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Title: Memories and Studies
Author: James, William, 1842-1910
Language: English
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Longmans, Green, and Co.
Fourth Avenue and 30th Street, New York
London, Bombay, and Calcutta

Copyright, 1911, by Henry James Jr.
All Rights Reserved


Professor William James formed the intention
shortly before his death of republishing a number
of popular addresses and essays under the title
which this book now bears; but unfortunately he
found no opportunity to attend to any detail of the
book himself, or to leave definite instructions for
others.  I believe, however, that I have departed
in no substantial degree from my father's idea,
except perhaps by including two or three short
pieces which were first addressed to special
occasions or audiences and which now seem clearly
worthy of republication in their original form,
although he might not have been willing to reprint
them himself without the recastings to which he was
ever most attentive when preparing for new readers.
Everything in this volume has already appeared in
print in magazines or otherwise, and definite
acknowledgements are hereinafter made in the
appropriate places.  Comparison with the original texts
will disclose slight variations in a few passages, and
it is therefore proper to explain that in these
passages the present text follows emendations of the
original which have survived in the author's own






It would be unnatural to have such an assemblage as this meet in the
Museum and Faculty Room of this University and yet have no public word
spoken in honor of a name which must be silently present to the minds
of all our visitors.

At some near future day, it is to be hoped some one of you who is well
acquainted with Agassiz's scientific career will discourse here
concerning it,--I could not now, even if I would, speak to you of that
of which you have far more intimate knowledge than I.  On this social
occasion it has seemed that what Agassiz stood for in the way of
character and influence is the more fitting thing to commemorate, and
to that agreeable task I have been called.  He made an impression that
was unrivalled.  He left a sort of popular myth--the Agassiz legend, as
one might say--behind him in the air about us; and life comes kindlier
to all of us, we get more recognition from the world, because we call
ourselves naturalists,--and that was the class to which he also

The secret of such an extraordinarily effective influence lay in the
equally extraordinary mixture of the animal and social gifts, the
intellectual powers, and the desires and passions of the man.  From his
boyhood, he looked on the world as if it and he were made for each
other, and on the vast diversity of living things as if he were there
with authority to take mental possession of them all.  His habit of
collecting began in childhood, and during his long life knew no bounds
save those that separate the things of Nature from those of human art.
Already in his student years, in spite of the most stringent poverty,
his whole scheme of existence was that of one predestined to greatness,
who takes that fact for granted, and stands forth immediately as a
scientific leader of men.

His passion for knowing living things was combined with a rapidity of
observation, and a capacity to recognize them again and remember
everything about them, which all his life it seemed an easy triumph and
delight for him to exercise, and which never allowed him to waste a
moment in doubts about the commensurability of his powers with his
tasks.  If ever a person lived by faith, he did.  When a boy of twenty,
with an allowance of two hundred and fifty dollars a year, he
maintained an artist attached to his employ, a custom which never
afterwards was departed from,--except when he maintained two or three.
He lectured from the very outset to all those who would hear him.  "I
feel within myself the strength of a whole generation," he wrote to his
father at that time, and launched himself upon the publication of his
costly "Poissons Fossiles" with no clear vision of the quarter from
whence the payment might be expected to come.

At Neuchatel (where between the ages of twenty-five and thirty he
enjoyed a stipend that varied from four hundred to six hundred dollars)
he organized a regular academy of natural history, with its museum,
managing by one expedient or another to employ artists, secretaries,
and assistants, and to keep a lithographic and printing establishment
of his own employed with the work that he put forth.  Fishes, fossil
and living, echinoderms and glaciers, transfigured themselves under his
hand, and at thirty he was already at the zenith of his reputation,
recognized by all as one of those naturalists in the unlimited sense,
one of those folio copies of mankind, like Linnaeus and Cuvier, who aim
at nothing less than an acquaintance with the whole of animated Nature.
His genius for classifying was simply marvellous; and, as his latest
biographer says, nowhere had a single person ever given so decisive an
impulse to natural history.

Such was the human being who on an October morning fifty years ago
disembarked at our port, bringing his hungry heart along with him, his
confidence in his destiny, and his imagination full of plans.  The only
particular resource he was assured of was one course of Lowell
Lectures.  But of one general resource he always was assured, having
always counted on it and never found it to fail,--and that was the good
will of every fellow-creature in whose presence he could find an
opportunity to describe his aims.  His belief in these was so intense
and unqualified that he could not conceive of others not feeling the
furtherance of them to be a duty binding also upon them.  _Velle non
discitur_, as Seneca says:--Strength of desire must be born with a man,
it can't be taught.  And Agassiz came before one with such enthusiasm
glowing in his countenance,--such a persuasion radiating from his
person that his projects were the sole things really fit to interest
man as man,--that he was absolutely irresistible.  He came, in Byron's
words, with victory beaming from his breast, and every one went down
before him, some yielding him money, some time, some specimens, and
some labor, but all contributing their applause and their godspeed.
And so, living among us from month to month and from year to year, with
no relation to prudence except his pertinacious violation of all her
usual laws, he on the whole achieved the compass of his desires,
studied the geology and fauna of a continent, trained a generation of
zoologists, founded one of the chief museums of the world, gave a new
impulse to scientific education in America, and died the idol of the
public, as well as of his circle of immediate pupils and friends.

The secret of it all was, that while his scientific ideals were an
integral part of his being, something that he never forgot or laid
aside, so that wherever he went he came forward as "the Professor," and
talked "shop" to every person, young or old, great or little, learned
or unlearned, with whom he was thrown, he was at the same time so
commanding a presence, so curious and inquiring, so responsive and
expansive, and so generous and reckless of himself and of his own, that
every one said immediately, "Here is no musty savant, but a man, a
great man, a man on the heroic scale, not to serve whom is avarice and
sin."  He elevated the popular notion of what a student of Nature could
be.  Since Benjamin Franklin, we had never had among us a person of
more popularly impressive type.  He did not wait for students to come
to him; he made inquiry for promising youthful collectors, and when he
heard of one, he wrote, inviting and urging him to come.  Thus there is
hardly one now of the American naturalists of my generation whom
Agassiz did not train.  Nay, more; he said to every one that a year or
two of natural history, studied as he understood it, would give the
best training for any kind of mental work.  Sometimes he was amusingly
_naïf_ in this regard, as when he offered to put his whole Museum at
the disposition of the Emperor of Brazil if he would but come and labor
there.  And I well remember how certain officials of the Brazilian
empire smiled at the cordiality with which he pressed upon them a
similar invitation.  But it had a great effect.  Natural history must
indeed be a godlike pursuit, if such a man as this can so adore it,
people said; and the very definition and meaning of the word naturalist
underwent a favorable alteration in the common mind.

Certain sayings of Agassiz's, as the famous one that he "had no time
for making money," and his habit of naming his occupation simply as
that of "teacher," have caught the public fancy, and are permanent
benefactions.  We all enjoy more consideration for the fact that he
manifested himself here thus before us in his day.

He was a splendid example of the temperament that looks forward and not
backward, and never wastes a moment in regrets for the irrevocable.  I
had the privilege of admission to his society during the Thayer
expedition to Brazil.  I well remember at night, as we all swung in our
hammocks in the fairy-like moonlight, on the deck of the steamer that
throbbed its way up the Amazon between the forests guarding the stream
on either side, how he turned and whispered, "James, are you awake?"
and continued, "_I_ cannot sleep; I am too happy; I keep thinking of
these glorious plans."  The plans contemplated following the Amazon to
its headwaters, and penetrating the Andes in Peru.  And yet, when he
arrived at the Peruvian frontier and learned that that country had
broken into revolution, that his letters to officials would be useless,
and that that part of the project must be given up, although he was
indeed bitterly chagrined and excited for part of an hour, when the
hour had passed over it seemed as if he had quite forgotten the
disappointment, so enthusiastically was he occupied already with the
new scheme substituted by his active mind.

Agassiz's influence on methods of teaching in our community was prompt
and decisive,--all the more so that it struck people's imagination by
its very excess.  The good old way of committing printed abstractions
to memory seems never to have received such a shock as it encountered
at his hands.  There is probably no public school teacher now in New
England who will not tell you how Agassiz used to lock a student up in
a room full of turtle shells, or lobster shells, or oyster shells,
without a book or word to help him, and not let him out till he had
discovered all the truths which the objects contained.  Some found the
truths after weeks and months of lonely sorrow; others never found
them.  Those who found them were already made into naturalists
thereby--the failures were blotted from the book of honor and of life.
"Go to Nature; take the facts into your own hands; look, and see for
yourself!"--these were the maxims which Agassiz preached wherever he
went, and their effect on pedagogy was electric.  The extreme rigor of
his devotion to this concrete method of learning was the natural
consequence of his own peculiar type of intellect, in which the
capacity for abstraction and causal reasoning and tracing chains of
consequences from hypotheses was so much less developed than the genius
for acquaintance with vast volumes of detail, and for seizing upon
analogies and relations of the more proximate and concrete kind.  While
on the Thayer expedition, I remember that I often put questions to him
about the facts of our new tropical habitat, but I doubt if he ever
answered one of these questions of mine outright.  He always said:
"There, you see you have a definite problem; go and look and find the
answer for yourself."  His severity in this line was a living rebuke to
all abstractionists and would-be biological philosophers.  More than
once have I heard him quote with deep feeling the lines from Faust:

  "Grau, theurer Freund, ist alle Theorie.
  Und grun des Lebens goldner Baum."

The only man he really loved and had use for was the man who could
bring him facts.  To see facts, not to argue or _raisonniren_, was what
life meant for him; and I think he often positively loathed the
ratiocinating type of mind.  "Mr. Blank, you are _totally_ uneducated!"
I heard him once say to a student who propounded to him some glittering
theoretic generality.  And on a similar occasion he gave an admonition
that must have sunk deep into the heart of him to whom it was
addressed.  "Mr. X, some people perhaps now consider you a bright young
man; but when you are fifty years old, if they ever speak of you then,
what they will say will be this: 'That X,--oh, yes, I know him; he used
to be a very bright young man!'"  Happy is the conceited youth who at
the proper moment receives such salutary cold water therapeutics as
this from one who, in other respects, is a kind friend.  We cannot all
escape from being abstractionists.  I myself, for instance, have never
been able to escape; but the hours I spent with Agassiz so taught me
the difference between all possible abstractionists and all livers in
the light of the world's concrete fulness, that I have never been able
to forget it.  Both kinds of mind have their place in the infinite
design, but there can be no question as to which kind lies the nearer
to the divine type of thinking.

Agassiz's view of Nature was saturated with simple religious feeling,
and for this deep but unconventional religiosity he found at Harvard
the most sympathetic possible environment.  In the fifty years that
have sped since he arrived here our knowledge of Nature has penetrated
into joints and recesses which his vision never pierced.  The causal
elements and not the totals are what we are now most passionately
concerned to understand; and naked and poverty-stricken enough do the
stripped-out elements and forces occasionally appear to us to be.  But
the truth of things is after all their living fulness, and some day,
from a more commanding point of view than was possible to any one in
Agassiz's generation, our descendants, enriched with the spoils of all
our analytic investigations, will get round again to that higher and
simpler way of looking at Nature.  Meanwhile as we look back upon
Agassiz, there floats up a breath as of life's morning, that makes the
work seem young and fresh once more.  May we all, and especially may
those younger members of our association who never knew him, give a
grateful thought to his memory as we wander through that Museum which
he founded, and through this University whose ideals he did so much to
elevate and define.

[1] Words spoken at the reception of the American Society of
Naturalists by the President and Fellows of Harvard College at
Cambridge, December 30, 1896.  Printed in _Science_, N. S. V. 285.



The pathos of death is this, that when the days of one's life are
ended, those days that were so crowded with business and felt so heavy
in their passing, what remains of one in memory should usually be so
slight a thing.  The phantom of an attitude, the echo of a certain mode
of thought, a few pages of print, some invention, or some victory we
gained in a brief critical hour, are all that can survive the best of
us.  It is as if the whole of a man's significance had now shrunk into
the phantom of an attitude, into a mere musical note or phrase
suggestive of his singularity--happy are those whose singularity gives
a note so clear as to be victorious over the inevitable pity of such a
diminution and abridgment.

An ideal wraith like this, of Emerson's personality, hovers over all
Concord to-day, taking, in the minds of those of you who were his
neighbors and intimates a somewhat fuller shape, remaining more
abstract in the younger generation, but bringing home to all of us the
notion of a spirit indescribably precious.  The form that so lately
moved upon these streets and country roads, or awaited in these fields
and woods the beloved Muse's visits, is now dust; but the soul's note,
the spiritual voice, rises strong and clear above the uproar of the
times, and seems securely destined to exert an ennobling influence over
future generations.

What gave a flavor so matchless to Emerson's individuality was, even
more than his rich mental gifts, their singularly harmonious
combination.  Rarely has a man so accurately known the limits of his
genius or so unfailingly kept within them.  "Stand by your order," he
used to say to youthful students; and perhaps the paramount impression
one gets of his life is of his loyalty to his own personal type and
mission.  The type was that of what he liked to call the scholar, the
perceiver of pure truth; and the mission was that of the reporter in
worthy form of each perception.  The day is good, he said, in which we
have the most perceptions.  There are times when the cawing of a crow,
a weed, a snowflake, or a farmer planting in his field become symbols
to the intellect of truths equal to those which the most majestic
phenomena can open.  Let me mind my own charge, then, walk alone,
consult the sky, the field and forest, sedulously waiting every morning
for the news concerning the structure of the universe which the good
Spirit will give me.

This was the first half of Emerson, but only half; for genius, as he
said, is insatiate for expression, and truth has to be clad in the
right verbal garment.  The form of the garment was so vital with
Emerson that it is impossible to separate it from the matter.  They
form a chemical combination--thoughts which would be trivial expressed
otherwise, are important through the nouns and verbs to which he
married them.  The style is the man, it has been said; the man
Emerson's mission culminated in his style, and if we must define him in
one word, we have to call him Artist.  He was an artist whose medium
was verbal and who wrought in spiritual material.

This duty of spiritual seeing and reporting determined the whole tenor
of his life.  It was to shield this duty from invasion and distraction
that he dwelt in the country, that he consistently declined to entangle
himself with associations or to encumber himself with functions which,
however he might believe in them, he felt were duties for other men and
not for him.  Even the care of his garden, "with its stoopings and
fingerings in a few yards of space," he found "narrowing and
poisoning," and took to long free walks and saunterings instead,
without apology.  "Causes" innumerable sought to enlist him as their
"worker"--all got his smile and word of sympathy, but none entrapped
him into service.  The struggle against slavery itself, deeply as it
appealed to him, found him firm: "God must govern his own world, and
knows his way out of this pit without my desertion of my post, which
has none to guard it but me.  I have quite other slaves to face than
those Negroes, to wit, imprisoned thoughts far back in the brain of
man, and which have no watchman or lover or defender but me."  This in
reply to the possible questions of his own conscience.  To hot-blooded
moralists with more objective ideas of duty, such a fidelity to the
limits of his genius must often have made him seem provokingly remote
and unavailable; but we, who can see things in more liberal
perspective, must unqualifiably approve the results.  The faultless
tact with which he kept his safe limits while he so dauntlessly
asserted himself within them, is an example fitted to give heart to
other theorists and artists the world over.

The insight and creed from which Emerson's life followed can be best
summed up in his own verses:

  "So nigh is grandeur to our dust,
  So near is God to man!"

Through the individual fact there ever shone for him the effulgence of
the Universal Reason.  The great Cosmic Intellect terminates and houses
itself in mortal men and passing hours.  Each of us is an angle of its
eternal vision, and the only way to be true to our Maker is to be loyal
to ourselves.  "O rich and various Man!" he cries, "thou palace of
sight and sound, carrying in thy senses the morning and the night and
the unfathomable galaxy; in thy brain the geometry of the city of God;
in thy heart the bower of love and the realms of right and wrong."

