't nearly so bad as
Alcibiades, but his mother lavished on him her maudlin love, and allowed
the fallacy to grow in his mind concerning the divinity that doth hedge
a king. In fact, when he asked his mother about his real father, she hid
the truth that his father was a rogue--perhaps to shield herself, for it
is only a very great person who can tell the truth--and led him to
believe his paternal parent was a god, and his birth miraculous. Now,
let such an idea get into the head of the average freshman and what will
be the result? A woman can tell a full-grown man that he is the greatest
thing that ever happened, and it does no special harm, for the man knows
better than to go out on the street and proclaim it; but you tell a boy
of eighteen such pleasing fallacies, and then have fawning courtiers
back them up, and at the same time give the youth free access to the
strong box, and it surely would be a miracle if he is not doubly damned,
and quickly, too. Agrippina would not allow the blunt old Burrus to
discipline her boy, and Seneca's plan was one of concession--he loved
peace. He hated to thwart the boy, because he knew that it would arouse
the ire of the mother, whose love had run away with her commonsense.
Love is beautiful--soft, yielding, gentle love--but the common law of
England upholds wife-beating as being justifiable and desirable on
certain occasions.

The real trouble was, the dam was out for Agrippina and Nero--there was
no restraint for either. There was no one to teach them that the liberty
of one man ends where the right of another begins. No more frightful
condition for any man or woman can ever occur than this: to take away
all responsibility.

When Socrates put the chesty Alcibiades three points down, and jumped on
his stomach with his knees, the youth had a month in bed, and after he
got around again he possessed a most wholesome regard for his teacher.
If Burrus and Seneca had applied Brockway methods to Agrippina and her
saucy son, as they easily might, it would have made Rome howl with
delight, and saved the State as well as the individuals.

Julius Cæsar, like Lincoln, let everybody do as they wished, up to a
certain point. But all realized that somewhere behind that dulcet voice
and the gentle manner was a heart of flint and nerves of steel. No woman
ever made Julius Cæsar dance to syncopated time, nor did a youth of
eighteen ever successfully order him to take part in amateur theatricals
on penalty. Julius Cæsar and Seneca were both scholars, both were
gentlemen and gentle men: their mental attitude was much the same, but
one had a will of adamant, and the other moved in the line of least

       *       *       *       *       *

Gradually, Nero evolved a petulance and impatience toward his mother and
his tutor, all of which was quite a natural consequence of his
education. Every endeavor to restrain him was met with imprecations and
curses. About then would have been a good time to apply heroic
treatment, instead of halting fear and worshipful acquiescence.

The raw stock for making a Nero is in every school, and given the
conditions, a tyrant-culture would be easy to evolve. The endeavor to
make Nero wed Octavia caused a revulsion to occur in his heart toward
her and her brother Brittanicus. He feared that these two might combine
and wrest from him the throne.

Locusta, the specialist, was again sent for and Brittanicus was gathered
to his fathers.

Soon after, Nero fell into a deep infatuation for Poppæ Sabina, wife of
Otho, the most beautiful woman in Rome. Sabina refused to accept his
advances so long as he was tied to his mother's apron-strings--I use the
exact phrase of Tacitus, so I trust no exceptions will be taken to the
expression. Nero came to believe that the tagging, nagging, mushy love
of his mother was standing in the way of his advancement. He had come to
know that Agrippina had caused the death of Claudius, and when she
accused him of poisoning Brittanicus, he said, "I learned the trick from
my dear mother!" and honors were even.

He knew the crafty quality of his mother's mind and grew to fear her.
And fear and hate are one. To secure Sabina he must sacrifice Agrippina.

He would be free.

To poison her would not do--she was an expert in preventives.

So Nero, regardless of expense, bargained with Anicetus, admiral of the
fleet, to construct a ship so that, when certain bolts were withdrawn,
the craft would sink and tell no tale. This was a bit of daring deviltry
never before devised, and by turn, Nero chuckled in glee and had cold
sweats of fear as he congratulated himself on his astuteness.

The boat was built and Agrippina was enticed on board. The night of the
excursion was calm, but the conspirators, fearing the chance might never
come again, let go the canopy, loaded with lead, which was over the
queen. It fell with a crash; and at the same time the bolts were
withdrawn and the waters rushed in. Several of the servants in
attendance were killed by the fall of the awning, but Agrippina and
Aceronia, a lady of quality, escaped from the debris only slightly hurt.
Aceronia, believing the ship was about to sink, called for help, saying,
"I am Agrippina." She erred slightly in her diplomacy, for she was at
once struck on the head with an oar and killed. This gave Agrippina a
clew to the situation and she was silent. By a strange perversity, the
royal scuttling patent would not work and the boat stubbornly refused to

Agrippina got safely ashore and sent word to her son that there had been
a terrible accident, but she was safe--the intent of her letter being to
let him know that she understood the matter perfectly, and while she
could not admire the job, it was so bungling, yet she would forgive him
if he would not try it again.

In wild consternation, Nero sent for Burrus and Seneca. This was their
first knowledge of the affair. They refused to act in either way, but
Burrus intimated that Anicetus was the guilty party and should be held

"For not completing the task?" said Nero.

"Yes," said the blunt old soldier, and retired.

Anicetus was notified that the blame of the whole conspiracy was on him.
A big crime, well carried out, is its own excuse for being; but failure,
like unto genius, is unforgivable.

Anicetus was in disgrace, but only temporarily, for he towed the
obstinate, telltale galley into deep water and sank her at dead of
night. Then with a few faithful followers he surrounded the villa where
Agrippina was resting, scattered her guard and confronted her with drawn

Years before, a soothsayer had told her that her son would be Emperor
and that he would kill her. Her answer was, "Let them slay me, if he but

Now she saw that death was nigh. She did not try to escape, nor did she
plead for mercy, but cried, "Plunge your sword through my womb, for it
bore Nero."

And Anicetus, with one blow, struck her dead.

Nero returned to Naples to mourn his loss. From there he sent forth a
lengthy message to the Senate, recounting the accidental shipwreck, and
telling how Agrippina had plotted against his life, recounting her
crimes in deprecatory, sophistical phrase. The document wound up by
telling how she had tried to secure the throne for a paramour, and the
truth coming to some o'erzealous friends of the State, they had arisen
and taken her life. In Rome there was a strong feeling that Nero should
not be allowed to return, but this message of explanation and promise,
written by Seneca, downed the opposition.

The Senate accepted the report, and Nero, at twenty-two, found himself
master of the world.

Yet what booted it when he was not master of himself!

From this time on, the career of Seneca was one of contumely, suffering
and disgrace. This was to endure for six years, when kindly death was
then to set him free.

The mutual, guilty knowledge of a great crime breeds loathing and
contempt. History contains many such instances where the subject had
knowledge of the sovereign's sins, and the sovereign found no rest until
the man who knew was beneath the sod.

Seneca knew Nero as only his Maker knew him.

After the first spasm of exultation in being allowed to return to Rome,
a jealous dread of Seneca came over the guilty monarch.

Seneca hoped against hope that, now that Nero's wild oats were sown and
the crop destroyed, all would be well. The past should be buried and
remembrance of it sunk deep in oblivion.

But Nero feared Seneca might expose his worthlessness and the
philosopher himself take the reins. In this Nero did not know his man:
Seneca's love was literary--political power to him was transient and not
worth while.

It became known that the apology to the Senate was the work of Seneca,
and Nero, who wanted the world to think that all his speeches and
addresses were his own, got it firmly fixed in his head he would not be
happy until Seneca was out of the way. Sabina said he was no longer a
boy, and should not be tagged and dictated to by his old teacher.

Seneca, seeing what was coming, offered to give his entire property to
the State and retire. Nero would not have it so--he feared Seneca would
retire only to come back with an army. A cordon of spies was put around
Seneca's house--he was practically a prisoner. Attempts were made to
poison him, but he ate only fruit, and bread made by his wife, Paulina,
and drank no water except from running streams.

Finally a charge of conspiracy was fastened upon him, and Nero ordered
him to die by his own hand. His wife was determined to go with him, and
one stroke severed the veins of both.

The beautiful Sabina realized her hopes--she divorced her husband, and
married the Emperor of Rome. She died from a sudden kick given her by
the booted foot of her liege.

Three years after the death of Seneca, Nero passed hence by the same
route, killing himself to escape the fury of the Pretorian Guard. And so
ended the Julian line, none of whom, except the first, was a Julian.

       *       *       *       *       *

From the death of Augustus on to the time of Nero there was for Rome a
steady tide of disintegration. The Emperor was the head of the Church,
and he usually encouraged the idea that he was something different from
common men--that his mission was from On High and that he should be
worshiped. Gibbon, making a free translation from Seneca, says,
"Religion was regarded by the common people as true, by the philosophers
as false, and by the rulers as useful." And Saint Augustine, using the
same smoothly polished style, says, in reference to a Roman Senator, "He
worshiped what he blamed, he did what he refuted, he adored that with
which he found fault." The sentence is Seneca's, and when he wrote it he
doubtless had himself in mind, for in spite of his Stoic philosophy the
life of luxury lured him, and although he sang the praises of poverty he
charged a goodly sum for so doing, and the nobles who listened to him
doubtless found a vicarious atonement by applauding him as he played to
the gallery gods of their self-esteem, like rich ladies who go
a-slumming mix in with the poor on an equality, and then hasten home to
dress for dinner.

       *       *       *       *       *

Seneca was one of the purest and loftiest intellects the world has ever
known. Canon Farrar calls him "A Seeker after God," and has printed
parallel passages from Saint Paul and Seneca which, for many, seem to
show that the men were in communication with each other. Every ethical
maxim of Christianity was expressed by this "noble pagan," and his
influence was always directed toward that which he thought was right.
His mistakes were all in the line of infirmities of the will. Voltaire
calls him, "The father of all those who wear shovel hats," and in
another place refers to him as an "amateur ascetic," but in this the
author of the Philosophical Dictionary pays Seneca the indirect
compliment of regarding him as a Christian. Renan says, "Seneca shines
out like a great white star through a rift of clouds on a night of
darkness." The wonder is not that Seneca at times lapsed from his high
estate and manifested his Sophist training, but that to the day of his
death he saw the truth with unblinking eyes and held the Ideal firmly in
his heart.


     Happiness itself is sufficient excuse. Beautiful things are right
     and true; so beautiful actions are those pleasing to the gods. Wise
     men have an inward sense of what is beautiful, and the highest
     wisdom is to trust this intuition and be guided by it. The answer
     to the last appeal of what is right lies within a man's own breast.
     Trust thyself.

                                                --_Ethics of Aristotle_

[Illustration: ARISTOTLE]

The Sublime Porte recently issued a request to the American Bible
Society, asking that references to Macedonia be omitted from all Bibles
circulated in Turkey or Turkish provinces. The argument of His Sublimity
is that the Macedonian cry, "Come over and help us!" puts him and his
people in a bad light. He ends his most courteous petition by saying,
"The land that produced a Philip, an Alexander the Great and an
Aristotle, and that today has citizens who are the equal of these, needs
nothing from our dear brothers, the Americans, but to be let alone."

As to the statement that Macedonia today has citizens who are the equals
of Philip, Alexander and Aristotle, the proposition, probably, is based
on the confession of the citizens themselves, and therefore may be
truth. Great men are only great comparatively. It is the stupidity of
the many that allows one man to bestride the narrow world like a
Colossus. In the time of Alexander and Aristotle there wasn't so much
competition as now, so perhaps what we take to be lack of humor on the
part of the Sublime Porte may have a basis in fact.

Aristotle was born Three Hundred Eighty-four B.C., at the village of
Stagira in the mountains of Macedonia. King Amyntas used to live at
Stagira several months in the year and hunt the wild hogs that fed on
the acorns which grew in the gorges and valleys. Mountain climbing and
hunting was dangerous sport, and it was well to have a surgeon attached
to the royal party, so the father of Aristotle served in that capacity.
No doubt, though, but the whole outfit was decidedly barbaric, even
including the doctor's little son "Aristo," who refused to be left
behind. The child's mother had died years before, and boys without
mothers are apt to manage their fathers. And so Aristo was allowed to
trot along by his father's side, carrying a formidable bow, which he
himself had made, with a quiver of arrows at his back.

Those were great times when the King came to Stagira!

When the King went back to the capital everybody received presents, and
the good doctor, by some chance, was treated best of all, and little
Aristo came in for the finest bow that ever was, all tipped with silver
and eagle-feathers. But the bow did not bring good luck, for soon after,
the boy's father was caught in an avalanche of sliding stone and crushed
to death.

Aristo was taken in charge by Proxenus, a near kinsman. The lad was so
active at climbing, so full of life and energy and good spirits, that
when the King came the next year to Stagira, he asked for Aristo. With
the King was his son Philip, a lad about the age of Aristo, but not so
tall nor so active. The boys became fast friends, and once when a
stranger saw them together he complimented the King on his fine,
intelligent boys, and the King had to explain, "The other boy is
mine--but I wish they both were."

Aristo knew where the wild boars fed in gulches, and where the stunted
oaks grew close and thick. Higher up in the mountains there were bears,
which occasionally came down and made the wild pigs scamper. You could
always tell when the bears were around, for then the little pigs would
run out into the open. The bears had a liking for little pigs, and the
bears had a liking for the honey in the bee-trees, too. Aristo could
find the bee-trees better than the bears--all you had to do was to watch
the flight of the bees as they left the clover.

Then there were deer--you could see their tracks any time around the
mountain marshes where the springs gushed forth and the watercress grew
lush. Still higher up the mountains, beyond where bears ever traveled,
there were mountain-sheep, and still higher up were goats. The goats
were so wild that hardly any one but Aristo had ever seen them, but he
knew they were there.

The King was delighted to have such a lad as companion for his son, and
insisted that he should go back to the capital with them and become a
member of the Court.

Not he--there were other ambitions. He wanted to go to Athens and study
at the school of Plato--Plato, the pupil of the great Socrates.

The King laughed--he had never heard of Plato. That a youth should
refuse to become part of the Macedonian Court, preferring the company of
an unknown school-master, was amusing--he laughed.

The next year when the King came back to Stagira, Aristo was still
there. "And you haven't gone to Athens yet?" said the King.

"No, but I am going," was the firm reply.

"We will send him," said the King to Proxenus, Aristo's guardian.

And so we find Aristo, aged seventeen, tall and straight and bronzed,
starting off for Athens, his worldly goods rolled up in a bearskin, tied
about with thongs. There is a legend to the effect that Philip went with
Aristo, and that for a time they were together at Plato's school. But,
anyway, Philip did not remain long. Aristo--or Aristotle, we had better
call him--remained with Plato just twenty years.

At Plato's school Aristotle was called by the boys, "the Stagirite," a
name that was to last him through life--and longer. In Winter he wore
his bearskin, caught over one shoulder, for a robe, and his mountain
grace and native beauty of mind and body must have been a joy to Plato
from the first. Such a youth could not be overlooked.

To him that hath shall be given. The pupil that wants to learn is the
teacher's favorite--which is just as it should not be. Plato proved his
humanity by giving his all to the young mountaineer. Plato was then a
little over sixty years of age--about the same age that Socrates was
when Plato became his pupil. But the years had touched Plato
lightly--unlike Socrates, he had endured no Thracian winters in bare
feet, neither had he lived on cold snacks picked up here and there, as
Providence provided. Plato was a bachelor. He still wore the purple
robe, proud, dignified, yet gentle, and his back was straight as that of
a youth. Lowell once said, "When I hear Plato's name mentioned, I always
think of George William Curtis--a combination of pride and intellect, a
man's strength fused with a woman's gentleness."

Plato was an aristocrat. He accepted only such pupils as he invited, or
those that were sent by royalty. Like Franz Liszt, he charged no
tuition, which plan, by the way, is a good scheme for getting more money
than could otherwise be obtained, although no such selfish charge should
be brought against either Plato or Liszt. Yet every benefit must be paid
for, and whether you use the word fee or honorarium, matters little. I
hear there be lecturers who accept invitations to banquets and accept an
honorarium mysteriously placed on the mantel, when they would scorn a

Plato's Garden School, where the pupils reclined under the trees on
marble benches, and read and talked, or listened to lectures by the
Master, was almost an ideal place. Not the ideal for us, because we
believe that the mental and the manual must go hand in hand. The world
of intellect should not be separated from the world of work. It was too
much to expect that in a time when slavery was everywhere, Plato would
see the fallacy of having one set of men to do the thinking, and another
do the work. We haven't got far from that yet; only free men can see the
whole truth, and a free man is one who lives in a country where there
are no slaves. To own slaves is to be one, and to live in a land of
slavery is to share in the bondage--a partaker in the infamy and the

Plato and Aristotle became fast friends--comrades. With thinking men
years do not count--only those grow old who think by proxy. Plato had no
sons after the flesh, and the love of his heart went out to the
Stagirite: in him he saw his own life projected.

When Aristotle had turned twenty he was acquainted with all the leading
thinkers of his time; he read constantly, wrote, studied and conversed.
The little property his father left had come to him; the King of Macedon
sent him presents; and he taught various pupils from wealthy
families--finances were easy. But success did not spoil him. The
brightest scholars do not make the greatest success in life, because
alma mater usually catches them for teachers. Sometimes this is well,
but more often it is not. Plato would not hear of Aristotle's leaving
him, and so he remained, the chief ornament and practical leader of the

He became rich, owned the largest private library at Athens, and was
universally regarded as the most learned man of his time.

In many ways he had surpassed Plato. He delved into natural history,
collected plants, rocks, animals, and made studies of the practical
workings of economic schemes. He sought to divest the Platonic teaching
of its poetry, discarded rhetoric, and tried to get at the simple truth
of all subjects.

Toward the last of Plato's career this repudiation by Aristotle of
poetry, rhetoric, elocution and the polite accomplishments caused a
schism to break out in the Garden School. Plato's head was in the clouds
at times; Aristotle's was, too, but his feet were always on the earth.

When Plato died, Aristotle was his natural successor as leader of the
school, but there was opposition to him, both on account of his sturdy,
independent ways and because he was a foreigner.

He left Athens to become a member of the Court of Hermias, a former
pupil, now King of Atarneus.

He remained here long enough to marry the niece of his patron, and
doubtless saw himself settled for life--a kingly crown within his reach
should his student-sovereign pass away.

And the royal friend did pass away, by the dagger's route. As
life-insurance risks I am told that Kings have to pay double premium.
Revolution broke out, and as Aristotle was debating in his mind what
course to pursue, a messenger with soldiers arrived from King Philip of
Macedon, offering safe convoy, enclosing transportation, and asking that
Aristotle come and take charge of the education of his son, Alexander,
aged thirteen.

Aristotle did not wait to parley: he accepted the invitation. Horses
were saddled, camels packed and that night, before the moon arose, the
cavalcade silently moved out into the desert.

       *       *       *       *       *

The offer that had been made twenty-four years before, by Philip's
father, was now accepted. Aristotle was forty-two years old, in the
prime of his power. Time had tempered his passions, but not subdued his
zest in life. He had the curious, receptive, alert and eager mind of a
child. His intellect was at its ripest and best. He was a lover of
animals, and all outdoor life appealed to him as it does to a growing
boy. He was a daring horseman, and we hear of his riding off into the
desert and sleeping on the sands, his horse untethered watching over
him. Aristotle was the first man to make a scientific study of the
horse, and with the help of Alexander he set up a skeleton, fastening
the bones in place, to the mighty astonishment of the natives, who
mistook the feat for an attempt to make a living animal; and when the
beast was not at last saddled and bridled there were subdued chuckles of
satisfaction among the "hoi polloi" at the failure of the scheme, and
murmurs of "I told you so!"

Eighteen hundred years were to pass before another man was to take up
the horse as a serious scientific study; and this was Leonardo da Vinci,
a man in many ways very much like Aristotle. The distinguishing feature
in these men--the thing that differentiates them from other men--was the
great outpouring sympathy with every living creature. Everything they
saw was related to themselves--it came very close to them--they wanted
to know more about it. This is essentially the child-mind, and the
calamity of life is to lose it.

Leonardo became interested in Aristotle's essay on the horse, and
continued the subject further, dissecting the animal in minutest detail
and illustrating his discoveries with painstaking drawings. His work is
so complete and exhaustive that nobody nowadays has time to more than
read the title-page. Leonardo's bent was natural science, and his first
attempts at drawing were done to illustrate his books. Art was
beautiful, of course--it brought in an income, made friends and brought
him close to people who saw nothing unless you made a picture of it. He
made pictures for recreation and to amuse folks, and his threat to put
the peeping Prior into the "Last Supper," posed as Judas, revealed his
contempt for the person to whom a picture was just a picture. The marvel
to Leonardo was the mind that could imagine, the hand that could
execute, and the soul that could see.

And the curious part is that Leonardo lives for us through his play and
not through his serious work. His science has been superseded, but his
art is immortal.

This expectant mental attitude, this attitude of worship, belongs to all
great scientists. The man divines the thing first and then looks for it,
just as the Herschels knew where the star ought to be and then patiently
waited for it. The Bishop of London said that if Darwin had spent
one-half as much time in reading his Bible as in studying earthworms, he
would have really benefited the world, and saved his soul alive. To
Walt Whitman, a hair on the back of his hand was just as curious and
wonderful as the stars in the sky, or God's revelation to man through a
printed book.

Aristotle loved animals as a boy loves them--his house was a regular
menagerie of pets, and into this world of life Alexander was very early
introduced. We hear of young Alexander breaking the wild horse,
Bucephalus, and beyond a doubt Aristotle was seated on the top rail of
the paddock when he threw the lariat.

Aristotle and his pupil had the first circus of which we know, and they
also inaugurated the first Zoological Garden mentioned in history,
barring Noah, of course.

So much was Alexander bound up in this menagerie, and in his old teacher
as well, that in after-life, in all of his travels, he was continually
sending back to Aristotle specimens of every sort of bird, beast and
fish to be found in the countries through which he traveled.

When Philip was laid low by the assassin's thrust, it was Aristotle who
backed up Alexander, aged twenty--but a man--in his prompt suppression
of the revolution. The will that had been used to subdue man-eating
stallions and to train wild animals, now came in to repress riot, and
the systematic classification of things was a preparation for the
forming of an army out of a mob. Aristotle said, "An army is a huge
animal with a million claws--it must have only one brain, and that the

Alexander gave credit again and again to Aristotle for those elements in
his character that went to make up success: steadiness of purpose,
self-reliance, systematic effort, mathematical calculation, attention to
details, and a broad and generous policy that sees the end.

When Aristotle argued with Philip, years before, that horse-breaking
should be included in the educational curriculum of all young men, he
evidently divined football and was endeavoring to supplant it.

       *       *       *       *       *

I think history has been a trifle severe on Alexander. He was elected
Captain-General of Greece, and ordered to repel the Persian invasion.
And he did the business once for all. War is not all
fighting--Providence is on the side of the strongest commissariat.
Alexander had to train, arm, clothe and feed a million men, and march
them long miles across a desert country. The real foe of a man is in his
own heart, and the foe of an army is in its own camp--disease takes more
prisoners than the enemy. Fever sniped more of our boys in blue than did
the hostile Filipinos.

Alexander's losses were principally from men slain in battle; from this,
I take it that Alexander knew a deal of sanitary science, and had a
knowledge of practical mathematics, in order to systematize that mob of
restless, turbulent helots. We hear of Aristotle cautioning him that
safety lies in keeping his men busy--they must not have too much time to
think, otherwise mutiny is to be feared. Still, they must not be
over-worked, or they will be in no condition to fight when the eventful
time occurs. And we are amazed to see this: "Do not let your men drink
out of stagnant pools--Athenians, city-born, know no better. And when
you carry water on the desert marches, it should be first boiled to
prevent its getting sour."

Concerning the Jews, Alexander writes to his teacher and says, "They are
apt to be in sullen rebellion against their governors, receiving orders
only from their high priests, and this leads to severe measures, which
are construed as persecution"; all of which might have been written
yesterday by the Czar in a message to The Hague Convention.

Alexander captured the East, and was taken captive by the East. Like the
male bee that never lives to tell the tale of its wooing, he succeeded
and died. Yet he vitalized all Asia with the seeds of Greek philosophy,
turned back the hungry barbaric tide, and made a new map of the Eastern
world. He built far more cities than he destroyed. He set Andrew
Carnegie an example at Alexandria, such as the world had never up to
that time seen. At the entrance to the harbor of the same city he
erected a lighthouse, surpassing far the one at Minot's Ledge, or Race
Rock. This structure endured for two centuries, and when at last wind
and weather had their way, there was no Hopkinson Smith who could erect

At Thebes, Alexander paid a compliment to letters, by destroying every
building in the city except the house of the poet, Pindar. At Corinth,
when the great, the wise, the noble, came to pay homage, one great man
did not appear. In vain did Alexander look for his card among all those
handed in at the door--Diogenes, the Philosopher, oft quoted by
Aristotle, was not to be seen.

Alexander went out to hunt him up, and found him sunning himself,
propped up against the wall in the Public Square, busy doing nothing.

The philosopher did not arise to greet the conqueror; he did not even
offer a nod of recognition.

"I am Alexander--is there not something I can do for you?" modestly
asked the descendant of Hercules.

"Just stand out from between me and the sun," replied the philosopher,
and went on with his meditations.

Alexander enjoyed the reply so much that he said to his companions, and
afterward wrote to Aristotle, "If I were not Alexander, I would be
Diogenes," and thus did strenuosity pay its tribute to

       *       *       *       *       *

Aristotle might have assumed important affairs of State, but practical
politics were not to his liking. "What Aristotle is in the world of
thought I will be in the world of action," said Alexander.

On all of his journeys Alexander found time to keep in touch with his
old teacher at home; and we find the ruler of Asia voicing that old
request, "Send me something to read," and again, "I live alone with my
thoughts, amidst a throng of men, but without companions."

Plutarch gives a copy of a letter sent by Alexander wherein Aristotle is
chided for publishing his lecture on oratory. "Now all the world will
know what formerly belonged to you and me alone," plaintively cries the
young man who sighed for more worlds to conquer, and therein shows he
was the victim of a fallacy that will never die--the idea that truth can
be embodied in a book. When will we ever learn that inspired books
demand inspired readers!

There are no secrets. A book may stimulate thought, but it can never
impart it.

Aristotle wrote out the Laws of Oratory. "Alas!" groans Alexander,
"everybody will turn orator now." But he was wrong, because Oratory and
the Laws of Oratory are totally different things.

A Boston man of excellent parts has just recently given out the Sixteen
Perfective Laws of Oratory, and the Nineteen Steps in Evolution.

The real truth is, there are Fifty-seven Varieties of Artistic Vagaries,
and all are valuable to the man who evolves them--they serve him as a
scaffolding whereby he builds thought. But woe betide Alexander and all
rareripe Bostonians who mistake the scaffolding for the edifice.

There are no Laws of Art. A man evolves first, and builds his laws
afterward. The style is the man, and a great man, full of the spirit,
will express himself in his own way.

Bach ignored all the Laws of Harmony made before his day and set down
new ones--and these marked his limitations, that was all. Beethoven
upset all these, and Wagner succeeded by breaking most of Beethoven's
rules. And now comes Grieg, and writes harmonious discords that Wagner
said were impossible, and still it is music, for by it we are
transported on the wings of song and uplifted to the stars.

The individual soul striving for expression ignores all man-made laws.
Truth is that which serves us best in expressing our lives. A rotting
log is truth to a bed of violets, while sand is truth to a cactus. But
when the violet writes a book on "Expression as I Have Found It," making
laws for the evolution of beautiful blossoms, it leaves the Century
Plant out of its equation, or else swears, i' faith, that a cactus is
not a flower, and that a Night-Blooming Cereus is a disordered thought
from a madman's brain. And when the proud and lofty cactus writes a
book it never mentions violets, because it has never stooped to seek

Art is the blossoming of the Soul.

We can not make the plant blossom--all we can do is to comply with the
conditions of growth. We can supply the sunshine, moisture and aliment,
and God does the rest. In teaching, he only is successful who supplies
the conditions of growth--that is all there is of the Science of
Pedagogics, which is not a science, and if it ever becomes one, it will
be the Science of Letting Alone, and not a scheme of interference. Just
so long as some of the greatest men are those who have broken through
pedagogic fancy and escaped, succeeding by breaking every rule of
pedagogy, as Wagner discarded every Law of Harmony, there will be no
such thing as a Science of Education.

Recently I read Aristotle's Essays on Rhetoric and Oratory, and I was
pained to see how I had been plagiarized by this man who wrote three
hundred years before Christ. Aristotle used charts in teaching and
indicated the mean by a straight horizontal line, and the extreme by an
upright dash. He says: "From one extreme the mean looks extreme, and
from another extreme the mean looks small--it all depends upon your
point of view. Beware of jumping to conclusions, for beside the
appearance you must look within and see from what vantage-ground you
gain the conclusions. All truth is relative, and none can be final to a
man six feet high, who stands on the ground, who can walk but forty
miles at a stretch, who needs four meals a day and one-third of his time
for sleep. A loss of sleep, or loss of a meal, or a meal too much, will
disarrange his point of view, and change his opinions," And thus do we
see that a belief in "eternal punishment" is a mere matter of

A certain bishop, we have seen, experienced a regret that Darwin
expended so much time on earthworms; and we might also express regret
that Aristotle did not spend more. As long as he confined himself to
earth, he was eminently sure and right: he was really the first man who
ever used his eyes. But when he quit the earth, and began to speculate
about the condition of souls before they are clothed with bodies, or
what becomes of them after they discard the body, or the nature of God,
he shows that he knew no more than we. That is to say, he knew no more
than the barbarians who preceded him.

He attempted to grasp ideas which Herbert Spencer pigeonholes forever as
the Unknowable; and in some of his endeavors to make plain the
unknowable, Aristotle strains language to the breaking-point--the net
bursts and all of his fish go free. Here is an Aristotelian proposition,
expressed by Hegel to make lucid a thing nobody comprehends: "Essential
being as being that meditates with itself, with itself by the negativity
of itself, is relative to itself only as it is relative to another;
that is, immediate only as something posited and meditated." It gives
one a slight shock to hear him speak of headache being caused by wind on
the brain, or powdered grasshopper-wings being a cure for gout, but when
he calls the heart a pump that forces the blood to the extremities, we
see that he anticipates Harvey, although more than two thousand years of
night lie between them.

Some of Aristotle reads about like this Geometrical Domestic Equation:


All boarding-houses are the same boarding-houses.

Boarders in the same boarding-house, and on the same flat, are equal to
one another.

A single room is that which hath no parts and no magnitude.

The landlady of the boarding-house is a parallelogram--that is, an
oblong figure that can not be described, and is equal to anything.

A wrangle is the disinclination to each other of two boarders that meet
together, but are not on the same floor.

All the other rooms being taken, a single room is a double room.

_Postulates and Propositions:_

A pie may be produced any number of times.

The landlady may be reduced to her lowest terms by a series of

A bee-line is the shortest distance between the Phalanstery and By

The clothes of a boarding-house bed stretched both ways will not meet.

Any two meals at a boarding-house are together less than one meal at the

On the same bill and on the same side of it there should not be two
charges for the same thing.

If there be two boarders on the same floor, and the amount of the side
of the one be equal to the amount of the side of the other, and the
wrangle between the one boarder and the landlady be equal to the wrangle
between the landlady and the other boarder, then shall the weekly bills
of the two boarders be equal. For, if not, let one bill be the greater,
then the other bill is less than it might have been, which is absurd.
Therefore the bills are equal.

_Quod erat demonstrandum._

       *       *       *       *       *

The business of the old philosophers was to philosophize. To
philosophize as a business is to miss the highest philosophy. To do a
certain amount of useful work every day, and not trouble about either
the past or the future, is the highest wisdom. The man who drags the
past behind him, and dives into the future, spreads the present out
thin. Therein lies the bane of most religions. A man goes out into the
woods to study the birds: he walks and walks and walks and sees no
birds. But just let him sit down on a log and wait, and lo! the branches
are full of song.

Those who pursue Culture never catch up with her. Culture takes alarm at
pursuit and avoids the stealthy pounce. Culture is a woman, and a
certain amount of indifference wins her. Ardent wooing will not secure
either wisdom or a woman--except in the case where a woman marries a man
to get rid of him, and then he really does not get the woman--he only
secures her husk. And the husks of culture are pedantry and sciolism.
The highest philosophy of the future will consist in doing each day that
which is most useful. Talking about it will be quite incidental and

       *       *       *       *       *

After Alexander had completed his little task of conquering the world,
it was his intention to sit down and improve his mind. He was going back
to Greece to complete the work Pericles had so well begun. To this end
Aristotle had left Macedonia and established his Peripatetic School at
Athens. Plato was exclusive, and taught in the Garden with its high
walls. Aristotle taught in the "peripatos," or porch of the Lyceum, and
his classes were for all who wished to attend. Socrates was really the
first peripatetic philosopher, but he was a roustabout. Nothing
sanctifies like death--and now Socrates had become respectable, and his
methods were to be made legal and legitimate.

Socrates discovered the principle of human liberty; he taught the rights
of the individual, and as these threatened to interfere with the State,
the politicians got alarmed and put him to death. Plato, much more
cautious, wrote his "Republic," wherein everything is subordinated for
the good of the State, and the individual is but a cog in a most
perfectly lubricated machine. Aristotle saw that Socrates was nearer
right than Plato--sin is the expression of individuality and is not
wholly bad--the State is made up of individuals, and if you suppress the
thinking-power of the individual, you will get a weak and effeminate
body politic; there will be none to govern. The whole fabric will break
down of its own weight. A man must have the privilege of making a fool
of himself--within proper bounds, of course. To that end learning must
be for all, and liberty both to listen and to teach should be the
privilege of every man.

This is a problem that Boston has before it today: Shall free speech be
allowed on the Common? William Morris tried it in Trafalgar Square, to
his sorrow; but in Hyde Park, if you think you have a message, London
will let you give it. But this is not considered good form, and the
"Best Society" listen to no speeches in the park. However, there are
signs that Aristotle's outdoor school may come back. Phillips Brooks
tried outdoor preaching, and if his health had not failed, he might have
popularized it. It only wants a man who is big enough to inaugurate it.

Aristotle had various helpers, and arranged to give his lectures and
conferences daily in certain porches or promenades. These lectures
covered the whole range of human thought--logic, rhetoric, oratory,
physics, ethics, politics, esthetics, and physical culture. These
outdoor talks were called exoteric, and there gradually grew up esoteric
lessons, which were for the rich or luxurious and the dainty. And there
being money in the esoteric lessons, these gradually took the place of
the exoteric, and so we get the genesis of our modern private school or
college, where we send our children to be taught great things by great
men, for a consideration.

Will the exoteric, peripatetic school come back?

I think so.

I believe that university education will soon be free to every boy and
girl in America, and this without going far from home. Esoteric
education is always more or less of a sham. Our public-school system is
purely exoteric, only we stop too soon. We also give our teachers too
much work and too little pay. Stop building warships, and use the money
to double the teachers' salaries, making the profession respectable,
raise the standard of efficiency, and the free university with the old
Greek Lyceum will be here.

America must do this--the Old World can't. We have the money, and we
have the men and the women; all that is needed is the desire, and this
is fast awakening.

       *       *       *       *       *

When Alexander died, of acute success, aged thirty-two, Aristotle's
sustaining prop was gone. The Athenians never thought much of the
Macedonians--not much more than Saint Paul did, he having tried to
convert both and failed.

Athens was jealous of the power of Alexander: that a provincial should
thus rule the Mother-Country was unforgivable. It was as if a Canadian
should make himself King of England!

Everybody knew that Aristotle had been the tutor of Alexander, and that
they were close friends. And that a Macedonian should be the chief
school-teacher in Athens was an affront. The very greatness of the man
was his offense: Athens had none to match him, and the world has never
since matched him, either. How to get rid of the Macedonian philosopher
was the question.

And so our old friend, heresy, comes in again. A poem was found, written
by Aristotle many years before, on the death of his friend, King
Hermias, wherein Apollo was disrespectfully mentioned. It was the old
charge against Socrates come back--the hemlock was brewing. But life was
sweet to Aristotle; he chose discretion to valor, and fled to his
country home at Chalcis in Euboea.

The humiliation of being driven from his work, and the sudden change
from active life to exile, undermined his strength, and he died in a
year, aged sixty-two.

In morals the world has added nothing new to the philosophy of
Aristotle: gentleness, consideration, moderation, mutual helpfulness,
and the principle that one man's privileges end where another man's
rights begin--these make up the sum. And on them, all authorities agree,
and have for twenty-five hundred years.

The family relations of Aristotle were most exemplary. The unseemly
wrangles of Philip and his wife were never repeated in the home of
Aristotle. Yet we will have to offer this fact in the interests of
stirpiculture: the inconstant Philip and the termagant Olympias brought
into the world Alexander; whereas the sons of Aristotle lived their day
and died, without making a ripple on the surface of history.

As in the scientific study of the horse, no progress was made from the
time of Aristotle to that of Leonardo, so Hegel says there was no
advancement in philosophy from the time of Aristotle to that of Spinoza.

Eusebius called Aristotle "Nature's Private Secretary."

Dante spoke of him as the "Master of those who know."

Sir William Hamilton said, "In the range of his powers and perceptions,
only Leonardo can be compared with him."


     We are made for co-operation, like feet, like hands, like eyelids,
     like the rows of the upper and lower teeth. To act against one
     another then is contrary to Nature, and it is acting against one
     another to be vexed and turn away.

                                                --_The Meditations_

[Illustration: MARCUS AURELIUS]

Annius Verus was one of the great men of Rome. He had been a soldier,
governor of provinces, judge, senator and consul. Sixty years had passed
over his head and whitened his hair, but the lines of care that were on
his fine face ten years before had now given way to a cherubic double
chin, and his complexion was ruddy as a baby's. The entire atmosphere of
the man was one of gentleness, repose and kindly good-will. Annius Verus
was grateful to the gods, for the years had brought him much good
fortune, and better still, knowledge. "Being old I shall know ... the
last of life for which the first was made!"

Religion isn't a thing outside of a man, taught by priests out of a
book. Religion is in the heart of man, and its chief quality is
resignation and a grateful spirit. Annius Verus was religious in the
best sense, and his life was peaceful and happy.

And surely Annius Verus should have been content--he was a Roman Consul,
rich, powerful, honored by the wisest and best men in Rome, who
considered it a privilege to come and dine at his table. His villa was
on Mount Coelius, a suburb of Rome. The house was surrounded by a big
stone wall enclosing a tract of about ten acres, where grew citron,
orange and fig trees, and giant cedars of Lebanon lifted their branches
to the clouds.

At least it seemed to little Marcus, grandson of the Consul, as if they
reached the clouds. There was a long ladder running up one of these big
cedar trees to a platform or "crow's-nest" nearly a hundred feet from
the ground. No boy was allowed to climb up there until he was twelve
years old, and when Marcus was ten, time got stuck, he thought, and
refused to budge. But this was only little Marcus' idea, for he finally
got to be twelve years old, and then he climbed the long ladder to the
lookout in the tree and looked down on the Eternal City that lay below
in the valley and stretched away over the seven hills. Often the boy
would take a book and climb up there to read; and when the good
grandfather missed him, he knew where to look, and standing under the
tree the old man would call: "Come down, Marcus, come down and kiss your
old grandfather--it is lonesome down here! Come down and read to your
grandfather who loves his little Marcus!"

Such an appeal as this was irresistible, and the boy, slight, slim and
agile, would clamber over the side of the crow's-nest and down the
ladder to the outstretched arms.

The boy's father had died when he was only three months old, and the
grandfather had adopted the child as his heir, and brought Lucilla, the
widowed mother, and her baby to live in his house.

Years before, the Consul's wife had passed away, and Faustina, his
daughter, became the lady of the house. Lucilla and Faustina didn't get
along very well together--no house is big enough for two families, some
man has said. Lucilla was gentle, gracious, spiritual, modest and
refined; Faustina was beautiful and not without intellect, but she was
proud, domineering and fond of admiration. But be it said to the credit
of the good old Consul, he was able to suffuse the whole place with
love, and even if Faustina had a tantrum now and then, it did not last

There were always visitors in the household--soldiers home on furloughs,
governors on vacations, lawyers who came to consult the wise and
judicial Verus.

One visitor of note was a man by the name of Aurelius Antoninus. He was
about forty years old as Marcus first remembered him--tall and straight,
with a full, dark beard, and short, curly hair touched with gray. He was
a quiet, self-contained man, and at first little Marcus was a bit afraid
of him. Aurelius Antoninus had been a soldier, but he showed such a
studious mind, and was so intent on doing the right thing that he was
made an under-secretary, then private secretary to the Emperor, and
finally he had been sent away to govern a rebellious province, and put
down mutiny by wise diplomacy instead of by force of arms.

Aurelius Antoninus was inclined towards the Stoics, although he didn't
talk much about it. He usually ate but two meals a day, worked with the
servants, and wrote this in his diary, "Men are made for each other:
even the inferior for the superior, and these for the sake of one

This philosophy of the Stoics rather appealed to the widow Lucilla,
also, and she read Zeno with Aurelius Antoninus. Verus did not object to
it--he had been a soldier and knew the advantages of doing without
things and of being able to make the things you needed, and of living
simply and being plain and direct in all your acts and speech. But
Faustina laughed at it all--to her it was preposterous that one should
wear plain clothing and no jewelry when he could buy the costliest and
best; and why one should eschew wine and meat and live on brown bread
and fruit and cold water, when he could just as well have spiced and
costly dishes--all this was clear beyond her. Various fetes and banquets
were given by Faustina, to which the young nobles were invited. She was
a beautiful woman and never for a moment forgot it, and by some mistake
or accident she got herself betrothed to three men at the same time. Two
of these fought a duel and one was killed. The third man looked on and
hoped both would be killed, for then he could have the woman. Faustina
got this third man to challenge the survivor, and then by one of those
strange somersaults of fate the unexpected occurred.

Faustina and Aurelius Antoninus were married.

It was a most queer mismating, for the man was plain, sincere and
honorable, and she was almost everything else. Yet she had wit and she
had beauty, and Aurelius had been living in the desert so long he
imagined that all women were gentle and good. The Consul was very glad
to unite his house with so fine and excellent a man as Aurelius; Lucilla
cried for two days and more and little Marcus cried because his mother
did, and neither cried because Faustina had gone away.

But grief is transient.

In a little over a year Antoninus and Faustina came back to Rome, and
brought with them a little girl baby, Faustina Second. Marcus was very
much interested in this baby, and made great plans about how they would
play together when she got older.

Among other visitors at the house of the old Consul often came the
Emperor himself. Hadrian and Verus were Spaniards and had been soldiers
together, and now Hadrian often liked to get away from the cares of
State, and in the evening hide himself from the office-seekers and
flattering parasites, in the quiet villa on Mount Coelius--he liked it
here even better than at his own wonderful gardens at Tivoli. And little
Marcus wasn't afraid of him, either. Marcus would sit on the Emperor's
knee and listen to tales about hunting wild boars and bears, or men as
wild. Then they would play tag or I-spy among the bushes and trees; and
once Marcus dared the Emperor to climb the long ladder to the lookout in
the big cedar. Hadrian accepted the challenge and climbed to the
crow's-nest and cut his initials in the trunk of the tree.

Instead of calling the boy Marcus Verus, the Emperor gave him the name
"Verissimus," which means "the open-eyed truthful one," and this name
stuck to Marcus for life.

Between Antoninus and Marcus there grew up a very close friendship.
Antoninus could scale the ladder up the tall cedar, three rungs at a
time, and come down hand over hand without putting his foot on a rest.

He and Marcus built another crow's-nest thirty feet above the first.
They drew up the lumber by ropes, and Antoninus being sinewy and strong
climbed up first, and with thongs and nails they fixed the boards in
place, and made a rope ladder such as sailors make, that they could pull
up after them so no one could reach them. When the kind old Emperor came
to the villa they showed him what they had done. He said he would not
try to climb up now as he had a touch of rheumatism. But a light was
fixed in the upper lookout, drawn up by a cord, so they could signal to
the Emperor down at the palace.

Then Antoninus taught Marcus to ride horseback and pick up a spear off
the ground, with his horse at a gallop. This was great sport for the
Consul and the Emperor, who looked on, but they did not try it then,
but said they would later on when they were feeling just right.

And beside all this Aurelius Antoninus taught Marcus to read from
Epictetus, and told him how this hunchback slave, Epictetus, who was
owned by a man who had been a slave himself, was one of the sweetest,
gentlest souls who had ever lived. Together they read the Stoic-slave
philosopher and made notes from him. And so impressed was Marcus that,
boy though he was, he adopted the simple robe of the Stoics, slept on a
plank, and made his life and language plain, truthful and direct.

This was all rather amusing to those near him--to all except Antoninus
and the boy's mother. The others said, "Leave him alone and he'll get
over it."

Faustina was still fond of admiration--the simple, studious ways of her
husband were not to her liking. He was twenty years her senior, and she
demanded gaiety as her right. Her delight was to tread the borderline of
folly, and see how close she could come to the brink and not step off.
Julius Cæsar's wife was put away on suspicion, but Faustina was worse
than that! She would go down to the city to masquerades, leaving her
little girl at home, and be gone for three days.

When she returned Aurelius Antoninus spoke no word of anger or reproof.
Her father said to her, "Beware! your husband's patience has a limit. If
he divorces you, I shall not blame him; and even if he should kill you,
Roman law will not punish him!"

But long years after, Marcus, in looking back on those days, wrote: "His
patience knew no limit; he treated her as a perverse child, and he once
said to me: 'I pity and love her. I will not put her away--this were
selfish. How can her follies injure me? We are what we are, and no one
can harm us but ourselves. The mistakes of those near us afford us an
opportunity for self-control--we will not imitate their errors, but
rather strive to avoid them. In this way what might be a great
humiliation has its benefits.'"

Let no one imagine, however, that the tolerance of Antoninus was the
soft acquiescence of weakness. After his death Marcus wrote: "Whatsoever
excellent thing he had planned to do, he carried out with a persistency
that nothing could divert. If he punished men, it was by allowing them
to be led by their own folly--his foresight, wisdom and calm
deliberation were beyond those of any man I ever knew."

The studious, direct and manly ways of Marcus were not cast aside when
he put on the toga virilis, as Faustina had predicted. In spite of the
difference in their ages, Antoninus and Marcus mutually sustained each

Little Faustina was much more like her father than her mother, and very
early showed her preference for her father's society. Marcus was her
playmate and taught her to ride a pony astride, just as her father had
taught him. The three would often ride over to the village of Lorium,
twelve miles from Rome, where Antoninus had a summer villa. At Lanuvium,
near at hand, the Emperor spent a part of his time, and he would
occasionally join the party and listen to Marcus recite from Cicero and

When Marcus was sixteen, Hadrian appointed him prefect of festivities in
Rome, to take the place of the regular officer, a man of years, who was
out of the city. So well did Marcus fill the place and make up his
report, that when they again met, the old Emperor kissed his cheek,
calling him, "My brave Verissimus," and said, "If I had a son, I would
want him just like you."

Not long after this the Emperor was taken violently ill. He called his
counselors about his bedside and directed that Aurelius Antoninus should
be his successor, and that, further, Antoninus should adopt Marcus
Verus, so that Marcus should succeed Aurelius Antoninus.

Hadrian loved Marcus for his own sake, and he loved him, too, for the
sake of the grandfather, his old soldier comrade, Annius Verus; and
beside that he was intent on preserving the Spanish strain.

In a short time Hadrian passed away, and Aurelius Antoninus was crowned
Emperor of Rome, and Marcus Verus, aged seventeen, slim, slender and
studious, took the name, Marcus Aurelius.

       *       *       *       *       *

The new reign did not begin under very favorable auspices. There was a
prejudice against the Spanish blood, and Hadrian had alienated some of
the aristocrats by measures they considered too democratic.

Aurelius Antoninus knew of these prejudices toward his predecessor and
he boldly met them by carrying the ashes of Hadrian to the Senate,
demanding that the dead Emperor should be enrolled among the gods. So
earnest and convincing was his eulogy of the great man gone, that a vote
was taken and the resolution passed without a dissenting voice. This
gives us a slight clew to the genesis of the gods, and also reveals to
us the character of Antoninus. He so impressed the Senate that this
honorable body thought best to waive all matters of difference, and in
pretty compliment they voted to bestow on the new Emperor the degree of
"Pius." Antoninus Pius was a man born to rule--in little things,
lenient, but firm at the right time. Faustina still had her little
social dissipations, but as she was not allowed to mix in affairs of
State, her pink person was not a political factor.

Marcus Aurelius was only seventeen years old: his close studies had
robbed him of a bit of the robust health a youth should have. But
horseback-riding and daily outdoor games finally got him back into good
condition. He was the secretary and companion of the Emperor wherever he

Great responsibilities confronted these two strong men. In point of
intellect and aspiration they were far beyond the people they
governed--so far, indeed, that they were almost isolated. There was a
multitude of slaves and consequently there was a feeling everywhere that
useful work was degrading. The tendency of the slave-owner is always
toward profligacy and conspicuous waste. To do away with slavery was out
of the question--that was a matter of time and education--the ruler can
never afford to get much in advance of his people. The court was
infected with parasites in the way of informers and busybodies who knew
no way to thrive except through intrigue. Superstitions were taught by
hypocritical priests in order to make the people pay tithes; and
attached to the state religion were soothsayers, fortune-tellers,
astrologers, gamblers and many pretenders who waxed fat by ministering
to ignorance and depravity. These were the cheerful parasites mentioned
as "money-changers" a hundred years before, that infested the entrance
to every temple.

Many long consultations did the Emperor and his adopted son have
concerning the best policy to pursue. They could have issued an edict
and swept the wrongs out of existence, but they knew that folly sprouts
from a disordered brain, and so they did not treat a symptom: the
disease was ignorance, the symptom, superstition. For themselves they
kept an esoteric doctrine, and for the many they did what they could.

Twenty-three years of probation lay before Marcus Aurelius--years of
study, work, and patient endeavor. He shared in all the honors of the
Emperor and bore his part of the burden as well. Never did he thirst for
more power--the responsibilities of the situation saddened him--there
was so much to be done and he could do so little. Well does Dean Farrar
call him "a seeker after God."

The office of young Marcus Aurelius at first was that of Questor, which
literally means a messenger, but the word with the Romans meant more--an
emissary or an ambassador. When Marcus was eighteen he read to the
Senate all speeches and messages from the Emperor; and in a few years
more he wrote the messages as well as delivered them. And all the time
his education was being carried along by competent instructors.

One of these teachers, Fronto, has come down to us, his portrait well
etched on history's tablets, because he saved all the letters written
him by Marcus Aurelius; and his grandchildren published them in order to
show the excellence of true scientific teaching. That old Fronto was a
dear old dear, these letters do fully attest. When Marcus went away on a
little journey, even to Lorium, he wrote a letter to Fronto telling
about the trip--the sheep by the wayside, the dogs that herded them, the
shower they saw coming across the Campagna, and incidentally a little
freshman philosophy mixed in, for Fronto had cautioned his pupil always
to write out a great thought when it came, for fear he would never have
another. Marcus was a sprightly letter-writer, and must have been a
quick observer, and Fronto's gentle claims that he made the man are
worthy of consideration. As a literary exercise the daily theme,
prompted by love, can never be improved upon. The way to learn to write
is to write. And Pronto, who resorted to many little tricks in order to
get his pupil to express himself, was a teacher whose name should be
written high. The correspondence-school has many advantages--Fronto
purposely sent his pupil away or absented himself, that the carefully
formulated or written thought might take the place of the free and easy
conversation. In one letter Marcus ends: "The day was perfect but for
one thing--you were not here. But then if you were here, I would not now
have the pleasure of writing to you, so thus is your philosophy proved:
that all good is equalized, and love grows through separation!" This
sounds a bit preachy, but is valuable, as it reveals the man to whom it
is written: the person to whom we write dictates the message.

Fronto's habit of giving a problem to work out was quite as good a
teaching plan as anything we have to offer now. Thus: "An ambassador of
Rome visiting an outlying province attended a gladiatorial contest. And
one of the fighters being indisposed, the ambassador replied to a taunt
by putting on a coat of mail and going into the ring to kill the lion.
Question, was this action commendable? If so, why, and if not, why

The proposition was one that would appeal at once to a young man, and
thus did Fronto lead his pupils to think and express.

Another teacher that Marcus had was Rusticus, a blunt old farmer turned
pedagog, who has added a word to our language. His pupils were called
Rusticana, and later plain rustics. That Rusticus developed in Marcus a
deal of plain, sturdy commonsense there is no doubt. Rusticus had a way
of stripping a subject of its gloss and verbiage--going straight to the
vital point of every issue. For the wisdom of Marcus' legal opinions
Rusticus deserves more than passing credit.

For the youth who was destined to be the next Emperor of Rome, there was
no dearth of society if he chose to accept it. Managing mammas were on
every corner, and kind kinsmen consented to arrange matters with this
heiress or that. For the frivolities of society Marcus had no use--his
hours were filled with useful work or application to his books. His
father and Fronto we find were both constantly urging him to get out
more in the sunshine and meet more people, and not bother too much about
the books.

How best to curtail over-application, I am told, is a problem that
seldom faces a teacher.

As for society as a matrimonial bazaar, Marcus Aurelius could not see
that it had its use. He was afraid of it--afraid of himself, perhaps. He
loved the little Faustina. They had been comrades together, and played
"keep house" under the olive-trees at Lorium; and had ridden their
ponies over the hills. Once Marcus and Faustina, on a ride across the
country, bought a lamb out of the arms of a shepherd, and kept it until
it grew great curling horns, and made visitors scale the wall or climb
trees. Then three priests led it away to sacrifice, and Marcus and
Faustina fell into each other's arms and rained tears down each other's
backs, and refused to be comforted. What if their father was an Emperor,
and Marcus would be some day! It would not bring back Beppo, with his
innocent lamblike ways, and make him get down on his knees and wag his
tail when they fed him out of a pail! Beppo always got on his knees to
eat, and showed his love and humility before he grew his horns and
reached the age of indiscretion; then he became awfully wicked, and it
took three stout priests to lead him away and sacrifice him to the gods
for his own good!

But gradually the grass grew on Beppo's make-believe grave in the
garden, and Fronto's problems filled the vacuum in their hearts. Fronto
gave his lessons to Marcus, and Marcus gave them to Faustina--thus do we
keep things by giving them away.

But problems greater than pet sheep grown ribald and reckless were to
confront Marcus and Faustina. They had both been betrothed to others,
years before, and this they now resented. They talked of this much, and
then suddenly ceased to talk of it, and each evaded mentioning it, and
pretended they never thought of it. Then they explosively began
again--began as suddenly to talk of it, and always when they met they
mentioned it. Folks called them brother and sister--they were not
brother and sister, only cousins.

Finally the matter was brought to Antoninus, and he pretended that he
had never thought about it; but in fact he had thought of little else
for a long time. And Antoninus said that if they loved each other very
much, and he was sure they did, why, it was the will of the gods that
they should marry, and he never interfered with the will of the gods; so
he kissed them both and cried a few foolish tears, a thing an Emperor
should never do.

So they were married at the country seat at Lorium, out under the
orange-trees as was often the custom, for orange-trees are green the
year 'round, and bear fruit and flowers at the same time, and the
flowers are very sweet, and the fruit is both beautiful and useful--and
these things symbol constancy and fruitfulness and good luck, and that
is why we yet have orange-blossoms at weddings and play the "Lohengrin
March," which is orange-trees expressed in sweet sounds.

Marcus was only twenty, and Faustina could not have been over
sixteen--we do not know her exact age. There are stories to the effect
that the wife of Marcus Aurelius severely tried her husband's temper at
times, but these tales seem to have arisen through a confusion of the
two Faustinas. The elder Faustina was the one who set the merry pace in
frivolity, and once said that any woman with a husband twenty years her
senior must be allowed a lover or two--goodness gracious!

As far as we know, the younger Faustina was a most loyal and loving
wife, the mother of a full dozen children. Coins issued by Marcus
Aurelius stamped with the features of his wife, and the inscription
Concordia, Faustina and Venus Felix, attest the felicity, or "felixity,"
of the marriage.

Their oldest boy, Commodus, was very much like his grandmother,
Faustina, and a man who knows all about the Law of Heredity tells me
that children are much more apt to resemble their grandparents than
their father and mother.

I believe I once said that no house is big enough for two families, but
this truth is like the Greek verb--it has many exceptions. In the same
house with Emperor Antoninus Pius dwelt Lucilla, mother of Marcus, and
Marcus and his wife. And they were all very happy--but life was rather
more peaceful after the death of Faustina, the elder, which occurred a
few years after her husband became Emperor.

She could not endure prosperity.

But her husband mourned her death and made a public speech in eulogy of
her, determined that only the best should be remembered of one who had
been the wife of an Emperor and the mother of his children. As far as
we know, Antoninus never spoke a word concerning his wife except in
praise, not even when she left his house to be gone for months.

It was Ouida, she of the aqua-fortis ink, who said, "A woman married to
a man as good as Antoninus must have been very miserable, for while men
who are thoroughly bad are not lovable, yet a man who is not
occasionally bad is unendurable." And so Ouida's heart went out in
sympathy and condolence to the two Faustinas, who wedded the only two
men mentioned in Roman history who were infinitely wise and good.

In one of his essays, Richard Steele writes this, "No woman ever loved a
man through life with a mighty love if the man did not occasionally
abuse her." I give the remark for what it is worth. However, Montesquieu
somewhere says that the chief objection to heaven is its monotony; so
possibly there may be something in the Ouida-Steele philosophy--but of
this I really can't say, knowing nothing about the subject, myself.

       *       *       *       *       *

Happy is the man who has no history. The reign of Antoninus Pius was
peaceful and prosperous. No great wars nor revulsions occurred, and the
times made for education and excellence. Antoninus worked to conserve
the good, and that he succeeded, Gibbon says, there is no doubt. He left
the country in better condition than he found it, and he could have
truthfully repeated the words of Pericles, "I have made no person wear

But there came a day when Antoninus was stricken by the hand of death.
The captain of the guard came to him and asked for the password for the
night. "Equanimity," replied the Emperor, and turning on his side, sank
into sleep, to awake no more. His last word symbols the guiding impulse
of his life. Well does Renan say: "Simple, loving, full of sweet gaiety,
Antoninus was a philosopher without saying so, almost without knowing
it. Marcus was a philosopher, but often consciously, and he became a
philosopher by study and reflection, aided and encouraged by the older
man. You can not consider the one man and leave the other out, and the
early contention that Antoninus was, in fact, the father of Marcus has
at least a poetic and spiritual basis in truth."

There was much in Renan's suggestions. The greatest man is he who works
his philosophy up into life--this is better than to talk about it. We
only discuss that to which we have not attained, and the virtues we
talk most of are those beyond us. The ideal outstrips the actual. But
it is no discredit that a man pictures more than he realizes--such a one
is preparing the way for others. Marcus Antoninus has been a guiding
star--an inspiration--to untold millions.

Marcus Aurelius was forty years old when he became Emperor of Rome. At
the age of forty a man is safe, if ever: character is formed, and what
he will do or become, can be safely presaged.

More than once Rome has repudiated the man in the direct line of
accession to the throne, and before Marcus Aurelius took the reins of
government he asked the Senate to ratify the people's choice, and thus
make it the choice of the gods, and this was done.

As Emperor, we find Marcus endeavored to carry out the policy of his
predecessor. He did not favor expansion, but hoped by peace and
propitiation to cement the empire and thus work for education, harmony
and prosperity.

It is interesting to see how Marcus Aurelius in the year One Hundred
Sixty-four was cudgeling his brains concerning problems about which we
yet argue and grow red in the face. The Emperor was also Chief Justice,
and questions were being constantly brought to him to decide. From him
there was no appeal, and his decisions made the law upon which all
lesser judges based their rulings. And curiously enough we are dealing
most extensively in judge-made law even today.

One vexed question that confronted Marcus was the lessening number of
marriages, with a consequent increase in illegitimate births and a
gradual dwindling of the free population. He seems to have disliked this
word illegitimate, for he says, "All children are beautiful
blessings--sent by the gods." But people who were legally married
objected to this view, and said to recognize children born out of
wedlock as entitled to all the privileges of citizenship is virtually to
do away with legal marriage. As a compromise, Marcus decided to
recognize all people as married who said they were married. This is
exactly our common-law marriage as it exists in various States today.

However, a man could put away his wife at will, and by recording the
fact with the nearest pretor, the act was legalized. It will thus be
seen that if a man could marry at will and put away his wife at will,
there was really no marriage beyond that of nature. To meet the issue,
and prevent fickle and unjust men from taking advantage of women, Marcus
decided that the pretor could refuse to record the desired divorce, if
he saw fit, and demand reasons. We then for the first time get a divorce
trial, and on appeal to Marcus, he decided that if the man were in the
wrong, he must still support the injured wife.

Then, for the first time, we find women asking for a divorce. Now,
nearly three-fourths of all divorces are granted to women; but at first,
that a woman should want marital freedom caused a howl of merriment.
Marcus was the first Roman Emperor to allow women the right of petition,
and the privilege, too, of practising law, for Capitolanus cites various
instances of women coming to ask for justice, and women friends coming
with them to help plead their case, and the Emperor of Rome, leaning his
tired head on his arm, listening for hours with great patience. We also
hear of petitions for damages being presented for failure to keep a
promise to marry--the action being brought against the girl's father.
This would be thought a trifle strange, but an action against a woman
for breach of promise is quite in order yet.

Recently the Honorable Henry Ballard of Vermont won heavy damages
against a coy and dallying heiress who had played pitch and toss with a
good man's heart. The case was carried to the United States Supreme
Court and judgment sustained.

The question of marriage and divorce now in the United States is almost
precisely where it was in Rome in the time of Marcus Aurelius. No two
States have the same marriage-laws, and marriages which are illegal in
one State may be made legal in another. Yet with us, any court of
jurisdiction may declare any marriage illegal, or set any divorce aside.
What makes marriage and what constitutes divorce are matters of opinion
in the mind of the judge. We have gone a bit further than Marcus,
though, in that we allow couples to marry if they wish, yet divorce is
denied if both parties desire it. The fact that they want it is
construed as proof that they should not have it. We meet the issue,
however, by connivance of the lawyers, who are officers of the court,
and a legal fiction is inaugurated by allowing a little bird to tell the
judge what decision will be satisfactory to both sides. And in States or
countries where no divorce is allowed, marriage can be annulled if you
know how--see Ruskin versus Ruskin, Coleridge, J.

Our zealous New Thought friends, who clamor to have marriage made
difficult and divorce easy, forget that the whole question has been
threshed over for three thousand years, and all schemes tried. The
Romans issued marriage-licenses, but before doing so a pretor passed on
the fitness of the candidates for each other. This was so embarrassing
to many coy couples that they just waived formal proceedings and set up
housekeeping. To declare these people lawbreakers, Marcus Aurelius said,
would put half of Rome in limbo, just as, if we should technically
enforce all laws, it would send most members of the Legislature to the
penitentiary. So the Emperor declared de-facto marriage de jure, and for
a short time succeeded in striking out the word illegitimate as applied
to a person, on the ground that, in justice, no act of a parent could be
charged up against and punished in the offspring.

       *       *       *       *       *

Men who make laws have forever to watch most closely and dance
attendance on Nature. Laws which fly in the face of Nature are gently
waived or conveniently forgotten. Should Chief Justice Fuller issue an
injunction restraining all men from coming within a quarter of a mile of
a woman, on penalty of death, we would all place ourselves in contempt
in an hour; and should the army try to enforce the order, we would
smother Justice Fuller in his wool-sack and hang his effigy on a
sour-apple tree. Law isn't worth the paper it is written on unless it
embodies the will and natural tendencies of the governed. Where poaching
is popular, no law can stop it. Marriage is easy, and divorce difficult,
because this is Nature's plan. The natural law of attraction brings men
and women together, and it is difficult to separate them. Natural things
are easy, and artificial ones difficult. Most couples who desire freedom
only think they do: what they really want is a vacation; but they would
not separate for good if they could. It is hard to part--people who have
lived together grow to need each other. They want some one to quarrel

Cæsar Augustus, in his close study of character, introduced a limited
divorce. That is, in case of a family quarrel, he ordered the couple to
live apart for six months as a penalty. Quintilian says that usually
before the expired time the man and woman were surreptitiously living
together again, at which the court quietly winked, and finally this
form of penalty had to be abandoned because it made the courts

Men and women do not get married because marriage is legal, nor do they
continue living together because divorce is difficult. They marry
because they desire to, and they do not separate because they do not
want to. The task that confronts the legislator is to find out what the
people want to do, and then legalize it.

In Rome, the custom of the parties divorcing themselves was prevalent,
and the courts were called upon to ratify the act, just to give the
matter respectability. Below a certain stratum in society, the formality
of legal marriage and divorce was waived entirely, just as it is
largely, now, among our colored population in the South. During the
French Revolution, the same custom largely obtained in France. And about
the year One Hundred Fifty in Rome there was danger that the people
would overlook the majesty of the law entirely in their domestic
affairs. This condition is what prompted Marcus Aurelius to recognize as
legal the common-law marriage and say if a couple called themselves
husband and wife, they were. And for a time, if they said they were
divorced, they were. But as a mortgage owned by a man on his own
property cancels the debt, and legally there is no mortgage, so if the
people could get married at will and divorce themselves at their
convenience, there really was no legal marriage. Thus the matter was
argued. So Marcus adopted the plan of making marriage easy and divorce
difficult, and this has been the policy in all civilized countries ever

It is very evident, however, that Marcus Aurelius looked forward to a
time when men and women would be wise enough, and just enough, to
arrange their own affairs, without calling on the police to ratify
either their friendships or their misunderstandings. He says: "Love is
beautiful, and that a man and a woman loving each other should live
together is the will of God, but if there comes a time when they can not
live in peace, let them part. To have no relationship is not a disgrace;
to have wrong relations is, for disgrace means lack of grace, discord,
and love is harmony."

Marcus Aurelius tried the plan of probationary marriages; and to offset
this he also introduced the Augustinian plan of probationary
divorces--that is, the interlocutory decree. This scheme has recently
been adopted in several States in America with the avowed intent of
preventing fraud in divorce procedure, but actually the logic of the
situation is the same now as in the time of Marcus Aurelius--it
postpones the final decree so as to prevent the couple from becoming the
victims of their own rashness, and to give them an opportunity to become
reconciled if possible.

So anxious was Marcus Aurelius to decide justly with his people that he
found himself swamped with cases of every sort and description. He tried
to pass upon each case by its merits, regardless of law and precedent.
Then other judges construed his decisions as law, and the lesser courts
cited the upper ones, until Gibbon says, "There grew up such a mass of
judge-made laws that a skilful lawyer could prove anything, and legal
practise swung on the ability to cite similar cases and call attention
to desired decisions."

In America we are now back exactly to the same condition. A lawyer in
New York State requires over fourteen thousand law-books if he would
cover all the ground; and his business is to make it easy for the judge
to dispense justice and not dispense with law. That is to say, before a
judge can decide a case, he must be able to back up his opinion by
precedent. Judges are not elected to deal out justice between man and
man; they are elected to decide on points of law. Law is often a great
disadvantage to a judge--it may hamper justice--and in America there
must surely soon come a day when we will make a bonfire of every
law-book in the land, and electing our judges for life, we will make the
judiciary free. We will then require our lawyers and judges to read, and
pass examinations on Browning's "Ring and the Book," and none other. And
if we would follow the Aurelian suggestion of remitting all direct taxes
to every citizen who had not been plaintiff in a lawsuit for ten years,
we would gradually get something approaching pure justice. The people
must be educated to decide quietly and calmly their own disputes, and
this can be done only by placing an obvious penalty on litigation.
Progress in the future will consist in having less law, and fulfilment
will be reached when we have no law at all--each man governing himself,
and being willing that his neighbor shall do the same. Trouble arises
largely from each man regarding himself as his brother's keeper, and
ceasing to be his friend. Marcus Aurelius, the wise judge, saw that most
litigation is foolish and absurd--both parties are at fault, and both
right. And to bring about the good time when men shall live in peace, he
began earnestly to govern himself. His ideal was a state where men would
need no governing. Hence his "Meditations," a book which Dean Farrar
says is not inferior to the New Testament in its lofty aim and purity of

Every great book is an evolution: Marcus had been getting ready to write
this immortal volume for nearly half a century. And now in his
fifty-seventh year he found himself in the desert of Asia at the head of
the army, endeavoring to put down an insurrection of various barbaric
tribes. Later, the seat of war was shifted to the north. The enemy
struck and retreated, and danced around him as the Boers fought the
English in South Africa.

But Marcus Aurelius had time to think, and so with no books near and all
memoranda far away, he began to write out his best thoughts. At first he
expressed just for his own satisfaction, but later, as the work
progressed, we see that its value grew upon him, and it was his
intention to put it in systematic form for posterity. And while working
at this task, the exposures of field and camp, and the business of war,
in which he had no heart, worked upon him so adversely that he sickened
and died, aged fifty-nine.

His body was carried back to Rome and placed by the side of that of his
beloved adopted father, Antoninus Pius. And so he sleeps, but the
precious legacy of the "Meditations," written during those last two
years of travel, turmoil and strife, is ours.

A few quotations seem in order:

     Remember, on every occasion which leads thee to vexation, to apply
     this principle: not that this is a misfortune, but that to bear it
     nobly is good fortune.

     Things do not touch the soul, for they are eternal, and remain
     immovable; but our perturbations come only from the opinion which
     is within.... The Universe is transformation; life is opinion.

     To the jaundiced, honey tastes bitter; and to those bitten by mad
     dogs, water causes fear; and to little children, the ball is a fine
     thing. Why then am I angry? Dost thou think that a false opinion
     has less power than the bile in the jaundiced, or the poison in him
     who is bitten by a mad dog?

     How easy it is to repel and to wipe away every impression which is
     troublesome and unsuitable, and immediately to be in all

     All things come from the universal Ruling Power, either directly or
     by way of consequence. And accordingly the lion's gaping jaws, and
     that which is poisonous, and every hurtful thing, as a thorn, as
     mud, are after-products of the grand and beautiful. Do not
     therefore imagine that they are of another kind from that which
     thou dost venerate, but form a just opinion of the source of all.

     Pass through the rest of life like one who has entrusted to the
     gods, with his whole soul, all that he has, making himself neither
     the tyrant nor the slave of any man.

     Never value anything as profitable to thyself which shall compel
     thee to break thy promise, to lose thy self-respect, to hate any
     man, to suspect, to curse, to act the hypocrite, to desire anything
     which needs walls and curtains.

     I am thankful to the gods that I was subjected to a ruler and a
     father who was able to take away all pride from me, and to bring me
     to the knowledge that it is possible for a man to live in a palace
     without wanting either guards or embroidered dresses, or torches
     and statues, and such-like show; but that it is in such a man's
     power to bring himself very near to the fashion of a private
     person, without being, for this reason, either meaner in thought or
     more remiss in action, with respect to the things which must be
     done for the public interest in a manner that befits a ruler.

     What more dost thou want when thou hast done a man a service? Art
     thou not content that thou hast done something conformable to thy
     nature, and dost thou seek to be paid for it? Just as if the eye
     demanded a recompense for seeing, or the feet for walking. As a
     horse when he has run, a dog when he has traced the game, a bee
     when it has made the honey, so a man, when he has done a good act,
     does not call out for others to come and see, but goes on to
     another act, as a vine goes on to produce again the grapes in

     Accustom thyself to attend carefully to what is said by another,
     and as much as it is possible, be in the speaker's mind.

     Some things are hurrying into existence, and others are hurrying
     out of it; and of that which is coming into existence, part is
     already extinguished. Motions and changes are continually renewing
     the world, just as the uninterrupted course of time is always
     renewing the infinite duration of ages.

     Understand that every man is worth just so much as the things are
     worth about which he busies himself.

     Wickedness does no harm at all to the universe--it is only harmful
     to him who has it in his power to be released from it.

     Nothing is more wretched than a man who traverses everything in a
     round, and pries into the things beneath the earth, as the poet
     says, and seeks by conjecture what is in the minds of his
     neighbors, without perceiving that it is sufficient to attend to
     the deity within him, and to reverence it sincerely.

     The prayers of Marcus Aurelius to the gods are for one thing
     only--that their will be done. All else is vain, all else is
     rebellion against the universe itself. Our form of worship should
     be like this: Everything harmonizes with me which is harmonious to
     thee, O Universe. Nothing for me is too early nor too late, which
     is in due time for thee. Everything is fruit to me which thy
     seasons bring, O Nature: from thee are all things, in thee are all
     things, to thee all things return.

     In the morning when thou risest unwillingly, let this thought be
     present--I am rising to the work of a human being. Why, then, am I
     dissatisfied if I am going to do the things for which I exist, and
     for which I was brought into the world? Or have I been made for
     this, to lie in the bedclothes and keep myself warm? But this is
     more pleasant. Dost thou exist, then, to take thy pleasure, and not
     for action or exertion? Dost thou not see the little plants, the
     little birds, the ants, the spiders, the bees, working together to
     put in order their several parts of the universe? And art thou
     unwilling to do the work of a human being, and dost thou not make
     haste to do that which is according to thy nature?

     Judge every word and deed which are according to Nature to be fit
     for thee, and be not diverted by the blame which follows.... But if
     a thing is good to be done or said, do not consider it unworthy of

     Since it is possible that thou mayest depart from life this very
     moment, regulate every act and thought accordingly.... Death
     certainly, and life, honor and dishonor, pain and pleasure, all
     these things equally happen to good men and bad, being things which
     make us neither better nor worse. Therefore they are neither good
     nor evil.

     To say all in a word, everything which belongs to the body is a
     stream, and what belongs to the soul is a dream and vapor; and life
     is a warfare, and a stranger's sojourn, and after fame is oblivion.
     What, then, is that which is able to enrich a man? One thing, and
     only one--philosophy. But this consists in keeping the guardian
     spirit within a man free from violence and unharmed, superior to
     pains and pleasures, doing nothing without a purpose, nor yet
     falsely, and with hypocrisy ... accepting all that happens and all
     that is allotted ... and finally waiting for death with a cheerful

     If thou findest in human life anything better than justice, truth,
     temperance, fortitude, and, in a word, than thine own soul's
     satisfaction in the things which it enables thee to do according to
     right reason, and in the condition that is assigned to thee without
     thy own choice; if, I say, thou seest anything better than this,
     turn to it with all thy soul, and enjoy that which thou hast found
     to be the best. But ... if thou findest everything else smaller and
     of less value than this, give place to nothing else.... Simply and
     freely choose the better, and hold to it.

     Men seek retreats for themselves, houses in the country, seashores,
     and mountains; and thou too art wont to desire such things very
     much. But this is altogether a mark of the most common sort of men,
     for it is in thy power whenever thou shalt choose to retire into
     thyself. For nowhere either with more quiet or more freedom from
     trouble does a man retire than into his own soul, particularly when
     he has within him such thoughts that by looking into them he is
     immediately in perfect tranquillity--which is nothing else than the
     good ordering of the mind.

     Unhappy am I, because this has happened to me? Not so, but happy am
     I though this has happened to me, because I continue free from
     pain; neither crushed by the present nor fearing the future.

     Be cheerful, and seek no external help, nor the tranquillity which
     others give. A man must stand erect, not be kept erect by others.

     Be like the promontory against which the waves continually break,
     but it stands firm and tames the fury of the water around it.

     It is not fit that I should give myself pain, for I have never
     intentionally given pain even to another.


     The canons of scientific evidence justify us neither in accepting
     nor rejecting the ideas upon which morality and religion repose.
     Both parties to the dispute beat the air; they worry their own
     shadow; for they pass from Nature into the domain of speculation,
     where their dogmatic grips find nothing to lay hold upon. The
     shadows which they hew to pieces grow together in a moment like the
     heroes in Valhalla, to rejoice again in bloodless battles.
     Metaphysics can no longer claim to be the cornerstone of religion
     and morality. But if she can not be the Atlas that bears the moral
     world she can furnish a magic defense. Around the ideas of religion
     she throws her bulwark of invisibility; and the sword of the
     skeptic and the battering-ram of the materialist fall harmless on

                                                --_Immanuel Kant_

[Illustration: IMMANUEL KANT]

We find that most men fit easily into types. You describe to me one
Durham cow and you picture all Durham cows. So it is with men: they
belong to breeds, which we politely call denominations, sects or
parties. Tell me the man's sect, and I know his dress, his habit of
life, his thought. His dress is the uniform of his party, and his
thought is that which is ordered and prescribed. Dull indeed is the
intellect which can not correctly prophesy the opinions to which this
man will arrive on any subject.

Durham cows are not exactly alike, I well know, but a trifle more length
of leg, a variation in color, or an off-angle of the horn, and that cow
is forever barred from exhibition as a Durham. She is fit only for beef,
and the first butcher that makes a bid takes her, hide and horns.

Members of sects do not think exactly alike, but there are well-defined
limits of thought and action, beyond which they dare not stray lest the
butcher bag them. In joining a sect they have given bonds to uniformity,
and have signed their willingness to think and act like all other
members of the sect.

Herbert Spencer deals with this "jiner" propensity in man, and describes
it as a manifestation of the herding instinct in animals. It is a
combination for mutual protection--a social contract, each one waiving a
part of his personality in order to secure a supposed benefit. A herd of
cattle can stand against a pack of wolves, but a cow alone is doomed.

Few men indeed can stand against the pack. Wise are the many who seek
safety in numbers! Think of those who have stood out alone and expressed
their individuality, and you count on your fingers God's patriots dead
and turned to dust.

The paradox of things is shown in that the entrenched many, having found
safety in aggregation, pay their debt of homage to the bold few who
lived their lives and paid the penalty by death.

Across the disk of existence, each decade, there glide five hundred
million souls, and disappear forever in the dim and dusk of the eternity
that lies behind. Out of the bare handful that are remembered, we
cherish only the memories of those who stood alone and expressed their
honest, inmost thought. And this thought is, always and forever, the
thought of liberty. Exile, ostracism, death, have been their fate, and
on the smoke of martyr-fires their souls mounted to immortality.

Future generations often confuse these men with Deity, the Maker of the
Worlds. And thus do we arrive at truth by indirection, for in very fact
these were the Sons of God, vitalized by Divinity, part and parcel of
the Power that guides the planets on their way and holds the worlds in
space. Upon their tombs we carve a single word: _Savior_.

       *       *       *       *       *

Kant was sixty years old before he was known to any extent beyond his
native town; but so fast then did his fame travel that at his death it
was recognized that the greatest thinker of the world had passed away.
Kant founded no school; but Fichte, Schelling, Hegel, Herde and
Schopenhauer were all his children--and all but Schopenhauer showed
their humanity by denouncing him, for men are prone to revile that which
has benefited them most. Kant marks an epoch and all thinkers who came
after him are his debtors. His philosophy has passed into the current
coin of knowledge.

Kant's lifelong researches revolve around four propositions:

  1. Who am I?
  2. What am I?
  3. What can I do?
  4. What can I know?

The answer to Number Four is that I can not know anything. That is to
say, the wise man is the man who knows that he does not know. And this
disposes of Number One and Number Two, leaving only Number Three for our
consideration. It took, however, a good many years and a vast amount of
study and writing for Kant to thus simplify. For years he toiled with
algebraic formulas and syllogistic theorems before he concluded that the
best wisdom of life lies in simplification, not complexity.

"What can I do?" resolves itself into, "What must I do?" And the answer
is: You must do four things in order to retain your place as a normal
being upon this earth: eat, work, associate with your kind, rest. Just
four things we must do, and outside of this everything is incidental,
accidental, irrelevant and inconsequential. Then how to eat, work,
associate and rest wisely and best constitutes life. Every man should be
free to work out these four equations for himself, his freedom ending
where another man's rights begin. To these four questions we should
bring our highest reason, our ripest experience and our best endeavor.
As for himself we know that Kant made a schedule of life which evolved a
sickly boy into a reasonably strong man who banished pain, sorrow and
regret from his existence and lived a long life of deep, quiet
satisfaction, sane to the end, watching every symptom of approaching
dissolution with keen interest, and at the last passing into quiet
sleep, his spirit gliding peacefully away, perhaps to answer those two
great questions which he said were unanswerable here: "Who am I?" "What
am I?"

       *       *       *       *       *

Immanuel Kant was born in Seventeen Hundred Twenty-four at the City of
Konigsberg, in the northeastern corner of Prussia. There he received his
education; there he was a teacher for nearly half a century; and there,
in his eightieth year, he died. He was never out of East Prussia and
never journeyed sixty miles from his birthplace during his whole life.
Professor Josiah Royce of Harvard, himself in the sage business, and
perhaps the best example that America has produced of the pure type of
philosopher, says, "Kant is the only modern thinker who in point of
originality is worthy to be ranked with Plato and Aristotle." Like
Emerson, Kant regarded traveling as a fool's paradise; only Emerson had
to travel much before he found it out, while Kant gained the truth by
staying at home. Once a lady took him for a carriage ride, and on
learning from the footman that they were seven miles from home he was so
displeased that he refused to utter a single orphic on the way back; and
further, the story is that he never after entered a vehicle, and living
for thirty years was never again so far from the lodging he called home.

In his lectures on physical geography Kant would often describe
mountains, rivers, waterfalls, volcanoes, with great animation and
accuracy, yet he had never seen any of these. Once a friend offered to
take him to Switzerland, so he could actually see the mountains; but he
warmly declined, declaring that the man who was not satisfied until he
could touch, taste and see was small, mean and quibbling as was Thomas,
the doubting disciple. Moreover, he had samples of the strata of the
Alps, and this was enough, which reminds us of the man who had a house
for sale and offered to send a prospective purchaser a sample brick.

Mind was the great miracle to Kant--the ability to know all about a
thing by seeing it with your inward eye. "The Imagination hath a stage
within the brain upon which all scenes are played," and the play to Kant
was greater than the reality. Or, to use his own words: "Time and Space
have no existence apart from Mind. There is no such thing as Sound
unless there be an ear to receive the vibrations. Things and places,
matter and substance come under the same law, and exist only as mind
creates them."

       *       *       *       *       *

The parents of Kant were very lowly people. His father was a day
laborer--a leather-cutter who never achieved even to the honors and
emoluments of a saddler. There were seven children in the family, and
never a servant crossed the threshold. One daughter survived Immanuel,
and in her eighty-fourth year she expressed regrets that her brother had
proved so recreant to the teachings of his parents as practically to
alienate him from all his relatives. One brother became a Lutheran
minister and lived out an honored career; the others vanish and fade
away into the mist of forgetfulness.

So far as we know, all the children were strong and well except this
one. At birth he weighed but five pounds, and his weakness was pitiable.
He was the kind of child the Spartans used to make way with quickly, for
the good of the State. He had a big, bulging head, thin legs, a weak
chest, and one shoulder was so much higher than the other that it
amounted almost to a deformity.

As the years went by, the parents saw he was not big enough to work, but
hope was not dead--they would make a preacher of him! To this end he was
sent to the "Fredericianium," a graded school of no mean quality. The
master of this school was a worthy clergyman by the name of Schultz, who
was attracted to the Kant boy, it seems, on account of his insignificant
size. It was the affection of the shepherd for the friendless ewe lamb.
A little later the teacher began to love the boy for his big head and
the thoughts he worked out of it. Brawn is bought with a price--young
men who bank on it get it as legal tender. Those who have no brawn have
to rely on brain or go without honors. Immanuel Kant began to ask his
school-teacher questions that made the good man laugh.

At sixteen Kant entered Albertina University. And there he was to remain
his entire life--student, tutor, teacher, professor.

He must have been an efficient youth, for before he was eighteen he
realized that the best way to learn is to teach. The idea of becoming a
clergyman was at first strong upon him; and Pastor Schultz occasionally
sent the youth out to preach, or lead religious services in rural
districts. This embryo preacher had a habit of placing a box behind the
pulpit and standing on it while preaching. Then we find him reasoning
the matter out in this way: "I stand on a box to preach so as to impress
the people by my height or to conceal my insignificant size. This is
pretense and a desire to carry out the idea that the preacher is bigger
every way than common people. I talk with God in pretended prayer, and
this looks as if I were on easy and familiar terms with Deity. Is it
like those folks who claim to be on friendly terms with princes: If I do
not know anything about God, why should I pretend I do?"

This desire to be absolutely honest with himself gradually grew until
he informed the Pastor that he had better secure young men for preachers
who could impress people without standing on a box. As for himself, he
would impress people by the size of his head, if he impressed them at
all. Let it here be noted that Kant then weighed exactly one hundred
pounds, and was less than five feet high. His head measured twenty-four
inches around, and fifteen and one-half inches over "firmness" from the
opening of the ears. To put it another way, he wore a seven-and-a-half

It is a great thing for a man to pride himself on what he is and make
the best of it. The pride of craftsman betokens a valuable man. We
exaggerate our worth, and this is Nature's plan to get the thing done.

Kant's pride of intellect, in degree, came from his insignificant form,
and thus do all things work together for good. But this bony little form
was often full of pain, and he had headaches, which led a wit to say,
"If a head like yours aches, it must be worse than to be a giraffe and
have a sore throat."

Young Kant began to realize that to have a big head, and get the right
use from it, one must have vital power enough to feed it.

The brain is the engine--the lungs and digestive apparatus the boiler.
Thought is combustion.

Young Kant, the uncouth, became possessed of an idea that made him the
butt of many gibes and jeers. He thought that if he could breathe
enough, he would be able to think clearly, and headaches would be gone.
Life, he said, was a matter of breathing, and all men died from one
cause--a shortness of breath. In order to think clearly, you must

We believe things first and prove them later; our belief is usually
right, when derived from experience, but the reasons we give are often
wrong. For instance, Kant cured his physical ills by going out of doors,
and breathing deeply and slowly with closed mouth. Gradually his health
began to improve. But the young man, not knowing at that time much about
physiology, wrote a paper proving that the benefit came from the fresh
air that circulated through his brain. And of course in one sense he was
right. He related the incident of this thesis many years after in a
lecture, to show the result of right action and wrong reasoning.

The doctors had advised Kant he must quit study, but when he took up his
breathing fad, he renounced the doctors, and later denounced them. If he
were going to die, he would die without the benefit of either the clergy
or the physicians.

He denied that he was sick, and at night would roll himself in his
blankets and repeat half-aloud, "How comfortable I am, how comfortable I
am," until he fell asleep.

Near his house ran a narrow street, just a half-mile long. He walked
this street up and back, with closed mouth, breathing deeply, waving a
rattan cane to ward away talkative neighbors, and to keep up the
circulation in his arms. Once and back--in a month he had increased this
to twice and back. In a year he had come to the conclusion that to walk
the length of that street eight times was the right and proper
thing--that is to say, four miles in all. In other words, he had found
out how much exercise he required--not too much or too little. At
exactly half-past three he came out of his lodging, wearing his cocked
hat and long, snuff-colored coat, and walked. The neighbors used to set
their clocks by him. He walked and breathed with closed mouth, and no
one dare accost him or walk with him. The hour was sacred and must not
be broken in upon: it was his holy time--his time of breathing.

The little street is there now--one of the sights of Konigsberg, and the
cab-drivers point it out as the Philosopher's Walk. And Kant walked that
little street eight times every afternoon from the day he was twenty to
within a year of his death, when eighty years old.

This walking and breathing habit physiologists now recognize as
eminently scientific, and there is no sensible physician but will
endorse Kant's wisdom in renouncing doctors and adopting a regimen of
his own. The thing you believe in will probably benefit you--faith is

The persistency of the little man's character is shown in the breathing
habit--he believed in himself, relied on himself, and that which
experience commended, he did.

This firmness in following his own ideas saved his life. When we think
of one born in obscurity, living in poverty, handicapped by pain,
weakness and deformity; never traveling; and then by sheer persistency
and force of will rising to the first place among thinking men of his
time, one is almost willing to accept Kant's dictum, "Mind is supreme,
and the Universe is but the reflected thought of God."

       *       *       *       *       *

Kant was great enough to doubt appearances and distrust popular
conclusions. He knew that fallacies of reasoning follow fast upon
actions--reason follows by slow freight. It is quite necessary that we
should believe in a Supreme Power, but quite irrelevant that we should
prove it.

Truth for the most part is unpopular, and the proof of this statement
lies in the fact that it is so seldom told. Preachers tell people what
they wish to hear, and indeed this must be so as long as the
congregation that hears the preaching pays for it. People will not pay
for anything they do not like. Hence, preaching leads naturally to
sophistication and hypocrisy, and the promise of endless bliss for
ourselves and a hell for our enemies comes about as a matter of course.
What men will listen to and pay for is the real science of theology.
That is to say, the science of theology is the science of manipulating
men. Success in theology consists in finding a fallacy that is palatable
and then banking on it. Again and again Kant points out that a
clergyman's advice is usually worthless, because pure truth is out of
his province--unaccustomed, undesirable, inexpedient.