If the individual open thus directly into the Absolute, it follows that
there is something in each and all of us, even the lowliest, that ought
not to consent to borrowing traditions and living at second hand.  "If
John was perfect, why are you and I alive?" Emerson writes; "As long as
any man exists there is some need of him; let him fight for his own."
This faith that in a life at first hand there is something sacred is
perhaps the most characteristic note in Emerson's writings.  The
hottest side of him is this non-conformist persuasion, and if his
temper could ever verge on common irascibility, it would be by reason
of the passionate character of his feelings on this point.  The world
is still new and untried.  In seeing freshly, and not in hearing of
what others saw, shall a man find what truth is.  "Each one of us can
bask in the great morning which rises out of the Eastern Sea, and be
himself one of the children of the light."  "Trust thyself, every heart
vibrates to that iron string.  There is a time in each man's education
when he must arrive at the conviction that imitation is suicide; when
he must take himself for better or worse as his portion; and know that
though the wide universe is full of good, no kernel of nourishing corn
can come to him but through his toil bestowed on that plot of ground
which it was given him to till."

The matchless eloquence with which Emerson proclaimed the sovereignty
of the living individual electrified and emancipated his generation,
and this bugle-blast will doubtless be regarded by future critics as
the soul of his message.  The present man is the aboriginal reality,
the Institution is derivative, and the past man is irrelevant and
obliterate for present issues.  "If anyone would lay an axe to your
tree with a text from 1 John, v, 7, or a sentence from Saint Paul, say
to him," Emerson wrote, "'My tree is Yggdrasil, the tree of life.'  Let
him know by your security that your conviction is clear and sufficient,
and, if he were Paul himself, that you also are here and with your
Creator."  "Cleave ever to God," he insisted, "against the name of
God;"--and so, in spite of the intensely religious character of his
total thought, when he began his career it seemed to many of his
brethren in the clerical profession that he was little more than an
iconoclast and desecrator.

Emerson's belief that the individual must in reason be adequate to the
vocation for which the Spirit of the world has called him into being,
is the source of those sublime pages, hearteners and sustainers of our
youth, in which he urges his hearers to be incorruptibly true to their
own private conscience.  Nothing can harm the man who rests in his
appointed place and character.  Such a man is invulnerable; he balances
the universe, balances it as much by keeping small when he is small, as
by being great and spreading when he is great.  "I love and honor
Epaminondas," said Emerson, "but I do not wish to be Epaminondas.  I
hold it more just to love the world of this hour than the world of his
hour.  Nor can you, if I am true, excite me to the least uneasiness by
saying, 'He acted and thou sittest still.'  I see action to be good
when the need is, and sitting still to be also good.  Epaminondas, if
he was the man I take him for, would have sat still with joy and peace,
if his lot had been mine.  Heaven is large, and affords space for all
modes of love and fortitude."  "The fact that I am here certainly shows
me that the Soul has need of an organ here, and shall I not assume the

The vanity of all superserviceableness and pretence was never more
happily set forth than by Emerson in the many passages in which he
develops this aspect of his philosophy.  Character infallibly proclaims
itself.  "Hide your thoughts!--hide the sun and moon.  They publish
themselves to the universe.  They will speak through you though you
were dumb.  They will flow out of your actions, your manners and your
face. . . .  Don't say things: What you are stands over you the while
and thunders so that I cannot say what you say to the contrary. . . .
What a man _is_ engraves itself upon him in letters of light.
Concealment avails him nothing, boasting nothing.  There is confession
in the glances of our eyes; in our smiles; in salutations; and the
grasp of hands.  His sin bedaubs him, mars all his good impression.
Men know not why they do not trust him, but they do not trust him.  His
vice glasses the eye, casts lines of mean expression in the cheek,
pinches the nose, sets the mark of the beast upon the back of the head,
and writes, O fool! fool! on the forehead of a king.  If you would not
be known to do a thing, never do it; a man may play the fool in the
drifts of a desert, but every grain of sand shall seem to see.--How can
a man be concealed?  How can he be concealed?"

On the other hand, never was a sincere word or a sincere thought
utterly lost.  "Never a magnanimity fell to the ground but there is
some heart to greet and accept it unexpectedly. . . .  The hero fears
not that if he withstood the avowal of a just and brave act, it will go
unwitnessed and unloved.  One knows it,--himself,--and is pledged by it
to sweetness of peace and to nobleness of aim, which will prove in the
end a better proclamation than the relating of the incident."

The same indefeasible right to be exactly what one is, provided one
only be authentic, spreads itself, in Emerson's way of thinking, from
persons to things and to times and places.  No date, no position is
insignificant, if the life that fills it out be only genuine:--

"In solitude, in a remote village, the ardent youth loiters and mourns.
With inflamed eye, in this sleeping wilderness, he has read the story
of the Emperor, Charles the Fifth, until his fancy has brought home to
the surrounding woods the faint roar of cannonades in the Milanese, and
marches in Germany.  He is curious concerning that man's day.  What
filled it?  The crowded orders, the stern decisions, the foreign
despatches, the Castilian etiquette?  The soul answers--Behold his day
here!  In the sighing of these woods, in the quiet of these gray
fields, in the cool breeze that sings out of these northern mountains;
in the workmen, the boys, the maidens you meet,--in the hopes of the
morning, the ennui of noon, and sauntering of the afternoon; in the
disquieting comparisons; in the regrets at want of vigor; in the great
idea and the puny execution,--behold Charles the Fifth's day; another,
yet the same; behold Chatham's, Hampden's, Bayard's, Alfred's,
Scipio's, Pericles's day,--day of all that are born of women.  The
difference of circumstance is merely costume.  I am tasting the
self-same life,--its sweetness, its greatness, its pain, which I so
admire in other men.  Do not foolishly ask of the inscrutable,
obliterated past what it cannot tell,--the details of that nature, of
that day, called Byron or Burke;--but ask it of the enveloping
Now. . . .  Be lord of a day, and you can put up your history books."

"The deep to-day which all men scorn," receives thus from Emerson
superb revindication.  "Other world! there is no other world."  All
God's life opens into the individual particular, and here and now, or
nowhere, is reality.  "The present hour is the decisive hour, and every
day is doomsday."

Such a conviction that Divinity is everywhere may easily make of one an
optimist of the sentimental type that refuses to speak ill of anything.
Emerson's drastic perception of differences kept him at the opposite
pole from this weakness.  After you have seen men a few times, he could
say, you find most of them as alike as their barns and pantries, and
soon as musty and as dreary.  Never was such a fastidious lover of
significance and distinction, and never an eye so keen for their
discovery.  His optimism had nothing in common with that indiscriminate
hurrahing for the Universe with which Walt Whitman has made us
familiar.  For Emerson, the individual fact and moment were indeed
suffused with absolute radiance, but it was upon a condition that saved
the situation--they must be worthy specimens,--sincere, authentic,
archetypal; they must have made connection with what he calls the Moral
Sentiment, they must in some way act as symbolic mouthpieces of the
Universe's meaning.  To know just which thing does act in this way, and
which thing fails to make the true connection, is the secret (somewhat
incommunicable, it must be confessed) of seership, and doubtless we
must not expect of the seer too rigorous a consistency.  Emerson
himself was a real seer.  He could perceive the full squalor of the
individual fact, but he could also see the transfiguration.  He might
easily have found himself saying of some present-day agitator against
our Philippine conquest what he said of this or that reformer of his
own time.  He might have called him, as a private person, a tedious
bore and canter.  But he would infallibly have added what he then
added: "It is strange and horrible to say this, for I feel that under
him and his partiality and exclusiveness is the earth and the sea, and
all that in them is, and the axis round which the Universe revolves
passes through his body where he stands."

Be it how it may, then, this is Emerson's revelation:--The point of any
pen can be an epitome of reality; the commonest person's act, if
genuinely actuated, can lay hold on eternity.  This vision is the
head-spring of all his outpourings; and it is for this truth, given to
no previous literary artist to express in such penetratingly persuasive
tones, that posterity will reckon him a prophet, and, perhaps
neglecting other pages, piously turn to those that convey this message.
His life was one long conversation with the invisible divine,
expressing itself through individuals and particulars:--"So nigh is
grandeur to our dust, so near is God to man!"

I spoke of how shrunken the wraith, how thin the echo, of men is after
they are departed?  Emerson's wraith comes to me now as if it were but
the very voice of this victorious argument.  His words to this effect
are certain to be quoted and extracted more and more as time goes on,
and to take their place among the Scriptures of humanity.  "'Gainst
death and all oblivious enmity, shall you pace forth," beloved Master.
As long as our English language lasts men's hearts will be cheered and
their souls strengthened and liberated by the noble and musical pages
with which you have enriched it.

[1] An Address delivered at the Centenary of the Birth of Ralph Waldo
Emerson in Concord, May 25, 1903, and printed in the published
proceedings of that meeting.



Your Excellency, your Honor, Soldiers, and Friends: In these unveiling
exercises the duty falls to me of expressing in simple words some of
the feelings which have actuated the givers of St. Gaudens' noble work
of bronze, and of briefly recalling the history of Robert Shaw and of
his regiment to the memory of this possibly too forgetful generation.

The men who do brave deeds are usually unconscious of their
picturesqueness.  For two nights previous to the assault upon Fort
Wagner, the Fifty-fourth Massachusetts Regiment had been afoot, making
forced marches in the rain; and on the day of the battle the men had
had no food since early morning.  As they lay there in the evening
twilight, hungry and wet, against the cold sands of Morris Island, with
the sea-fog drifting over them, their eyes fixed on the huge bulk of
the fortress looming darkly three-quarters of a mile ahead against the
sky, and their hearts beating in expectation of the word that was to
bring them to their feet and launch them on their desperate charge,
neither officers nor men could have been in any holiday mood of
contemplation.  Many and different must have been the thoughts that
came and went in them during that hour of bodeful reverie; but however
free the flights of fancy of some of them may have been, it is
improbable that any one who lay there had so wild and whirling an
imagination as to foresee in prophetic vision this morning of a future
May, when we, the people of a richer and more splendid Boston, with
mayor and governor, and troops from other States, and every
circumstance of ceremony, should meet together to celebrate their
conduct on that evening, and do their memory this conspicuous honor.

How, indeed, comes it that out of all the great engagements of the war,
engagements in many of which the troops of Massachusetts had borne the
most distinguished part, this officer, only a young colonel, this
regiment of black men and its maiden battle,--a battle, moreover, which
was lost,--should be picked out for such unusual commemoration?

The historic significance of an event is measured neither by its
material magnitude, nor by its immediate success.  Thermopylae was a
defeat; but to the Greek imagination, Leonidas and his few Spartans
stood for the whole worth of Grecian life.  Bunker Hill was a defeat;
but for our people, the fight over that breastwork has always seemed to
show as well as any victory that our forefathers were men of a temper
not to be finally overcome.  And so here.  The war for our Union, with
all the constitutional questions which it settled, and all the military
lessons which it gathered in, has throughout its dilatory length but
one meaning in the eye of history.  And nowhere was that meaning better
symbolized and embodied than in the constitution of this first Northern
negro regiment.

Look at the monument and read the story;--see the mingling of elements
which the sculptor's genius has brought so vividly before the eye.
There on foot go the dark outcasts, so true to nature that one can
almost hear them breathing as they march.  State after State by its
laws had denied them to be human persons.  The Southern leaders in
congressional debates, insolent in their security, loved most to
designate them by the contemptuous collective epithet of "this peculiar
kind of property."  There they march, warm-blooded champions of a
better day for man.  There on horseback, among them, in his very habit
as he lived, sits the blue-eyed child of fortune, upon whose happy
youth every divinity had smiled.  Onward they move together, a single
resolution kindled in their eyes, and animating their otherwise so
different frames.  The bronze that makes their memory eternal betrays
the very soul and secret of those awful years.

Since the 'thirties the slavery question been the only question, and by
the end of 'fifties our land lay sick and shaking with it like a
traveller who has thrown himself down at night beside a pestilential
swamp, and in the morning finds the fever through the marrow of his
bones.  "Only muzzle the Abolition fanatics," said the South, "and all
will be well again!"  But the Abolitionists would not be muzzled,--they
were the voice of the world's conscience, they were a part of destiny.
Weak as they were, they drove the South to madness.  "Every step she
takes in her blindness," said Wendell Phillips, "is one more step
towards ruin."  And when South Carolina took the final step in
battering down Fort Sumter, it was the fanatics of slavery themselves
who called upon their idolized institution ruin swift and complete.
What law and reason were unable to accomplish, had now to be done by
that uncertain and dreadful dispenser of God's judgments, War--War,
with its abominably casual, inaccurate methods, destroying good and bad
together, but at last able to hew a way out of intolerable situations,
when through man's delusion of perversity every better way is blocked.

Our great western republic had from its origin been a singular anomaly.
A land of freedom, boastfully so-called, with human slavery enthroned
at the heart of it, and at last dictating terms of unconditional
surrender to every other organ of its life, what was it but a thing of
falsehood and horrible self-contradiction?  For three-quarters of a
century it had nevertheless endured, kept together by policy,
compromise, and concession.  But at the last that republic was torn in
two; and truth was to be possible under the flag.  Truth, thank God,
truth! even though for the moment it must be truth written in hell-fire.

And this, fellow-citizens, is why, after the great generals have had
their monuments, and long after the abstract soldier's-monuments have
been reared on every village green, we have chosen to take Robert Shaw
and his regiment as the subjects of the first soldier's-monument to be
raised to a particular set of comparatively undistinguished men.  The
very lack of external complication in the history of these soldiers is
what makes them represent with such typical purity the profounder
meaning of the Union cause.

Our nation had been founded in what we may call our American religion,
baptized and reared in the faith that a man requires no master to take
care of him, and that common people can work out their salvation well
enough together if left free to try.  But the founders had not dared to
touch the great intractable exception; and slavery had wrought until at
last the only alternative for the nation was to fight or die.  What
Shaw and his comrades stand for and show us is that in such an
emergency Americans of all complexions and conditions can go forth like
brothers, and meet death cheerfully if need be, in order that this
religion of our native land shall not become a failure on earth.

We of this Commonwealth believe in that religion; and it is not at all
because Robert Shaw was an exceptional genius, but simply because he
was faithful to it as we all may hope to be faithful in our measure
when the times demand, that we wish his beautiful image to stand here
for all time, an inciter to similarly unselfish public deeds.

Shaw thought but little of himself, yet he had a personal charm which,
as we look back on him, makes us repeat: "None knew thee but to love
thee, none named thee but to praise."  This grace of nature was united
in him in the happiest way with a filial heart, a cheerful will, and a
judgment that was true and fair.  And when the war came, and great
things were doing of the kind that he could help in, he went as a
matter of course to the front.  What country under heaven has not
thousands of such youths to rejoice in, youths on whom the safety of
the human race depends?  Whether or not they leave memorials behind
them, whether their names are writ in water or in marble, depends
mostly on the opportunities which the accidents of history throw into
their path.  Shaw recognized the vital opportunity: he saw that the
time had come when the colored people must put the country in their

Colonel Lee has just told us something about the obstacles with which
this idea had to contend.  For a large party of us this was still
exclusively a white man's war; and should colored troops be tried and
not succeed, confusion would grow worse confounded.  Shaw was a captain
in the Massachusetts Second, when Governor Andrew invited him to take
the lead in the experiment.  He was very modest, and doubted, for a
moment, his own capacity for so responsible a post.  We may also
imagine human motives whispering other doubts.  Shaw loved the Second
Regiment, illustrious already, and was sure of promotion where he
stood.  In this new negro-soldier venture, loneliness was certain,
ridicule inevitable, failure possible; and Shaw was only twenty-five;
and, although he had stood among the bullets at Cedar Mountain and
Antietam, he had till then been walking socially on the sunny side of
life.  But whatever doubts may have beset him, they were over in a day,
for he inclined naturally toward difficult resolves.  He accepted the
proffered command, and from that moment lived but for one object, to
establish the honor of the Massachusetts Fifty-fourth.

I have had the privilege of reading his letters to his family from the
day of April when, as a private in the New York Seventh, he obeyed the
President's first call.  Some day they must be published, for they form
a veritable poem for serenity and simplicity of tone.  He took to camp
life as if it were his native element, and (like so many of our young
soldiers) he was at first all eagerness to make arms his permanent
profession.  Drilling and disciplining; interminable marching and
counter-marching, and picket-duty on the Upper Potomac as lieutenant in
our Second Regiment, to which post he had soon been promoted; pride at
the discipline attained by the Second, and horror at the bad discipline
of other regiments; these are the staple matter of earlier letters, and
last for many months.  These, and occasional more recreative incidents,
visits to Virginian houses, the reading of books like Napier's
"Peninsular War," or the "Idylls of the King," Thanksgiving feats, and
races among officers, that helped the weary weeks to glide away.  Then
the bloodier business opens, and the plot thickens till the end is
reached.  From first to last there is not a rancorous word against the
enemy,--often quite the reverse,--and amid all the scenes of hardship,
death, and devastation that his pen soon has to write of, there is
unfailing cheerfulness and even a sort of innermost peace.