And Kant thought this was true also of doctors--doctors care more about
pleasing their patients than telling them truth. "In fact," he said, "no
doctor with a family to support can afford to tell his patients that his
symptoms are no token of a disease--rather uncomfortable feelings are
proof of health, for dead men don't have them." Most of the aches,
pains and so-called irregularities are remedial moves on the part of
Nature to keep the man well. Kant says that doctors treat symptoms, not
diseases, and often the treatment causes the disease; so no man can tell
what proportion of diseases is caused by medicine and what by other
forms of applied ignorance.

As for lawyers, our little philosopher considered them, for the most
part, sharks and wreckers. A lawyer looks over an estate, not with the
idea of keeping it intact, but of dissolving it, and getting a part of
it for himself. Not that men prefer to do what is wrong, but
self-interest can always produce sufficient reasons to satisfy the
conscience. Lawyers, being attaches of courts of justice, regard
themselves as protectors of the people, when really they are the
plunderers of the people, and their business is quite as much to defeat
justice as to administer it. The evasion of law is as truly a lawyer's
work as compliance with law. Then our philosopher explains that if law
and justice were synonymous, this state of affairs would be most
deplorable; but as it is, no particular harm is worked, save in the
moral degradation of the lawyers. The connivance of lawyers tames the
rank injustices of law; hence, to a degree, we live in a land where
there is neither law nor justice--save such justice as can be
appropriated by the man who is diplomat enough to do without lawyers and
wise enough to have no property. Justice, however, to Kant is a very
uncertain quantity, and he is rather inclined to regard the idea that
men are able to administer justice as on a par with the assumption of
the priest that he is dealing with God.

Kant once said, "When a woman demands justice, she means revenge."

A pupil here interposed, and asked the master if this was not equally
true of men, and the answer was, "I accept the amendment--it certainly
is true of all men I ever saw in courtrooms."

"Does death end all?"

"No," said Kant; "there is the litigation over the estate."

Kant's constant reiteration that he had no use for doctors, lawyers and
preachers, we can well imagine did not add to his popularity. As for his
reasoning concerning lawyers, we can all, probably, recall a few
jug-shaped attorneys who fill the Kant requirements--takers of
contingent fees and stirrers-up of strife: men who watch for vessels on
the rocks and lure with false lights the mariner to his doom. But
matters since Kant's day have changed considerably for the better. There
is a demand now for a lawyer who is a businessman and who will keep
people out of trouble instead of getting them in. And we also have a few
physicians who are big enough to tell a man there is nothing the matter
with him, if they think so, and then charge him accordingly--in inverse
ratio to the amount of medicine administered.

And while we no longer refer to the clergyman as our spiritual adviser,
except, perhaps, in way of pleasantry, he surely is useful as a social

       *       *       *       *       *

The parents of Kant were Lutherans--punctilious and pious. They were
descended from Scotch soldiers who had come over there two hundred years
before and settled down after the war, just as the Hessians settled down
and went to farming in Pennsylvania, their descendants occasionally
becoming Daughters of the Revolution, because their grandsires fought
with Washington.

This Scotch strain gave a sturdy bias to the Kants--these Lutherans were
really rebels, and as every one knows, there are only two ways of
dealing with a religious Scotchman--agree with him or kill him.

Most people said that Kant was supremely stubborn--he himself called it
"firmness in the right." Once, when a couple of calumniators were
thinking up all the bad things they could say about him, one of them
exclaimed, "He isn't five feet high!"

"Liar!" came the shrill voice of the Philosopher, who had accidentally
overheard them, "Liar! I am exactly five feet!" And he drew himself up,
and struck his staff proudly and defiantly on the ground.

Which reminds one of the story told of Professor Josiah Royce, who once
rang up six fares on the register when he wished to stop a Boston
street-car. When the conductor protested, the philosopher called him
"up-start," "curmudgeon" and "nincompoop," and showed the fallacy of his
claim that thirty cents had been lost, since nobody had found it.
Moreover, he offered to prove his proposition by algebraic equation, if
one of the gentlemen present had chalk and blackboard on his person.

Once Kant was looking at the flowers in a beautiful garden. But instead
of looking through the iron pickets, he stooped over and was squinting
through the key-hole of the lock. A student coming along asked him why
he didn't look through the pickets and thus get a perfect view.

"Go on, you fool," was the stern reply; "I am studying the law of
optics--the unobstructed vision reveals too much--the vivid view is only
gotten through a small aperture."

All of which was believed to be a sudden inspiration in way of reply
that came to the great professor when caught doing an absent-minded
thing. That Kant was not above a little pious prevarication is shown by
a story he himself tells. He was never inside of a church once during
the last fifty years of his life. But when he became Chancellor of the
University, one of his duties was to lead a procession to the Cathedral,
where certain formal religious services were held. Kant tried to have
the exercises in a hall, but failing in this, he did his duty, and
marched like a pigmy drum-major at the head of the cavalcade.

"Now he will have to go in," the scoffers said.

But he didn't. Arriving at the church-door, he excused himself, pleading
an urgent necessity, walked around to the back of the church,
sacrificed, like Diogenes, to all the gods at once, and made off for
home, quietly chuckling to himself at the thought of how he had
circumvented the enemy.

Every actor has just so many make-ups and no more. Usually the
characters he assumes are variations of a single one. Steele Mackaye
used to say, "There are only five distinct dramatic situations." The
artist, too, has his properties. And the recognition of this truth
caused Massillon to say, "The great preacher has but one sermon, yet out
of this he makes many--by giving portions of it backwards, or beginning
in the middle and working both ways, or presenting patchwork pieces,
tinted and colored by his mood." All public speakers have canned goods
they fall back upon when the fresh fruit of thought grows scarce.

The literary man also has his puppets, pet phrases, and situations to
his liking. Victor Hugo always catches the attention by a blind girl, a
hunchback, a hunted convict or some mutilated and maimed unfortunate.

In his lectures, Kant used to please the boys by such phrases as this,
"I dearly love the muse, although I must admit that I have never been
the recipient of any of her favors." This took so well that later he was
encouraged to say, "The Old Metaphysics is positively unattractive, but
the New Metaphysics is to me most lovely, although I can not boast that
I have ever been honored by any of her favors."

A large audience caused Kant to lose his poise--he became
self-conscious--but in his own little lecture-room, with a dozen, or
fifty at the most (because this was the capacity of the room), he was
charming. He would fix his eye on a single boy, and often upon a single
button on this boy's coat, and forgetting the immediate theme in hand,
would ramble into an amusing and most instructive monolog of criticism
concerning politics, pedagogy or current events. In his writing he was
exact, heavy and complex, but in these heart-to-heart talks, Herder, who
attended Kant's lectures for five years, says, "The man had a deal of
nimble wit, and here Kant was at his best."

So we have two different men--the man who wrote the "Critique" and the
man who gave the lectures and clarified his thought by explaining things
to others. It was in the lectures that he threw off this: "Men are
creatures that can not do without their kind, yet are sure to quarrel
when together." This took fairly well, and later he said, "Men can not
do without men, yet they hate each other when together." And in a year
after, comes this: "A man is miserable without a wife, and is seldom
happy after he gets one." No doubt this caused a shout of applause from
the students, college boys being always on the lookout for just such
things; and coming from a very confirmed old bachelor it was peculiarly

To say that Kant was devoid of wit, as many writers do, is not to know
the man. About a year after the "Critique of Pure Reason" appeared, he
wrote this: "I am obliged to the learned public for the silence with
which it has honored my book, as this silence means a suspension of
judgment and a wise determination not to voice a premature opinion." He
knew perfectly well that the "learned public" had not read his book, and
moreover, could not, intelligently, and the silence betokened simply a
stupid lack of interest. Moreover, he knew there was no such thing as a
learned public. Kant's remark reveals a keen wit, and it also reveals
something more--the pique of the unappreciated author who declares he
doesn't care what the public thinks of him, and thereby reveals the fact
that he does.

Here are a couple of remarks that could only have been made in the reign
of Frederick the Great, and under the spell of a college lecture: "The
statement that man is the noblest work of God was never made by anybody
but man, and must therefore be taken 'cum grano salis.'" "We are told
that God said He made man in His own image, but the remark was probably

Schopenhauer says: "The chief jewel in the crown of Frederick the Great
is Immanuel Kant. Such a man as Kant could not have held a salaried
position under any other monarch on the globe at that time and have
expressed the things that Kant did. A little earlier or a little later,
and there would have been no such person as Immanuel Kant. Rulers are
seldom big men, but if they are big enough to recognize and encourage
big men, they deserve the gratitude of mankind!"


     When a man's deeds are discovered after death, his angels, who are
     inquisitors, look into his face, and extend their examination over
     his whole body, beginning with the fingers of each hand. I was
     surprised at this, and the reason was thus explained to me:

     Every volition and thought of man is inscribed on his brain; for
     volition and thought have their beginnings in the brain, thence
     they are conveyed to the bodily members, wherein they terminate.
     Whatever, therefore, is in the mind is in the brain, and from the
     brain in the body, according to the order of its parts. So a man
     writes his life in his physique, and thus the angels discover his
     autobiography in his structure.

                                      --_Swedenborg's "Spirit World"_

[Illustration: SWEDENBORG]

A bucolic citizen of East Aurora, on being questioned by a visitor as to
his opinion of a certain literary man, exclaimed: "Smart? Is he smart?
Why, Missus, he writes things nobody can understand!"

This sounds like a paraphrase (but it isn't) of the old lady's remark on
hearing Henry Ward Beecher preach. She went home and said, "I don't
think he is so very great--I understood everything he said!"

Paganini wrote musical scores for the violin, which no violinist has
ever been able to play. Victor Herbert has recently analyzed some of
these compositions and shown that Paganini himself could never have
played them without using four hands and handling two bows at once. So
far, no one can play a duet on the piano; the hand can span only so many
keys, and the attempt of Robert Schumann to improve on Nature by
building an artificial extension to his fingers was vetoed by paralysis
of the members. Two bodies can not occupy the same space at the same
time; mathematics has its limit, for you can not look out of a window
four and a half times. The dictum of Ingersoll that all sticks and
strings have two ends has not yet been disproved; and Herbert Spencer
discovered, for his own satisfaction, fixed limits beyond which the
mind can not travel. His expression, the Unknowable, reminds one of
those old maps wherein vast sections were labeled, Terra Incognita.

If we read Emanuel Swedenborg, we find that these vast stretches in the
domain of thought which Herbert Spencer disposed of as the Unknowable
have been traversed and minutely described. Swedenborg's books are so
learned that even Herbert Spencer could not read them: his scores are so
intricate, his compositions so involved, that no man can play them.

The mystic who sees more than he can explain is universally regarded as
an unsafe and unreliable person. The people who consult him go away and
do as they please, and faith in his prophecies weaken as his opinions
and hopes vary from theirs. We stand by the clairvoyant just as long as
he gives us palatable things, and no longer, and nobody knows this
better than your genus clairvoyant. When his advice is contrary to our
desires, we pronounce him a fraud and go our way. When enterprises of
great pith and moment are to be carried through, we give the power into
the hands of the worldling infidel, rather than the spiritual seer.

The person on intimate terms with another world seldom knows much about
this, and when Robert Browning tells of Sludge, the Medium, he symbols
his opinion of all mediums. A medium, if sincere, is one who has
abandoned his intellect and turned the bark of reason rudderless,
adrift. This is entirely apart from the very common reinforcement of
usual psychic powers with fraud, which, beginning in self-deception,
puts out from port without papers and sails the sea with forged letters
of marque and reprisal.

There are mediums in every city who tell us they are guided by
Shakespeare, Dante, Milton, Luther, Tennyson or Henry Ward Beecher. So
we are led to believe that the chief business of great men in the
spiritual realm is to guide commonplace men in this, and cause them to
take pen in hand.

All publishers are perfectly familiar with these productions written by
people who think they are psychic when they are only sick. And I have
never yet seen a publisher's reader who had found anything in
inspirational writing but words, words, words. High-sounding paraphrases
and rolling sentences do not make literature; and so far as we know,
only the fallible, live and loving man or woman can breathe into the
nostrils of a literary production the breath of life. All the rest is
only lifeless clay.

That mystery enshrouds the workings of the mind, and that some people
have remarkable mental experiences, none will deny. People who can not
write at all in a normal mood will, under a psychic spell, produce
high-sounding literary reverberations, or play the piano or paint a
picture. Yet the literature is worthless, the music indifferent, and the
picture bad; but, like Doctor Johnson's simile of the dog that walked
on its hind legs, while the walking is never done well, we are amazed
that it can be done at all.

The astounding assumption comes in when we leap the gulf and attribute
these peculiar rappings and all this ability of seeing around a corner
to disembodied spirits. The people with credulity plus, however, always
close our mouths with this, "If it isn't spirits, what in the world is
it?" And we, crestfallen and abashed, are forced to say, "We do not

The absolute worthlessness of spiritual communication comes in when we
are told by the medium, caught in a contradiction, that spirits are
awful liars. On this point all mediums agree: many disembodied spirits
are much given to untruth, and the man who is a liar here will be a liar

Swedenborg was so annoyed with this disposition on the part of spirits
to prevaricate that he says, "I usually conduct my affairs regardless of
their advice." When a spirit came to him and said, "I am the shade of
Aristotle," Swedenborg challenged him, and the spirit acknowledged he
was only Jimmy Smith. This is delightfully naive and surely reveals the
man's sanity: he was deceived by neither living nor dead: he accepted or
rejected communications as they appealed to his reason: he kept his
literature and his hallucinations separate from his business, and never
did a thing which did not gibe with his reason. In this way he lived to
be eighty, earnest, yet composed, serene, steering safely clear from
Bedlam, by making his commonsense the court of last appeal.

Emerson says that the critic who will render the greatest gift to modern
civilization is the one who will show us how to fuse the characters of
Shakespeare and Swedenborg. One stands for intellect, the other for
spirituality. We need both, but we tire of too much goodness, virtue
palls on us, and if we hear only psalms sung, we will long for the clink
of glasses and the brave choruses of unrestrained good-fellowship. A
slap on the back may give you a thrill of delight that the touch of holy
water on your forehead can not lend.

Shakespeare hasn't much regard for concrete truth; Swedenborg is devoted
to nothing else. Shakespeare moves jauntily, airily, easily, with
careless indifference; Swedenborg lives earnestly, seriously, awfully.
Shakespeare thinks that truth is only a point of view, a local issue, a
matter of geography; Swedenborg considers it an exact science, with
boundaries fixed and cornerstones immovable, and the business of his
life was to map the domain.

If you would know the man Shakespeare, you will find him usually in cap
and bells. Jaques, Costard, Trinculo, Mercutio, are confessions, for
into the mouths of these he puts his wisest maxims. Shakespeare dearly
loved a fool, because he was one. He plays with truth as a kitten
gambols with a ball of yarn.

So Emerson would have us reconcile the holy zeal for truth and the swish
of this bright blade of the intellect. He himself confesses that after
reading Swedenborg he turns to Shakespeare and reads "As You Like It"
with positive delight, because Shakespeare isn't trying to prove
anything. The monks of the olden time read Rabelais and Saint Augustine
with equal relish.

Possibly we take these great men too seriously--literature is only
incidental, and what any man says about anything matters little, except
to himself. No book is of much importance; the vital thing is: What do
you yourself think?

When we read Shakespeare in a parlor class there are many things we read
over rapidly--the teacher does not stop to discuss them. The remarks of
Ophelia or the shepherd talk of Corin are indecent only when you stop
and linger over them; it will not do to sculpture such things--let them
forever remain in gaseous form. When George Francis Train picked out
certain parts of the Bible and printed them, and was arrested for
publishing obscene literature, the charge was proper and right. There
are things that need not to be emphasized--they may all be a part of
life, but in books they should be slurred over as representing simply a
passing glimpse of nature.

And so the earnest and minute arguments of Swedenborg need not give us
headache in efforts to comprehend them. They were written for himself,
as a scaffolding for his imagination. Don't take Jonathan Edwards too
seriously--he means well, but we know more. We know we do not know
anything, and he never got that far.

The bracketing of the names of Shakespeare and Swedenborg is eminently
well. They are Titans both. In the presence of such giants, small men
seem to wither and blow away. Swedenborg was cast in heroic mold, and no
other man since history began ever compassed in himself so much physical
science, and with it all on his back, made such daring voyages into the

The men who soar highest and know most about another world usually know
little about this. No man of his time was so competent a scientist as
Swedenborg, and no man before or since has mapped so minutely the
Heavenly Kingdom.

Shakespeare's feet were really never off the ground. His excursion in
"The Tempest" was only in a captured balloon. Ariel and Caliban he
secured out of an old book of fables.

Shakespeare knew little about physics; economics and sociology never
troubled him; he had small Latin and less Greek; he never traveled, and
the history of the rocks was to him a blank.

Swedenborg anticipated Darwin in a dozen ways; he knew the classic
languages and most of the modern; he traveled everywhere; he was a
practical economist, and the best civil engineer of his day.

Shakespeare knew the human heart--where the wild storms arise and where
the passions die--the Delectable Isles where Allah counts not the days,
and the swamps where love turns to hate and Hell knocks on the gates of
Heaven. Shakespeare knew humanity, but little else; Swedenborg knew
everything else, but here he balked, for woman's love never unlocked for
him the secrets of the human heart.

       *       *       *       *       *

Emanuel Swedenborg was born at Stockholm, Sweden, in Sixteen Hundred
Eighty-eight. His father was a bishop in the Lutheran Church, a
professor in the theological seminary, a writer on various things, and
withal a man of marked power and worth. He was a spiritualist, heard
voices and received messages from the spirit world. It will be
remembered that Martin Luther, in his monkish days, heard voices, and
was in communication with both angels and devils. Many of his followers,
knowing of his strange experiences, gave themselves up to fasts and
vigils, and they, too, saw things. Abstain from food for two days and
this sense of lightness and soaring is the usual result. So strong is
example, and so prone are we to follow in the footsteps of those we
love, that one "psychic" is sure to develop more. Little Emanuel
Swedenborg, aged seven, saw angels, too, and when his father had a
vision, he straightway matched it with a bigger one.

Then we find the mother of the boy getting alarmed, and peremptorily
putting her foot down and ordering her husband to cease all celestial

Emanuel was set to work at his books and in the garden, and no more
rappings was he to hear, nor strange white lights to see, until he was
fifty-six years old.

Sweden is the least illiterate country on the globe, and has been for
three hundred years. Her climate is eminently fitted to produce one fine
product--men. The winter's cold does not subdue nor suppress, but tends
to that earnest industry which improves the passing hours. The
Scandinavians make hay while the sun shines; but in countries where the
sun shines all the time men make no hay. In Florida, where flowers bloom
the whole year through, even the bees quit work and say, "What's the

Emanuel Swedenborg climbed the mountains with his father, fished in the
fjords, collected the mosses on the rocks, and wrote out at length all
of their amateur discoveries. The boy grew strong in body, lithe of
limb, clear of eye--noble and manly.

His affection for his parents was perfect. When fifteen he addressed to
them letters of apostrophe, all in studied words of deference and
curious compliment, like, say, the letters of Columbus to Ferdinand and
Isabella. His purity of purpose was sublime, and the jewel of his soul
was integrity.

At college he easily stood at the head of his class. He reduced calculus
to its simplest forms, and made abstractions plain. Even his tutors
could not follow him. Once the King's actuary was called upon to verify
some of his calculations. This brought him to the notice of the King,
and thereafter he was always on easy and familiar terms with royalty.
There is no hallucination in mathematics--figures do not lie, although
mathematicians may, but this one never did.

We look in vain for college pranks, and some of those absurd and
foolish things in which young men delight. We wish he could unbend, and
be indiscreet, or even impolite, just to show us his humanity. But no,
he is always grave, earnest, dignified, and rebukingly handsome. The
college "grind" with bulging forehead, round shoulders, myopic vision
and shambling gait is well known in every college, and serves as the
butt of innumerable practical jokes. But no one took liberties with
Emanuel Swedenborg either in boyhood or in after-life. His countenance
was stern, yet not forbidding; his form tall, manly and muscular, and
his persistent mountain-climbing and outdoor prospecting and botanizing
gave him a glow of health which the typical grubber after facts very
seldom has.

Thus we find Emanuel Swedenborg walking with stately tread through
college, taking all the honors, looked upon by teachers and professors
with a sort of awe, and pointed out by his fellow students in subdued
wonder. His physical strength became a byword, yet we do not find he
ever exercised it in contests; but it served as a protection, and
commanded respect from all the underlings.

At twenty we find him falling violently in love, the one sole
love-affair of his lone life. Instead of going to the girl he placed the
matter before her father, and secured from him a written warrant for the
damsel, returnable in three years' time. This document he carried with
him, pored over it, slept with it under his pillow. As for the girl,
timid, sensitive, aged fifteen, she fled on his approach, and shook with
fear if he looked at her. He made his love plain by logical formulas and
proved his passion by geometrical permutations--by charts and diagrams.
A seasoned widow might have broken up the icy fastness of his soul and
melted his forbidding nature in the crucible of feeling, but this poor
girl just wanted some one to hold her little hand and say peace to her
fluttering heart. How could she go plump herself in his lap, pull his
ears and tell him he was a fool? Finally, the girl's brother, seeing her
distress, stole the precious warrant from Swedenborg's coat, tore it up,
and Swedenborg knew his case was hopeless. He brought calculus to bear,
and proved by the law of averages that there were just as good fish in
the sea as ever were caught.

       *       *       *       *       *

At twenty-one Swedenborg graduated at the University of Upsala. He took
the degree of Doctor of Philosophy, and was sent on a tour of the
European capitals to complete his education. He visited Hamburg, Paris,
Vienna and then went to London, where he remained a year. He bore
letters from the King of Sweden that admitted him readily into the best
society, and as far as we know he carried himself with dignity, filled
with a zeal to know and to become.

One prime object in his travel was to learn the language of the country
that he was in, and so we hear of his writing home, "In Hamburg I speak
only German; at Paris I talk and think in French; in London no one
doubts but that I am an Englishman." This not only reveals the young
man's accomplishments, but shows that sublime confidence in himself
which never forsook him.

The desire of his father was that he should enter the diplomatic service
of the government, and the interest the King took in his welfare shows
that the way was opening in that direction. But in the various cities
where he traveled he merely used his consular letters to reach the men
in each place who knew most of mathematics, anatomy, geology, astronomy
and physics. He hunted out the thinkers and the doers, and it seems he
had enough specific gravity of soul so he was never turned away.

When big men meet for the first time, they try conclusions just as
surely as do the patriarchs of the herds. Instantly there is a mental
duel, before scarcely a word is spoken, and the psychic measurements
then and there taken are usually about correct.

The very silence of a superior person is impressive. And knowing this,
we do not wonder that Swedenborg would sometimes call unannounced on men
in high station, and forgetting his letters, would ask for an interview.
The audacity of the request would break down the barriers, and his calm,
quiet self-possession would do the rest. The man wanted nothing but
knowledge. Returning home at twenty-seven, he wrote out two voluminous
reports of his travels, one for his father and one for the King. These
reports were so complete, so learned, so full of allusion, suggestion
and advice, that it is probable they were never read.

He was made Assessor of the School of Mines, an office which we would
call that of Assayer, and his business was to give scientific advice as
to the value of ores and the best ways to mine and smelt them.

About this time we hear of Swedenborg writing to his brother explaining
that he was working on the model of a boat that would navigate below the
surface of the sea, and do great damage to the enemy; a gun that would
discharge a thousand bullets a minute; a flying machine that would sail
the air like a gull; a mechanical chariot that would go twenty miles an
hour on a smooth road without horses; and a plan of mathematics which
would quickly and simply enable us to compute and express fractions. We
also hear of his inventing a treadmill chariot, which carried the horse
on board the vehicle, but the horse once ran away and attained such a
velocity in the streets of Stockholm that people declared the whole
thing was a diabolical invention, and in deference to popular clamor
Swedenborg discontinued his experiments along this line.

One is amazed that this man in the early days of the Eighteenth Century
should have anticipated the submarine boat, and guessed what could be
done by the expansion of steam; prophesied a Gatling gun, and made a
motor-car that carried the horse, working on a treadmill and propelling
the vehicle faster than the horse could go on the ground; and if the
inventor had had the gasoline he surely would have made an automobile.

His diversity of inventive genius was finally focalized on building
sluiceways and canals for the government, and he set Holyoke an example
by running the water back and forth in canals and utilizing the power
over and over again.

Later he was called upon to break a blockade by transferring ships
overland a distance of fourteen miles. This he successfully did by the
use of a roller railway, and as a reward for the feat was duly knighted
by the King.

The one idea that he worked out in detail and gave to the world, and
which the world has not improved upon, is our present decimal system.

As the years passed, Swedenborg became rich. He lived well, but not
lavishly. We hear of his having his private carriages and being attended
by servants on his travels.

He lectured at various universities, and on account of his close
association with royalty, as well as on account of his own high
character and strong personality, he was a commanding figure wherever he
went. His life was full to the brim.

And we naturally expect that a man of wealth, with all the honors
belonging to any one person, should take on a comforting accumulation of
adipose, and encyst himself in the conventionalities of church, state
and society.

And this was what the man himself saw in store, for at forty-six he
wrote a book on science, setting forth his ideas and making accurate
prophecies as to what would yet be brought about. He regrets that a
multiplicity of duties and failing health forbid his carrying out his
plans, and further adds, "As this is probably the last book I shall ever
write, I desire here to make known to posterity these thoughts which so
far as I know have never been explained before."

The real fact was that at this time Swedenborg's career had not really
begun, and if he had then died, his fame would not have extended beyond
the country of his birth.

       *       *       *       *       *

Mr. Poultney Bigelow, happening to be in Brighton, England, a few years
ago, was entertained at the home of a worthy London broker. The family
was prosperous and intelligent, but clung closely to all conventional
and churchly lines. As happens often in English homes, the man does most
of the thinking and sets metes and bounds to all conversation as well as
reading. The mother refers to him as "He," and the children and servants
look up to him and make mental obeisance when he speaks.

"I hear Herbert Spencer lives in Brighton--do you ever see him?"
ventured the guest of the hostess, in a vain reaching 'round for a topic
of mutual interest. "Spencer--Spencer? Who is Herbert Spencer?" asked
the good mother.

But "He" caught the run of the talk and came to the rescue: "Oh, Mother,
Spencer is nobody you are interested in--just a writer of infidelic

The next day Bigelow called on Spencer and saw upon his table a copy of
"Science and Health," which some one had sent him. He smiled when the
American referred to the book, and in answer to a question said: "It is
surely interesting, and I find many pleasing maxims scattered through
it. But we can hardly call it scientific, any more than we can call
Swedenborg's 'Conjugal Love' scientific." And the author of "First
Principles" showed he had read Mrs. Eddy's book, for he turned to the
chapter on "Marriage," calling attention to the statement that marriage
in its present status is a permitted condition--a matter of
expediency--and children will yet be begotten by telepathic
correspondence. "The unintelligibility of the book recommends it to many
and accounts for its vogue. Swedenborg's immortality is largely owing to
the same reason," and the man who once loved George Eliot smiled not
unkindly, and the conversation drifted to other themes.

This comparison of Swedenborg with Mary Baker Eddy is not straining a
point. No one can read "Science and Health" intelligently unless his
mind is first prepared for it by some one whose mind has been prepared
for it by some one else. It requires a deal of explanation; and like the
Plan of Salvation, no one would ever know anything about it if it wasn't
elucidated by an educated person.

Books strong in abstraction are a convenient rag-bag for your mental
odds and ends. Swedenborg's philosophy is "Science and Health"
multiplied by forty. He lays down propositions and proves them in a
thousand pages.

Yet this must be confessed: The Swedenborgians and the Christian
Scientists as sects rank above most other denominations in point of
intellectual worth. In speaking of the artist Thompson, Nathaniel
Hawthorne once wrote: "This artist is a man of thought, and with no mean
idea of art, a Swedenborgian, or, as he prefers to call it, a member of
the New Church. I have generally found something marked in men who
adopt that faith. He seems to me to possess truth in himself, and to aim
at it is his artistic endeavor."

Swedenborg's essay on "Conjugal Love" contains four hundred thousand
words and divides the theme into forty parts, each of these being
subdivided into forty more. The delights of paradise are pictured in the
perfect mating of the right man with the right woman. In order to
explain what perfect marriage is, Swedenborg works by the process of
elimination and reveals every possible condition of mismating. Every
error, mistake, crime, wrong and fallacy is shown in order to get at the
truth. Swedenborg tells us that he got his facts from four husbands and
four wives in the Spirit Land, and so his statements are authentic.
Emerson disposes of Swedenborg's ideal marriage as it exists in heaven,
as "merely an indefinite bridal-chamber," and intimates that it is the
dream of one who had never been disillusioned by experience.

In Maudsley's fine book, "Body and Mind," the statement is made that
during Swedenborg's stay in London his life was decidedly promiscuous.
Fortunately the innocence and ignorance of Swedenborg's speculations are
proof in themselves that his entire life was absolutely above reproach.
Swedenborg's bridal-chamber is the dream of a school-girl, presented by
a scientific analyst, a man well past his grand climacteric, who
imagined that the perpetuation of sexual "bliss" was a desirable thing.

Emerson hints that there is the taint of impurity in Swedenborg's
matrimonial excursions, for "life and nature are right, but closet
speculations are bound to be vicious when persisted in." Max Müller's
little book, "A Story of German Love," showing the intellectual and
spiritual uplift that comes from the natural and spontaneous friendship
of a good man and woman, is worth all the weighty speculations of all
the virtuous bachelors who ever lived and raked the stagnant ponds of
their imagination for an ideal.

The love of a recluse is not God's kind--only running water is pure; the
living love of a live man and woman absolves itself, refines, benefits,
and blesses, though it be the love of Aucassin and Nicolete, Plutarch
and Laura, Paola and Francesca, Abelard and Heloise, and they go to hell
for it.

From his thirty-fourth year to his forty-sixth Swedenborg wrote nothing
for publication. He lectured, traveled, and advised the government on
questions of engineering and finance, and in various practical ways made
himself useful. Then it was that he decided to break the silence and
give the world the benefit of his studies, which he does in his great
work, "Principia." Well does Emerson say that this work, purporting to
explain the birth of worlds, places the man side by side with Aristotle,
Leonardo, Bacon, Selden, Copernicus and Humboldt.

It is a book for giants, written by one. Although the man was a nominal
Christian, yet to him, plainly, the Bible was only a book of fables and
fairy-tales. The Mosaic account of Creation is simply waived, as we
waive Jack the Giant-Killer when dealing with the question of capital

That Darwin read Swedenborg with minute care, there is no doubt. In the
"Principia" is a chapter on mosses wherein it is explained how the first
vestige of lichen catches the dust particles of disintegrating rock, and
we get the first tokens of a coming forest. Darwin never made a point
better; and the nebular hypothesis and the origin of species are worked
out with conjectures, fanciful flights, queer conceits, poetic
comparisons, far-reaching analogies, and most astounding leaps of

The man was warming to his task--this was not to be his last book--the
heavens were opening before him, and if he went astray it was light from
heaven that dazzled him. No one could converse with him, because there
was none who could understand him; none could refute him, because none
could follow his winding logic, which led to heights where the air was
too rarefied for mortals to breathe. He speculated on magnetism,
chemistry, astronomy, anatomy, geology and spiritism. He believed a
thing first and then set the mighty machinery of his learning to bear to
prove it. This is the universal method of great minds--they divine
things first. But no other scientist the world has ever known divined
as much as this man. He reminds us of his own motor-car, with the horse
inside running away with the machine and none to stop the beast in its
mad flight. To his engine there is no governor, and he revolves like the
screw of a steamship when the waves lift the craft out of the water.

There is no stimulant equal to expression. The more men write the more
they know. Swedenborg continued to write, and following the "Principia"
came "The Animal Kingdom," "The Economy of the Universe," and more vast
reaches into the realm of fact and fancy. His books were published at
his own expense, and the work was done under his own supervision at
Antwerp, Amsterdam, Venice, Vienna, London and Paris. In all these
cities he worked to get the benefit of their libraries and museums.

Popularity was out of the question--only the learned attempted to follow
his investigations, and these preferred to recommend his books rather
than read them. And as for heresy, his disbelief in popular
superstitions was so veiled in scientific formulas that it went
unchallenged. Had he simplified truth for the masses his career would
have been that of Erasmus. His safety lay in his unintelligibility. He
was gracious, gentle, suave, with a calm self-confidence that routed
every would-be antagonist.

It was in his fifty-sixth year that the supreme change came over him. He
was in London, in his room, when a great light came to him. He was
prostrated as was Saint Paul on the road to Damascus; he lost
consciousness, and was awakened by a reassuring voice. Christ came to
him and talked with him face to face; he was told that he would be shown
the inmost recesses of the Spirit World, and must write out the
revelation for the benefit of humanity.

There was no disturbance in the man's general health, although he
continued to have visions, trances and curious dreams. He began to
write--steadily, day by day the writings went on--but from this time
experience was disregarded, and for him the material world slept; he
dealt only with spiritual things, using the physical merely for analogy,
and his geology and botany were those of the Old Testament.

Returning to Stockholm he resigned his government office, broke his
engagements with the University, repudiated all scientific studies, and
devoted himself to his new mission--that is, writing out what the
spirits dictated, and what he saw on his celestial journeys.

That there are passages of great beauty and insight in his work, is very
sure, and by discarding what one does not understand, and accepting what
seems reasonable and right, a practical theology that serves and
benefits can be built up. The value of Swedenborg lies largely in what
you can read into him.

The Swedish Protestant Church in London chose him as their bishop
without advising with him. Gradually other scattering churches did the
same, and after his death a well-defined cult, calling themselves
Swedenborgians, arose and his works were ranked as holy writ and read in
the churches, side by side with the Bible.

Swedenborg died in London, March Twenty-ninth, Seventeen Hundred
Seventy-two, aged eighty-four years. Up to the very day of his passing
away he enjoyed good health, and was possessed of a gentle, kind and
obliging disposition that endeared him to all he met. There is an idea
in the minds of simple people that insanity is always accompanied by
violence, ravings and uncouth and dangerous conduct. Dreams are a
temporary insanity--reason sleeps and the mind roams the universe,
uncurbed and wildly free. On awakening, for an instant we may not know
where we are, and all things are in disorder; but gradually time,
location, size and correspondences find their proper place and we are

Should, however, the dreams of the night continue during the day, when
we are awake and moving about, we would say the man was insane.
Swedenborg could become oblivious to every external thing, and dream at
will. And to a degree his mind always dictated the dreams, at least the
subject was of his own volition. If it was necessary to travel or
transact business, the dreams were postponed and he lived right here on
earth, a man of good judgment, safe reason and proper conduct.

Unsoundness of mind is not necessarily folly. Across the murky clouds of
madness shoots and gleams, at times, the deepest insight into the heart
of things. And the fact that Swedenborg was unbalanced does not warrant
us in rejecting all he said and taught as false and faulty. He was
always well able to take care of himself and to manage his affairs
successfully, even to printing the books that contain the record of his
ravings. Follow closely the lives of great inventors, discoverers, poets
and artists, and it will be found that the world is debtor to so-called
madmen for many of its richest gifts. Few, indeed, are they who can
burst the bonds of custom and condition, sail out across the unknown
seas, and bring us records of the Enchanted Isles. And who shall say
where originality ends and insanity begins? Swedenborg himself
attributed his remarkable faculties to the development of a sixth sense,
and intimates that in time all men will be so equipped. Death is as
natural as life, and possibly insanity is a plan of Nature for sending a
searchlight flash into the darkness of futurity. Insane or not, thinking
men everywhere agree that Swedenborg blessed and benefited the
race--preparing the way for the thinkers and the doers who should come
after him.


     Men are so made as to resent nothing more impatiently than to be
     treated as criminal on account of opinions which they deem true,
     and charged as guilty for simply what wakes their affection to God
     and men. Hence, laws about opinions are aimed not at the base but
     at the noble, and tend not to restrain the evil-minded but rather
     to irritate the good, and can not be enforced without great peril
     to the Government.... What evil can be imagined greater for a
     State, than that honorable men, because they have thoughts of their
     own and can not act a lie, are sent as culprits into exile! What
     more baneful than that men, for no guilt or wrongdoing, but for the
     generous largeness of their mind, should be taken for enemies and
     led off to death, and that the torture-bed, the terror of the bad,
     should become, to the signal shame of authority, the finest stage
     for the public spectacle of endurance and virtue!

                                                --_Benedict Spinoza_

[Illustration: SPINOZA]

The word philosophy means the love of truth: "philo," love; "soph,"
truth; or, if you prefer, the love of that which is reasonable and
right. Philosophy refers directly to the life of man--how shall we live
so as to get the most out of this little Earth-Journey!

Life is our heritage--we all have so much vitality at our disposal--what
shall we do with it?

Truth can be proved in just one way, and no other--that is, by living
it. You know what is good, only by trying. Truth, for us, is that which
brings good results--happiness or reasonable content, health, peace and
prosperity. These things are all relative--none are final, and they are
good only as they are mixed in right proportion with other things.
Oxygen, we say, is life, but it is also death, for it attacks every
living thing with pitiless persistency. Hydrogen is good, but it makes
the very hottest fire known, and may explode if you try to confine it.

Prosperity is excellent, but too much is very dangerous to most folks;
and to seek happiness as a final aim is like loving love as a
business--the end is desolation, death. Good health is best secured and
retained by those who are not anxious about health. Absolute good can
never be known, for always and forever creeps in the suspicion that if
we had acted differently a better result might have followed.

And that which is good for one is not necessarily good for another.

But there are certain general rules of conduct which apply to all men,
and to sum these up and express them in words is the business of the
philosopher. As all men live truth, in degree, and all men express some
truth in language, so to that extent all men are philosophers; but by
common assent, we give the title only to the men who make other men
think for themselves.

Whistler refers to Velasquez as "a painter's painter." John Wesley said,
"No man is worthy to be called a teacher, unless he be a teacher of
teachers." The great writer is the one who inspires writers. And in this
book I will not refer to a man as a philosopher unless he has inspired

Preachers and priests in the employ of a denomination are attorneys for
the defense. God is not found in a theological seminary, for very seldom
is the seminary seminal--it galvanizes the dead rather than vitalizes
the germs of thought in the living. No man understands theology--it is
not intended to be understood; it is merely believed. Most colleges are
places where is taught the gentle art of sophistication; and memorizing
the theories of great men gone passes for knowledge.

Words are fluid and change their meaning with the years and according to
the mind and mood of the hearer. A word means all you read into it, and
nothing more. The word "soph" once had a high and honorable distinction,
but now it is used to point a moral, and the synonym of sophomore is

Originally the sophist was a lover of truth; then he became a lover of
words that concealed truth, and the chief end of his existence was to
balance a feather on his nose and keep three balls in the air for the
astonishment and admiration of the bystanders.

Education is something else.

Education is growth, development, life in abundance, creation.

We grow only through exercise. The faculties we use become strong, and
those we fail to use are taken away from us.

This exercise of our powers through which growth is attained affords the
finest gratification that mortals know. To think, reason, weigh, sift,
decide and act--this is life. It means health, sanity and length of
days. Those live longest who live most.

The end of college education to the majority of students and parents is
to secure a degree, and a degree is valuable only to the man who needs
it. Visiting the office of the "Outlook," a weekly, religious newspaper,
I noticed that the titles, Rev., Prof, and Dr., and the degrees, M. D.,
D. D., LL. D., Ph. D., were carefully used by the clerks in addressing
envelopes and wrappers. And I said to the manager, "Why this misuse of
time and effort? The ink thus wasted should be sold and the proceeds
given to the poor!" And the man replied, "To omit these titles and
degrees would cost us half our subscription-list." And so I assume that
man is a calculating animal, not a thinking one.

And the point of this sermonette is that truth is not monopolized by
universities and colleges; nor must we expect much from those who parade
degrees and make professions. It is one thing to love truth and it is
another thing to lust after honors.

The larger life--the life of love, health, self-sufficiency, usefulness
and expanding power--this life in abundance is often taught best out of
the mouths of babes and sucklings. It is not esoteric, nor hidden in
secret formulas, nor locked in languages old and strange.

No one can compute how much the bulwarked learned ones have blocked the
path of wisdom. Socrates, the barefoot philosopher, did more good than
all the Sophists with their schools. Diogenes, who lived in a tub,
searched in vain for an honest man, owned nothing but a blanket and a
bowl, and threw the bowl away when he saw a boy drinking out of his
hand, even yet makes men think, and so blesses and benefits the race.
Jesus of Nazareth, with no place to lay his tired head, associating with
publicans and sinners, and choosing his closest companions from among
ignorant fishermen, still lives in the affections of millions of people,
a molding force for good untold. Friedrich Froebel, who first preached
the propensity to play as a pedagogic dynamo, as the tides of the sea
could be used to turn the countless wheels of trade, is yet only
partially accepted, but has influenced every teacher in Christendom and
stamped his personality upon the walls of schoolrooms unnumbered. Then
comes Richard Wagner, the political outcast, writing from exile the
music that serves as a mine for much of our modern composing, marching
down the centuries to the solemn chant of his "Pilgrims' Chorus";
William Morris, Oxford graduate and uncouth workingman in blouse and
overalls, arrested in the streets of London for haranguing crowds on
Socialism, let go with a warning, on suspended sentence--canceled only
by death--making his mark upon the walls of every well-furnished house
in England or America; Jean Francois Millet, starved out in art-loving
Paris, his pictures refused at the Salon, living next door to abject
want in Barbizon, dubbed the "wild man of the woods," dead and turned to
dust, his pictures commanding such sums as Paris never before paid; Walt
Whitman, issuing his book at his own expense, publishers having refused
it, this book excluded from the mails, as Wanamaker immortalized himself
by serving a like sentence on Tolstoy; Walt Whitman, riding on top of a
Broadway 'bus all day, happy in the great solitude of bustling city
streets, sending his barbaric yawp down the ages, singing pæans to those
who fail, chants to Death--strong deliverer--and giving courage to a
fear-stricken world; Thoreau, declining to pay the fee of five dollars
for his Harvard diploma "because it wasn't worth the price," later
refusing to pay poll-tax and sent to jail, thus missing, possibly, the
chance of finding that specimen of Victoria regia on Concord
River--Thoreau, most virile of all the thinkers of his day, inspiring
Emerson, the one man America could illest spare; Spinoza, the
intellectual hermit, asking nothing, and giving everything--all these
worked their philosophy up into life and are the type of men who jostle
the world out of its ruts--creators all, one with Deity, sons of God,
saviors of the race.

       *       *       *       *       *

Washington Irving once spoke of Spain as the Paradise of Jews. But it
must be borne in mind that he wrote the words in Granada, which was
essentially a Moorish province. The Moors and the Jews are both Semitic
in origin--they trace back to a common ancestry. It was the Moslem Moors
that welcomed the Jews in both Venetia and Spain, not the Christians.
The wealth, energy and practical business sense of the Jews recommended
them to the grandees of Leon, Aragon and Castile. To the Jews they
committed their exchequer, the care of their health, the setting of
their jewels, and the fashioning of their finery. In this genial
atmosphere many of the Jews grew great in the study of science,
literature, history, philosophy and all that makes for mental
betterment. They increased in numbers, in opulence and in culture. Their
thrift and success set them apart as a mark for hate and envy.

It was a period of ominous peace, of treacherous repose.

A senseless and fanatical cry went up, that the Moors--the
infidels--must be driven from Spain. The iniquities and inhuman
barbarities visited upon the Mohammedan Moors would make a book in
itself, but let it go at this: Ferdinand and Isabella drove the
Mohammedans from Spain. In the struggle, the Jews were overlooked--and
anyway, Christians do not repudiate the Old Testament, and if the Jews
would accept Christ, why, they could remain!

It looked easy to the gracious King and Queen of Spain--it was really
generous: two religions were unnecessary, and Christianity was beautiful
and right. If the Jews would become Catholics, all barriers would be
removed--the Jews would be recognized as citizens and every walk of life
would be open to them.

This manifesto to the Jews is still quoted by Churchmen to show the
excellence, tolerance, patience and love of the Spanish rulers. Turn
your synagogues over to the Catholics--come and be one with us--we will
all worship the one God together--come, these open arms invite--no
distinctions--no badges--no preferences--no prejudices--come!

In quoting the edict it is not generally stated that the Jews were given
thirty days to make the change.

The Jews who loved their faith fled; the weak succumbed, or pretended
to. If a Jew wished to flee the country he could, but he must leave all
his property behind. This caused many to remain and profess
Christianity, only awaiting a time when their property could be turned
into gold or jewels and be borne upon the person. This fondness for
concrete wealth is a race instinct implanted in the Jewish mind by the
inbred thought that possibly tomorrow he must fly.

After attending service at a Catholic Church, Jews would go home and in
secret read the Talmud and in whispers chant the Psalms of David.

Laws were passed making such action a penal offense--spies were
everywhere. No secret can be kept long, and in the Province of Seville
over two thousand Jews were hanged or burned in a single year. When
Ferdinand and Isabella gave Torquemada, Deza and Lucio orders to make
good Catholics of all Jews, they had not the faintest idea what would be
the result. Every Jew that was hurried to the stake was first stripped
of his property.

No Jew was safe, especially if he was rich--his sincerity or insincerity
had really little to do in the matter. The prisons were full, the fagots
crackled, the streets ran blood, and all in the name of the gentle

Then for a time the severity relaxed, for the horror had spent itself.
But early in the Seventeenth Century the same edicts were again put

Fortunately, priesthood had tried its mailed hand on the slow and
sluggish Dutch, with the result that the Spaniards were driven from the
Netherlands. Holland was the home of freedom. Amsterdam became a Mecca
for the oppressed. The Jews flocked thither, and among others who, in
Sixteen Hundred Thirty-one, landed on the quay was a young Jew by the
name of Michael d'Espinoza. With him was a Moorish girl that he had
rescued from the clutch of a Spanish grandee, in whose house she had
been kept a prisoner.

By a happy accident, this beautiful girl of seventeen had escaped from
her tormentors and was huddling, sobbing, in an alley as the young Jew
came hurrying by on his way to the ship that was to bear him to
freedom. It was near day-dawn--there was no time to lose--the young man
only knew that the girl, like himself, was in imminent peril. A small
boat waited near--soon they were safely secreted in the hold of the
ship. Before sundown the tide had carried the ship to sea, and Portugal
was but a dark line on the horizon.

Other refugees were on board the boat; they came from their
hiding-places--and the second day out a refugee rabbi called a meeting
on deck. It was a solemn service of thanksgiving and the songs of Zion
were sung, the first time for some in many months, and only friends and
the great, sobbing, salt sea listened.

The tears of the Moorish girl were now dried--the horror of the future
had gone with the black memories of the past. Other women, not quite so
poor, contributed to her wardrobe, and there and then, after she had
been accepted into the Jewish faith, she and Michael d'Espinoza, aged
twenty-two, were married.

The ship arrived at Amsterdam in safety. In a year, on November
Twenty-fourth, Sixteen Hundred Thirty-two, in a little stone house that
still stands on the canal bank, was born Benedict Spinoza.

       *       *       *       *       *

Benedict Spinoza was brought up in the faith and culture of his people.
Beyond his religious training at the synagogue, there was a Jewish High
School at Amsterdam which he attended. This school might compare very
favorably with our modern schools, in that it included a certain degree
of manual training. Besides this he had received special instruction
from several learned rabbis. In matters of true education, the Jews have
ever been in advance of the Gentile world--they bring their children up
to be useful. The father of Benedict was a maker of lenses for
spectacles, and at this trade the boy was very early set to work. Again
and again in the writings of Spinoza, we find the argument that every
man should have a trade and earn his living with his hands, not by
writing, speaking or philosophizing. If you can earn a living at your
trade, you thus make your mind free.

This early idea of usefulness led to a sympathy with another religious
body, of which there were quite a number of members in Holland: the
Mennonites. This sect was founded by Menno Simons, a Frieslander,
contemporary of Luther; only this man swung on further from Catholicism
than Luther and declared that a paid priesthood was what made all the
trouble. Religion to him was a matter of individual inspiration. When an
institution was formed, built on man's sense of relation with his Maker,
property purchased, and paid priests employed, instantly there was a
pollution of the well of life. It became a money-making scheme, and a
grand clutch for place and power followed: it really ceased to be
religion at all, so long as we define religion in its spiritual sense.
"A priest," said Menno, "is a man who thrives on the sacred relations
that exist between man and God, and is little better than a person who
would live on the love-emotions of men and women."

This certainly was bold language, but to be exact, it was persecution
that forced the expression. The Catholics had placed an interdict on all
services held by Protestant pastors, and the deprivation proved to Menno
that paid preaching and costly churches and trappings were really not
necessary at all. Man could go to God without them, and pray in secret.
Spirituality is not dependent on either church or priest.

The Mennonites in Holland escaped theological criticism by disclaiming
to be a church, and calling their institution a college, and themselves

All the Mennonites asked was to be let alone. They were plain,
unpretentious people, who worked hard, lived frugally, refused to make
oaths, to accept civil office, or to go to war. They are a variant of
the impulse that makes Quakers and all those peculiar people known as
Primitive Christians, who mark the swinging of the pendulum from pride
and pretense to simplicity and a life of modest usefulness.

The sincerity, truthfulness and virtue of the Mennonites so impressed
itself upon even the ruthless Corsican, that he made them exempt from

Before Spinoza was twenty, he had come into acquaintanceship with these
plain people. His relationship with the rabbis and learned men of Israel
had given him a culture that the Mennonites did not possess; but these
plain people, by the earnestness of their lives, showed him that the
science of theology was not a science at all. Nobody understands
theology: it is not meant to be understood--it is for belief. Spinoza
compared the Mennonites, who confessed they knew nothing, but hoped
much, to the rabbis, who pretended they knew all. His praise of the
Mennonites, and his criticisms of the growing love for power in Judaism,
were carried to the Jewish authorities by some young men who had come to
him in the guise of learners. Moreover, the report was abroad that he
was to marry a Gentile--the daughter of Van den Ende, the infidel.

On order, he appeared at the synagogue, and defended his position. His
ability in argument, his knowledge of Jewish law, his insight into the
lessons of history, were alarming to the assembled rabbis. The young man
was quiet, gentle, but firm. He expressed the belief that God might
possibly have revealed Himself to other peoples beside the Jews.

"Then you are not a Jew!" was the answer.

"Yes, I am a Jew, and I love my faith."

"But it is not all to you?"

"I confess that occasionally I have found what seems to be truth
outside of the Law."

The rabbis tore their raiment in mingled rage and surprise at the young
man's temerity.

Spinoza did not withdraw from the Jewish Congregation--he was thrust
out. Moreover, a fanatical Jew, in the warmth of his religious zeal,
attempted to kill him. Spinoza escaped, his clothing cut through by a
dagger-thrust, close to the heart.

The curse of Israel was upon him--his own brothers and sisters refused
him shelter, his father turned against him, and again was the icy
unkindness of kinsmen made manifest. The tribe of Spinoza lives in
history, saved from the fell clutch of oblivion by the man it denied
with an oath and pushed in bitterness from its heart. Spinoza fled to
his friends, the Mennonites, plain market-gardeners who lived a few
miles out of the city.

Spinoza had not meant to leave the Jews--the racial instinct was strong
in him, and the pride of his people colored his character to the last.
But the attempts to bribe him and coerce him into a following of
fanatical law, when this law did not appeal to his commonsense, forced
him into a position that his enemies took for innate perversity. When an
eagle is hatched in a barnyard brood and mounts on soaring pinions
toward the sun, it is always cursed and vilified because it does not
remain at home and scratch in the compost. Its flight skyward is
construed as proof of its vile nature.

How can people who do not think, and can not think, and therefore have
no thoughts to express, sympathize with one whose highest joy comes from
the expression of his thought?

Deprive a thinker of the privilege to think and you take from him his
life. The joy of existence lies in self-expression. What if we should
order the painter to quit his canvas, the sculptor to lay aside his
tools, the farmer to leave the soil? Do these things, and you do no more
than you do when you force a thinker to follow in the groove that dead
men have furrowed. The thirst for knowledge must be slaked or the soul
sickens and slow death follows.

In Spinoza's time the literature of Greece and Rome was locked in the
Latin language, which the Jews were forbidden to acquire. Young Spinoza
longed to know what Plato, Aristotle, Cicero, Seneca and Vergil had
taught, but these authors were considered anathema by the rabbinical
councils. Spinoza desired to be honest, and so asked for a special
dispensation in his favor, as he was to be a teacher--could he study the
Latin language?

And the answer was, "Read your Joshua, first chapter and eighth verse,
'This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth, but thou shalt
meditate therein day and night.'"

From this time on Spinoza was more or less under the ban, and rumors of
his heresy were rife. It is possible, if it had not been for one
person, that the growing desire for knowledge, the reaching out for
better things, the dissatisfaction with his environment, might have
passed in safety and the restless young rabbi slipped back into the
conventional Jew. Youth always has its periods of unrest--sometimes
more, sometimes less.

Spinoza had made the acquaintance of Van den Ende, a teacher of Greek
and Latin, an erratic, argumentative rationalist, who had his say on all
topics of the time, and fixed his place in history by being shot as a
revolutionary, just outside the walls of the Bastile.

But at this time Van den Ende was fairly prosperous and Amsterdam was
the freest city in Christendom.

Van den Ende had a daughter, Clara Maria, a little younger than Spinoza,
who surely was a most superior woman. She was the companion of her
father in his studies. It speaks well for the father and it speaks well
for the daughter that they were comrades and that his highest thought
was expressed to her. I can conceive of no finer joy coming to a man
than, as his hair whitens, to have a daughter who understands him at his
best, who enters into his life, sympathizes with his ideals, ministers
to his mental needs, who is his companion and friend. Only a great man
ever has such a daughter. Madame De Stael, who delighted in being called
"the daughter of Necker," was such a woman, and the splendor of her mind
was no less her father's glory than was the fact that he was the
greatest financier of his time.

Clara Van den Ende was her father's helper and companion, and when he
was busied in other tasks she took charge of his classes.

Auerbach has written a charming story with Clara Van den Ende and
Spinoza as a central theme. In the tale is pictured with skilful
psychology the awakening of the sleeping soul of Spinoza as he was
introduced from a cheerless home, devoid of art and freedom, into the
beauties of undraped Greece and the fine atmosphere of a forum where
nothing human was considered alien.

From a love for Vergil, Cicero and Horace, to a love for each other, was
a very natural sequence. A growing indifference for the censure of
Judaism was quite a natural result. Auerbach would have us believe that
no man alone ever stood out against the revilings of kinsmen and the
stupidity of sectarians: we move in the line of least resistance and
only a very great passion makes it possible for a man calmly to face the
contumely of an angry world.

Zangwill, in his vivid sketch, "The Maker of Lenses," makes this single
love-episode in the life of Spinoza the controlling impulse of his life,
probably reasoning on the premise that men who mark epochs are ever and
always, without exception, those with the love nature strongly implanted
in their hearts. So thoroughly does Zangwill believe in the one passion
of Spinoza's life, that a score of years after the chief incident of it
had transpired, he pictures the philosopher trembling at mention of the
woman's name, coughing to conceal his agitation and clutching the
doorpost for support. And this a man who smilingly faced a mob that
howled for his life, and was only moved to philosophize on the nature of
human intellect when a flying stone grazed his cheek!

But the lady had ambitions--the lens-maker was penniless, and probably
always would be--his passion was passive--he lacked the show and dash
that made other women jealous. And so Oldenburg, a rival with love and
jewels, won the heart that could not be won by love alone. That the lady
soon knew she had erred did not help her case--Spinoza loved his ideal,
and he had thought it was the woman.

       *       *       *       *       *

Follow Zangwill's stories of the Ghetto and your heart is wrung by the
injustice, cruelty and inhumanity visited upon the Jews by the people
who worship a Jew as God and make daily supplications to a Jewess.

But read between the lines and you will see that Israel Zangwill, child
of the Ghetto, knows that the Peculiar People are peculiar through
persecution, and not necessarily so through innate nature. Zangwill
knows that no religion is pure except in its stage of persecution, and
that Judaism, grown rich and powerful, would oppress and has oppressed.
Martyr and persecutor shift places easily.

The Jew arrives in a city at night, and in the morning takes down the
shutters and is doing business. The Jew winds his way into the life of
every city and becomes at once an integral part of it--a part, yet
separate and distinct, for his social and religious life is not colored
by his environment.

Children imitate unconsciously. The golden rule is not natural to
children: it has to be taught them. They do unto others as others have
done unto them, and have no question as to right or wrong. We are all
children, and have to think hard before we are conscious of any feeling
of the brotherhood of man. As soon as the Jews relaxed in Amsterdam--got
their breath, and felt secure--they did unto others as they had been
done by--they persecuted.

A Jew must be a Jew, and as they had been watched with suspicion in
Spain and Portugal by the Christians, so now they watched each other for
heresies. They compelled strictest obedience to every form and ceremony.
To the Jew the Law forms the firmament above and the earth beneath. All
is law to him, and his part and work in this life is obedience to law.

The Jewish religion is a concrete, unbroken mass of laws. The Jew is
bounded on the east by law; on the north by law; on the west by law; on
the south by law. There are set rules and laws that govern his getting
up, his going to bed, his eating, drinking, sleeping, and praying. There
is no phase of human relationship that is not covered by the Mishna and
Gemara. Being learned in the Law means being learned in the proper way
to kill chickens, to dress ducks, wear your vestments, go to prayers,
and what to say when you meet two Christians in an alley. If a Jew
quarrels with a neighbor and goes to his Rabbi for advice, the learned
man gets down his Talmud and finds the page. The relation of wife and
husband, child and parent, brother and sister, lover and sweetheart, are
covered by law, fixed, immovable. The learned men of Judah are men
learned in the Law, not learned in the science of life, and commonsense.
When these learned men meet they argue for six days and nights together
as to interpretations of the Law concerning whether it is right to make
a fire in your cook-stove on the Sabbath if a Christian is starving for
food on your doorstep, or what will become of you if you eat pork to
save your life.

Rational Jews are those who do what they think is right, but Orthodox
Jews are those who do what the Law prescribes. When Jesus plucked the
ears of corn on the Sabbath day, he proved himself a Rational Jew--he
set his own opinion higher than Law and thereby made himself an outcast.
Jewish Law provides curdling curses for just such offenses.

Plato's Republic was a scheme of life regulated absolutely by law; every
contingency was provided for. And Plato's plan was founded on the
hypothesis that it is the duty of wise men to do the thinking and
regulate the conduct of those who are supposed not to be wise enough to
think and to act for themselves. But Plato's idea lacked the "Thus saith
the Lord," with which Moses and Aaron enforced their edicts. So Plato's
Republic is still on paper, for no set of rules minutely regulating
conduct has ever been enforced except as the ruler made his subjects
believe he received his instructions direct from God.

Yet all the Jewish Laws are founded with an eye to a sanitary and
hygienic good--they are built on the basis of expediency. And that rule
of the Gemara which provides that if you have gravy on the table, you
can not also have butter, without sin, seems more of a move in the
direction of economics than a matter of ethics. Laws are good for the
people who believe that a blind obedience to a good thing is better than
to work your way alone and find out for yourself what is best and
right. The Jewish Law is based, like all religious codes, on the
assumption that man by nature is vile, and really prefers wrong to

The thought that all men prefer the good, and think at the moment they
are doing what is best, no matter what they do, was first sharply and
clearly expressed by Spinoza. Truth, he said, could only be reached
through freedom--a man must even have the privilege of thinking wrong so
long as his actions do not jeopardize the life and immediate safety of

For a people whose every act is governed by fixed laws there can be no
progression. Mistakes are the rungs of the ladder by which we reach the
skies. The man who allows the dead to regulate his life, and accepts
their thinking as final, satisfied to repeat what he is taught, remains
forever in the lowlands. His wings are leaden.

The Jews--most law-bound and priest-ridden of all peoples--are at home
everywhere because they have no home. They mix in the life of every
nation and remain forever separate and apart. They will run with you,
ride with you, trade with you, but they will not eat with you nor pray
with you. They build no Altars to the Unknown God, out of courtesy to
visitors and guests from distant climes. Mohammedans recognize the
divinity of Jesus, the Buddhists look upon him as one of many Christs,
the Universalist sees good in every faith, but the Jew regards all other
religions than his own as pestilence. If by chance, or in the line of
business, he finds himself in a heathen temple or Christian Church, his
Gemara orders that he shall present himself at his own temple for

Read Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy, and you behold on every page
curses, revilings, threats and bitter scorn for all outside the pale.
Orders by Jehovah to burn, kill and utterly destroy are frequent. And we
must remember that every people make their god in their own image. A
man's God is himself at his best; his devil is himself at his worst.

The very expression, "The Chosen People," would be an insult to every
man outside the pale, were it not such a petulant and childish boast
that its serious assumption makes us smile.

Well does Moses Mendelssohn, the Jew, say: "The Ghetto is an arrangement
first contrived by Jews for keeping infidels out of a sacred precinct.
When the infidels were strong enough they turned the tables and forbade
the Jews to leave their Ghetto except at certain hours. For the misery,
poverty and squalor of the Ghetto the Jew is not to blame--if he could,
he would have the Ghetto a place of opulence, beauty and all that makes
for the good. Every undesirable thing he would bestow on the outsider.
In the twilight days of Jewish power, the Jew, with bigotry, arrogance
and intolerance unsurpassed, regulated the infidels and fixed their
goings and comings as they now do his, and he would do it again if he
had the power. The Jew never changes--once a Jew always a Jew."

This was written by a man who was not only a Jew, but a man. He was a
Jew in pride of race--in racial instinct, but he was great enough to
know that all men are God's children, and that to set up a fixed,
dogmatic standard regulating every act of life has its serious
penalties. He was a Jew so big that he knew that the cruelty and
inhumanity visited upon the Jews by Christians was first taught to these
Christians by Jews--it is all in the Old Testament. The villainy you
have taught me I will execute. It shall go hard, but I will better the

The Christians who had persecuted Jews were really orthodox Jews in
disguise, and were actuated more by the Jewish Law expressed in the Old
Testament, than by the life of Jesus, who placed man above the Sabbath
and taught that the good is that which serves.

And so Benedict Spinoza, the Rabbi, gentle, spiritual, kind, heir to the
Jewish faith, learned in all the refinements of Jewish Law, knowing
minutely the history of the race, knowing that for which the curses of
Judaism were reserved, perceiving with unblinking eyes the absurdity and
folly of all dogmatic belief, gradually withdrew from practising and
following "Law," preferring his own commonsense. There were threats,
then attempts to bribe, and again threats and finally excommunication
and curses so terrible that if they were carried out, a man would walk
the earth an exile--unknown by brothers and sisters, shunned by the
mother that gave him birth, a moral leper to his father, despised,
rejected, turned away, spit upon by every being of his kind.

And here is the document:

     By the sentence of the angels, by the decree of the saints, we
     anathematize, cut off, curse, and execrate Baruch Spinoza, in the
     presence of these sacred books with the six hundred and thirteen
     precepts which are written therein, with the anathema wherewith
     Joshua anathematized Jericho; with the cursing wherewith Elisha
     cursed the children; and with all the cursings which are written in
     the Book of the Law; cursed be he by day, and cursed by night;
     cursed when he lieth down, and cursed when he riseth up; cursed
     when he goeth out, and cursed when he cometh in; the Lord pardon
     him never; the wrath and fury of the Lord burn upon this man, and
     bring upon him all the curses which are written in the Book of the
     Law. The Lord blot out his name under heaven. The Lord set him
     apart for destruction from all the tribes of Israel, with all the
     curses of the firmament which are written in the Book of the Law.
     There shall no one speak to him, no man write to him, no man show
     him any kindness, no man stay under the same roof with him, no man
     come nigh him.

       *       *       *       *       *

When the Jewish congregation had placed its ban upon Spinoza, he dropped
the Jewish name Baruch, for the Latin Benedictus. In this action he
tokened his frame of mind: he was going to persist in his study of the
Latin language, and his new name stood for peace or blessing, just as
the other had, being essentially the same as our word benediction. The
man's purpose was firm. To perfect himself in Latin, he began a study of
Descartes' "Meditations," and this led to proving the Cartesian
philosophy by a geometrical formula. In his quiet home among the simple
Mennonites, five miles from Amsterdam, there gradually grew up around
him a body of students to whom he read his writings. The Cartesian
philosophy swings around the proposition that only through universal
doubt can we at last reach truth. Spinoza soon went beyond this and made
his plea for faith in a universal Good.

Five years went by--years of work at his lenses, helping his friends in
their farm work, and several hours daily devoted to study and writing.
Spinoza's manuscripts were handed around by his pupils. He wrote for
them, and in making truth plain to them he made it clear to himself. The
Jews at Amsterdam kept track of his doings and made charges to the
Protestant authorities to the effect that Spinoza was guilty of treason,
and his presence a danger to the State. Spies were about, and their
presence becoming known to the Mennonites, caused uneasiness. To
relieve his friends of a possible unpleasant situation, the gentle
philosopher packed up his scanty effects and moved away. He went to the
village of Voorburg, two miles from The Hague.

Here he lived for seven years, often for six months not going farther
than three miles from home. He studied, worked and wrote, and his
writings were sent out to his few friends who circulated them among
friends of theirs, and in time the manuscripts came back soiled and
dog-eared, proof that some one had read them. Persecution binds human
hearts, and at this time there was a brotherhood of thinkers throughout
the capitals and University towns of Europe. Spinoza's name became known
gradually to these--they grew to look for his monthly contribution, and
in many places when his manuscript arrived little bands of earnest
students would meet, and the manuscript would be read and discussed. The
interdict placed on free thought made it attractive. Spinoza became
recognized by the esoteric few as one of the world's great thinkers,
although the good people with whom he lived knew him only as a model
lodger, who kept regular hours and made little trouble. Occasionally
visitors would come from a distance and remain for hours discussing such
abstract themes as the freedom of the will or the nature of the
over-soul. And these visitors caused the rustic neighbors to grow
curious, and we find Spinoza moving into the city and renting a modest
back room. By a curious chance, his landlady, fifty years before, had
been a servant in the household of Grotius, and once had locked that
great man in a trunk and escorted him, right side up, across the border
into Switzerland to escape the heresy-hunters who were looking for human
kindling. This kind landlady, now grown old, and living largely in the
past, saw points of resemblance between her philosophic boarder and the
great Grotius, and soon waxed boastful to the neighbors. Spinoza noticed
that he was being pointed out on the streets. His record had followed
him. The Jews hated him because he was a renegade; the Christians hated
him because he was a Jew, and both Catholics and Protestants shunned him
when they ought not, and greeted him with howls when they should have
let him alone.

He again moved his lodgings to the suburbs of the city, where he lived
with the family of Van der Spijck, a worthy Dutch painter who smoked his
pipe in calm indifference to the Higher Criticism. For their quiet and
studious lodger Van der Spijck and his wife had a profound regard. They
did not understand him, but they believed in him. Often he would go to
church with them and coming home would discuss the sermon with them at
length. The Lutheran pastor who came to call on the family invited
Spinoza to join his flock, and they calmly discussed the questions of
baptism and regeneration by faith together; but genius only expresses
itself to genius, and the pastor went away mystified. Van der Spijck
did not produce great art, yet his pictures are now in demand because he
was the kind and loyal friend of Spinoza, and his heart, not his art,
fixes his place in history.

In his sketch, Zangwill has certain of his old friends, members of the
Van den Ende family, hunt out the philosopher in his obscure lodgings
and pay him a social visit. Then it was that he turned pale, and
stammeringly tried to conceal his agitation at mention of the name of
the only woman he had ever loved.

The image of that one fine flaming up of divine passion followed him to
the day of his death. It was too sacred for him to discuss--he avoided
women, kept out of society, and forever in his sad heart there burned a
shrine to the ideal. And so he lived, separate and apart. A single
little room sufficed--the work-bench where he made his lenses near the
window, and near at hand the table covered with manuscript where he
wrote. Renan says that when he died, aged forty-three, his passing was
like a sigh, he had lived so quietly--so few knew him--there were no
earthly ties to break.

The worthy Van der Spijcks, plain, honest people, had invited him to go
to church with them. He smilingly excused himself--he had thoughts he
must write out ere they escaped. When the good man and his wife returned
in an hour, their lodger was dead.

A tablet on the house marks the spot, and but a short distance away in
the open square sits his form in deathless bronze, pensively writing
out an idea which we can only guess--or is it a last love-letter to the
woman to whom he gave his heart and who pushed from her the gift?

       *       *       *       *       *

Spinoza had courage, yet great gentleness of disposition. His habit of
mind was conciliatory: if strong opinions were expressed in his presence
concerning some person or thing, he usually found some good to say of
the person or an excuse for the thing. He was one of the most unselfish
men in history--money was nothing to him, save as it might minister to
his very few immediate wants or the needs of others.

He smilingly refused a pension offered him by a French courtier if he
would but dedicate a book to the King; and a legacy left him by an
admiring student, Simon de Vries, was declined for the reason that it
was too much and he did not wish the care of it. Later, he compromised
with the heirs by accepting an income of one hundred and twenty-five
dollars a year. "How unreasonable," he exclaimed, "they want me to
accept five hundred florins a year--I told them I would take three
hundred, but I will not be burdened by a stiver more." If he was
financially free from the necessity of earning his living at his trade,
he feared the quality of his thought might be diluted. You can not
think intently and intensely all of the time. Those who try it never are
able to dive deep nor soar high.... Good digestion demands a certain
amount of coarse food--refined and condensed aliment alone kills. Man
should work and busy himself with the commonplace, rest himself for his
flight, and when the moment of transfiguration comes, make the best of

All he asked was to be given the privilege to work and to think. As for
expressing his thoughts, he made no public addresses and during his life
only one of his books was printed. This was the "Tractatus
Theologico-Politicus," which mentioned "Hamburg" on the title page, but
with the author's name wisely omitted. Trite enough now are the
propositions laid down--that God is everywhere and that man is brother
to the tree, the rock, the flower. Emerson states the case in his
"Over-Soul" and "Spiritual Laws" in the true, calm Spinozistic style--as
if the gentle Jew had come back to earth and dictated his thought,
refined, polished and smooth as one of his own little lenses, to the man
of Concord. Benedictus Concordia, blessing and peace be with thee!

But the lynx-eyed censors soon discovered this single, solitary book of
Spinoza's, and although they failed to locate the author, Spinoza had
the satisfaction of seeing the work placed on the Index and a general
interdict issued against it by Christendom and Judea as well. It was
really of some importance. It was so thoroughly in demand that it still
circulated with false title pages. In the Lenox Library, New York, is a
copy of the first edition, finely bound, and lettered thus: "A Treatise
on the Sailing of Ships against the Wind," which shows the straits
booksellers were put to in evading the censors, and also reveals a touch
of wit that doubtless was appreciated by the Elect.

His modesty, patience, kindness and freedom from all petty whim and
prejudice set Spinoza apart as a marked man. Withal he was eminently
religious, and the reference to him by Novalis as "the God-intoxicated
man" seems especially applicable to one who saw God in everything.

Renan said at the dedication of The Hague monument to Spinoza, "Since
the days of Epictetus and Marcus Aurelius we have not seen a life so
profoundly filled with the sentiment of the divine."

When walking along the streets of The Hague and coarse voices called
after him in guttural, "Kill the renegade!" he said calmly, "We must
remember that these men are expressing the essence of their being, just
as I express the essence of mine."

       *       *       *       *       *

Spinoza taught that the love of God is the supreme good; that virtue is
its own reward, and folly its own punishment; and that every one ought
to love his neighbor and obey the civil powers.

He made no enemies except by his opinions. He was infinitely patient,
sweet in temper--had respect for all religions, and never offended by
parading his heresies in the faces of others.

Nothing but the kicks of scorn and the contumely that came to Spinoza
could possibly have freed him to the extent he was free from Judaistic

He had disciples who called him "Master," and who taught him nothing but
patience in answering their difficulties.

One is amazed at the hunger of the mind at the time of Spinoza. Men
seemed to think, and dare to grasp for "New Thought" to a marvelous

Spinoza says that "evil" and "good" have no objective reality, but are
merely relative to our feelings, and that "evil" in particular is
nothing positive, but a privation only, or non-existence.

Spinoza says that love consecrates every indifferent particular
connected with the object of affection. Good is that which we certainly
know to be useful to us. Evil is that which we certainly know stands in
the way of our command of good.

Good is that which helps. Bad is that which hinders our
self-maintenance and active powers.

A passage from Spinoza which well reveals his habit of thought and which
placed the censors on his track runs as follows:

     The ultimate design of the State is not to dominate men, to
     restrain them by fear, to make them subject to the will of others,
     but, on the contrary, to permit every one, as far as possible, to
     live in security. That is to say, to preserve intact the natural
     right which is his, to live without being harmed himself or doing
     harm to others. No, I say, the design of the State is not to
     transform men into animals or automata from reasonable beings; its
     design is to arrange matters that citizens may develop their minds
     and bodies in security, and to make free use of their reason. The
     true design of the State, then, is liberty. Whoever would respect
     the rights of the sovereign ought never to act in opposition to his
     decrees; but each has a right to think as he pleases and to say
     what he thinks, provided that he limits himself to speaking and to
     teaching in the name of pure reason, and that he does not attempt,
     in his private capacity, to introduce innovations into the State.
     For example, a citizen demonstrates that a certain law is repugnant
     to sound reason, and believing this, he thinks it ought to be
     abrogated. If he submits his opinion to the judgment of the
     sovereign, to which alone it belongs to establish and to abolish
     laws, and if, in the meantime, he does nothing contrary to law, he
     certainly deserves well of the State as being a good citizen.

     Let us admit that it is possible to stifle liberty of men and to
     impose on them a yoke, to the point that they dare not even
     murmur, however feebly, without the consent of the sovereign:
     never, it is certain, can any one hinder them from thinking
     according to their own free will. What follows hence? It is that
     men will think one way and speak another; that, consequently, good
     faith, so essential a virtue to a State, becomes corrupted; that
     adulation, so detestable, and perfidy, shall be held in honor,
     bringing in their train a decadence of all good and sound
     habitudes. What can be more fatal to a State than to exile, as
     malcontents, honest citizens, simply because they do not hold the
     opinion of the multitude, and because they are ignorant of the art
     of dissembling! What can be more fatal to a State than to treat as
     enemies and to put to death men who have committed no other crime
     than that of thinking independently! Behold, then, the scaffold,
     the dread of the bad man, which now becomes the glorious theater
     where tolerance and virtue blaze forth in all their splendor, and
     covers publicly with opprobrium the sovereign majesty! Assuredly,
     there is but one thing which that spectacle can teach us, and that
     is to imitate these noble martyrs, or, if we fear death, to become
     the abject flatterers of the powerful. Nothing hence can be so
     perilous as to relegate and submit to divine right things which are
     purely speculative, and to impose laws upon opinions which are, or
     at least ought to be, subject to discussion among men. If the right
     of the State were limited to repressing acts, and speech were
     allowed impunity, controversies would not turn so often into


     In the name of the Past and of the Future, the servants of
     Humanity--both its philosophical and its practical servants--come
     forward to claim as their due the general direction of the world.
     Their object is to constitute at length a real Providence in all
     departments--moral, intellectual and material.

                                                --_Auguste Comte_

[Illustration: AUGUSTE COMTE]

A little city girl asked of her country cousin, when honey was the topic
up for discussion, "Does your papa keep a bee?"

Let the statement go unchallenged, that a single bee has neither the
disposition nor the ability to make honey.

Bees accomplish nothing save as they work together, and neither do men.

Great men come in groups.

Six men, three living at the village of Concord, Massachusetts, and
three at Cambridge, fifteen miles away, supplied America really all her
literature, until Indiana suddenly loomed large on the horizon, and
assumed the center of the stage, like the spirit of the Brocken.

Five men made up the Barbizon school of painting, which has influenced
the entire art education of the world. And that those who have been
influenced and helped most, deny their redeemer with an oath, is a
natural phenomenon psychologists look for and fully understand.

Greece had a group of seven thinkers, in the time of Pericles, who made
the name and fame of the city deathless.

Rome had a similar group in the time of Augustus; then the world went
to sleep, and although there were individuals, now and then, of great
talent, their lights went out in darkness, for it takes bulk to make a

Florence had her group of thinkers and doers when Michelangelo and
Leonardo lived only a few miles apart, but never met. Yet each man
spurred the other on to do and dare, until an impetus was reached that
sent the names of both down the centuries.

Boswell gives us a group of a dozen men who made each other
possible--often helped by hate and strengthened by scorn.

The Mutual Admiration Society does not live in piping times of peace,
where glowing good-will strews violets; often the sessions of this
interesting aggregation are stormy and acrimonious, but one thing
holds--the man who arises at this board must have something to say.
Strong men, matched by destiny, set each other a pace. Criticism is full
and free. The most interesting and the most successful social experiment
in America owed its lease of life largely to its scheme of Public
Criticism, a plan society at large will adopt when it puts off
swaddling-clothes. Public Criticism is a diversion of gossip into a
scientific channel. It is a plan of healthful, hygienic, social

England produced one group of thinkers that changed the complexion of
the theological belief of Christendom--Darwin, Spencer, Wallace, Huxley
and Mill. But this group built on the French philosophers, who were
taught antithetically by the decaying and crumbling aristocracy of
France. Rousseau and Voltaire loved each other and helped each other, as
the proud Leonardo helped the humble and no less proud peasant,
Michelangelo--by absent treatment.

Victor Hugo says that when the skulls of Voltaire and Rousseau were
taken in a sack from the Pantheon and tumbled into a common grave, a
spark of recognition was emitted that the gravedigger did not see.

Voltaire was patronized by Frederick the Great, who, though a married
man, lived a bachelor life and forbade women his court, and protected
Kant with the bulging forehead and independent ways. Kant lived among a
group of thinkers he never saw, but reached out and touched finger-tips
with them over the miles that his feet never traversed.

To Kant are we indebted for Turgot, that practical and farseeing man of
affairs told of in matchless phrase in Thomas Watson's "Story of
France," the best book ever written in America, with possibly a few
exceptions. Condorcet kept step with him, and Auguste Comte calls
Condorcet his spiritual stepfather, and a wit of the time here said,
"Then Turgot is your uncle"; and Comte replied, "I am proud of the
honor, for if Turgot is my uncle, then indeed am I of royal blood."

Auguste Comte is the one bright particular star amid that milky way of
riotous thinkers which followed close upon the destruction of the French

When Napoleon visited the grave of Rousseau, he mused in silence and
then said, "Perhaps it might have been as well if this man had never

And Marshal Ney, standing near, said, "It reveals small gratitude for
Napoleon Bonaparte to say so." Napoleon smiled and answered, "Possibly
the world would be as well off if neither of us had ever lived."

Auguste Comte thought that Napoleon was just as necessary in the social
evolution as Rousseau, and that both were needed--and he himself was
needed to make the matter plain in print.

       *       *       *       *       *

Auguste Comte was born at Montpelier, France, in Seventeen Hundred
Ninety-eight. His father was receiver of taxes, an office that carried
with it much leisure and a fair income. Men of leisure seldom have time
to think--if you want a thing done it is safest and best not to pick a
publican. Only busy men have time to do things. The men who have good
incomes and work little are envied only by those with a mental

The boy Auguste owed little to his parents for his peculiar evolution,
save as his father taught him by antithesis: the children of drunkards
make temperance fanatics, and shiftless fathers sometimes have sons who
are great financiers.

When nine years of age, the passion to know and to become was upon
Auguste Comte. He was small in stature, insignificant in appearance, and
had a great appetite for facts. Comte is a fine refutation of the maxim
that infant prodigies fall victims to arrested development.

At twelve years of age he was filled with the idea that the social order
was all wrong. To the utter astonishment of his parents and tutors, he
argued that the world could not be bettered until mankind was taught the
lesson that history, languages, theology and polite etiquette were not
learning at all; and as long as educated men centered on these things,
there was no hope for the race.

The birch was brought in to disannex the boy from his foolishness, but
this only seemed to make him cling the closer to what he was pleased to
call his convictions.

He read books that wearied the brains of grown-ups, and took a hearty
interest in the abstruse, the obscure and the complex.

At thirteen, that peculiar time when the young turn to faith, this
perverse rareripe was so filled with doubt that it ran over and he stood
in the slop. He offered to publicly debate the question of Freewill with
the local curé; and on several occasions stood up in meeting and
contradicted the preacher.

His parents, thinking to divert his mind from abstractions to useful
effort, sent him to the Polytechnic School at Paris, that excellent
institution founded by Napoleon, which served America most nobly as a
model for the Boston School of Technology, only the French
"Polytechnique" was purely a government institution--a sample of the
Twentieth Century sent for the benefit of the Nineteenth.

But institutions are never much beyond the people--they can not be, for
the people dilute everything until it is palatable. Laws that do not
embody public opinion can never be enforced. No man who expresses
himself is really much ahead of his time--if he is, the times snuff him
out, and quickly.

In Eighteen Hundred Fourteen, the Polytechnic School was well saturated
with the priestly idea of education, and the attempt was made to
produce an alumni of cultured men, rather than a race of useful ones.

Revolt was rife in the ranks of the students. It is still debatable
whether revolution and riot in colleges are actuated by a passion for
truth or a love of excitement. Anyway, the "Techs" laid deep places to
the effect that when a certain professor appeared at chapel, a unique
reception would be in store for him.

He appeared, and a fusillade of books, rulers and ink-wells shot at his
learned head from every quarter of the room. Other professors appeared
and sought to restore order. Riot followed--seats were torn up, windows
broken, and there was much loud talk and gesticulation peculiarly

It was Ninety-three done in little.

Instead of expelling the delinquents, the National Assembly took the
matter in hand and simply voted to close the school.

Auguste Comte went home a hero, proud as a Heidelberg student, with a
sweeping scar on his chin and the end of his nose gone. "I have dealt
the Old Education its deathblow," he solemnly said, mistaking a
cane-rush for a revolution.

Against the direct command of his parents, he went back to Paris. He had
now reached the mature age of eighteen. He resolved to write out truth
as it occurred to him, and incidentally he would gain a livelihood by
teaching mathematics.

At Paris, the mental audacity of the youth won him recognition; he
picked up a precarious living, and was a frequenter at scientific
lectures and discussions, and in gatherings where great themes were up
for debate, he was always present.

Benjamin Franklin was his ideal. In his notebook he wrote this:
"Franklin at twenty-five resolved he would become great and wise. I now
vow the same at twenty." He had five years the start!

Franklin, calm, healthy, judicial, wise--the greatest man America has
produced--worked his philosophy up into life. He did not think much
beyond his ability to perform. To him, to think was to do. And he did
things that to many men were miracles.

Comte once said, "I would have followed the venerable Benjamin Franklin
through the street, and kissed the hem of the homespun overcoat, made by
Deborah." These men were very unlike. One was big, gentle, calm and
kind; the other was small, dyspeptic, excitable and full of challenge.
Yet the little man had times of insight and abstraction, when he tracked
reasons further than the big, practical man could have followed them.

Franklin's habit of life--the semi-ascetic quality of getting your
gratification by doing without things--especially pleased Comte. He
lived in a garret on two meals a day, and was happy in the thought that
he could endure and yet think and study. The old monastic impulse was
upon him, minus the religious features--or stay! why may not science
become a religion? And surely science can become dogmatic, and even
tyrannically build a hierarchy on a hypothesis no less than theology.

A friend, pitying young Comte's hard lot, not knowing its sweet
recompense, got him a position as tutor in the household of a nobleman;
like unto the kind man who caught the sea-gulls roosting on an iceberg,
and in pity, transferred them to the warm delights of a compost-pile in
his barnyard.

Comte held the place for three weeks and then resigned. He went back to
the garret and sweet liberty--having had his taste of luxury, but
miserable in it all--wondering how a gavotte or a minuet could make a
man forget that he was living in a city where thirty thousand human
beings were constantly only one meal beyond the sniff of starvation.

At this time Comte came into close relationship with a man who was to
have a very great influence in his life--this was Count Henri of
Saint-Simon, usually spoken of as Saint-Simon.

Saint-Simon was rich, gently proud, and fondly patronizing. He was a
sort of scientific Mæcenas--and be it known that Mæcenas was a poet and
philosopher of worth, and one Horace was his pupil.

Saint-Simon was an excellent and learned man who wrote, lectured and
taught on philosophic themes. He had a garden-school, modeled in degree
after that of Plato. Saint-Simon became much interested in young Comte,
invited him to his classes, supplied him books, clothing, and tickets to
the opera. Part of the time Comte lived under Saint-Simon's roof, and
did translating and copying in partial payment for his meal-ticket. The
teacher and the pupil had a fine affection for each other. What Comte
needed, he took from Saint-Simon as if it were his own.

In writing to friends at this time, Comte praises Saint-Simon as the
greatest man who ever lived--"a model of patience, generosity, learning
and love--my spiritual father!" There was fifty years' difference in
their ages, but they studied, read and rambled the realm of books
together, with mutual pleasure and profit.

The central idea of the "Positive Philosophy" is that of the three
stages through which man passes in his evolution. This was gotten from
Saint-Simon, and together they worked out much of the thought that Comte
afterward carried further and incorporated in his book.

But about this time, Saint-Simon, in one of his lectures, afterward
printed, made use of some of the thoughts that Comte had expressed, as
if they were his own--and possibly they were. There is no copyright on
an idea, no caveat can be filed on feeling, and at the last there is no
such thing as originality, except as a matter of form.

Young Comte now proved his humanity by accusing his teacher of stealing
his radium. A quarrel followed, in which Comte was so violent that
Saint-Simon had to put the youth out of his house.

The wrangles of Grub Street would fill volumes: both sides are always
right, or wrong--it matters little, and is simply a point of view. But
the rancor of it all, if seen from heaven, must serve finely to dispel
the monotony of the place--a panacea for paradisiacal ennui.

From lavish praise, Comte swung over to words of bitterness and
accusation. Having sat at the man's table and partaken of his
hospitality for several years, he was now guilty of the unpardonable
offense of ridiculing and berating him.

He speaks of the Saint as a "depraved quack," and says that the time he
spent with him was worse than wasted. If Saint-Simon was the rogue and
pretender that Comte avers, it is no certificate of Comte's insight that
it took him four years to find it out.

       *       *       *       *       *

In Eighteen Hundred Twenty-five Comte married. The ceremony was
performed civilly, on a sudden impulse of what Schopenhauer would call
"the genius of the genus." The lady was young, agreeable; and having no
opinions of her own, was quite willing to accept his. Comte
congratulated himself that here was virgin soil, and he laid the
flattering unction to his soul that he could mold the lady's mind to
match his own. She would be his helpmeet. Comte had not read Ouida, who
once wrote that when God said, "I will make a helpmeet for him," He was
speaking ironically.

Comte had associated but very little with women--he had theories about
them. Small men, with midget minds, know femininity much better than do
the great ones. Traveling salesmen, with checkered vests, gauge women as
Herbert Spencer never could.

Comte's wife was pretty and she was astute--as most pretty women are.
John Fiske, in his lecture on "Communal Life," says that astute persons
add nothing of value to the community in which they live--their mission
being to be the admired glass of fashion for the non-cogitabund. The
value of astuteness is that it protects us from the astute.

Samuel Johnson and his wife had their first quarrel on the way from the
church, and Auguste Comte and his wife tiffed going down the steps from
the notary's. Comte had no use for ecclesiastical forms, and the lady
agreed with him until after the notary had earned his fee. Then she
suddenly had qualms, like those peculiar ladies told of by Robert Louis
Stevenson, who turn the Madonna's face to the wall.

The couple went to Montpelier on their wedding-tour, to visit Comte's
parents. The new wife agreed with the old folks on but one point--the
marriage should be solemnized by a priest. Having won them on this
point, they stood a solid phalanx against the husband; but the lady took
exceptions to Montpelier on all other grounds--she hated it thoroughly
and said so.

Instead of molding her to his liking, Comte was being kneaded into
animal crackers for her amusement.

Then we find him writing to a friend, confessing that his hopes were
ashes; but in his misery he grows philosophical and says, "It is all
good, for now I am driven back to my work, and from now on my life is
dedicated to science."

No doubt the lady was as much disappointed in the venture as was the
husband, but he, being literary, eased his grief by working it up into
art, while her side of the story lies buried deep in silence glum.