After he left it, Robert Shaw's heart still clung to the fortunes of
the Second.  Months later when, in South Carolina with the
Fifty-fourth, he writes to his young wife: "I should have been major of
the Second now if I had remained there and lived through the battles.
As regards my own pleasure, I had rather have that place than any other
in the army.  It would have been fine to go home a field officer in
that regiment!  Poor fellows, how they have been slaughtered!"

Meanwhile he had well taught his new command how to do their duty; for
only three days after he wrote this he led them up the parapet of Fort
Wagner, where he and nearly half of them were left upon the ground.

Robert Shaw quickly inspired others with his own love of discipline.
There was something almost pathetic in the earnestness with which both
the officers and men of the Fifty-fourth embraced their mission of
showing that a black regiment could excel in every virtue known to man.
They had good success, and the Fifty-fourth became a model in all
possible respects.  Almost the only trace of bitterness in Shaw's whole
correspondence is over an incident in which he thought his men had been
morally disgraced.  It had become their duty, immediately after their
arrival at the seat of war, to participate, in obedience to fanatical
orders from the head of the department, in the sack and burning of the
inoffensive little town of Darien on the Georgia coast.  "I fear," he
writes to his wife, "that such actions will hurt the reputation of
black troops and of those connected with them.  For myself I have gone
through the war so far without dishonor, and I do not like to
degenerate into a plunderer and a robber,--and the same applies to
every officer in my regiment.  After going through the hard campaigning
and the hard fighting in Virginia, this makes me very much ashamed.
There are two courses only for me to pursue: to obey orders and say
nothing; or to refuse to go upon any more such expeditions, and be put
under arrest and probably court-martialled, which is a very serious
thing."  Fortunately for Shaw, the general in command of that
department was almost immediately relieved.

Four weeks of camp life and discipline on the Sea Islands, and the
regiment had its baptism of fire.  A small affair, but it proved the
men to be staunch.  Shaw again writes to his wife: "You don't know what
a fortunate day this has been for me and for us all, excepting some
poor fellows who were killed and wounded.  We have fought at last
alongside of white troops.  Two hundred of my men on picket this
morning were attacked by five regiments of infantry, some cavalry, and
a battery of artillery.  The Tenth Connecticut were on their left, and
say they would have had a bad time if the Fifty-fourth men had not
stood so well.  The whole division was under arms in fifteen minutes,
and after coming up close in front of us, the enemy, finding us so
strong, fell back. . . .  General Terry sent me word he was highly
gratified with the behavior of our men, and the officers and privates
of other regiments praise us very much.  All this is very gratifying to
us personally, and a fine thing for the colored troops.  I know this
will give you pleasure for it wipes out the remembrance of the Darien
affair, which you could not but grieve over, though we were innocent

The adjutant of the Fifty-fourth, who made report of this skirmish to
General Terry, well expresses the feelings of loneliness that still
prevailed in that command:--

"The general's favorite regiment," writes the adjutant,[2] "the
Twenty-fourth Massachusetts Infantry, one of the best that had so far
faced the rebel foe, largely officered by Boston men, was surrounding
his headquarters.  It had been a living breathing suspicion with
us--perhaps not altogether justly--that all white troops abhorred our
presence in the army, and that the Twenty-fourth would rather hear of
us in some remote corner of the Confederacy than tolerate us in advance
of any battle in which they themselves were to act as reserves or
lookers-on.  Can you not then readily imagine the pleasure which I felt
as I alighted from my horse before General Terry and his staff--I was
going to say his unfriendly staff, but of this I am not sure--to report
to him, with Colonel Shaw's compliments, that we had repulsed the enemy
without the loss of a single inch of ground.  General Terry bade me
mount again and tell Colonel Shaw that he was proud of the conduct of
his men, and that he must still hold the ground against any future
sortie of the enemy.  You can even now share with me the sensation of
that moment of soldierly satisfaction."

The next night but one after this episode was spent by the Fifty-fourth
in disembarking on Morris Island in the rain, and at noon Colonel Shaw
was able to report their arrival to General Strong, to whose brigade he
was assigned.  A terrific bombardment was playing on Fort Wagner, then
the most formidable earthwork ever built, and the general, knowing
Shaw's desire to place his men beside white troops, said to him:
"Colonel, Fort Wagner is to be stormed this evening, and you may lead
the column, if you say Yes.  Your men, I know, are worn out, but do as
you choose."  Shaw's face brightened.  "Before answering the general,
he instantly turned to me," writes the adjutant, who reports the
interview, "and said, Tell Colonel Hallowell to bring up the
Fifty-fourth immediately.'"

This was done, and just before nightfall the attack was made.  Shaw was
serious, for he knew the assault was desperate, and had a premonition
of his end.  Walking up and down in front of the regiment, he briefly
exhorted them to prove that they were men.  Then he gave the order:
"Move in quick time till within a hundred yards, then double quick and
charge.  Forward!" and the Fifty-fourth advanced to the storming, its
colonel and colors at its head.

On over the sand, through a narrow defile which broke up the formation,
double quick over the chevaux de frise, into the ditch and over it, as
best they could, and up the rampart with Fort Sumter, which had seen
them, playing on them, and Fort Wagner, now one mighty mound of fire,
tearing out their lives.  Shaw led from first to last.  Gaining
successfully the parapet, he stood there for a moment with uplifted
sword, shouting, "Forward, Fifty-fourth!" and then fell headlong, with
a bullet through his heart.  The battle raged for nigh two hours.
Regiment after regiment, following upon the Fifty-fourth, hurled
themselves upon its ramparts, but Fort Wagner was nobly defended, and
for that night stood safe.  The Fifty-fourth withdrew after two-thirds
of its officers and five-twelfths or nearly half its men had been shot
down or bayoneted within the fortress or before its walls.  It was good
behavior for a regiment, no one of whose soldiers had had a musket in
his hands more than eighteen weeks, and which had seen the enemy for
the first time only two days before.

"The negroes fought gallantly," wrote a Confederate officer, "and were
headed by as brave a colonel as ever lived."

As for the colonel, not a drum was heard nor a funeral note, not a
soldier discharged his farewell shot, when the Confederates buried him,
the morning after the engagement.  His body, half stripped of its
clothing, and the corpses of his dauntless negroes were flung into one
common trench together, and the sand was shovelled over them, without a
stake or stone to signalize the spot.  In death as in life, then, the
Fifty-fourth bore witness to the brotherhood of man.  The lover of
heroic history could wish for no more fitting sepulchre for Shaw's
magnanimous young heart.  There let his body rest, united with the
forms of his brave nameless comrades.  There let the breezes of the
Atlantic sigh, and its gales roar their requiem, while this bronze
effigy and these inscriptions keep their fame alive long after you and
I and all who meet here are forgotten.

How soon, indeed, are human things forgotten!  As we meet here this
morning, the Southern sun is shining on their place of burial, and the
waves sparkling and the sea-gulls circling around Fort Wagner's ancient
site.  But the great earthworks and their thundering cannon, the
commanders and their followers, the wild assault and repulse that for a
brief space made night hideous on that far-off evening, have all sunk
into the blue gulf of the past, and for the majority of this generation
are hardly more than an abstract name, a picture, a tale that is told.
Only when some yellow-bleached photograph of a soldier of the 'sixties
comes into our hands, with that odd and vivid look of individuality due
to the moment when it was taken, do we realize the concreteness of that
by-gone history, and feel how interminable to the actors in them were
those leaden-footed hours and years.  The photographs themselves
erelong will fade utterly, and books of history and monuments like this
alone will tell the tale.  The great war for the Union will be like the
siege of Troy; it will have taken its place amongst all other "old,
unhappy, far-off things and battles long ago."

In all such events two things must be distinguished--the moral service
of them from the fortitude which they display.  War has been much
praised and celebrated among us of late as a school of manly virtue;
but it is easy to exaggerate upon this point.  Ages ago, war was the
gory cradle of mankind, the grim-featured nurse that alone could train
our savage progenitors into some semblance of social virtue, teach them
to be faithful one to another, and force them to sink their selfishness
in wider tribal ends.  War still excels in this prerogative; and
whether it be paid in years of service, in treasure, or in life-blood,
the war tax is still the only tax that men ungrudgingly will pay.  How
could it be otherwise, when the survivors of one successful massacre
after another are the beings from whose loins we and all our
contemporary races spring?  Man is once for all a fighting animal;
centuries of peaceful history could not breed the battle-instinct out
of us; and our pugnacity is the virtue least in need of reinforcement
by reflection, least in need of orator's or poet's help.

What we really need the poet's and orator's help to keep alive in us is
not, then, the common and gregarious courage which Robert Shaw showed
when he marched with you, men of the Seventh Regiment.  It is that more
lonely courage which he showed when he dropped his warm commission in
the glorious Second to head your dubious fortunes, negroes of the
Fifty-fourth.  That lonely kind of courage (civic courage as we call it
in times of peace) is the kind of valor to which the monuments of
nations should most of all be reared, for the survival of the fittest
has not bred it into the bone of human beings as it has bred military
valor; and of five hundred of us who could storm a battery side by side
with others, perhaps not one would be found ready to risk his worldly
fortunes all alone in resisting an enthroned abuse.  The deadliest
enemies of nations are not their foreign foes; they always dwell within
their borders.  And from these internal enemies civilization is always
in need of being saved.  The nation blest above all nations is she in
whom the civic genius of the people does the saving day by day, by acts
without external picturesqueness; by speaking, writing, voting
reasonably; by smiting corruption swiftly; by good temper between
parties; by the people knowing true men when they see them, and
preferring them as leaders to rabid partisans or empty quacks.  Such
nations have no need of wars to save them.  Their accounts with
righteousness are always even; and God's judgments do not have to
overtake them fitfully in bloody spasms and convulsions of the race.

The lesson that our war ought most of all to teach us is the lesson
that evils must be checked in time, before they grow so great.  The
Almighty cannot love such long-postponed accounts, or such tremendous
settlements.  And surely He hates all settlements that do such
quantities of incidental devils' work.  Our present situation, with its
rancors and delusions, what is it but the direct outcome of the added
powers of government, the corruptions and inflations of the war?  Every
war leaves such miserable legacies, fatal seeds of future war and
revolution, unless the civic virtues of the people save the State in

Robert Shaw had both kinds of virtue.  As he then led his regiment
against Fort Wagner, so surely would he now be leading us against all
lesser powers of darkness, had his sweet young life been spared.  You
think of many as I speak of one.  For, North and South, how many lives
as sweet, unmonumented for the most part, commemorated solely in the
hearts of mourning mothers, widowed brides, or friends did the
inexorable war mow down!  Instead of the full years of natural service
from so many of her children, our country counts but their poor
memories, "the tender grace of a day that is dead," lingering like
echoes of past music on the vacant air.

But so and so only was it written that she should grow sound again.
From that fatal earlier unsoundness those lives have brought for North
and South together permanent release.  The warfare is accomplished; the
iniquity is pardoned.  No future problem can be like that problem.  No
task laid on our children can compare in difficulty with the task with
which their fathers had to deal.  Yet as we face the future, tasks
enough await us.  The republic to which Robert Shaw and a quarter of a
million like him were faithful unto death is no republic that can live
at ease hereafter on the interest of what they have won.  Democracy is
still upon its trial.  The civic genius of our people is its only
bulwark, and neither laws nor monuments, neither battleships nor public
libraries, nor great newspapers nor booming stocks; neither mechanical
invention nor political adroitness, nor churches nor universities nor
civil service examinations can save us from degeneration if the inner
mystery be lost.  That mystery, as once the secret and the glory of our
English-speaking race, consists in nothing but two common habits, two
inveterate habits carried into public life,--habits so homely that they
lend themselves to no rhetorical expression, yet habits more precious,
perhaps, than any that the human race has gained.  They can never be
too often pointed out or praised.  One of them is the habit of trained
and disciplined good temper towards the opposite party when it fairly
wins its innings.  It was by breaking away from this habit that the
Slave States nearly wrecked our Nation.  The other is that of fierce
and merciless resentment toward every man or set of men who break the
public peace.  By holding to this habit the free States saved her life.

O my countrymen, Southern and Northern, brothers hereafter, masters,
slaves, and enemies no more, let us see to it that both of those
heirlooms are preserved.  So may our ransomed country, like the city of
the promise, lie forever foursquare under Heaven, and the ways of all
the nations be lit up by its light.

[1] Oration at the Exercises in the Boston Music Hall, May 31, 1897,
upon the Unveiling of the Shaw Monument.

[2] G. W. James: "The Assault upon Fort Wagner," in _War Papers read
before the Commandery of the State of Wisconsin, Military Order of the
Loyal Legion of the United States_.  Milwaukee, 1891.



How often does it happen here in New England that we come away from a
funeral with a feeling that the service has been insufficient.  If it
be purely ritual, the individuality of the departed friend seems to
play too small a part in it.  If the minister conducts it in his own
fashion, it is apt to be too thin and monotonous, and if he were not an
intimate friend, too remote and official.  We miss direct discourse of
simple human affection about the person, which we find so often in
those lay speeches at the grave of which in France they set us nowadays
so many good examples.  In the case of the friend whose memory brings
us together on the present occasion, it was easy to organize this
supplementary service.  Not everyone leaves musical compositions of his
own to fill the hour with.  And if we may believe that spirits can know
aught of what transpires in the world which they have forsaken, it must
please us all to think how dear old Francis Boott's shade must now be
touched at seeing in the Chapel of this university to which his
feelings clung so loyally, his music and his life at last become the
subjects of cordial and admiring recognition and commemorated by so
many of his neighbors.  I can imagine nothing at any rate of which the
foreknowledge could have given him deeper satisfaction.  Shy and
sensitive, craving praise as every normal human being craves it, yet
getting little, he had, I think, a certain consciousness of living in
the shadow.  I greatly doubt whether his daydreams ever went so far as
to let him imagine a service like this.  Such a cordial and spontaneous
outgoing towards him on our part would surprise as much as it would
delight him.

His life was private in the strongest sense of the term.  His
contributions to literature were all anonymous, book-reviews chiefly,
or letters and paragraphs in the New York Nation on musical or literary
topics.  Good as was their quality, and witty as was their form,--his
only independent volume was an almost incredibly witty little book of
charades in verse--they were too slight in bulk for commemoration; and
it was only as a musical composer that he touched on any really public
function.  With so many of his compositions sounding in your ears, it
would be out of place, even were I qualified, to attempt to
characterize Mr. Boott's musical genius.  Let it speak for itself.  I
prefer to speak of the man and friend whom we knew and whom so many of
us loved so dearly.

One of the usual classifications of men is into those of expansive and
those of conservative temper.  The word conservative commonly suggests
a dose of religious and political prejudice, and a fondness for
traditional opinions.  Mr. Boott was a liberal in politics and
theology; and all his opinions were self-made, and as often as not at
variance with every tradition.  Yet in a wider sense he was profoundly

He respected bounds of ordinance, and emphasized the fact of limits.
He knew well his own limits.  The knowledge of them was in fact one of
the things he lived by.  To judge of abstract philosophy, of sculpture
and painting, of certain lines of literary art, he admitted, was not of
his competency.  But within the sphere where he thought he had a right
to judge, he parted his likes from his dislikes and preserved his
preferences with a pathetic steadfastness.  He was faithful in age to
the lights that lit his youth, and obeyed at eve the voice obeyed at
prime, with a consistency most unusual.  Elsewhere the opinions of
others might perplex him, but he laughed and let them live.  Within his
own appropriated sphere he was too scrupulous a lover of the truth not
to essay to correct them, when he thought them erroneous.  A certain
appearance comes in here of a self-contradictory character, for Mr.
Boott was primarily modest and sensitive, and all his interests and
pre-occupations were with life's refinements and delicacies.  Yet one's
mind always pictured him as a rugged sort of person, opposing
successful resistance to all influences that might seek to change his
habits either of feeling or of action.  His admirable health, his sober
life, his regular walk twice a day, whatever might be the weather, his
invariable evenness of mood and opinion, so that, when you once knew
his range, he never disappointed you--all this was at variance with
popular notions of the artistic temperament.  He was indeed, a man of
reason, no romancer, sentimentalist or dreamer, in spite of the fact
that his main interests were with the muses.  He was exact and
accurate; affectionate, indeed, and sociable, but neither gregarious
nor demonstrative; and such words as "honest," "sturdy," "faithful,"
are the adjectives first to rise when one thinks of him.  A friend said
to me soon after his death: "I seem still to see Mr. Boott, with his
two feet planted on the ground, and his cane in front of him, making of
himself a sort of tripod of honesty and veracity."

Old age changes men in different ways.  Some it softens; some it
hardens; some it degenerates; some it alters.  Our old friend Boott was
identical in spiritual essence all his life, and the effect of his
growing old was not to alter, but only to make the same man mellower,
more tolerant, more lovable.  Sadder he was, I think, for his life had
grown pretty lonely; but he was a stoic and he never complained either
of losses or of years, and that contagious laugh of his at any and
every pretext for laughter rang as free and true upon his deathbed as
at any previous time of his existence.

Born in 1813, he had lived through three generations, and seen enormous
social and public changes.  When a carpenter has a surface to measure,
he slides his rule along it, and over all its peculiarities.  I
sometimes think of Boott as such a standard rule against which the
changing fashions of humanity of the last century might come to
measurement.  A character as healthy and definite as his, of whatsoever
type it be, need only remain entirely true to itself for a sufficient
number of years, while the outer conditions change, to grow into
something like a common measure.  Compared with its repose and
permanent fitness to continue, the changes of the generations seem
ephemeral and accidental.  It remains the standard, the rule, the term
of comparison.  Mr. Boott's younger friends must often have felt in his
presence how much more vitally near they were than they had supposed to
the old Boston long before the war, to the older Harvard, to the older
Rome and Florence.  To grow old after his manner is of itself to grow

I said that Mr. Boott was not demonstrative or sentimental.
Tender-hearted he was and faithful as few men are, in friendship.  He
made new friends, and dear ones, in the very last years of his life,
and it is good to think of him as having had that consolation.  The
will in which he surprised so many persons by remembering them--"one of
the only purely beautiful wills I have ever read," said a
lawyer,--showed how much he cared at heart for many of us to whom he
had rarely made express professions of affection.

Good-by, then, old friend.  We shall nevermore meet the upright figure,
the blue eye, the hearty laugh, upon these Cambridge streets.  But in
that wider world of being of which this little Cambridge world of ours
forms so infinitesimal a part, we may be sure that all our spirits and
their missions here will continue in some way to be represented, and
that ancient human loves will never lose their own.

[1] An address delivered at the Memorial Service to Francis Boott in
the Harvard Chapel, Sunday, May 8, 1904.  Printed in 38 _Harvard
Monthly_, 125.



I wish to pay my tribute to the memory of a Scottish-American friend of
mine who died five years ago, a man of a character extraordinarily and
intensely human, in spite of the fact that he was classed by obituary
articles in England among the twelve most learned men of his time.

It would do no honor to Thomas Davidson's memory not to be frank about
him.  He handled people without gloves, himself, and one has no right
to retouch his photograph until its features are softened into
insipidity.  He had defects and excesses which he wore upon his sleeve,
so that everyone could see them.  They made him many enemies, and if
one liked quarrelling he was an easy man to quarrel with.  But his
heart and mind held treasures of the rarest.  He had a genius for
friendship.  Money, place, fashion, fame, and other vulgar idols of the
tribe had no hold on his imagination.  He led his own life absolutely,
in whatever company he found himself, and the intense individualism
which he taught by word and deed, is the lesson of which our generation
is perhaps most in need.

All sorts of contrary adjectives come up as I think of him.  To begin
with, there was something physically rustic which suggested to the end
his farm-boy origin.  His voice was sweet and its Scottish cadences
most musical, and the extraordinary sociability of his nature made
friends for him as much among women as among men; he had, moreover, a
sort of physical dignity; but neither in dress nor in manner did he
ever grow quite "gentlemanly" or _Salonfähig_ in the conventional and
obliterated sense of the terms.  He was too cordial and emphatic for
that.  His broad brow, his big chest, his bright blue eyes, his
volubility in talk and laughter told a tale of vitality far beyond the
common; but his fine and nervous hands, and the vivacity of all his
reactions suggested a degree of sensibility that one rarely finds
conjoined with so robustly animal a frame.  The great peculiarity of
Davidson did indeed consist in this combination of the acutest
sensibilities with massive faculties of thought and action, a
combination which, when the thought and actions are important, gives to
the world its greatest men.

Davidson's native mood was happy.  He took optimistic views of life and
of his own share in it.  A sort of permanent satisfaction radiated from
his face; and this expression of inward glory (which in reality was to
a large extent structural and not "expressive" at all) was displeasing
to many new acquaintances on whom it made an impression of too much
conceit.  The impression of conceit was not diminished in their eyes by
the freedom with which Davidson contradicted, corrected and reprehended
other people.  A longer acquaintance invariably diminished the
impression.  But it must be confessed that T. D. never was exactly
humble-minded, and that the solidity of his self-consciousness
withstood strains under which that of weaker men would have crumbled.
The malady which finally killed him was one of the most exhausting to
the nervous tone to which our flesh is subject, and it wore him out
before it ended him.  He told me of the paroxysms of motiveless nervous
dread which used to beset him in the night-watches.  Yet these never
subdued his stalwartness, nor made him a "sick-soul" in the theological
sense of that appelation.  "God is afraid of me," was the phrase by
which he described his well-being to me one morning when his night had
been a good one, and he was feeling so cannibalistic that he thought he
might get well.

There are men whose attitude is always that of seeking for truth, and
men who on the contrary always believe that they have the root of it
already in them.  Davidson was of the latter class.  Like his
countrymen, Carlyle and Ruskin, he felt himself to be in the possession
of something, whether articulate or as yet articulated by himself, that
authorized him (and authorized him with uncommon openness and
frequency) to condemn the errors of others.  I think that to the last
he never fully extricated this philosophy.  It was a tendency, a faith
in a direction, which gave him an active persuasion that other
directions were false, but of which the central insight never got fully
formulated, but remained in a state which Frederic Myers would have
called subliminal.  He varied to a certain extent his watchwords and
his heroes.  When I first knew him all was Aristotle.  Later all was
Rosmini.  Later still Rosmini seemed forgotten.  He knew so many
writers that he grew fond of very various ones and had a strange
tolerance for systematizers and dogmatizers whom, as the consistent
individualist that he was, he should have disliked.  Hegel, it is true,
he detested; but he always spoke with reverence of Kant.  Of Mill and
Spencer he had a low opinion; and when I lent him Paulsen's
Introduction to Philosophy (then just out), as an example of a kind of
eclectic thought that seemed to be growing, and with which I largely
sympathized, he returned it with richer expressions of disdain than
often fell even from his lips: "It's the shabbiest, seediest pretence
at a philosophy I ever dreamed of as possible.  It's like a man dressed
in a black coat so threadbare as to be all shiny.  The most
poverty-stricken, out-at-elbows thing I ever read.  A perfect monument
of seediness and shabbiness," etc.

The truth is that Davidson, brought up on the older classical
traditions, never outgrew those habits of judging the world by purely
aesthetic criteria which men fed on the sciences of nature are so
willing to abandon.  Even if a philosophy were true, he could easily
fail to relish it unless it showed a certain formal nobility and
dogmatic pretension to finality.  But I must not describe him so much
from my own professional point of view--it is as a vessel of life at
large that one ought to keep him in remembrance.

He came to Boston from St. Louis, where he had been teaching, about the
year 1873.  He was ruddy and radiant, and I soon saw much of him,
though at first it was without the thoroughness of sympathy which we
afterwards acquired and which made us overflow, on meeting after long
absences, into such laughing greetings as: "Ha! you old thief!  Ha! you
old blackguard!"--pure "contrast-effects" of affection and familiarity
passing beyond their bounds.  At that time I saw most of him at a
little philosophical club which used to meet every fortnight at his
rooms in Temple Street in Boston.  Of the other members, J. Elliot
Cabot and C. C. Everett, are now dead--I will not name the survivors.
We never worked out harmonious conclusions.  Davidson used to crack the
whip of Aristotle over us; and I remember that, whatever topic was
formally appointed for the day, we invariably wound up with a quarrel
about Space and Space-perception.  The Club had existed before
Davidson's advent.  The previous year we had gone over a good part of
Hegel's larger Logic, under the self-constituted leadership of two
young business men from Illinois, who had become enthusiastic Hegelians
and, knowing almost no German, had actually possessed themselves of a
manuscript translation of the entire three volumes of Logic, made by an
extraordinary Pomeranian immigrant, named Brockmeyer.  These disciples
were leaving business for the law and studying at the Harvard
law-school; but they saw the whole universe through Hegelian
spectacles, and a more admirable _homo unius libri_ than one of them,
with his three big folios of Hegelian manuscript, I have never had the
good fortune to know.

I forget how Davidson was earning his subsistence at this time.  He did
some lecturing and private teaching, but I do not think they were great
in amount.  In the springs and summers he frequented the coast, and
indulged in long swimming bouts and salt-water immersions, which seemed
to agree with him greatly.  His sociability was boundless, and his time
seemed to belong to anyone who asked for it.

I soon conceived that such a man would be invaluable in Harvard
University--a kind of Socrates, a devotee of truth and lover of youth,
ready to sit up to any hour, and drink beer and talk with anyone,
lavish of learning and counsel, a contagious example of how lightly and
humanly a burden of erudition might be borne upon a pair of shoulders.
In faculty-business he might not run well in harness, but as an
inspiration and ferment of character, as an example of the ranges of
combination of scholarship with manhood that are possible, his
influence on the students would be priceless.

I do not know whether this scheme of mine could under any circumstances
have been carried out.  In point of fact it was nipped in the bud by T.
D. himself.  A natural chair for him would have been Greek philosophy.
Unfortunately, just at the decisive hour, he offended our Greek
department by a savage onslaught on its methods, which, without taking
anyone's counsel, he sent to the _Atlantic Monthly_, whose editor
printed it.  This, with his other unconventionalisms, made advocating
his cause more difficult, and the university authorities, never, I
believe, seriously thought of an appointment for him.

I believe that in this case, as in one or two others like it, which I
might mention, Harvard University lost a great opportunity.
Organization and method mean much, but contagious human characters mean
more in a university, where a few undisciplinables like T. D. may be
infinitely more precious than a faculty-full of orderly routinists.  As
to what Davidson might have become under the conventionalizing
influences of an official position, it would be idle to speculate.

As things fell out, he became more and more unconventional and even
developed a sort of antipathy to all regular academic life.  It subdued
individuality, he thought, and made for Philistinism.  He earnestly
dissuaded his young friend Bakewell from accepting a professorship; and
I well remember one dark night in the Adirondacks, after a good dinner
at a neighbor's, the eloquence with which, as we trudged down-hill to
his own quarters with a lantern, he denounced me for the musty and
mouldy and generally ignoble academicism of my character.  Never before
or since, I fancy, has the air of the Adirondack wilderness vibrated
more repugnantly to a vocable than it did that night to the word

Yet Davidson himself was always essentially a teacher.  He must give
forth, inspire, and have the young about him.  After leaving Boston for
Europe and Africa, founding the Fellowship of the New Life in London
and New York (the present Fabian Society in England is its offshoot),
he hit upon the plan which pleased him best of all when, in 1882 or
thereabouts, he bought a couple of hundred acres on East Hill, which
closes the beautiful Keene Valley in the Adirondacks, on the north, and
founded there, at the foot of Hurricane Mountain, his place "Glenmore"
and its "Summer School of the Culture Sciences."  Although the primeval
forest has departed from its immediate vicinity, the region is still
sylvan, the air is sweet and strong and almost alpine in quality, and
the mountain panorama spread before one is superlative.  Davidson
showed a business faculty which I should hardly have expected from him,
in organizing his settlement.  He built a number of cottages pretty in
design and of the simplest construction, and disposed them well for
effect.  He turned a couple of farm buildings which were on the grounds
into a lecturing place and a refectory; and there, arriving in early
April and not leaving till late in November, he spent the happiest part
of all his later years, surrounded during the summer months by
colleagues, friends, and listeners to lectures, and in the spring and
fall by a few independent women who were his faithful friends, and who
had found East Hill a congenial residence.

Twice I went up with T. D. to open the place in April.  I remember
leaving his fireside one night with three ladies who were also early
comers, and finding the thermometer at 8 degrees Fahrenheit and a
tremendous gale blowing the snow about us.  Davidson loved these
blustering vicissitudes of climate.  In the early years the brook was
never too cold for him to bathe in, and he spent days in rambling over
the hills and up the glens and through the forest.

His own cottage was full of books whose use was free to all who visited
the settlement.  It stood high on a hill in a grove of silver-birches
and looked upon the Western Mountains; and it always seemed to me an
ideal dwelling for such a bachelor-scholar.  Here in May and June he
became almost one with the resurgent vegetation.  Here, in October, he
was a witness of the jewelled pageant of the dying foliage, and saw the
hillsides reeking, as it were, and aflame with ruby and gold and
emerald and topaz.  One September day in 1900, at the "Kurhaus" at
Nauheim, I took up a copy of the Paris _New York Herald_, and read in
capitals: "Death of Professor Thomas Davidson."  I had well known how
ill he was, yet such was his vitality that the shock was wholly
unexpected.  I did not realize till that moment how much that free
companionship with him every spring and autumn, surrounded by that
beautiful nature, had signified to me, or how big a piece would be
subtracted from my life by its cessation.

Davidson's capacity for imparting information seemed endless.  There
were few subjects, especially "humanistic" subjects, in which at some
time or other he had not taken an interest; and as everything that had
ever touched him was instantaneously in reach of his omnipotent memory,
he easily became a living dictionary of reference.  As such all his
friends were wont to use him.  He was, for example, never at a loss to
supply a quotation.  He loved poetry passionately, and the sympathetic
voice with which he would recall page after page of it--English,
French, German, or Italian--is a thing always to be remembered.  But
notwithstanding the instructive part he played in every conceivable
conversation, he was never prolix, and he never "lectured."

From Davidson I learned what immunities a perfect memory bestows upon
one.  I never could discover when he amassed his learning for he never
seemed "occupied."  The secret of it was that any odd time would do,
for he never had to acquire a thing twice over.  He avoided stated
hours of work on principle.  Reprehending (mildly) a certain chapter of
my own on "Habit," he said that it was a fixed rule with him to form no
regular habits.  When he found himself in danger of settling into even
a good one, he made a point of interrupting it.  Habits and methods
make a prisoner of a man, destroy his readiness, keep him from
answering the call of the fresh moment.  Individualist _à outrance_,
Davidson felt that every hour was an unique entity, to whose claims one
should lie open.  Thus he was never abstracted or preoccupied, but
always seemed, when with you, as if you were the one person whom it was
then right to attend to.

It was this individualistic religion that made T. D., democrat as he
nevertheless was, so hostile to all socialisms and administrative
panaceas.  Life must be flexible.  You ask for a free man, and these
Utopias give you an "interchangeable part," with a fixed number, in a
rule-bound organism.  The real thing to aim at is liberation of the
inner interests.  Give man possession of a _soul_, and he will work out
his own happiness under any set of conditions.  Accordingly, when, in
the penultimate year of his life, he proposed his night-school to a
meeting of young East-Side workingmen in New York, he told them that he
had no sympathy whatever with the griefs of "labor," that outward
circumstances meant nothing in his eyes; that through their individual
wills and intellects they could share, just as they were, in the
highest spiritual life of humanity, and that he was there to help them
severally to that privilege.

The enthusiasm with which they responded speaks volumes, both for his
genius as a teacher and for the sanity of his position.  A small
posthumous book of articles by Davidson and of letters written from
Glenmore to his class, just published, with an introduction by his
disciple Professor Bakewell,[2] gives a full account of the experiment,
and ought to stand as a model and inspirer to similar attempts the
world over.  Davidson's idea of the universe was that of a republic of
immortal spirits, the chief business of whom in their several grades of
existence, should be to know and love and help one another.  "Creeds
are nothing, life is everything. . . .  You can do far more by
presenting to the world the example of noble social relations than by
enumerating any set of principles.  Know all you can, love all you can,
do all you can--that is the whole duty of man. . . .  Be friends, in
the truest sense, each to the other.  There is nothing in all the world
like friendship, when it is deep and real. . . .  The divine . . . is a
republic of self-existent spirits, each seeking the realization of its
ideas through love, through intimacy with all the rest, and finding its
heaven in such intimacy."