In choosing the names of philosophers for this series, no thought was
given in the selection beyond the achievements of the men. But it now
comes to me with a slight surprise that seven out of the twelve were
unmarried, and probably it would have been as well--certainly for the
wives--if the other five had remained bachelors, too. Xantippe would
have been the gainer, even if Socrates did miss his discipline.

To center on science and devote one's thought to philosophy produces a
being more or less deformed. There is great danger in specialization:
Nature sacrifices the man in order to get the thing done. Abstract
thought unfits one for domestic life; for, to a degree, it separates a
man from his kind.

The proper advice to a woman about to marry a philosopher would be,

       *       *       *       *       *

The advantage of a little actual hardship in one's life is that it makes
existence real and not merely literary. Comte was inclined to thrive on
martyrdom. His restless, eager mind invented troubles, if there were no
real ones, but he was wise enough to know this, as he once said: "The
trials of life are all of one size--imaginary pains are as bad as real
ones, and men who have no actual troubles usually conjure forth a few.
Thus far, happily, I am not reduced to this strait."

We thus see that the true essence of philosophy was there. Comte got a
gratification by dissecting, analyzing and classifying his emotions. All
was grist that came to his mill.

When he was twenty-eight the Positive Philosophy had assumed such
proportions in his mind that he announced a course of twelve lectures on
the subject.

He was jealous of his discoveries, and was intent on getting all the
credit that was due him. Money he cared little for; power and reputation
to him were the only gods worth appeasing. The thought of domestic joy
was forever behind, but philosophy came as a solace. A prospectus was
sent out and tickets were issued. The landlady where he boarded offered
her parlor and her boarder, second floor back, for the benefit of
science. Several zealous denizens of the Latin Quarter made a canvass,
and enough tickets were sold so that the philosopher felt that at last
the world was really at his feet.

When the afternoon for the first lecture arrived, no carriages blocked
the street, and as only about half of those who had purchased tickets
appeared, the difficulties of the landlady and her nervous boarder were
much lessened.

There was one man at this first lecture who was profoundly impressed,
and if we had his testimony, and none other, we might well restrain our
smiles. That man was Alexander von Humboldt. In various passages
Humboldt does Comte the honor of quoting from him, and in one instance
says, "He has summed up certain phases of truth better than they have
ever been expressed before."

Little did the landlady guess that her crusty, crabbed boarder was
firing a shot that would be heard 'round the world, and surely the
gendarme on that particular beat never heard it--so small and
commonplace are the beginnings of great things!

Comte was so saturated with this theme--so immersed in it--that it
consumed him like a fever. Three lectures were given, but at the third,
without warning, the man's nerves snapped--he stopped, sat down, and the
audience filed out perplexed, thinking they had merely seen an
exhibition of one of the eccentricities of genius. The philosopher's
mind was a blank, and kind friends sent him away to a hospital.

It was two years before he regained his reason. The enforced rest did
him good. Nervous Prostration is heroic treatment on the part of Nature.
It is an intent to do for the man what he will never do for himself.

       *       *       *       *       *

Unkind critics, hotly intent on refuting the Positive Philosophy, seized
upon the fact of Comte's mental trouble and made much of it. "Look you!"
said they, "the man is insane!"

This is convenient, but not judicial. Comte's philosophy stands or falls
on its own merits, and what the author did before, after, or during the
writing of his theses matters not. Madmen are not mad all the time, and
the fact that Sir Isaac Newton was for a time unbalanced does not lessen
our regard for the "Principia," nor consign to limbo the law of
gravitation. Ruskin's work is not the less thought of because the man
had his pathetic spells of indecision. Martin Luther had visions of
devils before he saw the truth, and Emerson's love for Longfellow need
not be disparaged because he looked down on his still, white face and
said, "A dear gentle soul, but I really can not remember his name."

Men write on physiology, and then die, but this does not disprove the
truth they expressed, but failed, possibly, to fully live. The great man
always thinks further than he can travel--even the rest of us can do
that. We can think "Chicago" in a second, but to go there takes time,
strength and money.

When Comte's mental trouble was at its height, and two men were required
to care for him, Lamennais persuaded his wife to have their marriage
solemnized by the Church, and this was done. This performance was such
a violation of sanctity and decency that in after-years Comte could not
believe it was true, until he consulted the church records. "They might
as well have had me confirmed," said Comte, grimly. And we can well
guess that the action did not increase his regard for either his wife or
the Church. The trick seems quite on a par with that of the astute
colored gentleman who anxiously asks for love-powders at the corner
drugstore; or the good wives who purchase harmless potions from red-dyed
rogues to place in the husband's coffee to cure him of the liquor habit.

However, the incident gives a clew to the mental processes of Madame
Comte--she would accomplish by trickery what she had failed to do by
moral suasion, and this in the name of religion!

Two years of enforced rest, and the glowing mind of the philosopher
awoke with a start. He rubbed his eyes after his Rip-Van-Winkle sleep,
and called for his manuscripts--he must prepare for the fourth lecture!

The rest of the course was given, and in Eighteen Hundred Thirty the
first volume of Positive Philosophy was issued.

The sixth and last volume appeared in Eighteen Hundred Forty-two--twelve
years of intense application and ceaseless work. This was the happiest
time of Comte's life; he had the whole scheme in his head from the
start, but he now saw it gradually taking form, and it was meeting with
appreciation from a few earnest thinkers, at least. His services were
in demand for occasional lectures on scientific subjects. In astronomy,
especially, he excelled, and on this theme he was able to please a
popular assembly.

The Polytechnic School had now grown to large proportions, and the
institution that Comte had helped to slide into dissolution now called
him back to serve as examiner and professor.

The constant misunderstandings with his wife had increased to such a
point that both felt a separation desirable. Married people do not
separate on slight excuse--they go because they must. That Comte thought
much more of the lady when they were several hundred miles apart than
when they were together, there is no doubt. He wrote to her at regular
intervals, one-half of his income was religiously sent to her, and he
practised the most painstaking economy in order that he might feel that
she was provided for.

One letter, especially, to his wife reveals a side of Comte's nature
that shows he had the instinct of a true teacher. He says, "I hardly
dare disclose the sweet and softened feeling that comes over me when I
find a scholar whose heart is thoroughly in his work."

The Positive Philosophy was taken up by John Stuart Mill, who wrote a
fine essay on it. It was Mill who introduced the work to Harriet
Martineau. Mr. and Mrs. Mill had intended to translate and condense the
philosophy of Comte for English readers, but when Miss Martineau
expressed her intention of attempting the task, they relinquished the
idea, but backed her up in her efforts.

Miss Martineau condensed the six volumes into two, and what is most
strange, Comte thought so well of the work that he wrote a glowing
acknowledgment of it.

The Martineaus were of good old Huguenot stock, and the French language
came easy to Harriet. For the plain people of France she had a profound
regard, and being sort of a revolutionary by prenatal instincts, Comte's
work from the start appealed to her. James Martineau had such a
bristling personality--being very much like his sister Harriet--that
when this sister wrote a review of a volume of his sermons, showing the
fatuity and foolishness of the reasoning, and calling attention to much
bad grammar, the good man cut her off with a shilling--"which he will
have to borrow," said Harriet.

James hugged the idea to his death that his sister had insulted his
genius--"But I forgive her," he said, which remark proves that he
hadn't, for if he had, he would not have thought to mention the matter.
James Martineau was a great man, but if he had been just a little
greater he would have taken a profound pride in a sister who was so
sharp a shooter that she could puncture his balloon. James Martineau was
a theologian; Harriet was a Positivist. But Positivity had a lure for
him, and so there is a long review, penned largely with aqua fortis, on
Miss Martineau's translation, done by her brother for the "Edinburgh
Review," wherein Harriet is not once mentioned.

When Robert Ingersoll's wife would occasionally, under great stress of
the servant-girl problem, break over a bit, as good women will, and say
things, Robert would remark, "Gently, my dear, gently--I fear me you
haven't yet gotten rid of all your Christian virtues."

The Reverend Doctor James Martineau never quite got rid of his Christian
virtues, which perhaps proves that a little hate, like strychnin, is
useful as a stimulant when properly reduced, for Doctor Martineau died
only a few years ago, having nearly rounded out a century run.

Harriet Martineau was in much doubt about how Comte would regard her
completed work, but was greatly relieved when he gave it his unqualified
approval. On his earnest invitation she visited him in Paris.
Fortunately, she did not have to resort to the Herbert Spencer expedient
of wearing ear-muffs for protection against loquacious friends. She
liked Comte first-rate, until he began to make love to her. Then his
stock dropped below par.

Comte was always much impressed by intellectual women. His wife had
given him a sample of the other kind, and caused him to swing out and
idealize the woman of brains.

So that, when Harriet Martineau admired the Positive Philosophy, it was
proof sufficient to Comte of her excellence in all things. She knew
better, and started soon for Dover.

Mr. and Mrs. Mill had called on Comte a few months before, and given him
a glimpse of the ideal--an intellectual man mated with an intellectual
woman. But Comte didn't see that it was plain commonsense that made them
great. Comte prided himself on his own commonsense, but the article was
not in his equipment, else he would not have put the blame of all his
troubles upon his wife. A man with commonsense, married to a woman who
hasn't any, does not necessarily forfeit his own.

Mr. or Mrs. Mill would have been great anywhere--singly, separately,
together, or apart. Each was a radiant center. Weakness multiplied by
two does not give strength, and naught times naught equals naught.

       *       *       *       *       *

Having finished the Positive Philosophy, Comte's restless mind began to
look around for more worlds to conquer.

In the expenditure of money he was careful, and in his accounts exact;
but the making of money and its accumulation were things that to him
could safely be delegated to second-class minds. A haughty pride of
intellect was his, not unmixed with that peculiar quality of the prima
donna which causes her to cut fantastic capers and make everybody kiss
her big toe.

Comte had done one thing superbly well. England had recognized his merit
to a degree that France had not, and to his English friends he now made
an appeal for financial help, so he could have freedom to complete
another great work he had in his mind. To John Stuart Mill he wrote,
outlining in a general way his new book on a social science, to be
called "The Positive Polity." It was, in a degree, to be a sequel to the
Positive Philosophy.

Mill communicated with Grote, the banker, known to us through his superb
history of Greece, and with the help of George Henry Lewes and a mite
from Herbert Spencer to show his good-will, a purse equal to about
twelve hundred dollars was sent to Comte.

Matters went along for a year, when Comte wrote a brief letter to Mill
suggesting that it was about time for another remittance. Mill again
appealed to Grote, and Grote, the man of affairs, wrote to his Paris
correspondent, who ascertained that Comte, now believing he was free
from the bread-and-butter bugaboo, was giving his services to the
Polytechnic, gratis, and also giving lectures to the people wherever
some one would simply pay for the hall.

To advance money to a man that he might write a book showing how the
nation should manage its finances, when the author could not look after
his own, reminded Grote of the individual who wrote from the Debtors'
Prison to the Secretary of the Exchequer, giving valuable advice. All
publishers are familiar with the penniless person who writes a book on
"How to Achieve Success," expecting to achieve success by publishing it.

Grote wrote to Mill, expressing the wholesome truth that the first duty
of every man was to make a living for himself--a fact which Mill states
in "On Liberty." Mill hadn't the temerity to pass Grote's maxim along to
Comte, and so sent a small contribution out of his own pocket. This was
very much like the Indian who, feeling that his dog's tail should be
amputated, cut it off a little at a time, so as not to hurt the animal.
We have all done this, and got the ingratitude we deserved.

Comte wrote back a most sarcastic letter, accusing Mill and Grote with
having broken faith with him.

He now treated them very much as he had Saint-Simon; and in his lectures
seldom failed to tell in pointed phrase what a lot of money-grubbing
barbarians inhabited the British Isles. To the credit of Mill be it
said that he still believed in the value of the Positive Philosophy, and
did all he could to further Comte's reputation and help the sale of his

       *       *       *       *       *

In Eighteen Hundred Forty-five, when Comte was forty-seven years old, he
met Madame Clothilde de Vaux. Her husband was in prison, serving a
life-sentence for political offenses, and Comte was first attracted to
her through pity. Soon this evolved into a violent attachment, and Comte
began to quote her in his lectures.

Comte was now most busy with his "Polity" in collaboration with Madame
De Vaux. Her part of the work seems to have been to listen to Comte
while he read her his amusing manuscript: and she, being a good woman
and wise, praised the work in every part. They were together almost
daily, and she seemed to supply him the sympathy he had all of his life
so much craved.

In one short year Madame De Vaux died, and Comte for a time was
inconsolable. Then his sorrow found surcease in an attempt to do for her
in prose what Dante had done for Beatrice in poetry. But the vehicle of
Comte's thoughts creaked. The exact language of science when applied to
a woman becomes peculiarly non-piquant and lacking in perspicacity and
perspicuity. No woman can be summed up in an algebraic formula, and when
a mathematician does a problem to his lady's eyebrow, he forgets
entirely that femininity forever equals _x_. Those who can write Sonnets
from the Portuguese may place their loves on exhibition--no others
should. Sweets too sweet do cloy.

For the rest of his life, Comte made every Wednesday afternoon sacred
for a visit to the grave of Madame De Vaux, and three times every day,
with the precision of a Mussulman, he retired to his room, locked the
door, and in silence apostrophized to her spirit. Comte now continued as
industrious as ever, but the quality of his writing lamentably declined.
His popular lectures to the people on scientific themes were always
good, and his work as a teacher was satisfactory, but when he endeavored
to continue original research, then his hazards of mind lacked steady

The Positive Polity degenerated into a dogmatic scheme of government
where the wisest should rule. The determination of who was wisest was to
be left to the wise ones themselves, and Comte himself volunteered to be
the first Pope.

The worship of Humanity would be the only religion, and women would
shine as the high priests. Comte thought it all out in detail, and
arranged a complete scheme of life, and actually wished to form a
political party and overthrow the government, founding a gynecocracy on
the ruins. His ebbing mind could not grasp the thought that tyranny
founded on goodness is a tyranny still, and that a despotic altruism is
a despotism nevertheless. Slavery blocks evolution.

So thus rounded out the life of Auguste Comte--beginning in childhood,
he traversed the circle, and ended where he began.

He died in his sixtieth year. M. Littre, his most famous pupil,
touchingly looked after his wants to the last, ministered to his
necessities, advancing money on royalties that were never due. M. Littre
occasionally apologized for the meagerness of the returns, and was
closely questioned and even doubted by Comte, who died unaware of the
unflinching loyalty of a friendship that endured distrust and contumely
without resentment. Such love and patience and loyalty as were shown by
M. Littre redeem the race.

The best certificate to the worth of Auguste Comte lies in the fact
that, in spite of marked personal limitations and much petty
querulousness, he profoundly influenced such men as Littre, Humboldt,
Mill, Lewes, Grote, Spencer and Frederic Harrison.

To have helped such men as these, and cheered them on their way, was no
small achievement. Comte's sole claim for immortality lies in the
Positive Philosophy. The word "positive," as used by Comte, is similar
in intent to pose, poise--fixed, final. So, besides a positive present
good, Comte believed he was stating a final truth; to-wit: that which is
good here is good everywhere, and if there is a future life, the best
preparation for it is to live now and here, up to your highest and best.
Comte protested against the idea of "a preparation for a life to
come"--now is the time, and the place is here.

The essence of Positive Philosophy is that man passes through three
mental periods--the Theological or fictitious; the Metaphysical or
abstract; the Positive or scientific.

Hence, there are three general philosophies or systems of conceptions
concerning life and destiny.

The Theological, or first system, is the necessary starting-point of the
human intellect. The Positive, or third period, is the ultimate goal of
every progressive, thinking man; the second period is merely a state of
transition that bridges the gulf between the first and the third.

Metaphysics holds the child by the hand until he can trust his feet--it
is a passageway between the fictitious and the actual. Once across the
chasm, it is no longer needed. Theology represents the child;
Metaphysics the youth; Science the man.

The evolution of the race is mirrored in the evolution of the
individual. Look back on your own career--your first dawn of thought
began in an inquiry, "Who made all this--how did it all happen?"

And Theology comes in with a glib explanation: the fairies, dryads,
gnomes and gods made everything, and they can do with it all as they
please. Later, we concentrate all of these personalities in one god,
with a devil in competition, and this for a time satisfies.

Later, the thought of an arbitrary being dealing out rewards and
punishments grows dim, for we see the regular workings of Cause and
Effect. We begin to talk of Energy, the Divine Essence, and the Reign of
Law. We speak, as Matthew Arnold did, of "a Power, not ourselves, that
makes for righteousness." But Emerson believed in a power that was in
himself that made for righteousness.

Metaphysics reaches its highest stage when it affirms "All is One," or
"All is Mind," just as Theology reaches its highest conception when it
becomes Monotheistic--having one God and curtailing the personality of
the devil to a mere abstraction.

But this does not long satisfy, for we begin to ask, "What is this One?"
or "What is Mind?"

Then Positivity comes in and says that the highest wisdom lies in
knowing that we do not know anything, and never can, concerning a First
Cause. All we find is phenomena and behind phenomena, phenomena. The
laws of Nature do not account for the origin of the laws of Nature.
Spencer's famous chapter on the Unknowable was derived largely from
Comte, who attempted to define the limits of human knowledge. And it is
worth noting that the one thing which gave most offense in both Comte's
and Spencer's works was their doctrine of the Unknowable. This, indeed,
forms but a small part of the work of these men, and if it were all
demolished there would still remain their doctrine of the known. The
bitterness of Theology toward Science arises from the fact that as we
find things out we dispense with the arbitrary god, and his business
agent, the priest, who insists that no transaction is legal unless he
ratifies it.

Men begin by explaining everything, and the explanations given are
always first for other people. Parents answer the child, not telling him
the actual truth, but giving him that which will satisfy--that which he
can mentally digest. To say, "The fairies brought it," may be all right
until the child begins to ask who the fairies are, and wants to be shown
one, and then we have to make the somewhat humiliating confession that
there are no fairies.

But now we perceive that this mild fabrication in reference to Santa
Claus, and the fairies, is right and proper mental food for the child.
His mind can not grasp the truth that some things are unknowable; and he
is not sufficiently skilled in the things of the world to become
interested in them--he must have a resting-place for his thought, so the
fairy-tale comes in as an aid to the growing imagination. Only this: we
place no penalty on disbelief in fairies, nor do we make special offers
of reward to all who believe that fairies actually exist. Neither do we
tell the child that people who believe in fairies are good, and that
those who do not are wicked and perverse.

Comte admits that the theological and metaphysical stages are necessary,
but the sooner man can be graduated out of them the better. He brought
vast research to bear in order to show the growth and death of
theological conceptions. Hate, fear, revenge and doubt are all
theological attributes, detrimental to man's best efforts. That moral
ideas were an afterthought, and really form no part of theology, Comte
emphasized at great length, and shows from much data where these ideas
were grafted on to the original tree.

And the sum of the argument is, that all progress of mind, body and
material things has come to man through the study of Cause and Effect.
And just in degree as he has abandoned the study of Theology as futile
and absurd, and centered on helping himself here and now, has he

Positivism is really a religion. The object of its worship is Humanity.
It does not believe in a devil or any influence that works for harm, or
in opposition to man. Man's only enemy is himself, and this is on
account of his ignorance of this world, and his superstitious belief in
another. Our troubles, like diseases, all come from ignorance and
weakness, and through our ignorance are we weak and unable to adjust
ourselves to conditions. The more we know of this world the better we
think of it, and the better are we able to use it for our advancement.

So far as we can judge, the Unknown Cause that rules the world by
unchanging laws is a movement forward toward happiness, growth, justice,
peace and right. Therefore, the Scientist, who perceives that all is
good when rightly received and rightly understood, is really the priest
or holy man--the mediator and explainer of the mysteries. As fast as we
understand things they cease to be supernatural, for the supernatural is
the natural not yet understood. The theological priest who believes in
a god and a devil is the real modern infidel. Such a belief is
fallacious, contrary to reason, and contrary to all the man of courage
sees and knows.

The real man of faith is the one who discards all thought of "how it
first happened," and fixes his mind on the fact that he is here. The
more he studies the conditions that surround him, the greater his faith
in the truth that all is well.

If men had turned their attention to Humanity, discarding Theology,
using as much talent, time, money and effort to wring from the skies the
secrets of the Unknowable, this world would now be a veritable paradise.
It is Theology that has barred the entrance to Eden, by diverting the
attention of men from this world to another. Heaven is Here.

All religious denominations now dimly perceive the trend of the times,
and are gradually omitting theology from their teachings and taking on
ethics and sociology instead. A preacher is now simply Society's walking
delegate. We are evolving theology out and sociology in. Theology has
ever been the foe of progress and the enemy of knowledge. It has
professed to know all and has placed a penalty on advancement. The Age
of Enlightenment will not be here until every church has evolved into a
schoolhouse, and every priest is a pupil as well as a teacher.


     We are intelligent beings; and intelligent beings can not have been
     formed by a blind, brute, insensible being. There is certainly some
     difference between a clod and the ideas of Newton. Newton's
     intelligence came from some greater Intelligence.

                                        --_The Philosophical Dictionary_

[Illustration: VOLTAIRE]

The man, Francois Marie Arouet, known to us as Voltaire (which name he
adopted in his twenty-first year), was born in Paris in Sixteen Hundred
Ninety-four. He was the second son in a family of three children. During
his babyhood he was very frail; in childhood sickly and weak; and
throughout his whole life he suffered much from indigestion and

In all the realm of writers no man ever had a fuller and more active
career, touching life at so many points, than Voltaire.

The first requisite in a long and useful career would seem to be, have
yourself born weak and cultivate dyspepsia, nervousness and insomnia.
Whether or not the good die young is still a mooted question, but
certainly the athletic often do. All those good men and true, who at
grocery, tavern and railroad-station eat hard-boiled eggs on a wager,
and lift barrels of flour with one hand, are carried to early graves,
and over the grass-grown mounds that cover their dust, consumptive,
dyspeptic and neurotic relatives, for twice or thrice a score of years,
strew sweet myrtle, thyme and mignonette.

Voltaire died of an accident--too much Four-o'Clock--cut off in his
prime, when life for him was at its brightest and best, aged

The only evidence we have that the mind of Voltaire failed at the last
came from the Abbe Gaultier and the Curé of Saint Sulpice. These good
men arrived with a written retraction, which they desired Voltaire to
sign. Waiting in the anteroom of the sick-chamber they sent in word that
they wished to enter. "Assure them of my respect," said the stricken
man. But the holy men were not to be thus turned away, so they entered.
They approached the bedside, and the Curé of Saint Sulpice said: "M. de
Voltaire, your life is about to end. Do you acknowledge the divinity of
Jesus Christ?"

And the dying man stretched out a bony hand, making a gesture that they
should depart, and murmured, "Let me die in peace."

"You see," said the Curé to the Abbe, as they withdrew, "you see that he
is out of his head!"

       *       *       *       *       *

The father of Voltaire, Francois Arouet, was a notary who looked after
various family estates and waxed prosperous on the crumbs that fell from
the rich man's table.

He was solicitor to the Duc de Richelieu, the Sullys, and also the
Duchesse de Saint-Simon, mother of the philosopher, Saint-Simon, who
made the mistake of helping Auguste Comte, thus getting himself hotly
and positively denounced by the man who formulated the "Positive

Arouet belonged to the middle class and never knew that he sprang from a
noble line until his son announced the fact. It was then too late to
deny it.

He was a devout Churchman, upright in all his affairs, respectable, took
snuff, walked with a waddle and cultivated a double chin. M. Arouet
pater did not marry until his mind was mature, so that he might avoid
the danger of a mismating. He was forty, past. The second son, Francois
fils, was ten years younger than his brother Armand, so the father was
over fifty when our hero was born. Francois fils used to speak of
himself as an afterthought--a sort of domestic postscript--"but," added
he musingly, "our afterthoughts are often best."

One of the most distinguished clients of M. Arouet was Ninon de Lenclos,
who had the felicity to be made love to by three generations of
Frenchmen. Ninon has been likened for her vivacious ways, her flashing
intellect, and her perennial youth, to the divine Sara, who at sixty
plays the part of Juliet with a woman of thirty for the old nurse. Ninon
had turned her three-score and ten, and swung gracefully into the
home-stretch, when the second son was born to M. Arouet. She was of a
deeply religious turn of mind, for she had been loved by several
priests, and now the Abbe de Chateauneuf was paying his devotions to

Ninon was much interested in the new arrival, and going to the house of
M. Arouet, took to bed, and sent in haste for the Abbe de Chateauneuf,
saying she was in sore trouble. When the good man arrived, he thought it
a matter of extreme unction, and was ushered into the room of the
alleged invalid. Here he was duly presented with the infant that later
was to write the "Philosophical Dictionary." It was as queer a case of
kabojolism as history records.

Doubtless the Abbe was a bit agitated at first, but finally getting his
breath, he managed to say, "As there is a vicarious atonement, there
must also be, on occasion, vicarious births, and this is one--God be

The child was then baptized, the good Abbe standing as godfather.

There must be something, after all, in prenatal influences, for as the
little Francois grew up he evolved the traits of Ninon de Lenclos and
the Abbe much more than those of his father and mother.

When the boy was a little over six years old the mother died. Of her we
know absolutely nothing. In her son's writings he refers to her but
once, wherein he has her say that "Boileau was a clever book, but a
silly man."

The education of the youngster seemed largely to have been left to the
Abbe, his godfather, who very early taught him to recite the "Mosiad," a
metrical effusion wherein the mistakes of Moses were related in churchly
Latin, done first for the divertisement of sundry pious monks in idle

At ten years of age Francois was sent to the College of Louis-le-Grand,
a Jesuit school where the minds of youth were molded in things sacred
and secular.

In only one thing did the boy really excel, and that was in the matter
of making rhymes. The Abbe Chateauneuf had taught him the trick before
he could speak plainly, and Ninon had been so pleased with the wee poet
that she left him two thousand francs in her will for the purchase of
books. As Ninon insisted on living to be ninety, Voltaire discounted the
legacy and got it cashed on dedicating a sonnet to the divine Ninon. In
this sonnet Voltaire suggests that a life of virtue conduces largely to
longevity, as witness the incomparable Ninon de Lenclos, to which
sentiment Ninon filed no exceptions.

In one of the school debates young Francois presented his argument in
rhyme, and evidently ran in some choice passages from the "Mosiad," for
Father le Jay, according to Condorcet, left his official chair, and
rushing down the aisle, grabbed the boy by the collar, and shaking him,
said, "Unhappy boy! you will one day be the standard-bearer of deism in
France!"--a prophecy, possibly, made after its fulfilment.

Young Francois remained at the college until he was seventeen years old.
From letters sent by him while there, it is evident that the chief
characteristic of his mind was already a contempt for the clergy. Of two
of his colleagues who were preparing for the priesthood, he says, "They
had reflected on the dangers of a world of the charms of which they were
ignorant; and on the pleasures of a religious life of which they knew
not the disagreeableness." Already we see he was getting handy in
polishing a sentence with the emery of his wit. Continuing, he says: "In
a quarter of an hour they ran over all the Orders, and each seemed so
attractive that they could not decide. In which predicament they might
have been left like the ass, which died of starvation between two
bundles of hay, not knowing which to choose. However, they decided to
leave the matter to Providence, and let the dice decide. So one became a
Carmelite and the other a Jesuit."

       *       *       *       *       *

Arouet, at first intent on having his son become a priest, now fell back
on the law as second choice. The young man was therefore duly articled
with a firm of advocates and sent to hear lectures on jurisprudence. But
his godfather introduced him into the Society of the Temple, a group of
wits, of all ages, who could take snuff and throw off an epigram on any
subject. The bright young man, flashing, dashing and daring, made
friends at once through his skill in writing scurrilous verse upon any
one whose name might be mentioned. This habit had been begun in college,
where it was much applauded by the underlings, who delighted to see
their unpopular teachers done to a turn. The scribbling habit is a
variant of that peculiar propensity which finds form in drawing a
portrait on the blackboard before the teacher gets around in the
morning. If the teacher does not happen to love art for art's sake,
there may be trouble; but verses are safer, for they circulate secretly
and are copied and quoted anonymously.

The thing we do best in life is that which we play at most in youth.

Ridicule was this man's weapon. For the benefit of the Society of the
Temple he paid his respects to the sham piety and politics of
Versailles. He had been educated by priests, and his father was a
politician feeding at the public trough. The young man knew the faults
and foibles of both priest and politician, and his keen wit told truths
about the court that were so well expressed the wastebasket did not
capture them. One of these effusions was printed, anonymously, of
course, but a copy coming into the hands of M. Arouet, the old gentleman
recognized the literary style and became alarmed. He must get the young
man out of Paris--the Bastile yawned for poets like this!

A brother of the Abbe de Chateauneuf was Ambassador at The Hague, and
the great man, being importuned, consented to take the youth as clerk.

Life at The Hague afforded the embryo poet an opportunity to meet many
distinguished people.

In Francois there was none of the bourgeois--he associated only with
nobility--and as he had an aristocracy of the intellect, which served
him quite as well as a peerage, he was everywhere received. In his
manner there was nothing apologetic--he took everything as his divine

In this brilliant little coterie at The Hague was one Madame Dunoyer, a
writer of court gossip and a social promoter of ability, separated from
her husband for her husband's good. Francois crossed swords with her in
an encounter of wit, was worsted, but got even by making love to her;
and later he made love to her daughter, a beautiful girl of about his
own age.

The air became surcharged with gossip. There was danger of an explosion
any moment. Madame Dunoyer gave it out that the brilliant subaltern was
to marry the girl. The Madame was going to capture the youth, either
with her own charms or those of her daughter--or combined. Rumblings
were heard on the horizon. The Ambassador, fearing entanglement, bundled
young Arouet back to Paris, with a testimonial as to his character,
quite unnecessary. A denial without an accusation is equal to a plea of
guilty; and that the young man had made the mistake of making violent
love to the mother and daughter at the same time there is no doubt. The
mother had accused him and he said things back; he even had shown the
atrocious bad taste of references in rhyme to the mutual interchange of
confidences that the mother and daughter might enjoy. The Ambassador had
acted none too soon.

The father was frantic with alarm--the boy had disgraced him, and even
his own position seemed to be threatened when some wit adroitly accused
the parent of writing the doggerel for his son.

M. Arouet denied it with an oath--while the son refused to explain, or
to say anything beyond that he loved his father, thus carrying out the
idea that the stupid old notary was really a wit in disguise, masking
his intellect by a seeming dulness. No more biting irony was ever put
out by Voltaire than this, and the pathos of it lies in the fact that
the father was quite unable to appreciate the quip.

It was a sample of filial humor much more subtle than that indulged in
by Charles Dickens, who pilloried his parents in print, one as Mr.
Micawber and the other as Mrs. Nickleby. Dickens told the truth and
painted it large, but Francois Arouet dealt in indiscreet fallacy when
he endeavored to give his father a reputation for raillery.

A peculiarly offensive poem, appearing about this time, with the Regent
and his daughter, the Duchesse de Berri, for a central theme, a rescript
was issued which indirectly testified to the poetic skill of young
Arouet. He was exiled to a point three hundred miles from Paris and
forbidden to come nearer on penalty, like unto the injunction issued by
Prince Henry against the blameless Falstaff. Rumor said that the father
had something to do with the matter.

But the exile was not for long. The young poet wrote a most adulatory
composition to the Regent, setting forth his innocence. The Regent was a
mild and amiable man and much desired peace with all his
subjects--especially those who dipped their quills in gall. He was
melted by the rhyme that made him out such a paragon of virtue, and made
haste to issue a pardon.

The elder Arouet now proved that he was not wholly without humor, for he
wrote to a friend, "The exile of my dear son distressed me much less
than does this precipitate recall."

In order to protect himself the father now refused a home to the son,
and Francois became a lodger at a boarding-house. He wrote plays and
acted in them, penned much bad poetry, went in good society and had a
very rouge time. Up to this period he knew little Latin and less Greek,
but now he had an opportunity to furbish up on both. He found himself an
inmate of the Bastile, on the charge of expressing his congratulations
to the people of France on the passing of Louis the Fourteenth. In
America libel only applies to live men, but the world had not then
gotten this far along.

In the prison it was provided that Sieur Arouet fils should not be
allowed pens and paper on account of his misuse of these good things
when outside. He was given copies of Homer, however, in Greek and Latin,
and he set himself at work, with several of the other prisoners, to
perfect himself in these languages. We have glimpses of his dining with
the governor of the prison, and even organizing theatrical performances,
and he was finally allowed writing materials on promise that he would
not do anything worse than translate the Bible, so altogether he was
very well treated.

In fact, he himself referred to this year spent in prison as "a pious
retreat, that I might meditate, and chasten my soul in quiet thought."

He was only twenty-one, and yet he had set Paris by the ears, and his
name was known throughout France. "I am as well known as the Regent and
will be remembered longer," he wrote--a statement and a prophecy that
then seemed very egotistical, but which time has fully justified.

It was in prison that he decided to change his name to Voltaire, a
fanciful word of his own coining. His pretended reason for the change
was that he might begin life anew and escape the disgrace he had
undergone of being in prison. There is reason to believe, however, that
he was rather proud of being "detained," it was proof of his power--he
was dangerous outside. But his family had practically cast him off--he
owed nothing to them--and the change of name fostered a mysterious noble
birth, an idea that he allowed to gain currency without contradiction.
Moliere had changed his name from Poquolin--and was he not really
following in Moliere's footsteps, even to suffering disgrace and public

       *       *       *       *       *

The play of "Oedipe" was presented by Voltaire at the Theater
Francaise, November Eighteenth, Seventeen Hundred Eighteen. This play
was written before the author's sojourn in prison, but there he had
sandpapered its passages, and hand-polished the epigrams.

It was rehearsed at length with the help of the "guests" at the Bastile,
and once Voltaire wrote a note of appreciation to the Prefect of Police,
thanking him for his thoughtfulness in sending such excellent and
pure-minded people to help him in his work.

These things had been managed so they discreetly leaked out, and the
cafes echoed with the name of Voltaire.

Very soon after his release the play was presented to a crowded house.
It was a success from the start, for into its lines the audience was
allowed to read many veiled allusions to Paris public characters. It ran
for forty-five nights, and was the furore. On one occasion when interest
seemed to lag, Voltaire, on a sudden inspiration, dressed up as a
bumpkin page, and attended the Pontiff, carrying his train, playing
various and sundry sly pranks in pantomime, a la Francis Wilson.

In one of the boxes sat a famous beauty, the Duchesse de Villars. "Who
is this strange person who is intent upon spoiling the play?" she asked.
On being told that he was the author of the drama, her censure turned to
approbation and she sent for the young man. His appearance in her box
was duly noted. The Regent and his daughter, the Duchesse de Berri,
could not resist the temptation to attend the play, and see how much
they were satirized. Voltaire did his little train-bearing act for their
benefit, with a few extra grimaces, which pleased them very much, and
seeing his opportunity, wrote a gracious letter of thanks to His
Highness for having deigned to visit his play, winding up with thanks
for the years in the Bastile where, "God wot, all of my evil
inclinations were duly chastened and corrected."

It had the desired effect--each side feared the other. The Regent wanted
the ready writers on his side, and the playwright who was opposed by the
party in power could not hope for success. The Regent sent a present of
a thousand crowns to Voltaire and also fixed on him a pension of twelve
hundred livres a year. At once every passage in the play that could be
construed as bearing on royalty was revised into words of adulation, and
all went merry as a marriage-bell. Financially the play was a success,
and better yet was the pension and the good-will of the young King and
his Regent.

Thus at twenty-two did Voltaire have the world at his feet.

       *       *       *       *       *

When Voltaire was twenty-four, his father died. The will provided that
the property should be equally divided between his three children, but
it was stipulated that the second son should not come into possession of
his share until he was thirty-five, and not then unless he was able to
show the Master in Chancery that he was capable of wisely managing his
own affairs.

This doubt of the father concerning the son's financial ability has
often been commented upon ironically, in view of the pronounced thrift
shown by Voltaire in later life.

But who shall say whether the father by that provision in his will did
not drive home a stern lesson in economy? Commodore Vanderbilt had so
much distrust of his son William's capacity for business that he exiled
him to a Long Island farm, on an allowance. Years after, when William
had shown his ability to outstrip his father, he rebuked a critic who
volunteered a suggestion to the effect that the father had erred in the
boy problem. Said William, "My father was right in this, as in most
other things--I was a fool, and he knew it."

Voltaire's vacation of a year in the Bastile had done him much good.
Then the will of his father, with its cautious provisions, tended to
sober the youth to a point where he was docile enough for society's

A good deal of ballast in way of trouble was necessary to hold this man

Marriage might have tamed him. Bachelors are of two kinds--those who are
innocent of women, and those who know women too well. The second class,
I am told, outnumbers the first as ten to one.

Voltaire had been a favorite of various women--usually married ladies,
and those older than himself. He had plagiarized Franklin, saying, fifty
years before the American put out his famous advice, "If you must fall
in love, why, fall in love with a woman much older than yourself, or at
least a homely one--for only such are grateful."

In answer to a man who said divorce and marriage were instituted at the
same time, Voltaire said: "This is a mistake: there is at least three
days' difference. Men sometimes quarrel with their wives at the end of
three days, beat them in a week and divorce them at the end of a month."

Voltaire was small and slight in stature, but his bubbling wit and
graceful presence more than made amends for any deficiency in way of
form and feature. Had he desired, he might have taken his pick among the
young women of nobility, but we see the caution of his nature in
limiting his love-affairs to plain women, securely married. "Gossip
isn't busy with the plain women--that is why I like you," he once said
to Madame de Bernieres. What the Madame's reply was, we do not know, but
probably she was not displeased. If a woman knows she is loved, it
matters little what you say to her. Compliments by the right oblique
are construed into lavish praise when expressed in the right tone of
voice by the right person.

The Regent had allowed Voltaire another pension of two thousand francs,
at the same time intimating that he hoped the writer's income was
sufficient so he could now tell the truth. Voltaire took the hint, so
subtly veiled, to the effect that if he again affronted royalty by
unkind criticisms, his entire pension would be canceled.

From this time on to the end of his life, he was full of lavish praise
for royalty. He was needlessly loyal, and dedicated poems and pamphlets
to nobility, right and left, in a way that would have caused a smile
were not nobility so hopelessly bound in three-quarters pachyderm. He
also wrote religious poems, protesting his love for the Church. And here
seems a good place to say that Voltaire was a member of the Catholic
Church to his death. Many of his worst attacks on the priesthood were
put in way of defense for outrageous actions which he enumerated in
detail. He kept people guessing as to what he meant and what he would do

Immediately after the death of President McKinley there was a fine
scramble among the editors of certain saffron sheets--to get in line and
shake their ulsters free from all taint of anarchy. Some writers, in
order to divert suspicion from themselves, hotly denounced other men as

Throughout his life Voltaire had spasms of repentance, prompted by
caution, possibly, when he warmly denounced atheists, and swore, i'
faith, that one object of his life was to purify the Church and cleanse
it of its secret faults.

In his twenty-sixth year, when he was trying hard to be good, he got
into a personal altercation with the Chevalier de Rohan, an
insignificant man bearing a proud name. The Chevalier's wit was no match
for the other's rapier-like tongue, but he had a way of his own in which
to get even. He had his servants waylay the luckless poet and chastise
him soundly with rattans.

Voltaire was furious; he tried to get the courts to take it up, but the
prevailing idea was that he had gotten what he deserved, and the fact
that the whole affair occurred after dark and the Chevalier did not do
the beating in person, made conviction impossible.

But Voltaire now quit the anapest and dactyl and devoted his best hours
to taking fencing lessons. His firm intent was to baptize the soil with
Rohan's blood. Voltaire was of enough importance so the secret police
knew of all his doings. Suddenly he found himself taking a post-graduate
course in the Bastile. I am not sure that the fiery little man was
entirely displeased with the procedure. It proved to the world that he
was a dangerous character, and it also gave him a respite from the
tyranny of the fencing-master, and allowed him to turn to his first,
last and only love--literature. In Voltaire's cosmos was a good deal of
the Bob Acres quality.

There were plenty of reasons for locking him up--heresy and treason have
ever been first cousins--and pamphlets lampooning Churchmen high in
office were laid at his door. No doubt some of the anonymous literature
was not his--"I would have done the thing better or not at all," he once
said in reference to a scurrilous brochure. The real fact was, that that
particular pamphlet was done by a disciple, and if Voltaire's writings
were vile, then was his offense doubled in that he vitalized a ravenous
brood of scribblers. They played Caliban to his Setebos.

Voltaire's most offensive contributions were always attributed by him to
this bishop or that, and to various dignitaries who had no existence
save in the figment of his own fertile pigment.

He once carried on a controversy between the Bishop of Berlin and the
Archbishop of Paris, each man thundering against the other with a
monthly pamphlet wherein each one gored the other without mercy, and
revealed the senselessness of the other's religion. They flung the
literary stinkpot with great accuracy. "The other man's superstition is
always ridiculous to us--our own is sacred," said Voltaire, and so he
allowed his controversialists to fight it out for his own quiet joy, and
the edification of the onlookers.

Then his plan of printing an alleged sermon, giving some unknown prelate
due credit on the title-page, starting in with a pious text and a page
of trite nothings and gradually drifting off into ridicule of the things
he had started in to defend--all this gives a comic tinge to his wail
that "some evil-minded person is attributing things to me I never
wrote," If an occasional sly Churchman got after him with his own
weapon, writing things in his style more hazardous than he dare express,
surely he should not have complained.

But this was a fact--the enemy could not follow him long with a literary
fusillade--they hadn't the mental ammunition.

Well has Voltaire been called "the father of all those who wear

       *       *       *       *       *

A few months in the Bastile, and Voltaire's indeterminate sentence was
commuted to exile. He was allowed to leave his country for his country's
good. Early in the year Seventeen Hundred Twenty-six he landed in
England, evidently knowing nobody there except one merchant, a man of no
special prominence.

Voltaire belonged to the nobility by divine right--as much as did
Disraeli. Both had an inward contempt for titles, but they knew the
hearts of the owners so well that they simply played a game of chess,
and the "men" they moved were live knights, bishops, kings and queens,
with rollers under the castles. The pawns they pushed here and there
were the literary puppets of the time.

The first thing Voltaire had to master in England was the language, and
this he did passably inside of three months. He took Grub Street by
storm; dawdled at Dodsley's; met Dean Swift, and these worthies
respected each other's wit so much that they simply took snuff, grimaced
and let it go at that; Pope came in for a visit, and the French poet
crossed Twickenham ferry and offered a handmade sonnet in admiration of
the "Essay on Man," which he had probably never read. Gay gave Voltaire
"The Beggar's Opera," in private, and together they called on Congreve,
who interrupted the Frenchman's flow of flattery long enough to say that
he wished to be looked on as a gentleman, not a poet. And Voltaire
replied that there were many gentlemen but few poets, and if Congreve
had had the misfortune to be simply a gentleman he would not have
troubled to call on him at all. Congreve, who really regarded himself as
the peer of Shakespeare, was won, and sent Voltaire on his way with
letters to Horace Walpole of Strawberry Hill. Thomson, who lived at
Hammersmith, and wrote his "Seasons" in a "public" next door to
Kelmscott, corrected and revised some of Voltaire's attempts at English
poetry. Young evolved some of his "Night Thoughts" while on a visit with
Voltaire at Bubb Dodington's.

A call on the Duchess of Marlborough led to a dinner at Lord
Chesterfield's. Next he met Queen Caroline and assured her that she
spoke French like a Parisian. King George the Second quite liked
Voltaire, because Voltaire quite liked Lady Sandon, his mistress. Only a
Frenchman could have successfully paid court to the King, Queen and Lady
Sandon at the same time, as Voltaire did. His great epic poem,
"Henriade," that he had been sandpapering for ten years, was now
published, dedicated to the Queen. The King headed the subscription-list
with more copies than he needed, at five guineas each, on agreement.
Voltaire afterward said that he would not be expected to read the poem.
The Queen's good offices were utilized--she became for the time a royal
book-agent, and her signature and the author's adorned all deluxe
copies. A suggestion from the Queen was equal to an order, and the
edition was soon worked off.

Voltaire now spent three years in England. He had written his "Life of
Charles the Twelfth," several plays, an "English Note-Book," and best of
all, had gotten together a thousand pounds good money as proceeds of
"Henriade," a stiff and stilted piece of pedantic bombast, written with
sweat and lamp-smoke.