We all say and think that we believe this sort of thing; but Davidson
believed it really and actively, and that made all the difference.
When the young wage-earners whom he addressed found that here was a man
of measureless learning ready to give his soul to them as if he had
nothing else to do with it, life's ideal possibilities widened to their
view.  When he was taken from them, they founded in New York the Thomas
Davidson Society, for study and neighborhood work, which will probably
become perpetual, and of which his epistles from Glenmore will be the
rule, and keep the standards set by him from degenerating--unless,
indeed, the Society should some day grow too rich, of which there is no
danger at present, and from which may Heaven long preserve it.  In one
of his letters to the Class, Davidson sums up the results of his own
experience of life in twenty maxims, as follows:

1. Rely upon your own energies, and do not wait for, or depend on other

2. Cling with all your might to your own highest ideals, and do not be
led astray by such vulgar aims as wealth, position, popularity.  Be

3. Your worth consists in what you are, and not in what you have.  What
you are will show in what you do.

4. Never fret, repine, or envy.  Do not make yourself unhappy by
comparing your circumstances with those of more fortunate people; but
make the most of the opportunities you have.  Employ profitably every

5. Associate with the noblest people you can find; read the best books;
live with the mighty.  But learn to be happy alone.

6. Do not believe that all greatness and heroism are in the past.
Learn to discover princes, prophets, heroes, and saints among the
people about you.  Be assured they are there.

7. Be on earth what good people hope to be in heaven.

8. Cultivate ideal friendships, and gather into an intimate circle all
your acquaintances who are hungering for truth and right.  Remember
that heaven itself can be nothing but the intimacy of pure and noble

9. Do not shrink from any useful or kindly act, however hard or
repellent it may be.  The worth of acts is measured by the spirit in
which they are performed.

10. If the world despise you because you do not follow its ways, pay no
heed to it.  But be sure your way is right.

11. If a thousand plans fail, be not disheartened.  As long as your
purposes are right, you have not failed.

12. Examine yourself every night, and see whether you have progressed
in knowledge, sympathy, and helpfulness during the day.  Count every
day a loss in which no progress has been made.

13. Seek enjoyment in energy, not in dalliance.  Our worth is measured
solely by what we do.

14. Let not your goodness be professional; let it be the simple,
natural outcome of your character.  Therefore cultivate character.

15. If you do wrong, say so, and make what atonement you can.  That is
true nobleness.  Have no moral debts.

16. When in doubt how to act, ask yourself, What does nobility command?
Be on good terms with yourself.

17. Look for no reward for goodness but goodness itself.  Remember
heaven and hell are utterly immoral institutions, if they are meant as
reward and punishment.

18. Give whatever countenance and help you can to every movement and
institution that is working for good.  Be not sectarian.

19. Wear no placards, within or without.  Be human fully.

20. Never be satisfied until you have understood the meaning of the
world, and the purpose of our own life, and have reduced your world to
a rational cosmos.

One of the "placards" Davidson tried hardest to keep his Society from
wearing was that of "Socialism."  Yet no one felt more deeply than he
the evils of rapacious individual competition.  Spontaneously and
flexibly organized social settlements or communities, with individual
leaders as their centres, seem to have been his ideal, each with its
own religious or ethical elements of discipline.  The present isolation
of the family is too inhuman.  The ideal type of future life, he
thought, will be something like the monastery, with the family instead
of the individual, for its unit.

Leveller upwards of men as Davidson was, upon the intellectual and
moral level, he seemed wholly without that sort of religion which makes
so many of our contemporary anarchists think that they ought to dip, at
least, into some manual occupation, in order to share the common burden
of humanity I never saw T. D. work with his hands in any way.  He
accepted material services of all kinds without apology, as if he were
a patrician, evidently feeling that if he played his own more
intellectual part rightly, society could make no further claim upon him.

This confidence that the life of the spirit is the absolutely highest,
made Davidson serene about his outward fortunes.  Pecuniary worry would
not tally with his program.  He had a very small provision against a
rainy day, but he did little to increase it.  He used to write as many
articles and give as many "lectures," "talks," or "readings" every
winter as would suffice to pay the year's expenses, and thereafter he
refused additional invitations, and repaired to Glenmore as early in
the spring as possible.  I could but admire the temper he showed when
the principal building there was one night burned to ashes.  There was
no insurance on it, and it would cost a couple of thousand dollars to
replace it.  Excitable as Davidson was about small contrarieties, he
watched this fire without a syllable of impatience.  _Plaie d'argent
n'est pas mortelle_, he seemed to say, and if he felt sharp regrets, he
disdained to express them.

No more did care about his literary reputation trouble him.  In the
ordinary greedy sense, he seemed quite free from ambition.  During his
last years he had prepared a large amount of material for that history
of the interaction of Greek, Christian, Hebrew, and Arabic thought upon
one another before the revival of learning, which was to be his _magnum
opus_.  It was a territory to which, in its totality, few living minds
had access, and in which a certain proprietary feeling was natural.
Knowing how short his life might be, I once asked him whether he felt
no concern lest the work already done by him should be frustrate, from
the lack of its necessary complement, in case he were suddenly cut off.
His answer surprised me by its indifference.  He would work as long as
he lived, he said, but not allow himself to worry, and look serenely at
whatever might be the outcome.  This seemed to me uncommonly
high-minded.  I think that Davidson's conviction of immortality had
much to do with such a superiority to accidents.  On the surface, and
towards small things, he was irritable enough, but the undertone of his
character was remarkable for equanimity.  He showed it in his final
illness, of which the misery was really atrocious.  There were no
general complaints or lamentations about the personal situation or the
arrest to his career.  It was the human lot and he must even bear it;
so he kept his mind upon objective matters.

But, as I said at the outset, the paramount thing in Davidson in my
eyes was his capacity for friendship.  His friends were
innumerable--boys and girls and old boys and old girls, Papists and
Protestants, Jews and Gentiles, married and single; and he cared deeply
for each one of them, admiring them often too extravagantly.  What term
can name those recurrent waves of delighted laughter that expressed his
greeting, beginning from the moment he saw you and accompanying his
words continuously, as if his pleasure in you were interminable?  His
hand too, stretched out when yards away, so that a country neighbor
said it reached farther than any hand he ever met with.  The odd thing
was that friendship in Davidson seemed so little to interfere with
criticism.  Persons with whom intercourse was one long contradiction on
his part, and who appeared to annoy him to extermination, he none the
less loved tenderly, and enjoyed living with them.  "He's the most
utterly selfish, illiberal and narrow-hearted human being I ever knew,"
I heard him once say of someone, "and yet he's the dearest, nicest
fellow living."  His enthusiastic belief in any young person who gave a
promise of genius was touching.  Naturally a man who is willing, as he
was, to be a prophet, always finds some women who are willing to be
disciples.  I never heard of any sentimental weakness in Davidson in
this relation, save possibly in one case.  They harmed themselves at
the fire of his soul, and he told them truths without accommodation.
"You 're farther off from God than any woman I ever heard of."  "Nay,
if you believe in a protective tariff, you 're in hell already, though
you may not know it."  "You had a fine hysterical time last night,
didn't you, when Miss B was brought up from the ravine with her
dislocated shoulder."  To Miss B he said: "I don't pity you.  It served
you right for being so ignorant as to go there at that hour."  Seldom,
strange to say, did the recipients of these deliverances seem to resent

What with Davidson's warmth of heart and sociability, I used to wonder
at his never marrying.  Two years before his death he told me the
reason--an unhappy youthful love-affair in Scotland.  Twice in later
life, he said, temptation had come to him, and he had had to make his
decision.  When he had come to the point, he had felt each time that
the tie with the dead girl was prohibitive.  "When two persons have
known each other as we did," he said, "neither can ever fully belong to
a stranger.  So it would n't do."  "It would n't do, it would n't do!"
he repeated, as we lay on the hillside, in a tone so musically tender
that it chimes in my ear now as I write down his confession.  It can
surely be no breach of confidence to publish it--it is too creditable
to the profundity of Davidson's affections.  As I knew him, he was one
of the purest of human beings.

If one asks, now, what the _value_ of Thomas Davidson was, what was the
general significance of his life, apart from his particular books and
articles, I have to say that it lay in the example he set to us all of
how, even in the midst of this intensely worldly social system of ours,
in which each human interest is organized so collectively and so
commercially, a single man may still be a knight-errant of the
intellectual life, and preserve full freedom in the midst of
sociability.  Extreme as was his need of friends, and faithful as he
was to them, he yet lived mainly in reliance on his private
inspiration.  Asking no man's permission, bowing the knee to no tribal
idol, renouncing the conventional channels of recognition, he showed us
how a life devoted to purely intellectual ends could be beautifully
wholesome outwardly, and overflow with inner contentment.  Fortunately
this type of man is recurrent, and from generation to generation,
literary history preserves examples.  But it is infrequent enough for
few of us to have known more than one example--I count myself happy in
knowing two and a half!  The memory of Davidson will always strengthen
my faith in personal freedom and its spontaneities, and make me less
unqualifiedly respectful than ever of "Civilization," with its herding
and branding, licensing and degree-giving, authorizing and appointing,
and in general regulating and administering by system the lives human
beings.  Surely the individual, the person in the singular number, is
the more fundamental phenomenon, and the social institution, of
whatever grade, is but secondary and ministerial.  Many as are the
interests which social systems satisfy, always unsatisfied interests
remain over, and among them are interests to which system, as such,
does violence whenever it lays its hand upon us.  The best Commonwealth
will always be the one that most cherishes the men who represent the
residual interests, the one that leaves the largest scope to their

[1] First published in _McClure's Magazine_ for May, 1905.

[2] "The Education of the Wage-Earners."  Boston, Ginn & Company, 1904.



"God moves in a mysterious way his wonders to perform."  If the
greatest of all his wonders be the human individual, the richness with
which the specimens thereof are diversified, the limitless variety of
outline, from gothic to classic or flowing arabesque, the contradictory
nature of the filling, composed of little and great, of comic, heroic,
and pathetic elements blended inextricably, in personalities all of
whom can _go_, and go successfully, must surely be reckoned the supreme
miracle of creative ingenuity.  Rarely has Nature performed an odder or
more Dickens-like feat than when she deliberately designed, or
accidentally stumbled into, the personality of Herbert Spencer.
Greatness and smallness surely never lived so closely in one skin

The opposite verdicts passed upon his work by his contemporaries bear
witness to the extraordinary mingling of defects and merits in his
mental character.  Here are a few, juxtaposed:--

"A philosophic saw-mill."--"The most capacious and powerful thinker of
all time.

"The  Arry' of philosophy."--"Aristotle and his master were not more
beyond the pygmies who preceded them than he is beyond Aristotle."

"Herbert Spencer's chromo-philosophy."--"No other man that has walked
the earth has so wrought and written himself into the life of the

"The touch of his mind takes the living flavor out of everything."--"He
is as much above and beyond all the other great philosophers who have
ever lived as the telegraph is beyond the carrier-pigeon, or the
railway beyond the sedan chair."

"He has merely combined facts which we knew before into a huge
fantastic contradictory system, which hides its nakedness and emptiness
partly under the veil of an imposing terminology, and partly in the
primeval fog."--"His contributions are of a depth, profundity, and
magnitude which have no parallel in the history of mind.  Taking but
one--and one only--of his transcendent reaches of thought,--namely,
that referring to the positive sense of the Unknown as the basis of
religion,--it may unhesitatingly be affirmed that the analysis and
synthesis by which he advances to the almost supernal grasp of this
mighty truth give a sense of power and reach verging on the

Can the two thick volumes of autobiography which Mr. Spencer leaves
behind him explain such discrepant appreciations?  Can we find revealed
in them the higher synthesis which reconciles the contradictions?
Partly they do explain, I think, and even justify, both kinds of
judgment upon their author.  But I confess that in the last resort I
still feel baffled.  In Spencer, as in every concrete individual, there
is a uniqueness that defies all formulation.  We can feel the touch of
it and recognize its taste, so to speak, relishing or disliking, as the
case may be, but we can give no ultimate account of it, and we have in
the end simply to admire the Creator.

Mr. Spencer's task, the unification of all knowledge into an articulate
system, was more ambitious than anything attempted since St. Thomas or
Descartes.  Most thinkers have confined themselves either to
generalities or to details, but Spencer addressed himself to
everything.  He dealt in logical, metaphysical, and ethical first
principles, in cosmogony and geology, in physics, and chemistry after a
fashion, in biology, psychology, sociology, politics, and aesthetics.
Hardly any subject can be named which has not at least been touched on
in some one of his many volumes.  His erudition was prodigious.  His
civic conscience and his social courage both were admirable.  His life
was pure.  He was devoted to truth and usefulness, and his character
was wholly free from envy and malice (though not from contempt), and
from the perverse egoisms that so often go with greatness.

Surely, any one hearing this veracious enumeration would think that
Spencer must have been a rich and exuberant human being.  Such wide
curiosities must have gone with the widest sympathies, and such a
powerful harmony of character, whether it were a congenital gift, or
were acquired by spiritual wrestling and eating bread with tears, must
in any case have been a glorious spectacle for the beholder.  Since
Goethe, no such ideal human being can have been visible, walking our
poor earth.

Yet when we turn to the "Autobiography," the self-confession which we
find is this: An old-maidish personage, inhabiting boarding-houses,
equable and lukewarm in all his tastes and passions, having no
desultory curiosity, showing little interest in either books or people.
A petty fault-finder and stickler for trifles, devoid in youth of any
wide designs on life, fond only of the more mechanical side of things,
yet drifting as it were involuntarily into the possession of a
world-formula which by dint of his extraordinary pertinacity he
proceeded to apply to so many special cases that it made him a
philosopher in spite of himself.  He appears as modest enough, but with
a curious vanity in some of his deficiencies,--his lack of desultory
interests, for example, and his nonconformity to reigning customs.  He
gives a queer sense of having no emotional perspective, as if small
things and large were on the same plane of vision, and equally
commanded his attention.  In spite of his professed dislike of
monotony, one feels an awfully monotonous quality in him; and in spite
of the fact that invalidism condemned him to avoid thinking, and to
saunter and potter through large parts of every day, one finds no
twilight region in his mind, and no capacity for dreaminess or
passivity.  All parts of it are filled with the same noonday glare,
like a dry desert where every grain of sand shows singly, and there are
no mysteries or shadows.

"Look on this picture and on that," and answer how they can be

For one thing, Mr. Spencer certainly writes himself _down_ too much.
He complains of a poor memory, of an idle disposition, of a general
dislike for reading.  Doubtless there have been more gifted men in all
these respects.  But when Spencer once buckled to a particular task,
his memory, his industry, and his reading went beyond those of the most
gifted.  He had excessive sensibility to stimulation by a challenge,
and he had preëminent pertinacity.  When the notion of his philosophic
system once grasped him, it seemed to possess itself of every effective
fibre of his being.  No faculty in him was left unemployed,--nor, on
the other hand, was anything that his philosophy could contain left
unstated.  Roughly speaking, the task and the man absorbed each other
without residuum.

Compare this type of mind with such an opposite type as Ruskin's, or
even as J. S. Mill's, or Huxley's, and you realize its peculiarity.
Behind the work of those others was a background of overflowing mental
temptations.  The men loom larger than all their publications, and
leave an impression of unexpressed potentialities.  Spencer tossed all
his inexpressibilities into the Unknowable, and gladly turned his back
on them forever.  His books seem to have expressed all that there was
to express in his character.

He is very frank about this himself.  No _Sturm und Drang
Periode_, no problematic stage of thought, where the burden of the
much-to-be-straightened exceeds the powers of straightening.

When George Eliot uttered surprise at seeing no lines on his forehead,
his reply was:--"I suppose it is because I am never puzzled."--"It has
never been my way," he continues, "to set before myself a problem and
puzzle out an answer.  The conclusions at which I have from time to
time arrived, have not been arrived at as solutions of questions
raised; but have been arrived at unawares--each as the ultimate outcome
of a body of thought which slowly grew from a germ.  Some direct
observation, or some fact met with in reading, would dwell with me;
apparently because I had a sense of its significance. . . .  A week
afterwards, possibly, the matter would be remembered; and with further
thought about it, might occur a recognition of some wider application:
new instances being aggregated with those already noted.  Again, after
an interval," etc., etc.  "And thus, little by little, in unobtrusive
ways, without conscious intention or appreciable effort, there would
grow up a coherent and organized theory" (vol. i, page 464).

A sort of mill, this, wound up to grind in a certain way, and
irresponsive otherwise.

"To apply day after day merely with the general idea of acquiring
information, or of increasing ability, was not in me."  "Anything like
passive receptivity is foreign to my nature; and there results an
unusually small tendency to be affected by others' thoughts.  It seems
as though the fabric of my conclusions had in all cases to be developed
from within.  Material which could be taken in and organized so as to
form part of a coherent structure, there was always a readiness to
receive.  But ideas and sentiments of alien kinds, or unorganizable
kinds, were, if not rejected, yet accepted with indifference, and soon
dropped away."  "It has always been out of the question for me to go on
reading a book the fundamental principles of which I entirely dissent
from.  I take it for granted that if the fundamental principles are
wrong the rest cannot be right; and thereupon cease reading--being, I
suspect, rather glad of an excuse for doing so."  "Systematic books of
a political or ethical kind, written from points of view quite unlike
my own, were either not consulted at all, or else they were glanced at
and thereafter disregarded" (vol. i, pages 215, 277, 289, 350).

There is pride rather than compunction in these confessions.  Spencer's
mind was so narrowly systematized, that he was at last almost incapable
of believing in the reality of alien ways of feeling.  The invariable
arrogance of his replies to criticisms shows his absolute
self-confidence.  Every opinion in the world had to be articulately
right or articulately wrong,--so proved by some principle or other of
his infallible system.

He confesses freely his own inflexibility and censoriousness.  His
account of his father makes one believe in the fatality of heredity.
Born of old nonconformist stock, the elder Spencer was a man of
absolute punctuality.  Always he would step out of his way to kick a
stone off the pavement lest somebody should trip over it.  If he saw
boys quarrelling he stopped to expostulate; and he never could pass a
man who was ill-treating a horse without trying to make him behave
better.  He would never take off his hat to any one, no matter of what
rank, nor could he be induced to address any one as "Esquire" or as
"Reverend."  He would never put on any sign of mourning, even for
father and mother; and he adhered to one style of coat and hat
throughout all changes of fashion.  Improvement was his watchword
always and everywhere.  Whatever he wrote had to be endlessly
corrected, and his love of detail led all his life to his neglecting
large ends in his care for small ones.  A good heart, but a pedantic
conscience, and a sort of energetically mechanical intelligence.

Of himself Herbert Spencer says: "No one will deny that I am much given
to criticism.  Along with exposition of my own views there has always
gone a pointing out of defects in those of others.  And if this is a
trait in my writing, still more is it a trait in my conversation.  The
tendency to fault-finding is dominant--disagreeably dominant.  The
indicating of errors in thought and speech made by those around has all
through life been an incurable habit--a habit for which I have often
reproached myself, but to no purpose."

The "Autobiography" abounds in illustrations of the habit.  For

"Of late I have observed sundry cases in which, having found the right,
people deliberately desert it for the wrong. . . .  A generation ago
salt-cellars were made of convenient shapes--either ellipses or
elongated parallelograms: the advantage being that the salt-spoon,
placed lengthwise, remained in its place.  But for some time past,
fashion has dictated circular salt-cellars, on the edges of which the
salt-spoon will not remain without skilful balancing: it falls on the
cloth.  In my boyhood a jug was made of a form at once convenient and
graceful. . . .  Now, however, the almost universal form of jug in use
is a frustum of a cone with a miniature spout.  It combines all
possible defects.  When anything like full, it is impossible to pour
out a small quantity without part of the liquid trickling down beneath
the spout; and a larger quantity cannot be poured out without exceeding
the limits of the spout and running over on each side of it.  If the
jug is half empty, the tilting must be continued a long time before any
liquid comes; and then, when it does come, it comes with a rush;
because its surface has now become so large that a small inclination
delivers a great deal.  To all which add that the shape is as ugly a
one as can well be hit upon.  Still more extraordinary is the folly of
a change made in another utensil of daily use"--and Spencer goes on to
find fault with the cylindrical form of candle extinguisher, proving by
a description of its shape that "it squashes the wick into the melted
composition, the result being that when, next day, the extinguisher is
taken off, the wick, imbedded in the solidified composition, cannot be
lighted without difficulty" (vol. ii, page 238).

The remorseless explicitness, the punctuation, everything, make these
specimens of public fault-finding with what probably was the equipment
of Mr. Spencer's latest boarding-house, sound like passages from "The
Man versus the State."  Another example:--

"Playing billiards became 'my custom always of the afternoon.'  Those
who confess to billiard-playing commonly make some kind of an
excuse. . . .  It suffices to me that I like billiards, and the
attainment of the pleasure given I regard as a sufficient motive.  I
have for a long time deliberately set my face against that asceticism
which makes it an offence to do a thing for the pleasure of doing it;
and have habitually contended that, so long as no injury is inflicted
on others, nor any ulterior injury on self, and so long as the various
duties of life have been discharged, the pursuit of pleasure for its
own sake is perfectly legitimate and requires no apology.  The opposite
view is nothing else than a remote sequence of the old devil worship of
the barbarian, who sought to please his god by inflicting pains upon
himself, and believed his god would be angry if he made himself happy"
(vol. ii, page 263).

The tone of pedantic rectitude in these passages is characteristic.
Every smallest thing is either right or wrong, and if wrong, can be
articulately proved so by reasoning.  Life grows too dry and literal,
and loses all aërial perspective at such a rate; and the effect is the
more displeasing when the matters in dispute have a rich variety of
aspects, and when the aspect from which Mr. Spencer deduces his
conclusions is manifestly partial.

For instance, in his art-criticisms.  Spencer in his youth did much
drawing, both mechanical and artistic.  Volume one contains a
photo-print of a very creditable bust which he modelled of his uncle.
He had a musical ear, and practiced singing.  He paid attention to
style, and was not wholly insensible to poetry.  Yet in all his
dealings with the art-products of mankind he manifests the same curious
dryness and mechanical literality of judgment--a dryness increased by
pride in his non-conformity.  He would, for example, rather give a
large sum than read to the end of Homer's Iliad,--the ceaseless
repetition of battles, speeches, and epithets like well-greaved Greeks,
horse-breaking Trojans; the tedious enumeration of details of dresses,
arms, and chariots; such absurdities as giving the genealogy of a horse
while in the midst of a battle; and the appeals to savage and brutal
passions, having soon made the poem intolerable to him (vol. i, page
300).  Turner's paintings he finds untrue, in that the earth-region is
habitually as bright in tone as the air-region.  Moreover, Turner
scatters his detail too evenly.  In Greek statues the hair is falsely
treated.  Renaissance painting, even the best, is spoiled by unreal
illumination, and non-rendering of reflected light in the shadows.
Venetian gothic sins by meaningless ornamentation.  St. Mark's Church
may be precious archaeologically, but is not aesthetically precious.
Of Wagner's music he admires nothing but the skilful specialization of
the instruments in the orchestra.

The fault-finding in all these cases rests on observation, true as far
as it goes; but the total absence of genial relations with the entirety
of the phenomenon discussed, the clutching at some paltry mechanical
aspect of it that lends itself to reasoned proof by _a_ plus _b_, and
the practical denial of everything that only appeals to vaguer
sentiment, show a mind so oddly limited to ratiocinative and explicit
processes, and so wedded to the superficial and flagrantly
_insufficient_, that one begins to wonder whether in the philosophic
and scientific spheres the same mind can have wrought out results of
extraordinary value.

Both "yes" and "no" are here the answer.  Every one who writes books or
articles knows how he must flounder until he hits upon the proper
opening.  Once the right beginning found, everything follows easily and
in due order.  If a man, however narrow, strikes even by accident, into
one of these fertile openings, and pertinaciously follows the lead, he
is almost sure to meet truth on his path.  Some thoughts act almost
like mechanical centres of crystallization; facts cluster of themselves
about them.  Such a thought was that of the gradual growth of all
things, by natural processes, out of natural antecedents.  Until the
middle of the nineteenth century no one had grasped it _wholesale_; and
the thinker who did so earliest was bound to make discoveries just in
proportion to the exclusiveness of his interest in the principle.  He
who had the keenest eye for instances and illustrations, and was least
divertible by casual side-curiosity, would score the quickest triumph.

To Spencer is certainly due the immense credit of having been the first
to see in evolution an absolutely universal principle.  If any one else
had grasped its universality, it failed at any rate to grasp him as it
grasped Spencer.  For Spencer it instantly became "the guiding
conception running through and connecting all the concrete sciences"
(vol. ii, page 196).  Here at last was "an object at once large and
distinct enough" to overcome his "constitutional idleness."  "With an
important and definite end to achieve, I could work" (vol. i, page
215).  He became, in short, the victim of a vivid obsession, and for
the first time in his life seems to have grown genuinely ambitious.
Every item of his experience, small or great, every idea in his mental
storehouse, had now to be considered with reference to its bearing on
the new universal principle.  On pages 194-199 of volume two he gives
an interesting summary of the way in which all his previous and
subsequent ideas moved into harmonious coördination and subordination,
when once he had this universal key to insight.  Applying it wholesale
as he did, innumerable truths unobserved till then had to fall into his
gamebag.  And his peculiar trick, a priggish infirmity in daily
intercourse, of treating every smallest thing by abstract law, was here
a merit.  Add his sleuth-hound scent for what he was after, and his
untiring pertinacity, to his priority in perceiving the one great truth
and you fully justify the popular estimate of him as one of the world's
geniuses, in spite of the fact that the "temperament" of genius, so
called, seems to have been so lacking in him.

In one sense, then, Spencer's personal narrowness and dryness were not
hindering, but helping conditions of his achievement.  Grant that a
vast picture _quelconque_ had to be made before the details could be
made perfect, and a greater richness and receptivity of mind would have
resulted in hesitation.  The quality would have been better in spots,
but the extensiveness would have suffered.

Spencer is thus the philosopher of vastness.  Misprised by many
specialists, who carp at his technical imperfections, he has
nevertheless enlarged the imagination, and set free the speculative
mind of countless doctors, engineers, and lawyers, of many physicists
and chemists, and of thoughtful laymen generally.  He is the
philosopher whom those who have no other philosopher can appreciate.
To be able to say this of any man is great praise, and gives the "yes"
answer to my recent question.

Can the "no" answer be as unhesitatingly uttered?  I think so, if one
makes the qualitative aspect of Spencer's work undo its quantitative
aspect.  The luke-warm equable temperament, the narrowness of sympathy
and passion, the fondness for mechanical forms of thought, the
imperfect receptivity and lack of interest in facts as such, dissevered
from their possible connection with a theory; nay, the very vividness
itself, the keenness of scent and the pertinacity; these all are
qualities which may easily make for second-rateness, and for
contentment with a cheap and loosely woven achievement.  As Mr.
Spencer's "First Principles" is the book which more than any other has
spread his popular reputation, I had perhaps better explain what I mean
by criticising some of its peculiarities.

I read this book as a youth when it was still appearing in numbers, and
was carried away with enthusiasm by the intellectual perspectives which
it seemed to open.  When a maturer companion, Mr. Charles S. Peirce,
attacked it in my presence, I felt spiritually wounded, as by the
defacement of a sacred image or picture, though I could not verbally
defend it against his criticisms.

Later I have used it often as a text-book with students, and the total
outcome of my dealings with it is an exceedingly unfavorable verdict.
Apart from the great truth which it enforces, that everything has
evolved somehow, and apart from the inevitable stimulating effect of
any such universal picture, I regard its teachings as almost a museum
of blundering reasoning.  Let me try to indicate briefly my grounds for
such an opinion.

I pass by the section on the Unknowable, because this part of Mr.
Spencer's philosophy has won fewer friends than any other.  It consists
chiefly of a rehash of Mansel's rehash of Hamilton's "Philosophy of the
Conditioned," and has hardly raised its head since John Mill so
effectively demolished it.  If criticism of our human intellectual
constitution is needed, it can be got out of Bradley to-day better than
out of Spencer.  The latter's way of reconciling science and religion
is, moreover, too absurdly _naïf_.  Find, he says, a fundamental
abstract truth on which they can agree, and that will reconcile them.
Such a truth, he thinks, is that _there is a mystery_.  The trouble is
that it is over just such common truths that quarrels begin.  Did the
fact that both believed in the existence of the Pope reconcile Luther
and Ignatius Loyola?  Did it reconcile the South and the North that
both agreed that there were slaves?  Religion claims that the "mystery"
is interpretable by human reason; "Science," speaking through Spencer,
insists that it is not.  The admission of the mystery is the very
signal for the quarrel.  Moreover, for nine hundred and ninety-nine
men out of a thousand the sense of mystery is the sense of
_more-to-be-known_, not the sense of a More, _not_ to be known.

But pass the Unknowable by, and turn to Spencer's famous law of

"Science" works with several types of "law."  The most frequent and
useful type is that of the "elementary law,"--that of the composition
of forces, that of gravitation, of refraction, and the like.  Such laws
declare no concrete facts to exist, and make no prophecy as to any
actual future.  They limit themselves to saying that if a certain
character be found in any fact, another character will co-exist with it
or follow it.  The usefulness of these laws is proportionate to the
extent to which the characters they treat of pervade the world, and to
the accuracy with which they are definable.

Statistical laws form another type, and positively declare something
about the world of actuality.  Although they tell us nothing of the
elements of things, either abstract or concrete, they affirm that the
resultant of their actions drifts preponderantly in a particular
direction.  Population tends toward cities; the working classes tend to
grow discontented; the available energy of the universe is running
down--such laws prophesy the real future _en gros_, but they never help
us to predict any particular detail of it.

Spencer's law of Evolution is of the statistical variety.  It defines
what evolution means, and what dissolution means, and asserts that,
although both processes are always going on together, there is in the
present phase of the world a drift in favor of evolution.  In the first
edition of "First Principles" an evolutive change in anything was
described as the passage of it from a state of indefinite incoherent
homogeneity to a definite coherent heterogeneity.  The existence of a
drift in this direction in everything Mr. Spencer proves, both by a
survey of facts, and by deducing it from certain laws of the elementary
type, which he severally names "the instability of the homogeneous,"
"the multiplication of effects," "segregation," and "equilibration."
The two former insure the heterogeneity, while "segregation" brings
about the definiteness and coherence, and "equilibration" arrests the
process, and determines when dissolutive changes shall begin.

The whole panorama is resplendent for variety and inclusiveness, and
has aroused an admiration for philosophy in minds that never admired
philosophy before.  Like Descartes in earlier days, Spencer aims at a
purely mechanical explanation of Nature.  The knowable universe is
nothing but matter and motion, and its history is nothing but the
"redistribution" of these entities.  The value of such an explanation
for scientific purposes depends altogether on how consistent and exact
it is.  Every "thing" must be interpreted as a "configuration," every
"event" as a change of configuration, every predicate ascribed must be
of a geometrical sort.  Measured by these requirements of mechanics
Spencer's attempt has lamentably failed.  His terms are vagueness and
ambiguity incarnate, and he seems incapable of keeping the mechanical
point of view in mind for five pages consecutively.

"Definite," for example, is hardly a physical idea at all.  Every
motion and every arrangement of matter is definitely what it is,--a fog
or an irregular scrawl, as much so as a billiard ball or a straight
line.  Spencer means by definiteness in a thing any character that
makes it arrest our attention, and forces us to distinguish it from
other things.  The word with him has a human, not a physical
connotation.  Definite things, in his book, finally appear merely as
_things that men have made separate names for_, so that there is hardly
a pretence of the mechanical view being kept.  Of course names increase
as human history proceeds, so "definiteness" in things must necessarily
more and more evolve.

"Coherent," again.  This has the definite mechanical meaning of
resisting separation, of sticking together; but Spencer plays fast and
loose with this meaning.  Coherence with him sometimes means
_permanence in time_, sometimes such _mutual dependence of parts_ as is
realized in a widely scattered system of no fixed material
configuration; a commercial house, for example, with its "travellers"
and ships and cars.