The "Letters on the English" were published a few years later in Paris
with good results, considering it was only a by-product. It is a deal
better-natured than Dickens' "American Note-Book," and had more humor
than Emerson's "English Traits." Among other things quite Voltairesque
in the "Letters" is this: "The Anglican Church has retained many of the
good old Catholic customs--not the least of which is the collection of
tithes with great regularity."

       *       *       *       *       *

The priestly habit of Voltaire's life manifested itself even to the
sharp collecting from the world all that the world owed him.

The snug little sum he had secured in England would have shown his
ability, but there was something better in store, awaiting his return to
France. It seems the Controller of Finance had organized a lottery to
help pay the interest on the public debt. A considerable sum of money
had been realized, but there was still a large number of tickets unsold,
and the drawing was soon to take place. Voltaire knew the officials who
had the matter in charge and they knew him. He organized a syndicate
that would take all tickets there were left, on guarantee that among the
tickets purchased would be the one that called for the principal prize
of forty thousand pounds. Just how it was known in advance what ticket
would win must be left to those good people who understand these little
things in detail. In any event, Voltaire put in every sou he had--and
his little fortune was then a matter of about ten thousand dollars.
Several of his friends contributed a like sum.

The drawing took place, and the prize of forty thousand pounds was
theirs. It is said that Voltaire took twenty-five thousand pounds as his
share--the whole scheme was his anyway--and his friends were quite
satisfied with having doubled their money in a fortnight.

Immediately on securing this money, Voltaire presented himself at the
office of the President of Accounts, and asked for the legacy left him
by his father. As proof of his financial ability, and as a guarantee of
good faith, he opened a hand-satchel and piled on the President's table
a small mountain of gold and bank-notes. The first question of the
astonished official was, "Will M. de Voltaire have the supreme goodness
to explain where he stole all this money?"

This was soon followed by an apology, as the visitor explained the
reason of his visit.

The father's legacy amounted to nearly four thousand pounds, and this
was at once paid over to Voltaire with a flattering letter expressing
perfect faith in his ability to manage his own finances.

There is a popular opinion that Voltaire made considerable money by his
pen, but the fact is, that at no period of his life did literature
contribute in but a very scanty way to his prosperity.

After the lottery scheme, Voltaire embarked in grain speculations,
importing wheat from Barbary for French consumption. In this he made a
fair profit, but when war broke out between Italy and France, he entered
into an arrangement with Duverney, who had the army commissariat in his
hands, to provision the troops. It was not much of a war, but it lasted
long enough, as most wars do, for a few contractors to make much moneys.
The war spirit is usually fanned by financiers, Kuhn, Loeb and Company
giving the ultimatum.

Voltaire cleared about twenty thousand pounds out of his provision

Thus we find this thrifty poet at forty with a fortune equal to a
half-million dollars. This money he loaned out in a way of his own--a
way as original as his literary style. His knowledge of the upper
circles again served him well. Among the proud scions of nobility there
were always a few who, through gambling proclivities, and other royal
qualities, were much in need of funds. Voltaire picked the men who had
only a life interest in their estates, and made them loans, secured by
the rentals. The loans were to be paid back in annuities as long as both
men lived.

All insurance is a species of gambling--the company offers to make you a
bet that your house will burn within a year.

In life-insurance, the company's expert looks you over, and if your
waist measurement is not too great for your height, a bargain is entered
into wherein you agree to pay so much now, and so much every year as
long as you live, in consideration that the company will pay your heirs
so much at your death.

The chief value of life-insurance lies in the fact that it insures a man
against his own indiscretion, a thing supposedly under his own
control--but which never is. Voltaire's scheme banked on the man's
weakness, and laid his indiscretion open before the world. It was
life-insurance turned wrong side out, and could only have been devised
and carried out by a man of courage with an actuary's bias for

Instead of agreeing to pay the man so much at death, Voltaire paid him
the whole sum in advance, and the man agreed to pay, say, ten per cent
interest until either the lender or the borrower died. No principal was
to be paid, and on the death of either party, the whole debt was

Voltaire picked only men younger than himself. It was a tempting offer
to the borrower, for Voltaire looked like a consumptive, and it is said
that on occasion he evolved a wheezy cough that helped close the deal.
The whole scheme, for Voltaire, was immensely successful. On some of the
risks he collected his yearly ten per cent for over forty years, or
until his death.

On Voltaire's loan of sixteen hundred pounds to the Marquis du Chatelet,
however, it is known that he collected nothing either in way of
principal or interest. This was as strange a piece of financiering as
was ever consummated; and the inside history of the matter, with its
peculiar psychology, has never been written. The only two persons who
could have told that story in its completeness were Voltaire and the
Madame du Chatelet, and neither ever did.

       *       *       *       *       *

Madame du Chatelet--the divine Emilie--was twenty-seven and Voltaire was
thirty-nine when they first met.

He was living in obscure lodgings in Paris for prudential reasons, the
executioner having just burned, in the public street, all the copies of
his last book that could be found.

The Madame called on him to express her sympathy--and congratulations.
She had written a book, but it had not been burned--not even read! She
was tall, thin, angular, far from handsome, but had beaming eyes and a
face that tokened intellect. And best of all, her voice was low, finely
modulated, and was not exercised more than was meet.

She leaned her chin upon her hand and looked at him.

She had met Voltaire when she was a child--at least she said so, and he,
being a gentleman, remembered perfectly. She read to him a little
manuscript she had just dashed off. It was deep, profound and full of
reasons--that is the way learned women write--they write like professors
of rhetoric. Really great men write lightly, suggestively, and with a
certain amount of indifference, dash, froth and foam. When women evolve
literary foam, it is the sweet, cloying, fixed foam of the charlotte
russe--not the bubbling, effervescent Voltaire article.

Could M. de Voltaire suggest a way in which her manuscript might be
lightened up so the public executioner would deign to notice it?

M. de Voltaire responded by reading to her a little thing of his own.

The next day she called again.

Some say that Madame called on Voltaire to secure a loan on her
husband's estate at Civey. No matter--she got the loan.

Doubtless she did not know where she was going--none of us do. We are
all sailing under sealed orders.

The Madame had been married eight years. She was versed in Latin and
knew Italian literature. She was educated; Voltaire was not. She offered
to teach him Italian if he would give her lessons in English.

They read to each other things they had recently written. When men and
women read to each other and mingle their emotions, the danger-line is
being reached. Literary people of the opposite sex do not really love
each other. All they desire is to read their manuscript aloud to a
receptive listener.

Thus are the literary germs vitalized--by giving our thoughts to another
we really make them our own. Only well-sexed people produce
literature--poetry is the pollen of the mind. Meter, rhythm, lilt and
style are stamen, pistil and stalk swaying in the warm breeze of

An order for arrest was out for Voltaire. Pamphlets which he had been
refused permission to publish in Paris were printed at Rouen and were
setting all Paris by the ears.

With Madame du Chatelet he fled to Civey, where was the tumbledown
chateau of the Marquis--the Madame's complaisant husband. Voltaire
advanced the Marquis sixteen hundred pounds to put the place in order,
and then on his own account fitted up two sumptuous apartments, one for
himself and one for Madame. The Marquis went away with his regiment, and
occasionally came back and lounged about the chateau. But Voltaire was
the real master of the place.

Voltaire was neither domestic nor rural in his tastes, but the Du
Chatelet seemed to fill his cup to the brim, and made him enjoy what
otherwise would have been exile. He wrote incessantly--poems, essays,
plays--and fired pamphlets at a world of fools.

All that he wrote during the day he read to Madame at night. One of her
maids has given us a vivid little picture of how Voltaire, at exactly
eleven o'clock each night, would come out of hiding, and entering the
Madame's room, would partake of the dainty supper that was always
prepared for him. The divine Emilie had the French habit of receiving
her visitors in bed, and as her hours were much more regular than
Voltaire's, she usually enjoyed a nap before he entered. After his
supper he would read aloud to her all he had written since they last
met. If the piece was dramatic he would act it out with roll of r's,
striding walk, grimace and gesticulations gracefully done, for the man
was an actor of rare talent.

Emerson says, "Let a man do a thing incomparably well, and the world
will make a path to his door, though he live in a forest." There was no
lack of society at Civey--the writers, poets and philosophers found
their way there. Voltaire fitted up a little private theater, where his
plays were given, and concerts and lectures held from time to time.

The divine Emilie's forte was science and mathematics--and on these
themes she wrote much, competing for prizes and winning the recognition
of various learned societies. It will be seen that the man and the woman
were not in competition with each other, which, perhaps, accounts, in
degree, for their firm friendship.

Yet they did quarrel, too, as true lovers will, I am told. But their
quarreling was all done in English, so the servants and His Inertia, the
Marquis, did not know the purpose of it. It is probable that the
accounts of their misunderstandings are considerably exaggerated, as the
rehearsal of a tragedy by this pair of histrions would be taken by the
servants for a sure-enough fight.

And they were always acting--often beginning breakfast with a "stunt."
The Madame sang well, and her little impromptu arias pleased her thin
little lover immensely and he would improvise and answer in kind, and
then take the part of an audience and applaud, calling loudly, "Bravo!

Mornings they would ride horseback through the winding woods, or else
hunt for geological and botanical specimens. About all of Voltaire's
science he got from the lady and this was true of languages as well.

To a nervous, irritable and intense thinker a certain amount of solitude
seems necessary. Voltaire occasionally grew weary of the delicious quiet
of Civey, and the indictment against him having been quashed, he would
go away to Paris or elsewhere. On these trips if he did not take Madame
along she would grow furious, then lacrimose and finally
submissive--with a weepy protest. If he failed to write her daily she
grew hysterical. Two winters they spent together in Paris and another at

A lawsuit involving the estate of the Marquis du Chatelet, that had been
in the courts for eighty years, was pushed to a successful issue by
Voltaire and Madame. Four hundred fifty thousand dollars were secured,
but of this Voltaire, strangely enough, took nothing.

That the bond between Emilie and Voltaire was very firm is shown by the
fact that, after they had been together ten years, he declined to leave
her to accept an invitation to visit Frederick the Great at Berlin.
Frederick was a married man, but his was a strictly bachelor court--for
prudential reasons. Frederick and Emilie had carried on a spirited
correspondence, but this was as close as he cared for her to come to
him. All of his communications with females were limited to letters,
and Voltaire once said that that was the reason he was called Frederick
the Great.

Madame du Chatelet died when she was forty-two; Voltaire was fifty-five.
For fifteen years this strange and most romantic friendship had
continued, and to a degree it had worn itself out. Toward the last the
lady had been exacting and dictatorial, and thinking that Voltaire had
slighted her by not taking her more into his confidence, she had
accepted another lover, a man ten years her junior. If she had thought
to make Voltaire jealous, she had reckoned without her host--he was
relieved to find her fierce supervision relaxed.

When she passed away he worked his woe up into a pretty panegyric,
closed up his affairs at Civey, and left there forever.

       *       *       *       *       *

So far as the government was concerned, Voltaire seems to have passed
his days in accepting rewards and receiving punishments. Interdict,
exile, ostracism were followed by honors, pension and office.

His one lasting love was the drama. About every two years a swirl of
excitement was caused at Paris by the announcement of a new play by
Voltaire. These plays seemed to appeal mostly to the nobility, the
clergy and those in public office. And the object in every instance was
to get even with somebody, and place some one in a ridiculous light.
Innocent historical dramas were passed by the censor, and afterward it
was found that in them some local bigwig was flayed without mercy. Then
the play had to be withdrawn, and all printed copies were burned in
public, and Voltaire would flee to Brussels or Geneva to escape summary

However, he never fooled all of the people all of the time. There was
always a goodly number of dignitaries who richly enjoyed the drubbing he
gave the other fellow, and these would gloat in inward glee over the
Voltaire ribaldry until it came their turn. Then the other side would
laugh. The fact is, Voltaire always represented a constituency,
otherwise his punishment might have been genuine, instead of forty
lashes with a feather, well laid on.

About the time Madame du Chatelet passed away, Voltaire seemed to be
enjoying a period of kingly favor. He had been made a Knight of the
Bedchamber and also Historiographer of France. The chief duty of the
first office consisted in signing the monthly voucher for salary, and
the other was about the same as Poet Laureate--with salary in inverse
ratio to responsibility. It was considered, however, that the holder of
these offices was one of the King's family, and therefore was bound to
indulge in no unseemly antics.

On June Twenty-sixth, Seventeen Hundred Fifty, Voltaire applied to the
King in person for permission to visit Frederick of Prussia.

Tradition has it that the King replied promptly, "You may go--the sooner
the better--and you may remain as long as you choose."

Voltaire pocketed the veiled acerbity without a word, and bowing himself
out, made hot haste to pack up and be on his way before an order
rescinding the permission was issued.

Frederick was a freethinker, a scientist, a poet, and a wit well worthy
of the companionship of Voltaire. In fact, they were very much alike.
Both had the dual qualities of being intensely practical and yet
iconoclastic. Both were witty, affable, seemingly indifferent and
careless, but yet always with an eye on the main chance. Each was small,
thin and bony, but both had the intellect of the lean and hungry Cassius
that looked quite through the deeds of man.

Frederick received Voltaire with royal honors. Princes, ministers of
state, grandees and generals high in office, knelt on one knee as he
passed. Frederick tried to make it appear that France had failed to
appreciate her greatest philosopher, and so he had come to Prussia--the
home of letters. His pension was fixed at twenty thousand francs a year,
he was given the Golden Key of Chamberlain, and the Grand Cross of the
Order of Merit. He was a member of the King's household, and was the
nearest and dearest friend of the royal person.

Frederick thought he had bound the great man to him for life.

Personality repels as well as attracts. Voltaire's viper-like pen was
never idle. He wrote little plays for the court, and these were
presented with much eclat, the author superintending their presentation,
and considerately taking minor parts himself, so as to divide the
honors. But amateur theatricals stand for heart-burnings and jealousy.
The German poets were scored, other writers ridiculed, and big
scientists came in for their share of pen-pricking.

Voltaire corrected the King's manuscript and taught him the secret of
literary style. Then they fell into a controversy, done in Caslon
old-style, thundering against each other's theories in pamphlets across
seas of misundertandings. Neither side publicly avowed the authorship,
but nobody was deceived. The King and Voltaire met daily at meals, and
carefully avoided the topics they were fighting out in print.

Voltaire was rich and all of his wants were supplied, but he entered the
financial lists, and taking advantage of his inside knowledge,
speculated in scrip and got into a disgraceful lawsuit over the proceeds
with a man he should never have known. Frederick was annoyed--then
disturbed. He personally chided Voltaire for his folly in mixing with
the King's enemies.

Voltaire had tired of the benevolent assimilation--he craved freedom. A
friend who loves you, if he spies upon your every action, will become
intolerable. Voltaire intimated to Frederick that he would like to go.

But Frederick had a great admiration for the man--he considered Voltaire
the greatest living thinker, and to have such a one in the court would
help give the place an atmosphere of learning. He recognized that there
were two Voltaires--one covetous, quibbling, spiteful and greedy; and
the other the peerless poet and philosopher--the man who hated shams and
pretense, and had made a brave fight for liberty; the charming
companion, the gracious friend. Frederick was philosopher enough to
realize that he could not have the one without the other--if he had the
angel he must also tolerate the demon. This he would do--he must have
his Voltaire, and so he refused the passports asked for, and sought to
interest his literary lion in new projects. Finally, court life became
intolerable to Voltaire, as life is to anybody when he realizes that he
is being detained against his will. Voltaire packed his effects,
secured a four-horse carriage, and with his secretary, departed by
night, without leaving orders where his mail should be forwarded.

When Frederick found that his singing bird had flown, he was furious.
Fear had much to do with the matter, for Voltaire had taken various
manuscripts written by the King, wherein potentates in high places were
severely scored. The first thought of Frederick evidently was that
Voltaire had really been a spy in the employ of the French government.
He sent messengers after him in hot haste--the fugitive was overtaken,
and arrested. His luggage was searched, and after being detained at
Frankfort for three weeks he was allowed to depart for pastures new.

The news of his flight, arrest and disgrace became the gossip of every
court of Christendom. Who was disgraced more by the arrest--Voltaire or
Frederick--the world has not yet decided. Carlyle deals with the subject
in detail in his "Life of Frederick," and exonerates the King. But Taine
says Carlyle wrote neither history nor poetry, and certainly we do not
consider the sage of Cheyne Row an impartial judge.

Voltaire took time to cool, and then wrote a history of the affair which
is published in his "My Private Life," that is one of the most delicious
pieces of humor ever written. That he should have looked forward to life
at the Prussian Court as the ideal, and then after bravely enduring it
for three years, make his escape by night, was only a huge joke.
Nothing else could have been expected, he says. Men of fifty should know
that environment does not make heaven, and people who expect other
people to make paradise for them are forever doomed to wander without
the walls.

Voltaire acknowledges that he got better treatment than he deserved, and
makes no apology for working the whole affair up into good copy. The
final proof that Voltaire was a true philosopher is that he was able to
laugh at himself.

       *       *       *       *       *

When Voltaire left Prussia, it was voluntary exile. Paris was
forbidden--all of France was for him unsafe; England he had hopelessly
offended. By slow stages he made his way to Switzerland. But on the way
there his courage failed him and he wrote back to Frederick, suggesting
reconciliation. But Frederick promptly reminded him that he had
repeatedly broken promises by writing about Frederick's personal
friends, and "Voltaire and Frederick had better keep apart, that their
love for each other might not grow cold"--a subtle bit of sarcasm.

At Geneva, where Calvin had instituted a little tyranny of his own,
Voltaire was made welcome. Nominally no Catholics were allowed in
Geneva, and when Voltaire wrote to the authorities, explaining that he
was a good Catholic, the matter was taken as a great joke. He bought a
beautiful little farm a few miles away, on the banks of the river Rhone,
overlooking the city of Geneva and the lake. It was an ideal spot, and
rightly he called it "Delices." Here he was going to end his days amid
flowers and birds and books and bees, an onlooker and possibly a
commentator on the times, but not a doer. His days of work were over. Of
the world of strife he had had enough--thus he wrote to Frederick.

Visitors of a literary turn of mind at Geneva began to come his way. He
established an inn, and later built a theater out of the ruins of an old
church that he had bought and dismantled. "This is what I am going to
do with all the churches in France," he explained with a smile.

His pen was never idle. He wrote plays that were presented at his own
little theater, and on such occasions he would send word to his Geneva
friends not to come, as they could not be accommodated. Of course they

He wrote a history of Peter the Great, and this brought him into
communication with Queen Catherine of Russia, with whom he carried on
quite an animated correspondence. This worthy widow invited him to Saint
Petersburg, and he slyly wrote to Frederick for advice as to whether he
should go or not. It is said that Frederick advised him to go, pay court
to the Queen, marry her, seize the throne, and get his head cut off for
his pains, thus achieving immortality and benefiting the world at one

Voltaire had no intention of going to Saint Petersburg; he had created a
little Court of Letters, of which he himself was the Czar, and for the
first time in his life he was experiencing a degree of genuine content.
His flowers, bees, manuscripts and theater filled every moment of the
day from six in the morning until ten at night. He had arrived in
Switzerland broken in health, with mind dazed, his frail body undone.
There at the little farm at Delices, overlooking the lake, health came
back and youth seemed to return to this man of three-score.

Some of the nobility in Paris, to whom he had loaned money, took
advantage of his exile to withhold payments, but Voltaire secured an
agent to look after his affairs, so his losses were not great.

He bought the tumbledown chateau of Tournay, near at hand, which carried
with it the right to call himself Count Tournay. Frederick, with mock
respect, so addressed his letters.

His next financial venture, begun when he was sixty-eight, might well
have tested the strength of a much younger man. A few miles from Geneva,
at Ferney, just over the border from Switzerland, Voltaire had bought a
large tract of waste land, intending to use it for pasturage. Here he
built a cottage and lived a part of the time when visitors were too
persistent at Delices. Ferney was on French soil, Delices in
Switzerland. Voltaire had criticized the Protestants of Geneva, and
given it as his opinion that a Calvinistic tyranny was in no wise
preferable to one built on Catholicism. Some then said, "This man is
really what he professes--a Catholic." There had also been a
demonstration to drive him out of Switzerland, since it was pretty well
known that Voltaire's crowds of visitors were neither Catholic nor
Protestant. "Delices is infidelic," was the cry, and this doubtless had
something to do with Voltaire's establishing himself at Ferney. If
Protestant Switzerland drove this Catholic over to France, why, Catholic
France would not molest him.

Every country, no matter how tyrannical its government, prides itself on
being the home of the exile, just as every man thinks of himself as
being sincere and without prejudice.

It is now believed that Voltaire had much to do with inciting the civil
riots in Geneva against the Catholics. He had circulated pamphlets
purporting to be written by a Catholic, upholding the Pope, and
ridiculing most unmercifully the pretenses of Protestantism, declaring
it a compromise with the devil, made up of the scum of the Catholic
Church. This pamphlet declared Calvin a monster, and arraigned him for
burning Servetus, and hinted that all Calvinists would soon be paid back
in their own coin. No one else could have penned this vitriolic pamphlet
but Voltaire--he knew both sides. But since Geneva regarded Voltaire as
an infidel, it never occurred to the authorities that he would take up
the cudgel of the Catholic Church that had burned his books. The real
fact was, the pamphlet wasn't a defense of Catholicism--it was only a
drubbing of Calvinism, and the wit was too subtle for the Presbyterians
to digest.

Very soon another pamphlet appeared, answering the first. It arraigned
the Catholics in scathing phrase, suggested that they were getting ready
to burn the city--hinted at a repetition of Saint Bartholomew, and
declared the order had gone forth from Rome to scourge and kill. It was
as choice an A.P.A. document as was ever issued by a relentless joker.
The result was that the workers in the watch-factory and silk-mills who
were Catholics found themselves ostracized by the Protestant workmen. I
do not find that the authorities drove the Catholics out of Geneva, it
was simply a species of labor trouble--Protestants would not work with

At this juncture Voltaire comes in, and invites all persecuted Catholic
watch-workers and silk-weavers to move to Ferney. Here Voltaire laid out
a town--erected houses, factories, churches and schools. In two years he
had built up a town of twelve hundred people, and had a watch-factory
and silk-mill in full and paying operation.

The problem of every manufacturer is to sell his wares--Voltaire knew
how to release purse-strings of friends and enemies alike. He sent
watches to all of his enemies in Paris, bishops, priests and potentates,
explaining that he had quit literature forever, and was now engaged in
helping struggling, exiled Catholics to get an honest living--he was
doing penance as foreman of a watch-factory--would the Most Reverend not
help in this worthy work? Money flowed in on Ferney--Frederick ordered a
consignment of watches, Queen Catherine did the same, and the Bishop of
Paris sent his blessing and an order for enough silk to keep Voltaire's
factory going for six months.

Voltaire really got the pick of the workmen of Geneva--the goods made
were of the best, and while at first Catholics only were employed, yet
in five years Ferney was quite as much Protestant as Catholic. Voltaire
respected the religious beliefs of his workmen, and there was liberty
for all. He paid better wages and treated his workers better than they
had ever been treated in Geneva. Voltaire built houses for his people
and allowed them to pay him in monthly instalments. And not only did he
himself make much money out of his Ferney investment, but he established
the town upon such a safe financial basis that its prosperity endures
even unto this day.

       *       *       *       *       *

It was at Ferney, in his old age, that Voltaire first made open war upon
"revealed religion." All religions that professed a miraculous origin
were to him baneful in the extreme, the foes of light and progress, the
enemies of mankind. He did not perceive, as modern psychology does, that
the period of supernaturalism is the childhood of the mind. Myths and
fairy-tales are not of themselves base--the injury lies with the men who
seek to profit by these things, and build up a tyranny founded on
innocence and ignorance--seeking to perpetuate these things, issuing
threats against growth, and offers of reward to all who stand still.

Voltaire called superstition "The Infamy," and he summoned the thinkers
of the world to crush it beneath a heel of scorn. Letters, pamphlets,
plays, essays, were sent out in various languages, by his own
printing-presses. The wit of the man--his scathing mockery--were weapons
no one could wield in reply. The priests and preachers did not answer
him--they could not--they only grew purple with wrath and hissed.

Says Victor Hugo, "Jesus wept; Voltaire smiled." To which Bernard Shaw
has recently rejoined, "Jesus wept; Voltaire smiled; William Morris

From the prosperity, peace and security of Ferney, Voltaire pointed a
bony finger at every hypocrite in Christendom, and laughed his mocking
smile. The man expressed himself, and happiness lies in that and
nothing else. Misery comes from lack of full, free self-expression, and
from nothing else. The man who fights for freedom fights for the right
of self-expression for himself and others--and immortality lies in
nothing else.

There is no fight worth making--no struggle worth the while--save the
struggle for freedom.

No name is honored among men--no name lives--save the name of the man
who worked for liberty and light--who has fought freedom's fight.

Run the list in your mind of the names that are immortal, and you will
recall only those of men who have widened the horizon for other men, and
that select number who are remembered in infamy because they linked
their names with greatness by doubting, denying, betraying and
persecuting it--deathless through disgrace.

Voltaire sided with the weak, the defenseless, the fallen. He demanded
that men should not be hounded for their belief, that they should not be
arrested without cause and without knowing why, and without letting
their friends know why. We realize his faults, we know his imperfections
and limitations, yet, through his influence, life throughout the world
became safer, liberty dearer, freedom a more sacred thing. His words
were a battery that eventually razed the walls of the Bastile, and best
of all, freed countless millions from theological superstition, that
Bastile of the brain.


     What knowledge is of most worth? The uniform reply is: Science.
     This is the verdict on all counts. For direct self-preservation, or
     the maintenance of life and health, the all-important knowledge
     is--science. For that indirect self-preservation which we call
     gaining a livelihood, the knowledge of greatest value is--science.
     For the discharge of parental functions, the proper guidance is to
     be found only in science. For the interpretation of national life,
     past and present, without which the citizen can not rightly
     regulate his conduct, the indispensable key is--science. Alike for
     the most perfect production and present enjoyment of art in all its
     forms, the needful preparation is still--science. And for purposes
     of discipline--intellectual, moral, religious--the most efficient
     study is, once more--science.

                                                --_Essay on Education_

[Illustration: HERBERT SPENCER]

In Derby, England, April Twenty-seventh, Eighteen Hundred Twenty,
Herbert Spencer, the only child of his parents, was born. His mother
died in his childhood, so he really never had any vivid recollection of
her, but hearsay, fused with memory and ideality, vitalized all. And
thus to him, to the day of his death, his mother stood for gentleness,
patience, tenderness, intuitive insight, and a love that never grew
faint. Man makes his mother in his own image.

Herbert Spencer's father was a school-teacher, and in very moderate
circumstances. Little Herbert could not remember when he did not go to
school, and yet as a real scholar, he never went to school at all. The
family lived over the schoolroom, and while the youngster yet wore
dresses his father would hold him in his arms, and carry him around the
room as he instructed his classes. William George Spencer was both
father and mother to Herbert, and used to sing to him lullabies as the
sun went down.

After school there were always walks afield, and in the evening the
brother of the school-master would call, and then there was much
argument as to Why and What, Whence and Whither.

People talk gossip, we are told, for lack of a worthy theme. These two
Spencers--one a school-master and the other a clergyman--found the time
too short for their discussions. In their walks and talks they were
always examining, comparing, classifying, selecting, speculating.
Flowers, plants, bugs, beetles, birds, trees, weeds, earth and rocks
were scrutinized and analyzed.

Where did it come from? How did it get here?

I am told that lions never send their cubs away to be educated by a
cubless lioness and an emasculated lion. The lion learns by first
playing at the thing and then doing it.

A motherless boy, brought up by an indulgent father, one might prophesy,
would be sure to rule the father and be spoiled himself through omission
of the rod. But in the boy problem all signs fail. The father taught by
exciting curiosity and animating his pupils to work out problems and
make discoveries--keeping his discipline well out of sight. How well the
plan worked is revealed in the life of Herbert Spencer himself; and his
book, "Education," is based on the ideas evolved by his father, to whom
he gives much credit. No man ever had so divine a right to compile a
book on education as Herbert Spencer, for he proved in his own life
every principle he laid down.

On all excursions Herbert was taken along--because he couldn't be left
at home, you know. He listened to the conversations and learned by
hearing the older pupils recite.

All out-of-doors was fairyland to him--a curiosity-shop filled with
wonderful things--over your head, under your feet, all around was
life--action, pulsing life, everything in motion--going somewhere,
evolving into something else.

This habit of observation, adoration and wonder--filled with pleasurable
emotions and recollections from the first--lasted the man through life,
and allowed him, even with a frail constitution, to round out a long
period of severe mental work, with never a tendency to die at the top.

Herbert Spencer never wrote a thing more true than this: "The man to
whom in boyhood information came in dreary tasks, along with threats of
punishment, is unlikely to be a student in after-years; while those to
whom it came in natural forms, at the proper times, and who remember its
facts as not only interesting in themselves, but as a long series of
gratifying successes, are likely to continue through life that
self-instruction begun in youth."

When thirteen years old Herbert went to live with his uncle, the
Reverend Thomas Spencer, at Bath. Here the same methods of education
were continued that had been begun at home--conversation, history in the
form of story-telling, walks and talks, and mathematical calculations
carried out as pleasing puzzles. In mathematics the boy made rapid
progress, but the faculty of observation was the dominant one. Every
phase of cloud and sky, of water and earth, rock and mountain, bird and
bush, plant and tree, was curious to him. He kept a journal of his
observations, which had the double advantage of deepening his
impressions by recounting them, and second, it taught him the use of

The best way to learn to write is to write. Herbert Spencer never
studied grammar until he had learned to write. He took his grammar at
sixty, which is a good age to begin this interesting study, as by that
time you have largely lost your capacity to sin. Men who swim
exceedingly well are not those who have taken courses in the theory of
swimming at natatoriums from professors of the amphibian art--they were
boys who just jumped in. Correspondence-schools for the taming of
broncos are as naught; and treatises on the gentle art of wooing are of
no avail--follow Nature's lead. Grammar is the appendenda vermiformis of
pedagogics: it is as useless as the letter q in the alphabet, or as the
proverbial two tails to a cat, which no cat ever had, and the finest cat
in the world, the Manx cat, has no tail at all.

"The literary style of most university men is commonplace, when not
positively bad," wrote Herbert Spencer in his old age. "Educated
Englishmen all write alike," said Taine. That is to say, they have no
literary style, for style is character, individuality--the style is the
man. And grammar tends to obliterate all individuality. No study is so
irksome to everybody, except to the sciolists who teach it, as grammar.
It remains forever a bad taste in the mouth of the man of ideas, and has
weaned bright minds innumerable from all desire to express themselves
through the written word. Grammar is the etiquette of words, and the man
who does not know how to properly salute his grandmother on the street
until he has consulted a book, is always so troubled about his tenses
that his fancies break through language and escape.

Orators who keep their thoughts upon the proper way to gesticulate in
curves impress nobody. If poor grammar were a sin against decency, or an
attempt to poison the minds of the people, it might be wise enough to
hire men to protect the well of English from defilement. But a
stationary language is a dead one--moving water only is pure--and the
well that is not fed by springs is a breeding-place for disease. Let men
express themselves in their own way, and if they express themselves
poorly, look you, their punishment shall be that no one will read them.
Oblivion, with her smother-blanket, waits for the writer who has nothing
to say and says it faultlessly. In the making of hare-soup, I am told
the first requisite is to catch your hare. The literary scullion who has
anything to offer a hungry world will doubtless find a way to fricassee

       *       *       *       *       *

When seventeen, Herbert Spencer was apprenticed to a surveyor on the
London and Birmingham Railway. The pay was meager--board and keep and
five pounds for the first year, with ten pounds the second year "if he
deserved it." However, school-teachers and clergymen are used to small
reward, and to make a living for one's self was no small matter to the
Spencers. The youth who has gotten his physical growth should earn his
own living, this as a necessary factor in his further mental evolution.

Neither William George Spencer, Herbert's father, nor Thomas, his uncle,
seemed ever to anticipate that they were helping to develop the greatest
thinker of his time. They themselves were obscure men, and quite happy
therein, and if young Herbert could attain to a fair degree of physical
health, make his living as an honest surveyor or as a teacher of
mathematics, it would be all one could reasonably hope for. And thus
they lived out the measure of their days, and passed away unaware that
this boy they claimed in partnership was to be the maker of an epoch.

Young Spencer began his surveying work by carrying a flag, and soon he
was advanced to "chainman." His skill in mathematics made his services
valuable, and his willingness to sit up nights and work out the
measurements of the day, so pleased his employer that the letter of the
contract was waived and he was paid ten pounds for his first year's
work, instead of five. He invented shorter methods for bridges and
culverts, and I believe was the first engineer to build a cantilever
railroad-bridge in England.

When he was twenty-one he had so thoroughly mastered the work that his
employers offered to place him in charge of a construction-gang at a
salary of two hundred pounds a year, which was then considered high pay.
He, however, loved liberty more than money, and his tastes were in the
direction of invention and science, rather than in working out an
immediate practical success for himself.

He returned home and invented a scheme for making type; and had another
plan for watchmaking, which he illustrated with painstaking designs.
Half of his time was spent in the fields, and he made a large botanical
collection--indexing it carefully, with many notes and comments.

He also wrote articles for the "Civil Engineers' and Artisans' Journal."
For these he received no pay, but the acceptance of manuscript gives a
great glow to a writer's cosmos: young Spencer was encouraged in the
belief that he had something to offer the public. But his father and
kinsmen saw only failure in these days of dawdling; and the money being
gone, Herbert Spencer, aged twenty-two, went up to London to try to get
a renewal of the offer from his old employer.

But things had changed--chances gone are gone forever, and he was told
that opportunity knocks but once at each man's door. Sadly he returned
home--not disappointed in himself, but depressed that he should
disappoint others. His inventions languished--nobody was interested in

To get a living was the problem, and writing seemed the only way. And so
he prepared a series of articles for "The Non-Conformist," and there was
enough non-conformity in them so he was paid a small sum for his work.
It proved this, though--he could get a living by his pen.

In these "Non-Conformist" articles, Spencer put forth a daring statement
concerning the evolution of the soldier, that straightway made him a few
enemies, and gave his clerical uncle gooseflesh. His hypothesis was
this: When man first evolved out of the Stone Age, and began to live in
villages, the oldest and wisest individual was regarded as patriarch or
chief. This chief appointed certain men to punish wrongdoers and keep
order. But there were always a few who would not work and who, through
their violence and contumacious spirit, were finally driven from the
camp. Or more likely they fled to escape punishment--which is the same
thing--for they were outcasts. These men found refuge in the mountain
fastnesses and congregated for two reasons--one, so they could avoid
capture, and the other so they could swoop down and "secure their own."
Robbery and commerce came hand in hand, and piracy is almost as natural
as production.

Finally, the robbers became such a problem to industry that terms were
made with them. Their tribute took the form of a tax, and to make sure
that this tax was paid, the robbers protected the people against other
robbers. And then, for the first time, the world saw a standing army. An
army has two purposes--to protect the people, and to collect the tax for
protecting the people.

At the headquarters of this army grew up a court, and all the
magnificent splendor of a capitol centered around the captains. In fact,
the word "capitol" means the home of the captain.

Herbert Spencer did not say that a soldier was a respectable brigand,
and that a lawyer is a man who protects us from lawyers, but he came so
close to it that his immediate friends begged him to moderate his
expressions for his own safety.

Spencer also at the same time traced the evolution of the priest. He
showed how the "holy man" was one frenzied with religious ecstasy, who
went away and lived in a cave. Occasionally this man came back to beg,
to preach and to do good. In order to succeed in his begging, he
revealed his peculiar psychic powers, and then reinforced these with
claims of supernatural abilities. These claims were not exactly founded
upon truth, but once put forth were in time believed by those who
advanced them.

This priest, who claimed to have influence with the power of the
Unseen, found early favor with the soldier--and the soldier and the
priest naturally joined hands. The soldier protected the priest and the
priest absolved the soldier. One dictated man's place in this world--the
other in the next.

The calm way in which Herbert Spencer reasoned these things out, and his
high literary style, which made him unintelligible to all those whose
minds were not of scientific bent, and his emphatic statement that what
is, is right, and all the steps in man's development mean a mounting to
better things, saved him from the severe treatment that greeted, say,
Charles Bradlaugh, who translated the higher criticisms for the hoi

Spencer's first essays on "The Proper Sphere of Government," done in his
early twenties for "The Non-Conformist" and "The Economist," outlined
his occupation for life--he was to be a writer. He became assistant
editor of the "Westminster Review," and contributed to various literary
and scientific journals.

These essays, enlarged, rewritten and revised, finally emerged in
Eighteen Hundred Fifty-one in the form of "Social Statics, or the
Conditions Essential to Human Happiness."

This book, so bold in its radical suggestions, now almost universally
admitted, was printed at the author's expense--a fact that should put a
quietus for all time upon all those indelicate and sarcastic allusions
concerning "when the author prints." There was an edition of seven
hundred fifty copies of the book, and it took every shilling the young
man had saved, and a few borrowed pounds as well, to pay the bill.

The book made no splash in the literary sea--nobody read it except a
dozen good people who did so as a matter of friendship.

After six years there were still five hundred copies left, and the
author wrote this slightly ironical line: "I am glad the public is
taking plenty of time to fully digest my work before passing judgment
upon it. Of all things, hasty criticisms are to be regretted."

Yet there was one person who read Herbert Spencer's first book with
close consideration and profound sympathy. This was a young woman, the
same age as Spencer, who had come up to London from the country to make
her fortune. Her name was Mary Ann Evans.

       *       *       *       *       *

In "Notes and Comments," Spencer's last book, published two years before
his death, are several quotations and allusions to George Eliot. No
other woman is mentioned in the volume.

Herbert Spencer and Mary Ann Evans first met at the house of the editor
of the "Westminster Review" about the year Eighteen Hundred Fifty-one.
Their tastes, aptitudes and inclinations were much the same. They were
born the same year; both were brought up in the country; both were
naturalists by inclination, and scientists because they could not help
it. "Social Statics" made a profound impression on George Eliot, and she
protested to the last that it was the best book the author ever wrote.
He had read her "Essay on Spinoza," and remembered it so well that he
repeated a page of it the first time they met. They loved the same
things, and united, too, in their dislikes. Both were democrats, and the
cards, curds and custards of society were to them as naught. In a few
months after the first meeting, George Eliot wrote to a friend in
Warwickshire: "The bright side of my life, after the affection for my
old friends, is the new and delightful friendship which I have found in
Herbert Spencer. We see each other every day, and in everything we enjoy
a delightful comradeship. If it were not for him my life would be
singularly arid."

The Synthetic Philosophy was taking form in Spencer's mind, and
together they threshed out the straw and garnered the grain. She was
getting to be a necessity to Spencer--and he saw no reason why the
beautiful friendship should not continue just this way for years and
years. Both were literary grubbers and lived in boarding-houses of the
Class B variety.

And here George Henry Lewes appeared upon the scene. Legend says that
Spencer introduced Lewes to Miss Evans, and both Miss Evans and Mr.
Spencer were a bit in awe of him, for he was a literary success, and
they were willing to be. Lewes had written at this time sixteen
books--novels, essays, scientific treatises, poems, and a drama. He
spoke five languages, had studied medicine, theology, and had been a
lecturer and actor. He was small, had red hair, combed his whiskers by
the right oblique, and wore a yellow necktie. Thackeray says he was the
most learned and versatile man he ever knew, "and if I should see him in
Piccadilly, perched on a white elephant, I would not be in the least

None of the various ventures of Lewes had paid very well, but he had
great hopes, and money enough to ride in a cab. He gave advice, and
radiated good-cheer wherever he went.

In Eighteen Hundred Fifty-four Lewes and Miss Evans disappeared from
London, having gone to Germany, leaving letters behind, stating that
thenceforward they wished to be considered as man and wife. Lewes was
in his fortieth year, and slightly bald; George Eliot was thirty-six,
and there were silver threads among the gold.

They had taken the philosophy of "Social Statics" in dead earnest.

Herbert Spencer lost appetite, ceased work, roamed through the park
aimlessly, and finally fell into a fit of sickness--"night air, and too
close confinement to mental tasks," the doctor said.

Spencer was not a marrying man--he was wedded to science, yet he craved
the companionship of the female mind. Had he and Miss Evans married, he
would doubtless have continued his work just the same. He would have
absorbed her into his being--they would have lived in a garret, and
possibly we might have had a better Synthetic Philosophy, if that were

But we would have had no "Adam Bede" nor "Mill on the Floss."

We often see mention, by the ready writers, of "mental equals" and
"perfect mates," but in all business partnerships, one man is the court
of last appeal by popular acclaim. If power is absolutely equal, the
engine stops on the center. Twins may look exactly alike, but one is the
spokesman. In all literary collaboration, one does the work and the
other looks on.

When George Henry Lewes took Mary Ann Evans as his wife, that was the
last of Lewes. He became her inspiration, secretary, protector, friend
and slave. And this was all beautiful and right.

I believe it was Augustine Birrell who said, "George Henry Lewes was the
busy drone to a queen bee." It probably is well that Mr. Spencer and
Miss Evans did not marry--they were too much alike--they might have
gotten into competition with each other.

George Eliot had a poise and dignity in her character that kept the
versatile Lewes just where he belonged; and at the same time she lived
her own life and preserved in ascending degree the strong and simple
beauties of her character. Truly was George Eliot "a citizen of the
sacred city of fine minds--the Jerusalem of Celestial Art." Lewes was
the tug that puffed and steamed and brought the majestic steamship into

For one book George Eliot received a sum equal to forty thousand
dollars, and her income after "Adam Bede" was published was never less
than ten thousand dollars a year.

Spencer lived out his days in the boarding-house, and until after he was
seventy, had not reached a point where absolute economy was not in

Spencer faced the Universe alone, and tried to solve its mysteries. Not
only did he live alone, with no close confidants or friends, but when he
died he left not a single living relative nearer than the fourth
generation. With him died the name.

       *       *       *       *       *

The leading note in "Social Statics" is a plea for the liberty of the
individual. That government is best which governs least. The liberty of
each, limited only by the liberty of all, is the rule to which society
must conform in order to attain the highest development. Governments
have no business to scrutinize the life and belief of the individual.
Interference should only come where one man interferes with the
liberties of another.

Liberty of action is the first requisite to progress, and the prime
essential in human happiness. It is better that men have wrong opinions
than no opinions--through our blunders we reach the light.

Government is for man, and not man for government. Men wish to do what
is best for themselves, and eventually they will, if let alone, but they
can only grow through constant practise and frequent mistakes. Plato's
plan for an ideal republic provided rules and laws for the guidance of
the individual. In the Mosaic Laws it is the same: every circumstance
and complication of life is thought out, and the law tells the
individual what he shall do, and what he shall not do. That is to say, a
few men were to do the thinking for the many. And the argument that
plain people should not be allowed to think for themselves, since the
wise know better what is for their good, is exactly the argument used by
slaveholders: that they can take better care of the man than the man can
of himself.

There is a certain plausibility and truth in this proposition. It is all
a point of view.

But to Herbert Spencer there was little difference between enslavement
of the mind and enslavement of the body. Both were essentially wrong in
this--they interfered with Nature's law of evolution, and anything
contrary to Nature must pay the penalty of pain and death. All forms of
enslavement react upon the slaveholder, and a society founded on force
can not evolve--and not to evolve is to die. The wellsprings of Nature
must not be dammed--and in fact can not be dammed but for a day.
Overflow, revolution and violence are sure to follow. This is the
general law; and so give the man liberty. One man's rights end only
where another man's begin.

The idea of evolution, as opposed to a complete creation, was in the
mind of Spencer as early as Eighteen Hundred Forty-eight. In that year
he said, "Creation still goes forward, and to what supreme heights man
may yet attain no one can say."

By a sort of general misapprehension, Darwin is usually given credit for
the discovery and elucidation of the Law of Evolution, but the "Origin
of Species" did not appear until Eighteen Hundred Fifty-nine, and both
Spencer and Alfred Russel Wallace had stated, years before, that the
theological dogma of a complete creation had not a scintilla of proof
from the world of nature and science, while there was much general
proof that the animal and vegetable kingdom had evolved from lower
forms, and was still ascending.

The usual idea of the clergy of Christendom was that if the account of
creation given by Moses were admitted to be untrue, then the Bible in
all its parts would be declared untrue, and religion would go by the
board. Now that the theory of evolution is everywhere accepted, even in
the churches, we see how groundless were the fears. All that is
beautiful and best we still have in religion in a degree never before

In an essay on "Manners and Fashion," published in the "Westminster
Review" of Eighteen Hundred Fifty-four, Herbert Spencer says: "Forms,
ceremonies and even beliefs are cast aside only when they become
hindrances--only when some finer and better plan has been formed; and
they bequeath to us all the good that was in them. The abolition of
tyrannical laws has left the administration of justice not only
unimpaired, but purified. Dead and buried creeds have not carried down
with them the essential morality they contained, which still exists,
uncontaminated by the sloughs of superstition. And all that there is of
justice, kindness and beauty embodied in our cumbrous forms will live
perennially, when the forms themselves have been repudiated and

In the year Eighteen Hundred Fifty-five, Spencer issued his "Principles
of Psychology," showing that the doctrine of evolution was then with him
a fixed fact. The struggle was on, and from now forward his life was
enlisted to viewing this theory from every side, anticipating every
possible objection to it, and restating the case in its relation to
every phase of life and nature.

Spencer's income was small, but his wants were few, and a single room in
a boarding-house sufficed for both workshop and sleeping-room. To a
degree, he now largely ceased original investigations and made use of
the work of others. His intuitive mind, long trained in analytical
research, was able to sift the false from the true, the trite from the
peculiar, the exceptional from the normal.

       *       *       *       *       *

The year Eighteen Hundred Sixty should be marked on history's page with
a silver star, for it was in that year that Herbert Spencer issued his
famous prospectus setting forth that he was engaged in formulating a
system of philosophy which he proposed to issue in periodical parts to
subscribers. He then followed with an outline of the ground he intended
to cover. Ten volumes would be issued, and he proposed to take twenty
years to complete the task.

The entire Synthetic Philosophy was then in his mind and he knew what he
wanted to do. The courage and faith of the man were dauntless. Michael
Rossetti once said, "Spencer, Darwin, Huxley, Tyndall and Wallace owe
nothing to the universities of England, except for the scorn and
opposition that have been offered them." But patriotic Americans and
true are glad to remember that it was Professor E. L. Youmans of Yale
who made it possible for Spencer to carry out his great plan. Five years
after the prospectus was issued, Spencer was again penniless and was
thinking seriously of abandoning the project. Youmans heard of this and
reissued the prospectus, and sent it out among the thinking men of the
world, asking them to subscribe. The announcement was then followed up
by letters, and Youmans forced the issue until the sum of seven thousand
dollars was raised. This he took over to Europe in person and presented
to Spencer, with a gold watch and a box of cigars. Youmans found
Spencer at his boarding-house, and together they wandered out in the
park, where Youmans presented the philosopher the box of cigars. The
great man took out one, cut it in three parts and proceeded to smoke
one, then Youmans handed him the gold watch and the draft for the money.

Spencer took the gifts of the watch and cigars and was much moved, but
when it was followed by the draft for seven thousand dollars, he merely
gasped and said: "Wonderful! Magnificent! Magnificent! Wonderful!" and
smoked his third of a cigar in silence. And when he spoke, it was to
say: "I think I will have to revise what I wrote in 'First Principles'
on the matter of divine providence."

Those who have read Spencer's will must remember that this watch,
presented to him by his American friends, is given a special paragraph.

Spencer once said to Huxley, "From the day I first carried that watch,
every good thing I needed has been brought and laid at my feet."

"If I have succeeded in my art, it is simply because I have been well
sustained," said Henry Irving in one of his modest, flattering, yet
charming little speeches.

Sir Henry might have gone on and said that no man succeeds unless well
sustained, and happy is that man who has radioactivity of spirit enough
to attract to him loving and loyal helpers who scintillate his rays.

The average individual does not know very much about Edward L. Youmans,
but no man ever did greater work in popularizing nature study in
America. And if for nothing else, let his name be deathless for two
things: he inspired John Burroughs with the thirst to see and know--and
then to write--and he introduced Herbert Spencer to the world. It is
easy to say that Burroughs was peeping his shell when Youmans discovered
him, and that Spencer would have found a way in any event. We simply do
not know what would have happened if something else occurred, or hadn't.

Youmans was born in a New York State country village, and very early
discovered for himself that the world was full of curious and wonderful
things, just as most children do. He became a district school-teacher,
and so far as we know, was the very first man to publicly advocate
nature study as a distinctive means of child-growth. He taught his
children to observe; then he gave lectures on elementary botany; he
studied and he wrote, and he worked at the microscope.

And he became blind.

Did the closest observer on the continent cease work and grow
discouraged when sight failed? Not he.

He no more quit work than did Beethoven cease composing music when he no
longer was able to hear it.

We hear with the imagination, and we see with the soul. Youmans' sister,
Eliza Anne, became his guide and amanuensis; he saw the things through
her eyes and inspected the wonders with his finger-tips.

He became professor of Physics and Natural History at Yale, and when the
New England Lecture Lyceum was at its height, he rivaled Phillips,
Emerson and Beecher as a popular attraction. He made science a pleasure
to plain people, and started Starr King off on that tangent of putting
knowledge in fairylike and acceptable form. Youmans' lecture on "The
Chemistry of a Sunbeam" is one of the unforgettable things of a
generation past, so full of animation and rare, radiant spirit of
good-cheer was the man. He founded the "Popular Science Monthly," wrote
a dozen books on science, and several of these are now used in most of
the colleges and advanced schools of America and England.

The man had a head for business--he became rich.

It was about the year Eighteen Hundred Fifty-six that Youmans was in
England on a business errand, introducing his books in the English
schools, that he first met Herbert Spencer, having been attracted to him
through a chance copy of "Social Statics" that his sister had read to
him. Youmans saw that Spencer was going right to the heart of things in
a way he himself could not. The men became friends, and of all Youmans'
wonderful discoveries, he considered Herbert Spencer the greatest.

"Sir Humphry Davy discovered, and possibly evolved, Michael Faraday; but
I didn't evolve Herbert Spencer, any more than Balboa evolved the
Pacific Ocean," said Youmans at a dinner given to Herbert Spencer when
he visited New York in Eighteen Hundred Eighty-one. The name of Youmans
is not in the Hall of Fame as one of the world's great men, but as
naturalist, teacher, writer, lecturer and practical man of affairs, he
reflects credit on his Maker. The light went out of his eyes, but it
never went out of his soul.

       *       *       *       *       *

In making payment to a publishing-house for sixty volumes of an American
historical work, Speaker Cannon recently made this endorsement on the
back of the check:

"This check is in full payment, both legal and moral, for sixty volumes
of books. The books are not worth a damn--and are dear at that. We are
never too old to learn, but the way your gentlemanly agent came it over
your Uncle Joseph, is worth the full amount."

When Speaker Cannon says the books are not worth a damn, he does not
necessarily state a fact about the books: he merely states a fact about
himself--that is, he gives his opinion. The value of the books is still

The Speaker's discontent with the books seems to have arisen from the
one fact that he had to pay for them.

This condition is a classic one, and the world long ago has conceded to
the man who pays, the privilege of protest. When Herbert Spencer issued
that world-famous prospectus, announcing his intention to publish ten
volumes setting forth his Synthetic Philosophy, it was one of the most
daring things ever done in the realm of thought. Spencer was forty, and
he was penniless and obscure. He had issued two books at his own
expense, and it had taken twelve years to dispose of seven hundred fifty
copies of one, and most of the edition of the other was still on hand.
Edward L. Youmans had such faith in Spencer that he sent out the
prospectus, and followed it up with letters and personal solicitations,
until seven thousand dollars was subscribed, and Herbert Spencer,
relieved from the uncertainties of finance, was free to think and write.

Among other subscribers secured by Youmans, was the Reverend Doctor
Jowett of Balliol. Spencer's books were issued in periodical parts.
After paying for three years, Jowett sent a check to the publishers for
the full amount of the subscription, saying, in an accompanying note:
"To save myself the bother of periodical payments for Mr. Spencer's
books, I herewith hand you check covering the full amount of my
subscription. I feel that I have already had full returns, for, while
the books are absolutely valueless, save as showing the industry of an
uneducated and indiscreet person, yet the experience that has come to me
in this transaction is not without its benefits."

This is the Oxford way of expressing the Illinois formula, "Your books
are not worth a damn--and are dear at that."

But the curious part of this transaction is that, after the death of
Doctor Jowett, his library was sold at auction, and his set of the
Synthetic Philosophy brought an advance of eight times its original

Truly my Lord Hamlet doth say:

  And prais'd be rashness for it--let us know,
  Our indiscretion sometimes serves us well,
  When our deep plots do fail.

No one man's opinion concerning any book, or any man, is final. Speaker
Cannon is admired by one set of men and detested by others--all of equal
intelligence, although on this point the Speaker might possibly file an

Books are condemned offhand, or regarded as Bibles--it all depends upon
your point of view. Speaker Cannon may be right in his estimate of the
newly annexed sixty volumes of history that now grace his
library-shelves in Danville, proudly shown to constituents, or he may be
wrong; but anyway, Cannon's judgment about books is probably worth no
more than was the Reverend Doctor Jowett's. Gladstone spoke of Jowett as
that "saintly character"; and Disraeli called him "the bear of
Balliol--erratic, obtuse and perverse." But Jowett, Gladstone and
Disraeli all united in this: they had supreme contempt for the work of
Herbert Spencer; while the Honorable Joseph Cannon is neutral, but
inclined to be generous, having recently in a speech quoted from the
"Faerie Queene," which he declared was the best thing Herbert Spencer
had written, even if it was not fully up to date.

       *       *       *       *       *

All during his life, Spencer was subject to attacks of indigestion and
insomnia. That these bad spells were "a disease of the imagination" made
them no less real. His isolation and lack of social ties gave him time
to feel his pulse and lie in wait for sleepless nights.

With the old ladies of his boarding-house, he was on friendly terms, and
his commonplace talk with them never gave them a guess concerning the
worldwide character of his work. Very seldom did he refer to what he was
doing and thinking--and then only among his most intimate friends.
Huxley was his nearest confidant; and a recent writer, who knew him
closely in a business way for many years, says that only with Huxley did
he throw off his reserve and enter the social lists with abandon.

No one could meet Spencer, even in the most casual way, without being
impressed with the fact that he was in the presence of a most superior
person. The man was tall and gaunt, self-contained--a little aloof--he
asked for nothing, and realized his own worth. He commanded respect
because he respected himself--there was neither abnegation, apology nor
abasement in his manner. Once I saw him walking in the Strand, and I
noticed that the pedestrians instinctively made way, although probably
not one out of a thousand had any idea who he was. No one ever affronted
him, nor spoke disrespectfully to his face; if unkind things were said
of the man and his work, it was in print and at a distance.

His standard of life was high--his sense of justice firm; with pretense
and hypocrisy he had little patience, while for the criminal he had a
profound pity.

Music was to him a relaxation and a rest. He knew the science of
composition, and was familiar in detail with the best work of the great

In order to preserve the quiet of his thoughts in the boarding-house, he
devised a pair of ear-muffs which fitted on his head with a spring.

If the conversation took a turn in which he had no interest, he would
excuse himself to his nearest neighbor and put on his ear-muffs. The
plan worked so well that he carried them with him wherever he went, and
occasionally at lectures or concerts, when he would grow more interested
in his thoughts than in the performance, he would adjust his patent.

So well pleased was he with his experiment that he had a dozen pairs of
the ear-muffs made one Christmas and gave them to friends, but it is
hardly probable they had the hardihood to carry them to a Four-o'Clock.
Seldom, indeed, is there a man who prizes his thoughts more than a
polite appearance.

In an address before the London Medical Society, in Eighteen Hundred
Seventy-one, Spencer said, "The man who does not believe in devils
during his life, will probably never be visited by devils on his
deathbed." Herbert Spencer died December Eighth, Nineteen Hundred
Three, in his eighty-fourth year. Up to within two days of his death,
his mind was clear, active and alert, and he worked at his books with
pleasure and animation--revising, correcting and amending. He never lost
the calm serenity of life. He sank gradually into sleep and passed
painlessly away. And thus was gracefully rounded out the greatest life
of its age--The Age of Herbert Spencer.

He left no request as to where he should be buried, but the thinking
people who recognized his genius considered Westminster Abbey the
fitting place--an honor to England's Valhalla. The Church of England
denied him a place there before it was asked, and the hallowed precincts
which shelter the remains of Queen Anne's cook and John Broughton the
pugilist are not for Herbert Spencer. His dust does not rest in
consecrated ground.

Herbert Spencer had no titles nor degrees--he belonged to no sect,
party, nor society. Practically, he had no recognition in England until
after he was sixty years of age. America first saw his star in the east,
and long before the first edition of "Social Statics" had been sold, we
waived the matter of copyright and were issuing the book here. On
receiving a volume of the pirated edition, the author paraphrased
Byron's famous mot, and grimly said, "Now, Barabbas was an American."

However, Spencer was really pleased to think that America should steal
his book; we wanted it--the English didn't. It took him twelve years to
dispose of the seven hundred fifty volumes, and most of these were given
away as inscribed copies. They lasted about as long as Walt Whitman's
first edition of "Leaves of Grass," although Whitman had the assistance
of the Attorney-General of Massachusetts in advertising his remarkable

Henry Thoreau's first book fared better, for when the house burned where
the remnant of four hundred copies lingered long, he wrote to a friend,
"Thank God, the edition is exhausted."

England recognized the worth of Thoreau and Whitman long before America
did; and so, perhaps, it was meet that we should do as much for Spencer,
Ruskin and Carlyle.

One of the most valuable of the many great thoughts evolved by Spencer
was on the "Art of Mentation," or brain-building. You can not afford to
fix your mind on devils or hell, or on any other form of fear, hate and
revenge. Of course, hell is for others, and the devils we believe in are
not for ourselves. But the thoughts of these things are registered in
the brain, and the hell we create for others, we ourselves eventually
fall into; and the devils we conjure forth, return and become our
inseparable companions. That is to say, all thought and all work--all
effort--are for the doer primarily, and as a man thinketh in his heart,
so is he. This sounds like the language of metaphysics, which Kant said
was the science of disordered moonshine. But Herbert Spencer's work was
all a matter of analytical demonstration. And while the word
"materialist" was everywhere applied to him, and he did not resent it,
yet he was one of the most spiritual of men. A meta-physician is one who
proves ten times as much as he believes; a scientist is one who believes
ten times as much as he can prove. Science speaks with lowered voice.
Before Spencer's time, German scientists had discovered that the cell
was the anatomical unit of life, but it was for Spencer to show that it
was also the psychologic or spiritual unit. New thoughts mean new
brain-cells, and every new experience or emotion is building and
strengthening a certain area of brain-tissue. We grow only through
exercise, and all expression is exercise. The faculties we use grow
strong, and those not used, atrophy and wither away. This is no less
true, said Spencer, in the material brain than in the material muscle. A
new thought causes a new structural enregistration. If it is the
repetition of thought, the cells holding that thought are exercised and
trained, and finally they act automatically, and repeated thought
becomes habit, and exercised habit becomes character--and character is
the man. It thus is plain that no man can afford to entertain the
thought of fear, hate and revenge--and their concomitants, devils and
hell--because he is enregistering these things physically in his being.
These physical cells, as science has shown, are transmitted to
offspring; and thus through continued mind-activity and consequent
brain-cell building, a race with fixed characteristics is evolved.
Pleasant memories and good thoughts must be exercised, and these in time
will replace evil memories, so that the cells containing negative
characteristics will atrophy and die. And when Herbert Spencer says that
the process of doing away with evil is not through punishment, threat or
injunction, but simply through a change of activities--thus allowing the
bad to die through disuse--he states a truth that is even now coloring
our whole fabric of pedagogics and penology. I couple these two words
advisedly, for fifty years ago, pedagogics was a form of penology--the
boarding-school with its mentors, scheme of fines, repressions and
disgrace! And now we have lifted penology into the realm of pedagogics.
I doubt me much whether the present penitentiary is a more unhappy place
than a boys' English boarding-school was in the time of Squeers.

All of our progress has come from replacing bad activities with the
good. Bad people we now believe are good folks who have misdirected
their energies; and we all believe a deal more in the goodness of the
bad than the badness of the good, with the result that "total depravity"
and "endless punishment" have been shamed out of every pulpit where
sane men preach. No devils danced on the footboard of Herbert Spencer's
bed, because there were no devil-cells in his brain.

Another great discovery of Herbert Spencer's was that the emotions
control the secretions. And the quality of the secretions determines the
chemical changes which constitute all cellular growth. Thus, cheerful,
happy emotions are similar to sunshine--they stand for health and
harmony, and as such, are constructive. Good-will is sanitary; kindness
is hygienic; friendship works for health. These happy emotions secrete a
quality in the blood called anabolism, which is essentially vitalizing
and life-producing.

On the other hand, fear, hate, and all forms of unkindness evolve a
toxin, katabolism, which tends to clog circulation, disturb digestion,
congest the secretions and stupefy the senses; and it tends to the
dissolution and destruction of life. All that saddens, embitters and
disappoints produces this chemical change that makes for death. "A
poison," said Spencer, "is only a concentrated form of hate."

       *       *       *       *       *

Spencer's discoveries in electricity have been most valuable, and it was
by building on his suggestions and seeing with his prophetic eye that
the Crookes Tube, the Roentgen Ray, and the discovery of radium have
become possible.

The distinguishing feature of radium is its radioactivity, brought about
through its affinity for electricity. It absorbs electricity from the
atmosphere and gives it off spontaneously in the form of light and heat
without appreciable loss of form or substance. Every good thing in life
is dual, and through this natural and spontaneous marriage of radium and
electricity, we get very close to the secret of life. As the sun is the
giver of life and death, so by the use of the salts of radium have
scientists vitalized certain forms of cell-life into growth and
activity, and by the same token, and the use of the radium-ray, do they
destroy the germs of disease.

By his prophetic vision, Spencer saw years ago that we would yet be able
to eliminate and refine the substances of earth until we found the
element that would combine spontaneously with electricity, and radiate
life and heat. Among the very last letters dictated by Spencer, only a
few days before his death, was one to Madame Curie congratulating her on
her discovery of radium, and urging her not to relax in her further
efforts to seek out the secret of life. "My only regret is," wrote the
great man, "that I will not be here to rejoice with you in the fulness
of your success." Thus to the last did he preserve the eager, curious
and receptive heart of youth, and prove to the scientific world his
theory that brain-cells, properly exercised, are the last organs of the
body to lose their functions.


     Wherever one goes one immediately comes upon this incorrigible mob
     of humanity. It exists everywhere in legions; crowding, soiling
     everything, like flies in summer. Hence the numberless bad books,
     those rank weeds of literature which extract nourishment from the
     corn and choke it. They monopolize the time, money and attention
     which really belong to good books and their noble aims; they are
     written merely with a view to making money or procuring places.
     They are not only useless, but they do positive harm. Nine-tenths
     of the whole of our present literature aims solely at taking a few
     shillings out of the public's pocket, and to accomplish this,
     author, publisher and reviewer have joined forces.


[Illustration: SCHOPENHAUER]

The philosophy we evolve is determined by what we are; just as a nation
passes laws legalizing the things it wishes to do. "Where the artist is,
there you will find art," said Whistler. We will not get the Ideal
Commonwealth until we get Ideal People; and we will not get an ideal
philosophy until we get an ideal philosopher. Place the mentally and
morally slipshod in ideal surroundings and they will quickly evolve a
slum, just as did John Shakespeare, when at Stratford he was fined two
pounds ten for maintaining a sequinarium. All we can say for John is
that he was the author of a fine boy, who resembled his mother much more
than he did his father. This seems to prove Schopenhauer's remark
concerning a divine sonship: "Paternity is a cheap office, anyway,
accomplished without cost, care or risk, and of it no one should boast.
A divine motherhood is the only thing that is really sacred."

It isn't his philosophy that makes a man--man makes his philosophy, and
he makes it in his own image. Living in a world of strife, where the
most savage beast that roams the earth is man, the Philosophy of
Pessimism has its place.

Schopenhauer proved himself a true philosopher when he said: "All we
see in the world is a projection from our own minds. I may see one
thing, you another; and according to the test of a third party we are
both wrong, for he sees something else. So we are all wrong, yet all are

He was quite willing to admit that he had a well-defined moral squint
and a touch of mental strabismus; but he revealed his humanity by
blaming his limitations on his parents, and charging up his faults and
foibles to other people.

It is possible that Carlyle's famous remark about the people who daily
cross London Bridge was inspired by Schopenhauer, who, when asked what
kind of people the Berliners were, replied, "Mostly fools!"

"I believe," ventured the interrogator--"I believe, Herr Schopenhauer,
that you yourself live at Berlin?"

"I do," was the response, "and I feel very much at home there."

       *       *       *       *       *

Heinrich Schopenhauer, the father of Arthur Schopenhauer, was a banker
and shipping merchant of the city of Danzig, Germany. He was a
successful man, and, like all successful men, he was an egotist. Before
the world will believe in you, you must believe in yourself. And another
necessary element in success is that you must exaggerate your own
importance, and the importance of your work. Self-esteem will not alone
make you successful, but without a goodly jigger of self-esteem, success
will forever dally and dance just beyond your reach. The humble men who
have succeeded in impressing themselves upon the world have all taken
much pride in their humility.

Heinrich Schopenhauer was a proud man--as proud as the Merchant of
Venice--and in his veins there ran a strain of the blue blood of the
Castilian Jew. Too much success is most unfortunate. Heinrich
Schopenhauer was proud, unbending, harsh, arbitrary, wore a full beard
and a withering smile, and looked upon musicians, painters, sculptors
and writers as court clowns, to be trusted only as far as you could
fling Taurus by the tail. All good bookkeepers have, even yet, this
pitying contempt for those whose chief assets are ideas--the legal
tender of the spirit. The Alameda smile is the smile of scorn worn by
the bookkeepers who prepare the balance-sheets for the great merchants
of San Francisco. Alameda is young, but the Alameda smile is classic.

When Heinrich Schopenhauer was forty he married a beautiful girl of
twenty. She had ideas about art and poetry, and was passing through her
Byronic stage, before Byron did, and taking it rather hard, when her
parents gave her in troth to Heinrich Schopenhauer, the rich merchant.
It was regarded as a great catch.

I wish that I could say that Heinrich and Johanna were happy ever after,
but in view of the well-known facts put forth by their firstborn child,
I can not do it.

Before marriage the woman has her way: let her make the most of her
power--she'll not keep it long! Shortly after their marriage Heinrich
saw symptoms of the art instinct creeping in, and players on sweet
zither-strings, who occasionally called, compelled him to take measures.
He bought a country seat, four miles from the city, on an inaccessible
road, and sent his bride thither. Here he visited her only on Saturdays
and Sundays, and her callers were the good folk he chose to bring with

Marital peace is only possible where women are properly
suppressed--lumity dee!

It was under these conditions that Arthur Schopenhauer was born, on
February Twenty-second--in deference to our George Washington--Seventeen
Hundred Eighty-eight.

The chief quality that Schopenhauer inherited from his father was the
Alameda smile--and this smile of contempt was for all those who did not
think as he did. The mother never professed to have any love for her
husband, or the child either, and the child never professed to have any
love for his mother. He once wrote this: "I was an unwelcome child, born
of a mother in rebellion--she never wanted me, and I reciprocate the

       *       *       *       *       *

In that troublous year of Seventeen Hundred Ninety-three, the Free City
of Danzig fell under the sway of Prussia.

Heinrich Schopenhauer, who loved freedom, jealous of his privileges,
fearful of his rights, immediately packed up his effects, sold out his
property--at great loss--and moved to the Free City of Hamburg.

That his fears for the future were quite groundless, as most fears are,
is a fact relevant but not consequent.

Johanna was vivacious and eminently social. She spoke French, German,
English and Italian. She played the harp, sang, wrote poetry and acted
in dramas of her own composition. Around her there always clustered a
goodly group of men with long hair, dreamy eyes and pointed beards, who
soared high, dived deep, but seldom paid cash. This is the paradise to
which most women wish to attain: to be followed by a concourse of
artistic archangels--what nobler ambition! And let the great biological
and historical fact here be written down--that there are no female

Heinrich did not settle down in Hamburg and go into business, as he
expected. He and his wife and boy traveled much--through England,
France, Germany and Switzerland.

This man and his wife were trying to get away from themselves. Long
years after, their son wrote, "When people die and wake up in hell they
will probably be surprised to find that they are just such beings as
they were when they were on earth."

For a year the lad was left at school with a clergyman at Wimbledon, in
England. The strict religious discipline to which he was there subjected
seemed to have had much to do with forming in him a fierce hatred of
English orthodoxy; but he learned the language and became familiar with
the great names in English literature. The King Arthur stories pleased
him, and he always took a peculiar satisfaction in the fact that the
name Arthur was the same in English, German and French. He was a
prenatal cosmopolitan.

Boarding-schools are a great scheme for getting the children out of the
way--it throws the responsibility upon some one else. When nine years of
age, Arthur was placed in a French boarding-school, remaining for two
years. There he learned to speak French so fluently that when he
returned to Hamburg and tried to talk to his mother in German, his
broken speech threw that excellent woman into fits of laughter.

When the mature man of affairs takes a young girl to wife, he expects to
mold her to his nature, but he reckons without his host. Heinrich
Schopenhauer's opposition to his wife's wishes was not strong enough to
crush her--it simply developed in her a deal of wilful, dogged strength.

One winter day in Eighteen Hundred Four the body of Heinrich
Schopenhauer was found in the canal at Hamburg.

Arthur was then sixteen years of age--old for his years, traveled,
clever--strong in body and robust in health.

In wandering with his parents, he had met Goethe, Wieland, Madame De
Stael, Lord Nelson and Lady Hamilton, and many other distinguished
people, for his mother was a famous lion-hunter, and wherever they went,
the great ones were tracked to their lairs. But however much Madame
Schopenhauer indulged in hero-worship, she had no expectations or
ambitions for her son. She apprenticed him as a clerk and did her utmost
to immerse him in commerce. What she desired was freedom for herself,
and the popular plan to gain freedom is to enslave others. Madame
Schopenhauer moved to Weimar and opened there a sort of literary salon.
She wrote verses, novels, essays, and her home became the center of a
certain artistic group. The fortune her husband had left was equal to
about forty thousand dollars, one-third of which was to go to Arthur
when he was twenty-one. The mother had the handling of it all until that
time, and as the funds were well invested, her income was equal to about
two thousand dollars a year.

A handsome widow, under forty, with no encumbrances to speak of, and a
fair income, is very fortunately situated. Indeed, a great writer has
recently written an essay showing that widows, discreetly bereaved, are
the happiest creatures on earth.

Young Schopenhauer, at his desk in Hamburg, grieved over the death of
his father. That which is lost becomes valuable--bereavement softens the
heart. The only tenderness that is revealed in the writings of
Schopenhauer refers to his father. He affirms the sterling honesty of
the man, and lauds the merchant who boldly states that he is in business
to make money, and compares him with the philosophers who clutch for
power and fame and yet pretend they are working for humanity. When
Schopenhauer was past sixty, he dedicated his complete works to the
memory of his father. As nothing purifies like fire, so does nothing
sanctify like death--the love we lose is the only love we keep.

Mathematics, bills and balance-sheets were odious to young Schopenhauer.
He reverenced the memory of his father, but his mother had endowed him
with a strong impulse for expression. He wrote little essays on the
backs of envelopes, philosophized over his bills, sneaked out of the
countingroom the back way to attend the afternoon lectures by the great
Doctor Gall, and finally, boldly followed his mother to Weimar, that he
might bask in the shadow of the mighty Goethe. It was shortly after this
that he sat in a niche of Goethe's library, musing, sad and solitary,
while a gay throng chattered by. Some young women, seeing him there,
laughed, and one asked, "Is it alive?" And Goethe, overhearing the
pleasantry, rebuked it by saying, "Do not smile at that youth--he will
yet eclipse us all."

At Weimar there was no greeting for Schopenhauer from his mother--she
welcomed all but her son. Unfortunately for her, she put herself on
record by writing him letters. Scathing letters are all right, but they
should be directed and stamped, then burned just before they are trusted
to the mails. To record unkindness is tragedy, for the unkind word lives
long after the event that caused it is forgotten. Here is one letter
written by Madame Schopenhauer that this methodical son saved for

     _My Dear Son:_

     I have always told you it is difficult to live with you. The more I
     get to know you, the more I feel this difficulty increase. I will
     not hide it from you: as long as you are what you are, I would
     rather bring any sacrifice than consent to be near you. I do not
     undervalue your good points, and that which repels me does not lie
     in your heart; it is in your outer, not your inner being; in your
     ideas, your judgment, your habits; in a word, there is nothing
     concerning the outer world in which we agree. Your ill-humor, your
     complaints of things inevitable, your sullen looks, the
     extraordinary opinions you utter, like oracles, none may presume to
     contradict; all this depresses me and troubles me, without helping
     you. Your eternal quibbles, your laments over the stupid world and
     human misery, give me bad nights and unpleasant dreams....

                                              Your Dear Mother, etc.,
                                                  _Johanna Schopenhauer_

       *       *       *       *       *

The young man took lodgings at Weimar, at a goodly distance from his
mother. Goethe held out a friendly hand, as he did to Mendelssohn, and
all bright young men. They talked much, and Goethe read to Arthur his
essay on the theory of colors (for Wolfgang Goethe was human and dearly
loved the sound of his own voice). The reasoning so impressed the youth
that he devised a chromatic theory of his own--almost as peculiar.
Theories are for the theorizer, so all theories are useful.

At the earnest importunity of his mother, who starved him to it, Arthur
went back to his clerkship, but soon returned and made terms, agreeing
not to call on his mother, in consideration of a pound a week. He took
lessons in Greek and Latin of a retired professor, attended lectures,
fell in love with an actress--vowed he would marry her, but, luckily for
her, he didn't.

When he was twenty-one, his mother turned over to him his patrimony,
amounting to about fourteen thousand dollars; and suggested that he
leave Weimar and make his fortune elsewhere--the world was wide.

His money was invested so it brought him an income of seven hundred
dollars a year. And here seems a good place to say that Schopenhauer's
income was never over a thousand dollars a year until after he was
fifty-six years of age. Although he could not make money, yet he had
inherited from his father an ability to care for it. Throughout his life
he kept exact books of account, never ran in debt, and never allowed
his expenditures to outrun his income, thus complying with Charles
Dickens' recipe for happiness.

In still another way he revealed that he could apply philosophy to daily
life: he exercised regularly in the open air, took long walks, was
absurdly exact about his cold baths, and like Kant, served the neighbors
as a chronometer, so they set their clocks at three when they saw him
going forth for a walk. And in the interests of truth, we will have to
make the embarrassing admission that the great Apostle of Pessimism was
neither a dyspeptic nor an invalid--if he was ever aware that he had a
stomach we do not hear of it.

       *       *       *       *       *

The life of Schopenhauer is the life of a recluse--a visionary--a hermit
who lost himself amid the maze of city streets, and moved solitary in
the throng. Berlin, Dresden, Hamburg, Gottingen, Frankfort, engaged him,
and from one to the other he turned, looking for the rest he never
found, and which he knew he would never find, so in the vain search
there was no disappointment. He was always happiest when most miserable,
for then were his theories proved.

A single room in a lodging-house sufficed, and this room always had the
appearance of being occupied by a transient. He had few books,
accumulated no belongings in way of domestic ballast, persistently
giving away things that were presented to him, satisfied if he had a
chair, a bed, and a table upon which to write; getting his own
breakfast, dining at the table d'hote of the nearest inn, with supper at
a "Gast-Haus"--so passed his days. He had no intimate friends, and his
chief dissipation was playing the flute. His black poodle, named "Homo"
in a subtle mood of irony, accompanied him everywhere, and on this dog
he lavished what he was pleased to call his love. He anticipated Rip Van
Winkle concerning dogs and women, and when Homo died, he bought another
dog that looked exactly like the first, and was just as good.

In a few instances Schopenhauer read his essays in public as lectures,
but his ideas were keyed to concert pitch and were too pronounced for
average audiences. He was offered a professorship at Gottingen and also
at Heidelberg, if he would "tone things down," but he scornfully
declined the proposition, and said, "The Universities must grow to my
level before I can talk to them." By his caustic criticisms of
contemporaries he became both feared and shunned, and no doubt he found
a certain satisfaction in the fact that the so-called learned men of his
time would neither listen to his lectures, read his books, nor abide his
presence. He had made himself felt in any event. "Blessed are ye when
men shall revile you," is the sweet consolation of all persecuted
persons--and persecution is only the natural resentment towards those
who have too much ego in their cosmos.

His opinions concerning love and marriage need not be taken too
seriously. Ideas are the results of temperaments and moods. When a man
amplifies on the woman question he describes the women he knows best,
and more especially the particular She who is in his head. Literature is
only autobiography, more or less discreetly veiled. Schopenhauer hated
his mother to the day of her death, and although during the last
twenty-four years of her life he never once saw her, her image could at
any time be quickly and vividly thrown upon the screen. The women a
strong man has known are never forgotten--here is where time does not
tarnish, nor the days grow dim.

Between his twenty-eighth and fortieth years, Schopenhauer had wandered
through Italy--spent months at Venice, and dawdled away the days at Rome
and Florence. He had dipped deep into life--and the wrong kind of life.
And his experiences had confirmed his suspicions--it was all bitter--he
was not disappointed.

Until Schopenhauer was past thirty he was known as the son of Johanna
Schopenhauer. And when he once told her that posterity would never
remember her except as the mother of her son, she reciprocated by
congratulating him that his books could always be had cheap in the first

He retorted, "Mamma Dear, my books will be read when butchers are using
yours for wrapping up meat." In some ways this precious pair were very
much alike.

It is very probable that Schopenhauer's mother was not so base as he
thought; and when he declared, "Woman's morality is only a kind of
prudence," he might have said the same of his own. He stood aloof from
life and said things about it. He had no wife, no child, no business, no
home--he dared not venture boldly into the tide of existence--he stood
forever on the bank, and watched the current carrying its flotsam and
jetsam to the hungry sea.

In his love for the memory of his father, and in his tender care for his
dog, we get a glimpse of depths that were never sounded. One side of his
nature was never developed. And the words of the undeveloped man are
worth what they are worth.

Schopenhauer once said to Wieland, "Life is a ticklish business--I
propose to spend my time looking at it." This he did, viewing existence
from every angle, and writing out his thoughts in terse, epigrammatic

Among all the German writers on philosophy, the only one who had a
distinct literary style is Schopenhauer. Form was quite as much to him
as matter--and in this he showed rare wisdom; although I am told that
the writers who have no literary style are the only ones who despise it.
Dishes to be palatable must be rightly served: appetite--literary,
gastronomic or sexual--is largely a matter of imagination.

Schopenhauer need not be regarded as final. The chief virtue of the man
lies in the fact that he makes us think, and thus are we his debtors.

In this summary of Schopenhauer's philosophy I have had the valuable
assistance of my friend and fellow-worker in the Roycroft Shop, George
Pannebakker, a kinsman and enthusiastic admirer of the great Prophet of

In talking to Mr. Pannebakker, I am inclined to exclaim, "Thou almost
persuadest me to be a pessimist!" It is unfortunate that our English
tongue contains no word that stands somewhere between pessimism and
optimism--that symbols a judicial cast of mind which sees the Truth
without blinking and accepts it without complaint. The word Pessimist
was first flung in contempt at those who dared to express unpalatable
truth. It is now accepted by a large number of intellectuals, and if to
be a pessimist is to have insight, wit, calm courage, patience,
persistency, and a disposition that accepts all Fate sends and makes the
best of it, then pity 'tis we haven't more.

       *       *       *       *       *

The root of existence, the inmost kernel of all being, the original
vitalizing power, the fundamental reality of the universe, is, according
to Schopenhauer, "WILL." What is Will? Will, in the usual sense, is the
faculty of our mind by which we decide to do or not to do. Will is the
power to choose. In Schopenhauer's philosophy, Will is something less as
we know will, and something more than force. Will, connected with
consciousness, as peculiar to man, is, in a less developed form, the
real essence of all matter, of all things, organic or inorganic. Will is
the blind, irresistible striving for existence; the unconscious
organizing power, the omnipotent creative force of Nature, pervading the
whole limitless universe; the endeavor to be, to evolve, to expand.

The whole world of phenomena is the objectivation or apparition of Will.

Will, the same force which slumbers in the stone as inert gravity, forms
the crystals with such wonderful regularity.

Will impels a piece of iron to move with ardent desire toward the
magnet. Will causes the magnet to point with unfailing constancy to the
north. Will causes the embryo to cling as a parasite and feed on the
body of the mother. Will causes the mother's breast to fill that her
babe may be fed. Will fills the mother-heart with love that the young
may be cared for.

The same force urges the tender germ of the plant to break through the
hard crust of the earth and, stretching toward the light, to enfold
itself in the proud crown of the palm-tree. Will sharpens the beak of
the eagle and the tooth of the tiger and, finally, reaches its highest
grade of objectivation in the human brain. Want, the struggle for
existence, the necessity of procuring and selecting sufficient food for
the preservation of the individual and the species, has at last
developed a suitable tool, the brain, and its function, the intellect.
With the intellect appear consciousness and a realm of rational life
full of yearning and desires, pleasures and pain, hatred and love.
Brothers slay their brothers, conquerors trample down the races of the
earth, and tyrants are forging chains for the nations.

There is violence and fear, vexation and trouble. Unrest is the mark of
existence, and onward we are swept in the hurrying whirlpool of change.
This manifold restless motion is produced and kept up by the agency of
two single impulses--hunger and the sexual instinct. These are the chief
agents of the Lord of the Universe--the Will--and set in motion so
strange and varied a scene.

The Will-to-Live is at the bottom of all love-affairs. Every kind of
love springs entirely from the instinct of sex.

Love is under bonds to secure the existence of the human race in future
times. The real aim of the whole of love's romance, although the persons
concerned are unconscious of the fact, is that a particular being may
come into the world.

It is the Will-to-Live, presenting itself in the whole species, which so
forcibly and exclusively attracts two individuals of different sex
towards each other.

This yearning and this pain do not arise from the needs of an ephemeral
individual, but are, on the contrary, the sigh of the Spirit of the

Since life is essentially suffering, the propagation of the species is
an evil--the feeling of shame proves it.

In his "Metaphysics of Love," Schopenhauer says: "We see a pair of
lovers exchanging longing glances--yet why so secretly, timidly and
stealthily? Because these lovers are traitors secretly striving to
perpetuate all the misery and turmoil that otherwise would come to a
timely end."

Will, as the source of life, is the origin of all evil.

Having awakened to life from the night of unconsciousness, the
individual finds itself in an endless and boundless world, striving,
suffering, erring; and, as though passing through an ominous dream, it
hurries back to the old unconsciousness. Until then, however, its
desires are boundless, and every satisfied wish begets a new one.
So-called pleasures are only a mode of temporary relief. Pain soon
returns in the form of satiety. Life is a more or less violent
oscillation between pain and ennui. The latter, like a bird of prey,
hovers over us, ready to swoop down wherever it sees a life secure from

The enjoyment of art, as the disinterested cognition devoid of Will, can
afford an interval of rest from the drudgery of Will service. But
esthetic beatitude can be obtained only by a few; it is not for the hoi
polloi. And then, art can give only a transient consolation.

Everything in life indicates that earthly happiness is destined to be
frustrated or to be recognized as an illusion. Life proves a continuous
deception, in great as well as in small matters. If it makes a promise,
it does not keep it, unless to show that the coveted object was little

Life is a business that does not pay expenses.

Misery and pain form the essential feature of existence.

Life is hell, and happy is that man who is able to procure for himself
an asbestos overcoat and a fire-proof room.

Looking at the turmoil of life, we find all occupied with its want and
misery, exerting all their strength in order to satisfy its endless
needs and avert manifold suffering, without daring to expect anything
else in return than merely the preservation of this tormented individual
existence, full of want and misery, toil and moil, strife and struggle,
sorrow and trouble, anguish and fear--from the cradle to the grave.

Existence, when summed up, has an enormous surplus of pain over

You complain that this philosophy is comfortless! But Schopenhauer sees
life through Schopenhauer's eyes, and tells the truth about it as he
sees it. He does not care for your likes and dislikes. If you want to
hear soft platitudes, he advises you to go to a non-conformist
church--read the newspapers, go somewhere else, but not to the
philosopher who cares only for Truth.

Although Schopenhauer's picture of the world is gloomy and somber, there
is nothing weak or cowardly in his writings, and the extent to which he
is read, proves he is not depressing. Since a happy life is impossible,
he says the highest that a man can attain to is the fate of a hero.

A man must take misfortune quietly, because he knows that very many
dreadful things may happen in the course of life. He must look upon the
trouble of the moment as only a very small part of that which will
probably come.

We must not expect very much from life, but learn to accommodate
ourselves to a world where all is relative and no perfect state exists.

Let us look misfortune in the face and meet it with courage and

Fate is cruel and men are miserable. Life is synonymous with suffering;
positive happiness a fata morgana, an illusion.

Only negative happiness, the cessation of suffering, is possible, and
can be obtained by the annihilation of the Will-to-Live.

But it is not suicide that can deliver us from the pains of existence.

Suicide, according to Schopenhauer, frustrates the attainment of the
highest moral aim by the fact that, for a real release from this world
of misery, it substitutes one that is merely apparent. For death merely
destroys the phenomenon, that is, the body, and never my inmost being,
or the universal Will.

Suicide can deliver me merely from my phenomenal existence, and not from
my real self, which can not die.

How, then, can man be released from this life of misery and pain? Where
is the road that leads to Salvation?

Slow and weary is the way of redemption.

The deliverance from life and its sufferings is the freedom of the
intellect from its creator and despot, the Will.

The intellect, freed from the bondage of the Will, sees through the veil
of selfhood into the unity of all being, and finds that he who has done
wrong to another has done wrong to his own self. For selfhood--the
asserting of the Ego--is the root of all evil.

Covetousness and sensuality are the causes of misery.

Sympathy is the basis of all true morality, and only through
renunciation, through self-sacrifice, and universal benevolence, can
salvation be obtained.

He who has recognized that existence is evil, that life is vanity, and
self an illusion, has obtained true knowledge, which is the reflection
of reality. He is in possession of the highest wisdom, which is not
merely theoretical, but also practical perfection; it is the ultimate
true cognition of all things in mass and in detail, which has so
penetrated man's being that it appears as the guide of all his actions.
It illumines his head, warms his heart, leads his hand. We take the
sting out of life by accepting it as it is. "Drink ye all of it."

       *       *       *       *       *

Arthur Schopenhauer very early in life contracted a bad habit of telling
the truth. He stated the thing absolutely as he saw it. He spared no
one's feelings, and conciliation was not in his bright lexicon of words.
If any belief or any institution was in his way, the pilot in charge of
the craft had better put his prow hard a' port--Schopenhauer swerved for

Should every one deal in plain speaking on all occasions, the philosophy
of Ali Baba--that this earth is hell, and we are now suffering for sins
committed in a former incarnation--would be fully proved. Our friends
are the pleasant hypocrites who sustain our illusions. Society is made
possible only through a vast web of delicate evasions, polite
subterfuges, and agreeable falsehoods. The word person comes from
"persona," which means a mask. The reference is to one who plays a
part--assumes a role. The naked truth is not pleasant to look upon, and
that is the reason it is so seldom put upon parade.

The man Schopenhauer would be intolerable, but the writer Schopenhauer
is gaining ground in inverse ratio to the square of the distance we are
from him. "Where shall we bury you?" a friend asked him a few days
before his death.

"Oh, anywhere--posterity will find me!" was the answer. And so on the
modest stone that marks his resting-place at Frankfort, are engraved the
two words, ARTHUR SCHOPENHAUER, and nothing more. The world will not
soon forget the pessimist who had such undying optimism--such
unquenchable faith--that he knew the world would make a path to his

Schopenhauer was the only prominent writer that ever lived who
persistently affirmed that life is an evil--existence a curse. Yet every
man who has ever lived has at times thought so; but to proclaim the
thought--or even entertain it long--would stagger sanity, befog the
intellect and make mind lose its way.

And yet we prize Schopenhauer the more for having said the thing that we
secretly thought; in some subtle way we get a satisfaction out of his
statement, and at the same time, we perceive the man was wrong.

The man who can vivisect an emotion, and lay bare a heart-beat in print,
knows a subtle joy. The misery that can explain itself is not all
misery. Complete misery is dumb; and pain that is all pain is quickly
transformed into insensibility. Schopenhauer's life was quite as happy
as that of many men who persistently depress us by requesting us to
"cheer up." Schopenhauer says, "Don't try to cheer up--the worst is yet
to come." And we can not refrain a smile. A mother once called to her
little boy to come into the house. And the boy answered, "I won't do
it!" And the mother replied, "Stay out then!" And very soon the child
came in.