An honestly mechanical reader soon rubs his eyes with bewilderment at
the orgy of ambiguity to which he is introduced.  Every term in
Spencer's fireworks shimmers through a whole spectrum of meanings in
order to adapt itself to the successive spheres of evolution to which
it must apply.  "Integration," for instance.  A definite coherence is
an Integration; and examples given of integration are the contraction
of the solar nebula, the formation of the earth's crust, the
calcification of cartilage, the shortening of the body of crabs, the
loss of his tail by man, the mutual dependence of plants and animals,
the growth of powerful states, the tendency of human occupations to go
to distinct localities, the dropping of terminal inflexions in English
grammar, the formation of general concepts by the mind, the use of
machinery instead of simple tools, the development of "composition" in
the fine arts, etc., etc.  It is obvious that no one form of the motion
of matter characterizes all these facts.  The human ones simply embody
the more and more successful pursuit of certain ends.

In the second edition of his book, Mr. Spencer supplemented his first
formula by a unifying addition, meant to be strictly mechanical.
"Evolution," he now said, "is the progressive integration of matter and
dissipation of motion," during which both the matter and the motion
undergo the previously designated kinds of change.  But this makes the
formula worse instead of better.  The "dissipation of motion" part of
it is simple vagueness,--for what particular motion is "dissipated"
when a man or state grows more highly evolved?  And the integration of
matter belongs only to stellar and geologic evolution.  Neither
heightened specific gravity, nor greater massiveness, which are the
only conceivable integrations of matter, is a mark of the more evolved
vital, mental, or social things.

It is obvious that the facts of which Spencer here gives so clumsy an
account could all have been set down more simply.  First there is
solar, and then there is geological evolution, processes accurately
describable as integrations in the mechanical sense, namely, as
decrease in bulk, or growth in hardness.  Then Life appears; and after
that neither integration of matter nor dissipation of motion play any
part whatever.  The result of life, however, is to fill the world more
and more with things displaying _organic unity_.  By this is meant any
arrangement of which one part helps to keep the other parts in
existence.  Some organic unities are material,--a sea-urchin, for
example, a department store, a civil service, or an ecclesiastical
organization.  Some are mental, as a "science," a code of laws, or an
educational programme.  But whether they be material or mental
products, organic unities must _accumulate_; for every old one tends to
conserve itself, and if successful new ones arise they also "come to
stay."  The human use of Spencer's adjectives "integrated," "definite,"
"coherent," here no longer shocks one.  We are frankly on teleological
ground, and metaphor and vagueness are permissible.

This tendency of organic unities to accumulate when once they are
formed is absolutely all the truth I can distill from Spencer's
unwieldy account of evolution.  It makes a much less gaudy and
chromatic picture, but what there is of it is exact.

Countless other criticisms swarm toward my pen, but I have no heart to
express them,--it is too sorry an occupation.  A word about Spencer's
conception of "Force," however, insists on being added; for although it
is one of his most essential, it is one of his vaguest ideas.

Over all his special laws of evolution there reigns an absolutely
general law, that of the "persistence of force."  By this Spencer
sometimes means the phenomenal law of conservation of energy, sometimes
the metaphysical principle that the quantity of existence is
unalterable, sometimes the logical principle that nothing can happen
without a reason, sometimes the practical postulate that in the absence
of any assignable difference you must call a thing the same.  This law
is one vast vagueness, of which I can give no clear account; but of his
special vaguenesses "mental force" and "social force" are good examples.

These manifestations of the universal force, he says, are due to vital
force, and this latter is due to physical force, both being
proportionate to the amount of physical force which is "transformed"
into them.  But what on earth is "social force"?  Sometimes he
identifies it with "social activity" (showing the latter to be
proportionate to the amount of food eaten), sometimes with the work
done by human beings and their steam-engines, and shows it to be due
ultimately to the sun's heat.  It would never occur to a reader of his
pages that a social force proper might be anything that acted as a
stimulus of social change,--a leader, for example, a discovery, a book,
a new idea, or a national insult; and that the greatest of "forces" of
this kind need embody no more "physical force" than the smallest.  The
measure of greatness here is the effect produced on the environment,
not a quantity antecedently absorbed from physical nature.  Mr. Spencer
himself is a great social force; but he ate no more than an average
man, and his body, if cremated, would disengage no more energy.  The
effects he exerts are of no nature _of releases_,--his words pull
triggers in certain kinds of brain.

The fundamental distinction in mechanics between forces of
push-and-pull and forces of release is one of which Mr. Spencer, in his
earlier years, made no use whatever.  Only in his sixth edition did he
show that it had seriously arrested his attention.  In biology,
psychology, and sociology the forces concerned are almost exclusively
forces of release.  Spencer's account of social forces is neither good
sociology nor good mechanics.  His feeble grasp of the conception of
force vitiates, in fact, all his work.

But the task of a carper is repugnant.  The "Essays," "Biology,"
"Psychology," "Sociology," and "Ethics" are all better than "First
Principles," and contain numerous and admirable bits of penetrating
work of detail.  My impression is that, of the systematic treaties, the
"Psychology" will rank as the most original.  Spencer broke new ground
here in insisting that, since mind and its environment have evolved
together, they must be studied together.  He gave to the study of mind
in isolation a definitive quietus, and that certainly is a great thing
to have achieved.  To be sure he overdid the matter, as usual, and left
no room for any mental structure at all, except that which passively
resulted from the storage of impressions received from the outer world
in the order of their frequency by fathers and transmitted to their
sons.  The belief that whatever is acquired by sires is inherited by
sons, and the ignoring of purely inner variations, are weak points; but
to have brought in the environment as vital was a master stroke.

I may say that Spencer's controversy over use-inheritance with
Weismann, entered into after he was sixty, seems to me in point of
quality better than any other part of his work.  It is genuine labor
over a puzzle, genuine research.

Spencer's "Ethics" is a most vital and original piece of
attitude-taking in the world of ideals.  His politico-ethical activity
in general breathes the purest English spirit liberty, and his attacks
on over-administration and criticisms on the inferiority of great
centralized systems are worthy to be the textbooks of individualists
the world over.  I confess that it is with this part of his work, in
spite of its hardness and inflexibility of tone, that I personally
sympathize most.

Looking back on Mr. Spencer as a whole, as this admirably truth-telling
"Autobiography" reveals him, he is a figure unique for quaint
consistency.  He never varied from that inimitable blend of small and
vast mindedness, of liberality and crabbedness, which was his personal
note, and which defies our formulating power.  If an abstract logical
concept could come to life, its life would be like Spencer's,--the same
definiteness of exclusion and inclusion, the same bloodlessness of
temperament, the same narrowness of intent and vastness of extent, the
same power of applying itself to numberless instances.  But he was no
abstract idea; he was a man vigorously devoted to truth and justice as
he saw them, who had deep insights, and who finished, under terrible
frustrations from bad health, a piece of work that taken for all in
all, is extraordinary.  A human life is greater than all its possible
appraisers, assessors, and critics.  In comparison with the fact of
Spencer's actual living, such critical characterization of it as I have
been at all these pains to produce seems a rather unimportant as well
as a decidedly graceless thing.

[1] Written upon the publication of Herbert Spencer's "Autobiography."
Published in the _Atlantic Monthly_ for July, 1904.



On this memorial occasion it is from English hearts and tongues
belonging, as I never had the privilege of belonging, to the immediate
environment of our lamented President, that discourse of him as a man and
as a friend must come.  It is for those who participated in the endless
drudgery of his labors for our Society to tell of the high powers he
showed there; and it is for those who have something of his burning
interest in the problem of our human destiny to estimate his success in
throwing a little more light into its dark recesses.  To me it has been
deemed best to assign a colder task.  Frederic Myers was a psychologist
who worked upon lines hardly admitted by the more academic branch of the
profession to be legitimate; and as for some years I bore the title of
"Professor of Psychology," the suggestion has been made (and by me gladly
welcomed) that I should spend my portion of this hour in defining the
exact place and rank which we must accord to him as a cultivator and
promoter of the science of the Mind.

Brought up entirely upon literature and history, and interested at first
in poetry and religion chiefly; never by nature a philosopher in the
technical sense of a man forced to pursue consistency among concepts for
the mere love of the logical occupation; not crammed with science at
college, or trained to scientific method by any passage through a
laboratory, Myers had as it were to recreate his personality before he
became the wary critic of evidence, the skilful handler of hypothesis,
the learned neurologist and omnivorous reader of biological and
cosmological matter, with whom in later years we were acquainted.  The
transformation came about because he needed to be all these things in
order to work successfully at the problem that lay near his heart; and
the ardor of his will and the richness of his intellect are proved by the
success with which he underwent so unusual a transformation.

The problem, as you know, was that of seeking evidence for human
immortality.  His contributions to psychology were incidental to that
research, and would probably never have been made had he not entered on
it.  But they have a value for Science entirely independent of the light
they shed upon that problem; and it is quite apart from it that I shall
venture to consider them.

If we look at the history of mental science we are immediately struck by
diverse tendencies among its several cultivators, the consequence being a
certain opposition of schools and some repugnance among their disciples.
Apart from the great contrasts between minds that are teleological or
biological and minds that are mechanical, between the animists and the
associationists in psychology, there is the entirely different contrast
between what I will call the classic-academic and the romantic type of
imagination.  The former has a fondness for clean pure lines and noble
simplicity in its constructions.  It explains things by as few principles
as possible and is intolerant of either nondescript facts or clumsy
formulas.  The facts must lie in a neat assemblage, and the psychologist
must be enabled to cover them and "tuck them in" as safely under his
system as a mother tucks her babe in under the down coverlet on a winter
night.  Until quite recently all psychology, whether animistic or
associationistic, was written on classic-academic lines.  The consequence
was that the human mind, as it is figured in this literature, was largely
an abstraction.  Its normal adult traits were recognized.  A sort of
sun-lit terrace was exhibited on which it took its exercise.  But where
that terrace stopped, the mind stopped; and there was nothing farther
left to tell of in this kind of philosophy but the brain and the other
physical facts of nature on the one hand, and the absolute metaphysical
ground of the universe on the other.

But of late years the terrace has been overrun by romantic improvers, and
to pass to their work is like going from classic to gothic architecture,
where few outlines are pure and where uncouth forms lurk in the shadows.
A mass of mental phenomena are now seen in the shrubbery beyond the
parapet.  Fantastic, ignoble, hardly human, or frankly non-human are some
of these new candidates for psychological description.  The menagerie and
the madhouse, the nursery, the prison, and the hospital, have been made
to deliver up their material.  The world of mind is shown as something
infinitely more complex than was suspected; and whatever beauties it may
still possess, it has lost at any rate the beauty of academic neatness.

But despite the triumph of romanticism, psychologists as a rule have
still some lingering prejudice in favor of the nobler simplicities.
Moreover, there are social prejudices which scientific men themselves
obey.  The word "hypnotism" has been trailed about in the newspapers so
that even we ourselves rather wince at it, and avoid occasions of its
use.  "Mesmerism," "clairvoyance," "medium,"--_horrescimus
referentes_!--and with all these things, infected by their previous
mystery-mongering discoverers, even our best friends had rather avoid
complicity.  For instance, I invite eight of my scientific colleagues
severally to come to my house at their own time, and sit with a medium
for whom the evidence already published in our "Proceedings" had been
most noteworthy.  Although it means at worst the waste of the hour for
each, five of them decline the adventure.  I then beg the "Commission"
connected with the chair of a certain learned psychologist in a
neighboring university to examine the same medium, whom Mr. Hodgson and I
offer at our own expense to send and leave with them.  They also have to
be excused from any such entanglement.  I advise another psychological
friend to look into this medium's case, but he replies that it is
useless; for if he should get such results as I report, he would (being
suggestible) simply believe himself hallucinated.  When I propose as a
remedy that he should remain in the background and take notes, whilst his
wife has the sitting, he explains that he can never consent to his wife's
presence at such performances.  This friend of mine writes _ex cathedra_
on the subject of psychical research, declaring (I need hardly add) that
there is nothing in it; the chair of the psychologist with the Commission
was founded by a spiritist, partly with a view to investigate mediums;
and one of the five colleagues who declined my invitation is widely
quoted as an effective critic of our evidence.  So runs the world away!
I should not indulge in the personality and triviality of such anecdotes,
were it not that they paint the temper of our time, a temper which,
thanks to Frederic Myers more than to any one, will certainly be
impossible after this generation.  Myers was, I think, decidedly
exclusive and intolerant by nature.  But his keenness for truth carried
him into regions where either intellectual or social squeamishness would
have been fatal, so he "mortified" his _amour propre_, unclubbed himself
completely, and became a model of patience, tact and humility wherever
investigation required it.  Both his example and his body of doctrine
will make this temper the only one henceforward scientifically

If you ask me how his doctrine has this effect, I answer: By
co-ordinating!  For Myers' great principle of research was that in order
to understand any one species of fact we ought to have all the species of
the same general class of fact before us.  So he took a lot of scattered
phenomena, some of them recognized as reputable, others outlawed from
science, or treated as isolated curiosities; he made series of them,
filled in the transitions by delicate hypotheses or analogies; and bound
them together in a system by his bold inclusive conception of the
Subliminal Self, so that no one can now touch one part of the fabric
without finding the rest entangled with it.  Such vague terms of
apperception as psychologists have hitherto been satisfied with using for
most of these phenomena, as "fraud," "rot," "rubbish," will no more be
possible hereafter than "dirt" is possible as a head of classification in
chemistry, or "vermin" in zoology.  Whatever they are, they are things
with a right to definite description and to careful observation.

I cannot but account this as a great service rendered to Psychology.  I
expect that Myers will ere long distinctly figure in mental science as
the radical leader in what I have called the romantic movement.  Through
him for the first time, psychologists are in possession of their full
material, and mental phenomena are set down in an adequate inventory.  To
bring unlike things thus together by forming series of which the
intermediary terms connect the extremes, is a procedure much in use by
scientific men.  It is a first step made towards securing their interest
in the romantic facts, that Myers should have shown how easily this
familiar method can be applied to their study.

Myers' conception of the extensiveness of the Subliminal Self quite
overturns the classic notion of what the human mind consists in.  The
supraliminal region, as Myers calls it, the classic-academic
consciousness, which was once alone considered either by associationists
or animists, figures in his theory as only a small segment of the psychic
spectrum.  It is a special phase of mentality, teleologically evolved for
adaptation to our natural environment, and forms only what he calls a
"privileged case" of personality.  The out-lying Subliminal, according to
him, represents more fully our central and abiding being.

I think the words subliminal and supraliminal unfortunate, but they were
probably unavoidable.  I think, too, that Myers' belief in the ubiquity
and great extent of the Subliminal will demand a far larger number of
facts than sufficed to persuade him, before the next generation of
psychologists shall become persuaded.  He regards the Subliminal as the
enveloping mother-consciousness in each of us, from which the
consciousness we wot of is precipitated like a crystal.  But whether this
view get confirmed or get overthrown by future inquiry, the definite way
in which Myers has thrown it down is a new and specific challenge to
inquiry.  For half a century now, psychologists have fully admitted the
existence of a subliminal mental region, under the name either of
unconscious cerebration or of the involuntary life; but they have never
definitely taken up the question of the extent of this region, never
sought explicitly to map it out.  Myers definitely attacks this problem,
which, after him, it will be impossible to ignore.

_What is the precise constitution of the Subliminal_--such is the problem
which deserves to figure in our Science hereafter as the _problem of
Myers_; and willy-nilly, inquiry must follow on the path which it has
opened up.  But Myers has not only propounded the Problem definitely, he
has also invented definite methods for its solution.  Posthypnotic
suggestion, crystal-gazing, automatic writing and trance-speech, the
willing-game, etc., are now, thanks to him, instruments of research,
reagents like litmus paper or the galvanometer, for revealing what would
otherwise be hidden.  These are so many ways of putting the Subliminal on
tap.  Of course without the simultaneous work on hypnotism and hysteria
independently begun by others, he could not have pushed his own work so
far.  But he is so far the only generalizer of the problem and the only
user of all the methods; and even though his theory of the extent of the
Subliminal should have to be subverted in the end, its formulation will,
I am sure, figure always as a rather momentous event in the history of
our Science.