Truth is only a point of view, and when a man tells us what he sees, we
swiftly take into consideration who and what the man is. Everybody does
this, unconsciously. It depends upon who says it! The garrulous man who
habitually overstates--painting things large--does not deceive anybody,
and is quite as good a companion as the painstaking, exact man who is
always setting us straight on our statistics. One man we take gross and
the other net. The liar gross is all right, but the liar net is very

Schopenhauer was a talkative, whimsical and sensitive personality, with
a fine assortment of harmless superstitions of his own manufacture. He
was vain, frivolous, self-absorbed, but he had an eye for the subtleties
of existence that quite escape the average individual. He lived in a
world of mind--alert, active, receptive mind--with a rapid-fire gun in
way of a caustic, biting, scathing vocabulary at his command.

The test of every literary work is time. The trite, the commonplace, and
the irrelevant die and turn to dust. The vital lives. Schopenhauer began
writing in his youth. Neglect, indifference and contempt were his
portion until he was over fifty years of age. His passion for truth was
so repelling that the Mutual Admiration Society refused to record his
name even on its waiting-list. He was of that elect few who early in
life succeed in ridding themselves of the friendship of the many. His
enemies discovered him first, and gave him to the world, and after they
had launched his fame with their charges of plagiarism, pretense,
bombast, insincerity and fraud, he has never been out of the limelight,
and in favor he has steadily grown.

No man was ever more thoroughly denounced than Schopenhauer, but even
his most rabid foe never accused him of buying his way into popular
favor, or bribing the judges who sit on the bookcase.

We admire the man because he is such a sublime egotist--he is so
fearfully honest. We love him because he is so often wrong in his
conclusions: he gives us the joy of putting him straight.

Schopenhauer's writing is never the product of a tired pen and ink
unstirred by the spirit. With him we lose our self-consciousness.

And the man who can make other men forget themselves has conferred upon
the world a priceless boon. Introspection is insanity--to open the
windows and look out is health.


  Seeing how all the world's ways came to nought,
    And how Death's one decree merged all degrees,
    He chose to pass his time with birds and trees,
    Reduced his life to sane necessities:
  Plain meat and drink and sleep and noble thought.
    And the plump kine which waded to the knees
    Through the lush grass, knowing the luxuries
    Of succulent mouthfuls, had our gold-disease
  As much as he, who only Nature sought.

  Who gives up much the gods give more in turn:
    The music of the spheres for dross of gold;
  For o'er-officious cares, flame-songs that burn
    Their pathway through the years and never old.
  And he who shunned vain cares and vainer strife
    Found an eternity in one short life.

[Illustration: HENRY THOREAU]

As a rule, the man who can do all things equally well is a very mediocre
individual. Those who stand out before a groping world as beacon-lights
were men of great faults and unequal performances. It is quite needless
to add that they do not live on account of their faults or
imperfections, but in spite of them.

Henry David Thoreau's place in the common heart of humanity grows firmer
and more secure as the seasons pass; his life proves for us again the
paradoxical fact that the only men who really succeed are those who

Thoreau's obscurity, his poverty, his lack of public recognition in
life, either as a writer or lecturer, his rejection as a lover, his
failure in business, and his early death, form a combination of
calamities that make him as immortal as a martyr. Especially does an
early death sanctify all and make the record complete, but the death of
a naturalist while right at the height of his ability to see and
enjoy--death from tuberculosis of a man who lived most of the time in
the open air--these things array us on the side of the man 'gainst
unkind Fate, and cement our sympathy and love.

Nature's care forever is for the species, and the individual is
sacrificed without ruth that the race may live and progress. This dumb
indifference of Nature to the individual--this apparent contempt for the
man--seems to prove that the individual is only a phenomenon. Man is
merely a manifestation, a symptom, a symbol, and his quick passing
proves that he isn't the Thing. Nature does not care for him--she
produces a million beings in order to get one who has thoughts--all are
swept into the dustpan of oblivion but the one who thinks; he alone
lives, embalmed in the memories of generations unborn.

One of the most insistent errors ever put out was that statement of
Rousseau, paraphrased in part by T. Jefferson, that all men are born
free and equal. No man was ever born free, and none are equal, and would
not remain so an hour, even if Jove, through caprice, should make them

The Thoreau race is dead. In Sleepy Hollow Cemetery at Concord there is
a monument marking a row of mounds where a half-dozen Thoreaus rest. The
inscriptions are all of one size, but the name of one alone lives, and
he lives because he had thoughts and expressed them. If any of the tribe
of Thoreau gets into Elysium, it will be by tagging close to the only
man among them who glorified his Maker by using his reason.

Nothing should be claimed as truth that can not be demonstrated, but as
a hypothesis (borrowed from Henry Thoreau) I give you this: Man is only
the tool or vehicle--Mind alone is immortal--Thought is the Thing.

       *       *       *       *       *

Heredity does not account for the evolution of Henry Thoreau. His father
was of French descent--a plain, stolid, little man who settled in
Concord with his parents when a child; later he tried business in
Boston, but the march of commerce resolved itself into a double-quick,
and John Thoreau dropped out of line, and turned to the country village
of Concord, where he hoped that between making lead-pencils and
gardening he might secure a living.

He moved better than he knew.

John Thoreau's wife was Cynthia Dunbar, a tall and handsome woman, with
a ready tongue and nimble wit. Her attentions were largely occupied in
looking after the affairs of the neighbors, and as the years went by her
voice took on the good old metallic twang of the person who discusses
people, not principles.

Henry Thoreau was the third child in the family of seven. He was born in
an old house on the Virginia Road, Concord, about a mile and a half from
the village. This house was the home of Mrs. Thoreau's mother, but the
Thoreaus had taken refuge there, temporarily, to escape a financial
blizzard which seems to have hit no one else but themselves.

John Thoreau was assisted in the pencil-making by the whole family. The
Thoreaus used to sell their pencils down at Cambridge, fifteen miles
away, and Harvard professors, for the most part, used the Concord
article in jotting down their sublime thoughts. At ten years of age,
Thoreau had a furtive eye on Harvard, directed thither, they say, by his
mother. All the best people in Concord, who had sons, sent them to
Harvard--why shouldn't the Thoreaus? The spirit of emulation and family
pride were at work.

Henry was educated principally because he wasn't very strong, nor was he
on good terms with work, and these are classic reasons for imparting
classical education to youth, aspiring or otherwise.

The Concord Academy prepared Henry for college, and when he was sixteen,
he trudged off to Cambridge and was duly entered in the Harvard Class of
Eighteen Hundred Thirty-seven. At Harvard, his cosmos seemed to be of
such a slaty gray that no one said, "Go to--we will observe this youth
and write anecdotes about him, for he is going to be a great man." The
very few in his class who remembered him wrote their reminiscences long
years afterward, with memories refreshed by magazine accounts written by
pious pilgrims from Michigan.

In college pranks and popular amusements he took no part, neither was he
a "grind," for he impressed himself on no teacher or professor so that
they opened their mouths and made prophecies.

Once safely through college, and standing on the threshold (I trust I
use the right expression), Henry Thoreau refused to accept his diploma
and pay five dollars for it--he said it wasn't worth the money.

In his "Walden," Thoreau expresses his opinion of college training this
way: "If I wished a boy to know something about the arts and sciences I
would not pursue the common course, which is merely to send him into the
neighborhood of some professor, where everything is professed and
practised but the art of life. To my astonishment, I was informed when I
left college that I had studied navigation! Why, if I had taken one turn
down the harbor I would have known more about it."

It is well to remember, however, that Thoreau had no ambitions to become
a navigator. His mission was simply to paddle his own canoe on Walden
Pond and Concord River. The men who really launched him on his voyage of
discovery were Ellery Channing and Ralph Waldo Emerson--both Harvard
men. Had he not been a college man, it is quite probable he would never
have caught the speaker's eye. His efforts in working his way through
college, assisted by his poverty-stricken parents, proved his quality.
And as for his life in a shanty on the shores of Walden Pond, the
occurrence is too commonplace to mention, were it not for the fact that
the solitary occupant of the shanty was a Harvard graduate who used no

Harvard prepares a youth for life--but here is a man who, having
prepared for life, deliberately turns his back on life and lives in the

A genuine woodsman is no curiosity, but a civilized woodsman is. The
tendency of colleges is to turn men from Nature to books; from bonfires
to stoves, steam-heat and cash-registers; but Thoreau, by reversing all
rules, suddenly found himself, and others, explaining his position in

Harvard supplied him the alternating current; he influenced the people
in his environment, and he was influenced by his environment.

But without Harvard there would have been no Thoreau. Having earned his
diploma, he had the privilege of declining it; and having gone to
college, it was his right to affirm the emptiness of the classics. Only
the man with a goodly bank-balance can wear rags with impunity.

       *       *       *       *       *

John Thoreau made his lead-pencils and peddled them out, and we hear of
his saying, "Pencils, I fear, are going out of fashion--people are
buying nothing but these miserable new-fangled steel pens." When called
upon to surrender, Paul Jones replied, "We haven't yet begun to fight."
The truth was, the people had not really begun to use pencils. Pencils
weren't going out of fashion, but John Thoreau was. The poor man moved
here and there, evicted by rapacious landlords and taken in by his
relatives, who didn't care whether he was a stranger or not. If he owed
them ten dollars, they took fifty dollars' worth of pencils and called
it square.

Then they undersold John one-half, and he said times were scarce.

This, it need not be explained, was in Massachusetts.

A hundred years ago, these men who whittled useful things out of wood
during the long winter days were everywhere in New England. The sons of
these men invented machines to make the same things, and thus were
started the New England manufactories. It was brains against hands,
cleverness against skill, initiative against plodding industry. And the
man who can tell of the sorrow and suffering of all those industrious
sparrows that were caught and wound around flying shuttles, or stamped
beneath the swift presses of invention, hadn't yet been born. God
doesn't seem to care for sparrows--three-fourths of all that are hatched
die in the nest or fall fluttering to the ground and perish, Grant
Allen says.

Comparatively few persons can adjust themselves happily to new
conditions: the rest are pushed and broken and bent--and die.

When Dixon and Faber invented machines that could be fed automatically,
and turn out more pencils in a day than John Thoreau could in a year,
John was out of the game.

John had brought up his children to work, and Henry became an expert
pencil-maker. Henry, we say, should have found employment with Faber and
Company, as foreman, or else evaded their patents and made a
pencil-machine of his own. Instead, however, he settled down and made
pencils just like his father used to make, and in the same way. He
peddled out a few to his friends, but his business instinct was shown in
that he himself tells how one year he made a thousand dollars' worth of
pencils, but was obliged to sacrifice them all to cancel a debt of one
hundred dollars.

And yet there are people who declare that genius is not transmissible.

John Thoreau failed at pencil-making, but Henry Thoreau failed because
he played the flute morning, noon and night, and went singing the
immunity of Pan. He fished, and tramped the woods and fields, looking,
listening, dreaming and thinking.

At Keswick, where the water comes down at Lodore, there is a
pencil-factory that has been there since the days of William the
Conqueror. The wife of Coleridge used to work there and get money that
supported her philosopher-husband and their children. Southey lived
near, and became Poet Laureate of England through the right exercise of
Keswick pencils; Wordsworth lived only a few miles away, and once he
brought over Charles and Mary Lamb, and bought pencils for both, with
their names stamped on them. The good old man who now keeps the
pencil-factory explained these things to me, and also explained the
direct relationship of good lead-pencils to literature, but I do not
remember what it was.

If Henry Thoreau had held on a few years, until the pilgrims began to
arrive at Concord, he could have gotten rich selling souvenir pencils.
But he just dozed and dreamed and tramped and philosophized; and when he
wrote he used an eagle's quill, with ink he himself distilled from
elderberries, and at first, birch-bark sufficed for paper. "Wild men and
wild things are the only ones that have life in abundance," he used to

       *       *       *       *       *

Brook Farm was a serious, sober experiment inaugurated by the Reverend
George Ripley with intent to live the ideal life--the life of useful
effort, direct honesty, simplicity and high thinking.

But Thoreau could not be induced to join the community--he thought too
much of his liberty to entrust it to a committee. He was interested in
the experiment, but not enough to visit the experimenters. Emerson
looked in on them, remained one night, and went back home to continue
his essay on Idealism.

Hawthorne remained long enough to get material for his "Blithedale
Romance." Margaret Fuller secured good copy and the cordial and lifelong
dislike of Hawthorne, all through misprized love, alas! George William
Curtis and Charles Dana graduated out of Brook Farm, and went down to
New York to make goodly successes in the great game of life.

At Brook Farm they succeeded in the high thinking all right, but the
entrepreneur is quite as necessary as the poet--and a little more so.
Brook Farm had no business head, and things unfit fall into natural
dissolution. But the enterprise did not fail, any more than a rotting
log fails when it nourishes a bank of violets. The net results of Brook
Farm's high thinking have passed into the world's treasury, smelted
largely by Emerson and Thoreau, who were not there.

       *       *       *       *       *

Immanuel Kant has been called the father of modern Transcendentalists:
but Socrates and his pupil Plato, so far as we know, were the first of
the race.

Neither buzzing bluebottles nor the fall of dynasties disturbed them.
"The soul is everything," said Plato. "The soul knows all things," says

In every century a few men have lived who knew the value of plain living
and high thinking, and very often the men who reversed the maxim have
passed them the hemlock.

All those sects known as Primitive Christians represent variations of
the idea--Quakers, Mennonites, Communists, Shakers and Dunkards!

A Transcendentalist is a Dukhobortsi with a college education. A Quaker
with an artistic bias becomes a Preraphaelite, and lo! we have News from
Nowhere, a Dream of John Ball, Merton Abbey, Kelmscott, and half a world
is touched and tinted by the simplicity, sterling honesty and
genuineness of one man.

George Ripley, Bronson Alcott, and Ralph Waldo Emerson evolved New
England Transcendentalism, and very early Henry Thoreau added a few bars
of harmonious discords to the symphony. Horace Greeley once contended in
a "Tribune" editorial that Sam Staples, the bum bailiff who locked
Thoreau behind the bars, was an important factor in the New England
renaissance, and as such should be immortalized by a statue made of
punk, set up on Boston Common for the delectation of bean-eaters. I fear
me Horace was a joker.

California quail are quite different from the quail of New York State,
and naturalists tell us that this is caused by a difference in
environment--quail being a product of soil and climate.

And man is a product of soil and climate--for only in a certain soil can
you produce a certain type of man. As a whole, this world is better
adapted for the production of fish than genius--most of the really good
climate falls on the sea. Christian Scientists are Transcendentalists
whose distinguishing point is that they secrete millinery--California
quail with rainbow tints and topknots, Balboaic instincts well defined.

       *       *       *       *       *

Let this fact stand: it was Emerson who made Concord. He saw it
first--he was on the ground, and the place was his by right of
discovery, the title strengthened by the fact that four of his ancestors
had been Concord clergymen, and the most excellent and venerable Doctor
Ripley, a near kinsman.

Concord and Emerson, as early as Eighteen Hundred Forty, when Emerson
was thirty-seven years old, were synonymous. He had defied the
traditions of Harvard, been excommunicated by his Alma Mater, published
his pantheistic Essay on Nature, and his thin little books and sermons
had been placed on the Boston Theological Index Expurgatorius.

Through it all he had remained gentle, smiling, sympathetic,

The world can never spare the man who does his work and holds his peace.
Emerson was being lifted up, and souls were being drawn unto him.

In Eighteen Hundred Forty, Bronson Alcott, the American Socrates, with
his interesting family, moved to Concord, drawn thither by the magnet of
Emerson's personality. Louisa wore short dresses, and used to pick wild
blackberries and sell them to the Emersons and get goodly reward in
silver, and kindly smiles, and pats on her brown head by the hand that
wrote "Compensation."

Alcott was a great, honest, sincere soul, and a true anarch, for he
took his own wherever he saw it. He used to run his wheelbarrow into
Emerson's garden and load it up with potatoes, cabbages or turnips, and
once in response to a hint that the vegetables were private property,
the old man somewhat petulantly exclaimed, "I need them!--I need them!"

And that was all: anything that any man needed was his by divine right.
And the consistency of Alcott's philosophy was shown in that he never
took anything or any more than he needed, and if he had something that
you needed, you were certainly welcome to it. If Alcott helped himself
to the thrifty Emerson's vegetables, both Emerson and Thoreau helped
themselves to Alcott's ideas.

Once a wagonload of wood broke down in front of Alcott's house, and the
farmer unhitched his horses and went on to the village to procure a new
wheel. Before he got back, Alcott had carried every stick of the
combustibles into his own wood-shed. "Providence remembers us!" he said.
His faith was sublime.

When all the world reaches the Alcott stage, there will be no need of
soldiers, policemen, night-watchmen, or bolts, bars and locks.

In Eighteen Hundred Forty, Nathaniel Hawthorne came to Concord from
Salem, where he had resigned his clerkship in the custom-house, that he
might devote all his time to literature. He moved into the Old Manse,
which had just been vacated by Doctor Ripley, who had gone
a-Brook-Farming--the Old Manse where Emerson himself once lived.
Elizabeth Peabody, the talented sister of Hawthorne's wife, lived at a
convenient distance, and to her Hawthorne read most of his manuscript,
for I need not explain that literature is not literature until it is
read aloud and reflected back by a sympathetic, discerning mind.
Literature is a collaboration between the reader and the listener.

Margaret Fuller, with her tragic life-story still unwound, lived hard
by, and Hawthorne had already worked her up into copy as "Zenobia."
Margaret's sister Ellen had married Ellery Channing, the closest,
warmest friend that Henry Thoreau ever knew. The gossips arranged a
doublewedding, with Henry and Margaret as the other principals; but when
interviewed on the theme, Henry had merely shaken his head and said, "In
the first place, Margaret Fuller is not fool enough to marry me; and
second, I am not fool enough to marry her."

An Irishman who saw Thoreau in the field making a minute in his notebook
took it for granted that he was casting up his wages, and inquired what
they came to. It was a peculiar farmhand who cared more for ideas than
for wages.

George William Curtis was also a farmhand out on the Lowell Road, but
came into town Saturday evenings--taking a swim in the river on the
way--to attend the philosophical conferences at Emerson's house, and
then went off and made gentle fun of them.

Little Doctor Holmes occasionally drove out from Boston to Concord in a
one-horse chaise; James Russell Lowell had walked over from Cambridge;
and Longfellow had invited all hands to a birthday fete on his lawn at
Cambridge, but Thoreau had declined for himself, saying he had to look
after his pond-lilies and the field-mice on Bedford flats.

Thoreau, at this time, was a member of Emerson's household, and in a
letter Emerson says, "He has his board for what labor he chooses to do;
he is a great benefactor and physician to me, for he is an indefatigable
and skilful laborer, besides being a scholar and a poet, and as full of
promise as a young apple-tree."

And again, in a letter to Carlyle: "One reader and friend of yours
dwells in my household, Henry Thoreau, a poet whom you may one day be
proud of--a noble, manly youth, full of melodies and invention. We work
together day by day in my garden, and I grow well and strong."

To work and talk is the true way to acquire an education. All of our
best things are done incidentally--not in cold blood. Hawthorne says in
his Journal that most of Emerson's and Thoreau's farming was done
leaning on the hoe-handles, while Alcott sat on the fence and explained
the Whyness of the Wherefore.

But we must remember that in Hawthorne's ink-bottle there was a goodly
dash of tincture of iron. In his Journal of September First, Eighteen
Hundred Forty-two, he writes: "Mr. Thoreau dined with us yesterday. He
is a singular character--a young man with much of wild, original nature
still remaining in him; and so far as he is sophisticated, it is in a
way and method of his own. He is as ugly as sin, long-nosed,
queer-mouthed, and with uncouth and somewhat rustic ways, though his
courteous manner corresponds very well with such an exterior. But his
ugliness is of an honest character and really becomes him better than
beauty." Little did Hawthorne's guests imagine they were being basted,
roasted, or fricasseed for the edification of posterity.

Prosperity at this time had just begun to smile on Hawthorne, and among
other extravagances in which he indulged was a boat, bought from
Thoreau--made by the hands of this expert Yankee whittler. Hawthorne
quotes a little transcendental advice given to him by the maker of the
boat: "In paddling a canoe, all you have to do is to will that your boat
shall go in any particular direction, and she will immediately take the
course, as if imbued with the spirit of the steersman." Hawthorne then
adds this sober postscript: "It may be so with you, but it is certainly
not so with me."

Admiration for Thoreau gradually grew very strong with Hawthorne, and he
quotes Emerson, who called Thoreau "the young god Pan." And this lends
much semblance to the statement that Thoreau served Hawthorne as a model
for Donatello, the mysterious wood-sprite in the "Marble Faun."

As to the transformation of Thoreau himself, one of his classmates
records this:

     Meeting Mr. Emerson one day, I inquired if he saw much of my
     classmate, Henry D. Thoreau, who was then living in Concord. "Of
     Thoreau?" replied Mr. Emerson, his face lighting up with a smile of
     enthusiasm. "Oh, yes, we could not do without him. When Carlyle
     comes to America, I expect to introduce Thoreau to him as the man
     of Concord," and I was greatly surprised at these words. They set
     an estimate on Thoreau which seemed to be extravagant.... Not long
     after I happened to meet Thoreau in Mr. Emerson's study at
     Concord--the first time we had come together after leaving college.
     I was quite startled by the transformation that had taken place in
     him. His short figure and general cast of countenance were, of
     course, unchanged; but in his manners, in the tones of his voice,
     in his modes of expression, even in the hesitations and pauses of
     his speech, he had become the counterpart of Mr. Emerson. Thoreau's
     college voice bore no resemblance to Mr. Emerson's, and was so
     familiar to my ear that I could have readily identified him by it
     in the dark. I was so much struck by the change that I took the
     opportunity, as they sat near together talking, of listening with
     closed eyes, and I was unable to determine with certainty which was
     speaking. I do not know to what subtle influences to ascribe it,
     but after conversing with Mr. Emerson for even a brief time, I
     always found myself able and inclined to adopt his voice and manner
     of speaking.

       *       *       *       *       *

Thoreau had tried schoolteaching, but he had to give up his position
because he would not exercise the birch and ferule. "If the scholars
once find out the teacher is not goin' to sting 'em up when they need
it, that is an end to the skule," said one of the directors, and he spat
violently at a fly, ten feet away. The others agreeing with him, Thoreau
was asked to resign.

William Emerson, a brother of Ralph Waldo's, a prosperous New York
merchant, had lured Ralph Waldo's hired man away from him and taken him
down to Staten Island, New York. Here Thoreau acted as private tutor,
and imparted the mysteries of woodcraft to boys who cared more for

Staten Island was about two hundred miles too far from Concord to suit

His loneliness in New York City made Concord and the pine-trees of
Walden woods seem paradise enow. There is no heart desolation equal to
that which can come to one in a throng.

Margaret Fuller was now in New York City, working for Greeley on the
editorial staff of the "Tribune." Greeley was so much pleased with
Thoreau that he offered to set him to work as reporter, for Greeley had
guessed the truth that the best city reporters are country boys. They
observe and hear--all is curious and wonderful to them: by and by they
will become blase--sophisticated--that is, blind and deaf.

Greeley was a great talker, and he had a way of getting others to talk
also. He got Thoreau to talking about communal life and life in the
woods, and then Horace worked Henry's words up into copy--for that is
the way all good newspaper-writers evolve their original ideas.

Thoreau was amazed to pick up a number of the daily "Tribune" and find
his conversation of the day before, with Greeley, skilfully transformed
into a leader.

Fourierism had been the theme--the Phalanstery versus Individual
Housekeeping. Greeley had prophesied that the phalanstery, with one
kitchen for forty families, instead of forty kitchens for forty
families, would soon come about. Greeley's prophetic vision did not
quite anticipate the modern apartment-house, which perhaps is a
transitional expedient, moving toward the phalanstery, but he quoted
Thoreau by saying, "A woman enslaved by her housekeeping is just as much
a chattel as if owned by a man."

This was in Eighteen Hundred Forty-five, and Thoreau was now
twenty-eight years of age. He was homesick for the dim pine-woods with
their ceaseless lullaby, the winding and placid river, and the great,
massive, sullen, self-sufficient boulders of Concord.

He was resolved to follow the example of Brook Farm, and start a
community of his own in opposition. His community would be on the shores
of Walden Pond, and the only member of the genus homo who would be
eligible to membership would be himself; the other members would be the
birds and squirrels and bees, and the trees would make up the rest.
Brook Farm was a retreat for transcendentalists--a place to meditate,
dream and work--a place where one could exist close to Nature, and live
a simple, hardy and healthful life.

Thoreau's retreat would be the same, with the disadvantage of personal
contact eliminated.

It was in March, Eighteen Hundred Forty-five, that Thoreau began
building his shanty. The spot was in a dense woods, on a hillside that
gently sloped down to the clear, cold, deep water of Walden Pond. The
land belonged to Emerson, who obligingly gave Thoreau the use of it,
rent free, with no conditions. Alcott helped in the carpenter work, and
discussed betimes of the Wherefore, and when it came to the raising, a
couple of neighboring farmers were hailed and pressed into service. The
cabin was twelve by fifteen, and cost--furnished--the sum of
twenty-eight dollars, good money, not counting labor, which Thoreau did
not calculate as worth anything, since he had had the fun of the
thing--something for which men often pay high.

The furniture consisted of a table, a chair, and a bed, all made by the
owner. For bedclothes and dishes the Emerson household was put under
contribution. On the door was a latch, but no lock.

And Thoreau looked upon his work and pronounced it good.

Stripped of the fact that a man of culture and education built the
shanty and lived in it, the incident is scarcely worth noting. Boys
passing through the shanty stage, all build shanties, and forage through
their mothers' pantries for provender, which they carry off to their
robbers' roost. Thoreau was an example of shanty-arrested development.

But as the import of every sentence depends upon who wrote it, and the
worth of advice hinges upon who gave it, so does the value of every act
depend upon who did it. Thus when a man, who was in degree an
inspiration of Emerson, takes to the woods, it is worth our while to
follow him afield and see what he does.

Thoreau set to work to clean up two acres of blackberry brambles for a
garden-patch. He did not work except when he felt like it. His plan was
to go to bed at dusk, with window and door open, and get up at five
o'clock in the morning. After a plunge in the lake he would dress and
prepare his simple breakfast. Then he would work in his garden, or if
the mood struck him, he would sit in the door of his shanty and
meditate, or else write. In the arrangement of his home he followed no
system or rule, merely allowing the passing inclination to lead.

His provisions were gotten of friends in the village, and were paid for
in labor. It was part of Thoreau's philosophy that to accept something
for nothing was theft, and that the giving or acceptance of presents
was immoral. For all he received he conscientiously gave an equivalent
in labor; and as for ideas, he always considered himself a learner; if
he had thoughts they belonged to anybody who could annex them. And that
Emerson and Horace Greeley were alike in their capacity to absorb,
digest and regurgitate, is everywhere acknowledged. To paraphrase
Emerson's famous remark concerning Plato: Say what you will, you will
find everything mentioned by Emerson hinted at somewhere in Thoreau. The
younger man had as much mind as the elder, but he lacked the capacity
for patient effort that works steadily, persistently, and weighs, sifts,
decides, classifies and arranges. The voice was the voice of Jacob, but
the hand was the hand of Esau. That is to say, Thoreau lacked business
instinct. During the Winter at Walden Pond, all the work Thoreau had to
do was to gather firewood. There was plenty of time to think and write,
and here the better part of "Walden" and "A Week on the Concord and
Merrimac Rivers" were written. He had no neighbors, no pets, no
domesticated animals--only the squirrels on the roof, a woodchuck under
the floor, the scolding blue jays in the pines overhead, the wild ducks
on the pond, and the hooting owls that sat on the ridgepole at night.

Thoreau loved solitude more because he prized society--the society of
simple men who could talk and tell things. Thoreau was no hermit--at
least twice a week he would go to the village and meander along the
street, gossiping with all or any. Often he would accept invitations to
supper, but on principle refused all invitations to remain overnight, no
matter what the weather. Indeed, as Hawthorne hints, there is a trace of
the theatrical in the man who leaves a warm fireside at nine or ten
o'clock at night and trudges off through the darkness, storm and sleet,
feeling his way through the blackness of the woods to a cold and
cheerless shanty which he with unconscious humor calls home. Hawthorne
hints that Thoreau was a delightful poseur--he posed so naturally that
he deceived even himself. On one particular visit to the village,
however, he did not go back home for the night. It seems that he had
been called upon by the local taxgatherer for his poll-tax, a matter of
a dollar and a quarter. Thoreau argued the question at length, and among
other things, said, "I will not give money to buy a musket, and hire a
man to use this musket to shoot another." And also, "The best government
is not that which governs least, but that which governs not at all."

"But what shall I do?" said the patient publican.

"Resign," said the philosopher.

Thoreau seemed to forget that officeholders seldom die and never resign.
In the argument the publican was worsted, but he was not without
resource. He went back to town and told the other officials what had
happened. Their dignity was at stake. Alcott had been guilty of a like
defiance some time before, and now it was the belief that he was putting
the younger man up to insurrection.

The next time Thoreau came over to the village for his mail he was
arrested and lodged in the local bastile.

Emerson, hearing of the trouble, hastened to the jail, and reaching the
presence of the prisoner asked sternly, "Henry, why are you here?"

And the answer was, "Waldo, why are you not here?" Emerson had no use
for such finespun theories of duty, and the matter was too near home for
a joke, so he turned away and let the culprit spend the night in limbo.
The next morning Thoreau was released, the tax having been paid by some
unknown person--Emerson, undoubtedly. This was a tame enough ending to
what was rather an interesting affair--the hope of the best citizens
being that Thoreau would get a goodly sentence for vagrancy. The
townfolk looked upon Thoreau and Alcott with suspicious eyes. They both
came in for much well-deserved censure, and Emerson did not go
unsmirched, since he was guilty of harboring and encouraging these

Thoreau's cabin-life continued for two Summers and Winters. He had
proved that two hours' manual work each day was sufficient to keep a
man--twenty cents a day would suffice.

The last year in the woods he had many callers: Agassiz had been to see
him, Emerson had often called, Ellery Channing was a frequent visitor,
and picnickers were constant. Lowell had made a few cutting remarks to
the effect that "as compared with shanty-life, the tub of Diogenes was
preferable, as it had a much sounder bottom," and Hawthorne had written
of "the beauties of conspicuous solitude."

Thoreau felt that he was attracting too much attention, and that perhaps
Hawthorne was right: a recluse who holds receptions is becoming the
thing he pretends to despise. Besides that, there was plenty of
precedent for quitting--Brook Farm had gone by the board, and was but a

Thoreau's shanty was turned over to a utilitarian Scotchman with red
hair. Later the immortal shanty was a useful granary. Thoreau went back
to the village to live in a garret and work at odd jobs of boat-building
and gardening.

Now only a pile of boulders marks the place where the cabin stood. For
some years, each visitor to the spot threw a stone upon the heap, but
recently the proposition has been reversed, and each visitor takes a
stone away, which reveals not a reversal in the sentiment toward the
memory of Thoreau, but a change in the quality of the Concord pilgrim.

       *       *       *       *       *

Thoreau's early death was the direct result of his reckless lack of
common prudence. That which made him live, in a literary way, curtailed
his years. The man was improperly and imperfectly nourished, physically.
Men who live alone do not cook any more than they have to: men and
women, both, cook for emulation. That is to say, we work for each other,
and we succeed only as we help each other.

Thoreau was such a pronounced individualist that he cared for no one but
himself, and he cared for himself not at all. It is wife, children and
home that teach a man prudence, and make him bank against the storm. "At
Walden no one bothered me but the State," said Thoreau. If Thoreau had
had a family and treated his household as he treated himself, that
scorned thing, the State, would have stepped in and sent him to the
workhouse, and his children to the Home for the Friendless.

If he had treated dumb animals as he treated himself, the Society for
the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals would have interfered. The absence
of social ties and of all responsibilities fixed in his peculiar
temperament an indifference to hunger, heat, cold, wet, damp, and all
bodily discomfort that classes the man with the flagellants. He tells of
whole days when he ate nothing but berries and drank only cold water;
and at other times of how he walked all day in a soaking rain and went
to bed at night, supperless, under a pine-tree. Emerson records the fact
that on long tramps Thoreau would carry only a chunk of plum-cake for
food, because it was rich and contained condensed nutriment.

The question is sometimes asked, "How can one eat his cake and keep it
too?" but this does not refer to plum-cake.

A few years of plum-cake, cold mince-pie and continual wet feet will put
the petard under even the stoutest constitution.

During his shanty-life Thoreau was imperfectly nourished, and for the
victim of malassimilation, tuberculosis hunts and needs no spyglass.

It is absurd for a man to make a god of his digestive apparatus, but it
is just as bad to forget that the belly is as much the gift of God as
the brain.

In childhood, Thoreau was frail and weak. Outdoor life gradually
developed on his slight frame a splendid strength and a power to do and
endure. He could outrun, outrow, outwalk any of his townsmen. In him
developed the confidence of the athlete--the confidence of the athlete
who dies young. Thoreau was an athlete, and he died as the athlete
dieth. Irregular diet and continued exposure did their work--the vital
powers became reduced, the man "caught cold," bronchitis followed, and
the tuberculæ laughed.

       *       *       *       *       *

During Thoreau's life he published but two volumes, and these met with
scanty sale. Since his death ten volumes have been issued from his
manuscripts and letters, and his fame has steadily increased.

Boston had no recognition for Thoreau as long as he was alive. Among the
most popular writers of the time, feted and feasted, invited and
exalted, were George S. Hillard, N. P. Willis, Caroline Kirkland, George
W. Green, Parke Godwin and Charles F. Briggs. These writers, who had the
run of the magazines, would have smiled in derision if told that the
name and fame of uncouth Thoreau would outlive them all. They wrote for
the people who bought their books, but Thoreau dedicated his work to
time. He wrote what he thought, but they wrote what they thought other
people thought.

In the publication of "The Dial," Thoreau took a hearty interest, and
was a frequent contributor. The official organ of the
transcendentalists, however, paid no honorariums--it was both sincere
and serious, and died in due time of too much dignity. The "Atlantic
Monthly" accepted one article by Thoreau, and paid for it, but as James
Russell Lowell, the editor, used his blue pencil a trifle, without first
consulting the author, he never got an opportunity to do so again.

Horace Greeley had interested himself in Thoreau's writings and gotten
several articles accepted by Graham's and also Putnam's Magazine. "The
Week" had been published on the author's guaranty that enough copies
would be sold the first year to cover the cost. After four years, of the
edition of one thousand copies only three hundred were disposed of, and
these were mostly given away. To pay the publisher for the expense
incurred, Thoreau buckled down and worked hard at surveying for a year.

The only man he ever knew, of whom he stood a little in awe, was Walt
Whitman. In a letter to Blake he says:

     Nineteenth November, Eighteen Hundred Fifty-six.--Alcott has been
     here, and last Sunday I went with him to Greeley's farm, thirty-six
     miles north of New York. The next day Alcott and I heard Beecher
     preach; and what was more, we visited Whitman the next morning, and
     we were much interested and provoked. He is apparently the greatest
     democrat the world has seen, kings and aristocracy go by the board
     at once, as they have long deserved to. A remarkably strong though
     coarse nature, of a sweet disposition, and much prized by his
     friends. Though peculiar and rough in his exterior, he is
     essentially a gentleman. I am still somewhat in a quandary about
     him--feel that he is essentially strange to me, at any rate; but I
     am surprised by the sight of him. He is very broad, but, as I have
     said, not fine.

     Seventh December, Eighteen Hundred Fifty-six.--That Walt Whitman,
     of whom I wrote you, is the most interesting fact to me at present.
     I have just read his second edition (which he gave me), and it has
     done me more good than any reading for a long time. Perhaps I
     remember best the poem of "Walt Whitman an American" and the
     "Sundown" poem. There are two or three pieces in the book which are
     disagreeable, to say the least, simply sensual.... As for its
     sensuality--and it may turn out to be less sensual than it
     appears--I do not so much wish that those parts were not written,
     as that men and women were so pure that they could read them
     without harm.

     On the whole, it sounds to me very brave and American, after
     whatever deductions. I do not believe that all the sermons, so
     called, that have been preached in this land, put together, are
     equal to it for preaching. We ought greatly to rejoice in him. He
     occasionally suggests something a little more than human. You can't
     confound him with the other inhabitants of Brooklyn. How they must
     shudder when they read him!

     To be sure, I sometimes feel a little imposed on. By his heartiness
     and broad generalities he puts me into a liberal frame of mind,
     prepared to see wonders--as it were, sets me upon a hill or in the
     midst of a plain--stirs me well up, and then--throws in a thousand
     of brick. Though rude and sometimes ineffectual, it is a great
     primitive poem, an alarum or trumpet-note ringing through the
     American camp. Wonderfully like the Orientals, too, considering
     that, when I asked him if he had read them, he answered, "No; tell
     me about them."

     Since I have seen him, I find that I am not disturbed by any brag
     or egoism in his book. He may turn out the least of a braggart of
     all, having a better right to be confident. Walt is a great fellow.

A lady once asked John Burroughs this question: "What would become of
this world if everybody in it patterned after Henry Thoreau?" And Ol'
John replied, "It would be much improved."

But your Uncle John is a humorist--he knows that Henry Ward Beecher was
right when he said, "God never made but one Thoreau--that was enough,
but we are grateful for the one."

Thoreau was a poet-naturalist, and the lesson he taught us is that this
is the most beautiful world to know anything about, and there are enough
curious and wonderful things right under our feet, and over our heads,
and all around us, to amuse, divert, interest and instruct us for a
lifetime. We need only a little.

Use your eyes!

"How do you manage to find so many Indian relics?" a friend asked
Thoreau. "Just like this," he replied, and stooping over, he picked up
an arrowhead under the friend's foot. At dinner once at a neighbor's he
was asked what dish he preferred, and his answer was, "The nearest." To
him, everything was good--he uttered no complaints and made no demands.

When asked by a clergyman why he did not go to church, he said, "It is
the rafters--I can't stand them--when I look up, I want to gaze straight
into the blue sky." Then he turned the tables and asked the interrogator
a question: "Did you ever happen, accidentally, to say anything while
you were preaching?" Yet preachers of brains were always attracted to
him: Harrison Blake, to whom he wrote more letters than to any one
else, was a Congregational preacher. And when Horace Greeley took
Thoreau to Plymouth Church, Beecher invited him to sit on the platform
and quoted him as one who saw God in autumn's every burning bush.

The wit of the man--his direct speech, and all of his beautiful
indifference for the good opinion of those whom others follow after and
lie in wait for--was sublime. Meanness, hypocrisy, secrecy and
subterfuge had no place in Thoreau's nature.

He wanted nothing--nothing but liberty--he did not even ask for your
applause or approval. When walking on country roads, laborers would hail
him and ask for tobacco--seeing in him only one of their own kind.
Farmers would stop and gossip with him about the weather. Children ran
to him on the village streets and would cling to his hands and clutch
his coat, and ask where the berries grew, or the first spring flowers
were to be found. With children he was particularly patient and kind.
With them he would converse as freely as did George Francis Train with
the children in Madison Square. The children recognized in him something
very much akin to themselves--he would play upon his flute for them and
whittle out toy boats, regardless of the flight of time.

Imbeciles and mental defectives from the almshouse used occasionally to
wander over to his cabin in the woods, and he would treat them with
gentle consideration, and accompany them back home.

His lack of worldly prudence, Blake thought, tokened a courage which
under certain conditions would have made him as formidable as John
Brown. Blake tells this: Once on a lonely road, two miles from Concord,
two loafers stopped a girl who was picking berries, and began to bother
her. Thoreau just then happened along, and seeing the young woman's
distress, he collared the rogues and marched them into the village,
turning them over to that redoubtable transcendentalist, Sam Staples,
who locked them up. Thoreau's hook nose and features could be
transformed in rare instances into a look of command that no man dare
question--it was the look of the fatalist--the benign fanatic--the look
of Marat--the look of a man who has nothing but his life to lose, and
places small store on that. "A little more ambition, and a trifle less
sympathy, and the world would have had a Cæsar to deal with," says

Cowardice is only caution carried to an extreme. Thoreau exercised no
prudence in making money, securing fame, preserving his health, holding
his friends or making new ones. This Spartan-like quality, that counts
not the cost, is essentially heroic.

But Thoreau was not given to strife; for the most part, he was
non-resistant. The chief thing he prized was equanimity, and this you
can not secure through struggle and strife. His game was all captured
with the spyglass, or carried home in his botanists' drum. For worldly
wealth and what we call progress, he had small appreciation--this marks
his limitations. But his reasons are surely good literature:

     They make a great ado nowadays about hard times; but I think that
     the community generally, ministers and all, take a wrong view of
     the matter. This general failure, both private and public, is
     rather occasion for rejoicing, as reminding us whom we have at the
     helm--that justice is always done. If our merchants did not most of
     them fail, and the banks too, my faith in the old laws of the world
     would be staggered. The statement that ninety-six in a hundred
     doing such business surely break down, is perhaps the sweetest fact
     that statistics have revealed--exhilarating as the fragrance of the
     flowers in the Spring. Does it not say somewhere, "The Lord
     reigneth, let the earth rejoice"? If thousands are thrown out of
     employment, it suggests that they were not well employed. Why don't
     they take the hint? It is not enough to be industrious; so are the
     ants. What are you industrious about?

     The merchants and company have long laughed at transcendentalism,
     higher law, etc., crying, "None of your moonshine," as if they were
     anchored to something not only definite, but sure and permanent. If
     there were any institution which was presumed to rest on a solid
     and secure basis, and more than any other, represented this boasted
     commonsense, prudence, and practical talent, it was the bank; and
     now these very banks are found to be mere reeds shaken by the wind.

     Scarcely one in the land has kept its promise. Not merely the Brook
     Farm and Fourierite communities, but now the community generally
     has failed. But there is the moonshine still, serene, beneficent
     and unchanged.

Thoreau was no pessimist. He complained neither of men nor of
destiny--he felt that he was getting out of life all that was his due.
His remarks might be sharp and his words sarcastic, but in them there
was no bitterness. He made life for none more difficult--he added to no
one's burdens. Sympathy with Nature, pride, buoyancy, self-sufficiency,
were his prevailing traits. The habit of his mind was hopeful.

His wit and good-nature were his to the last, and when asked if he had
made his peace with God, he replied, "I have never quarreled with Him."

He died, aged forty-four, in the modest home of his mother. The village
school was dismissed that the scholars might attend the funeral, and
three hundred children walked in the procession to Sleepy Hollow.
Emerson made an address at the grave; Alcott read selections from
Thoreau's own writings; and Louisa Alcott read this poem, composed for
the occasion:

  We sighing said, "Our Pan is dead;
    His pipe hangs mute beside the river,
    Around it wistful sunbeams quiver,
  But Music's airy voice is fled.
  Spring mourns as for untimely frost:
    The bluebird chants a requiem;
    The willow-blossom waits for him;--
  The Genius of the wood is lost."

  Then from the flute, untouched by hands,
    There came a low, harmonious breath:
    "For such as he there is no death;
  His life the eternal life commands;
  Above man's aims his nature rose.
    The wisdom of a just content
    Made one small spot a continent,
  And turned to poetry life's prose.

  "To him no vain regrets belong,
    Whose soul, that finer instrument,
    Gave to the world no poor lament,
  But wood-notes ever sweet and strong.
  O lonely friend! he still will be
    A potent presence, though unseen--
    Steadfast, sagacious, and serene;
  Seek not for him--he is with thee."

       *       *       *       *       *


*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Little Journeys to the Homes of the Great Philosophers, Volume 8" ***

Doctrine Publishing Corporation provides digitized public domain materials.
Public domain books belong to the public and we are merely their custodians.
This effort is time consuming and expensive, so in order to keep providing
this resource, we have taken steps to prevent abuse by commercial parties,
including placing technical restrictions on automated querying.

We also ask that you:

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Doctrine Publishing
Corporation's ISYS search for use by individuals, and we request that you
use these files for personal, non-commercial purposes.

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort
to Doctrine Publishing's system: If you are conducting research on machine
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a
large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of
public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

+ Keep it legal -  Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for
ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.