Any psychologist who should wish to read Myers out of the profession--and
there are probably still some who would be glad to do so to-day--is
committed to a definite alternative.  Either he must say that we knew all
about the subliminal region before Myers took it up, or he must say that
it is certain that states of super-normal cognition form no part of its
content.  The first contention would be too absurd.  The second one
remains more plausible.  There are many first hand investigators into the
Subliminal who, not having themselves met with anything super-normal,
would probably not hesitate to call all the reports of it erroneous, and
who would limit the Subliminal to dissolutive phenomena of consciousness
exclusively, to lapsed memories, subconscious sensations, impulses and
_phobias_, and the like.  Messrs. Janet and Binet, for aught I know, may
hold some such position as this.  Against it Myers' thesis would stand
sharply out.  Of the Subliminal, he would say, we can give no
ultra-simple account: there are discreet regions in it, levels separated
by critical points of transition, and no one formula holds true of them
all.  And any conscientious psychologist ought, it seems to me, to see
that, since these multiple modifications of personality are only
beginning to be reported and observed with care, it is obvious that a
dogmatically negative treatment of them must be premature and that the
problem of Myers still awaits us as the problem of far the deepest moment
for our actual psychology, whether his own tentative solutions of certain
parts of it be correct or not.

Meanwhile, descending to detail, one cannot help admiring the great
originality with which Myers wove such an extraordinarily detached and
discontinuous series of phenomena together.  Unconscious cerebration,
dreams, hypnotism, hysteria, inspirations of genius, the willing-game,
planchette, crystal-gazing, hallucinatory voices, apparitions of the
dying, medium-trances, demoniacal possession, clairvoyance,
thought-transference, even ghosts and other facts more doubtful; these
things form a chaos at first sight most discouraging.  No wonder that
scientists can think of no other principle of unity among them than their
common appeal to men's perverse propensity to superstition.  Yet Myers
has actually made a system of them, stringing them continuously upon a
perfectly legitimate objective hypothesis, verified in some cases and
extended to others by analogy.  Taking the name "automatism" from the
phenomenon of automatic writing--I am not sure that he may not himself
have been the first so to baptize this latter phenomenon--he made one
great simplification at a stroke by treating hallucinations and active
impulses under a common head, as _sensory_ and _motor automatisms_.
Automatism he then conceived broadly as a message of any kind from the
Subliminal to the Supraliminal.  And he went a step farther in his
hypothetic interpretation, when he insisted on "symbolism" as one of the
ways in which one stratum of our personality will often interpret the
influences of another.  Obsessive thoughts and delusions, as well as
voices, visions, and impulses, thus fall subject to one mode of
treatment.  To explain them, we must explore the Subliminal; to cure them
we must practically influence it.

Myers' work on automatism led to his brilliant conception, in 1891, of
hysteria.  He defined it, with good reasons given, as "a disease of the
hypnotic stratum."  Hardly had he done so when the wonderfully ingenious
observations of Binet, and especially of Janet in France, gave to this
view the completest of corroborations.  These observations have been
extended in Germany, America, and elsewhere; and although Binet and Janet
worked independently of Myers, and did work far more objective, he
nevertheless will stand as the original announcer of a theory which, in
my opinion, makes an epoch, not only in medical but in psychological
science, because it brings in an entirely new conception of our mental

Myers' manner of apprehending the problem of the Subliminal shows itself
fruitful in every possible direction.  While official science practically
refuses to attend to Subliminal phenomena, the circles which do attend to
them treat them with a respect altogether too undiscriminating,--every
Subliminal deliverance must be an oracle.  The result is that there is no
basis of intercourse between those who best know the facts and those who
are most competent to discuss them.  Myers immediately establishes a
basis by his remark that in so far as they have to use the same organism,
with its preformed avenues of expression--what may be very different
strata of the Subliminal are condemned in advance to manifest themselves
in similar ways.  This might account for the great generic likeness of so
many automatic performances, while their different starting-points behind
the threshold might account for certain differences in them.  Some of
them, namely, seem to include elements of super-normal knowledge; others
to show a curious subconscious mania for personation and deception;
others again to be mere drivel.  But Myers' conception of various strata
or levels in the Subliminal sets us to analyzing them all from a new
point of view.  The word Subliminal for him denotes only a region, with
possibly the most heterogeneous contents.  Much of the content is
certainly rubbish, matter that Myers calls dissolutive, stuff that dreams
are made of, fragments of lapsed memory, mechanical effects of habit and
ordinary suggestion; some belongs to a middle region where a strange
manufacture of inner romances perpetually goes on; finally, some of the
content appears superiorly and subtly perceptive.  But each has to appeal
to us by the same channels and to use organs partly trained to their
performance by messages from the other levels.  Under these conditions
what could be more natural to expect than a confusion which Myers'
suggestion would then have been the first indispensable step towards
finally clearing away.

Once more, then, whatever be the upshot of the patient work required
here, Myers' resourceful intellect has certainly done a service to

I said a while ago that his intellect was not by nature philosophic in
the narrower sense of being that of a logician.  In the broader sense of
being a man of wide scientific imagination, Myers was most eminently a
philosopher.  He has shown this by his unusually daring grasp of the
principle of evolution, and by the wonderful way in which he has worked
out suggestions of mental evolution by means of biological analogies.
These analogies are, if anything, too profuse and dazzling in his pages;
but his conception of mental evolution is more radical than anything yet
considered by psychologists as possible.  It is absolutely original; and,
being so radical, it becomes one of those hypotheses which, once
propounded, can never be forgotten, but sooner or later have to be worked
out and submitted in every way to criticism and verification.

The corner-stone of his conception is the fact that consciousness has no
essential unity.  It aggregates and dissipates, and what we call normal
consciousness,--the "Human Mind" of classic psychology,--is not even
typical, but only one case out of thousands.  Slight organic alterations,
intoxications, and auto-intoxications, give supraliminal forms completely
different, and the subliminal region seems to have laws in many respects
peculiar.  Myers thereupon makes the suggestion that the whole system of
consciousness studied by the classic psychology is only an extract from a
larger total, being a part told-off, as it were, to do service in the
adjustments of our physical organism to the world of nature.  This
extract, aggregated and personified for this particular purpose, has,
like all evolving things, a variety of peculiarities.  Having evolved, it
may also dissolve, and in dreams, hysteria, and divers forms of
degeneration it seems to do so.  This is a retrograde process of
separation in a consciousness of which the unity was once effected.  But
again the consciousness may follow the opposite course and integrate
still farther, or evolve by growing into yet untried directions.  In
veridical automatisms it actually seems to do so.  It drops some of its
usual modes of increase, its ordinary use of the senses, for example, and
lays hold of bits of information which, in ways that we cannot even
follow conjecturally, leak into it by way of the Subliminal.  The
ulterior source of a certain part of this information (limited and
perverted as it always is by the organism's idiosyncrasies in the way of
transmission and expression) Myers thought he could reasonably trace to
departed human intelligence, or its existing equivalent.  I pretend to no
opinion on this point, for I have as yet studied the evidence with so
little critical care that Myers was always surprised at my negligence.  I
can therefore speak with detachment from this question and, as a mere
empirical psychologist, of Myers' general evolutionary conception.  As
such a psychologist I feel sure that the latter is a hypothesis of
first-rate philosophic importance.  It is based, of course, on his
conviction of the extent of the Subliminal, and will stand or fall as
that is verified or not; but whether it stand or fall, it looks to me
like one of those sweeping ideas by which the scientific researches of an
entire generation are often moulded.  It would not be surprising if it
proved such a leading idea in the investigation of the near future; for
in one shape or another, the Subliminal has come to stay with us, and the
only possible course to take henceforth is radically and thoroughly to
explore its significance.

Looking back from Frederic Myers' vision of vastness in the field of
psychological research upon the programme as most academic psychologists
frame it, one must confess that its limitation at their hands seems not
only implausible, but in truth, a little ridiculous.  Even with brutes
and madmen, even with hysterics and hypnotics admitted as the academic
psychologists admit them, the official outlines of the subject are far
too neat to stand in the light of analogy with the rest of Nature.  The
ultimates of Nature,--her simple elements, it there be such,--may indeed
combine in definite proportions and follow classic laws of architecture;
but her proximates, in her phenomena as we immediately experience them,
Nature is everywhere gothic, not classic.  She forms a real jungle, where
all things are provisional, half-fitted to each other, and untidy.  When
we add such a complex kind of subliminal region as Myers believed in to
the official region, we restore the analogy; and, though we may be
mistaken in much detail, in a general way, at least, we become plausible.
In comparison with Myers' way of attacking the question of immortality in
particular, the official way is certainly so far from the mark as to be
almost preposterous.  It assumes that when our ordinary consciousness
goes out, the only alternative surviving kind of consciousness that could
be possible is abstract mentality, living on spiritual truth, and
communicating ideal wisdom--in short, the whole classic platonizing
Sunday-school conception.  Failing to get that sort of thing when it
listens to reports about mediums, it denies that there can be anything.
Myers approaches the subject with no such _a priori_ requirement.  If he
finds any positive indication of "spirits," he records it, whatever it
may be, and is willing to fit his conception to the facts, however
grotesque the latter may appear, rather than to blot out the facts to
suit his conception.  But, as was long ago said by our collaborator, Mr.
Canning Schiller, in words more effective than any I can write, if any
conception should be blotted out by serious lovers of Nature, it surely
ought to be classic academic Sunday-school conception.  If anything is
unlikely in a world like this, it is that the next adjacent thing to the
mere surface-show of our experience should be the realm of eternal
essences, of platonic ideas, of crystal battlements, of absolute
significance.  But whether they be animists or associationists, a
supposition something like this is still the assumption of our usual
psychologists.  It comes from their being for the most part philosophers,
in the technical sense, and from their showing the weakness of that
profession for logical abstractions.  Myers was primarily a lover of life
and not of abstractions.  He loved human life, human persons, and their
peculiarities.  So he could easily admit the possibility of level beyond
level of perfectly concrete experience, all "queer and cactus-like"
though it might be, before we touch the absolute, or reach the eternal

Behind the minute anatomists and the physiologists, with their metallic
instruments, there have always stood the out-door naturalists with their
eyes and love of concrete nature.  The former call the latter
superficial, but there is something wrong about your laboratory-biologist
who has no sympathy with living animals.  In psychology there is a
similar distinction.  Some psychologists are fascinated by the varieties
of mind in living action, others by the dissecting out, whether by
logical analysis or by brass instruments, of whatever elementary mental
processes may be there.  Myers must decidedly be placed in the former
class, though his powerful use of analogy enabled him also to do work
after the fashion of the latter.  He loved human nature as Cuvier and
Agassiz loved animal nature; in his view, as in their view, the subject
formed a vast living picture.  Whether his name will have in psychology
as honorable a place as their names have gained in the sister science,
will depend on whether future inquirers shall adopt or reject his
theories; and the rapidity with which their decision shapes itself will
depend largely on the vigor with which this Society continues its labor
in his absence.  It is at any rate a possibility, and I am disposed to
think it a probability, that Frederic Myers will always be remembered in
psychology as the pioneer who staked out a vast tract of mental
wilderness and planted the flag of genuine science upon it.  He was an
enormous collector.  He introduced for the first time comparison,
classification, and serial order into the peculiar kind of fact which he
collected.  He was a genius at perceiving analogies; he was fertile in
hypotheses; and as far as conditions allowed it in this meteoric region,
he relied on verification.  Such advantages are of no avail, however, if
one has struck into a false road from the outset.  But should it turn out
that Frederic Myers has really hit the right road by his divining
instinct, it is certain that, like the names of others who have been
wise, his name will keep an honorable place in scientific history.

[1] Written for a meeting of the Society for Psychical Research held
after the death of Frederic Myers and first published in the Society's
Proceedings, Part XLII, Page 17 (1901).



The late Professor Henry Sidgwick was celebrated for the rare mixture
of ardor and critical judgment which his character exhibited.  The
liberal heart which he possessed had to work with an intellect which
acted destructively on almost every particular object of belief that
was offered to its acceptance.  A quarter of a century ago, scandalized
by the chaotic state of opinion regarding the phenomena now called by
the rather ridiculous name of "psychic"--phenomena, of which the supply
reported seems inexhaustible, but which scientifically trained minds
mostly refuse to look at--he established, along with Professor Barrett,
Frederic Myers and Edmund Gurney, the Society for Psychical Research.
These men hoped that if the material were treated rigorously, and, as
far as possible experimentally, objective truth would be elicited, and
the subject rescued from sentimentalism on the one side and dogmatizing
ignorance on the other.  Like all founders, Sidgwick hoped for a
certain promptitude of result; and I heard him say, the year before his
death, that if anyone had told him at the outset that after twenty
years he would be in the same identical state of doubt and balance that
he started with, he would have deemed the prophecy incredible.  It
appeared impossible that that amount of handling evidence should bring
so little finality of decision.

My own experience has been similar to Sidgwick's.  For twenty-five
years I have been in touch with the literature of psychical research,
and have had acquaintance with numerous "researchers."  I have also
spent a good many hours (though far fewer than I ought to have spent)
in witnessing (or trying to witness) phenomena.  Yet I am theoretically
no "further" than I was at the beginning; and I confess that at times I
have been tempted to believe that the Creator has eternally intended
this department of nature to remain _baffling_, to prompt our
curiosities and hopes and suspicions all in equal measure, so that,
although ghosts and clairvoyances, and raps and messages from spirits,
are always seeming to exist and can never be fully explained away, they
also can never be susceptible of full corroboration.

The peculiarity of the case is just that there are so many sources of
possible deception in most of the observations that the whole lot of
them _may_ be worthless, and yet that in comparatively few cases can
aught more fatal than this vague general possibility of error be
pleaded against the record.  Science meanwhile needs something more
than bare possibilities to build upon; so your genuinely scientific
inquirer--I don't mean your ignoramus "scientist"--has to remain
unsatisfied.  It is hard to believe, however, that the Creator has
really put any big array of phenomena into the world merely to defy and
mock our scientific tendencies; so my deeper belief is that we
psychical researchers have been too precipitate with our hopes, and
that we must expect to mark progress not by quarter-centuries, but by
half-centuries or whole centuries.

I am strengthened in this belief by my impression that just at this
moment a faint but distinct step forward is being taken by competent
opinion in these matters.  "Physical phenomena" (movements of matter
without contact, lights, hands and faces "materialized," etc.) have
been one of the most baffling regions of the general field (or perhaps
one of the least baffling _prima facie_, so certain and great has been
the part played by fraud in their production); yet even here the
balance of testimony seems slowly to be inclining towards admitting the
supernaturalist view.  Eusapia Paladino, the Neapolitan medium, has
been under observation for twenty years or more.  Schiaparelli, the
astronomer, and Lombroso were the first scientific men to be converted
by her performances.  Since then innumerable men of scientific standing
have seen her, including many "psychic" experts.  Every one agrees that
she cheats in the most barefaced manner whenever she gets an
opportunity.  The Cambridge experts, with the Sidgwicks and Richard
Hodgson at their head, rejected her _in toto_ on that account.  Yet her
credit has steadily risen, and now her last converts are the eminent
psychiatrist, Morselli, the eminent physiologist, Botazzi, and our own
psychical researcher, Carrington, whose book on "The Physical Phenomena
of Spiritualism" (_against_ them rather!) makes his conquest
strategically important.  If Mr. Podmore, hitherto the prosecuting
attorney of the S. P. R., so far as physical phenomena are concerned
becomes converted also, we may indeed sit up and look around us.
Getting a good health bill from "Science," Eusapia will then throw
retrospective credit on Home and Stainton Moses, Florence Cook (Prof.
Crookes' medium), and all similar wonder-workers.  The balance of
_presumptions_ will be changed in favor of genuineness being possible
at least in all reports of this particularly crass and low type of
supernatural phenomena.

Not long after Darwin's "Origin of Species" appeared I was studying
with that excellent anatomist and man, Jeffries Wyman, at Harvard.  He
was a convert, yet so far a half-hesitating one, to Darwin's views; but
I heard him make a remark that applies well to the subject I now write
about.  When, he said, a theory gets propounded over and over again,
coming up afresh after each time orthodox criticism has buried it, and
each time seeming solider and harder to abolish, you may be sure that
there is truth in it.  Oken and Lamarck and Chambers had been
triumphantly despatched and buried, but here was Darwin making the very
same heresy seem only more plausible.  How often has "Science" killed
off all spook philosophy, and laid ghosts and raps and "telepathy" away
underground as so much popular delusion.  Yet never before were these
things offered us so voluminously, and never in such authentic-seeming
shape or with such good credentials.  The tide seems steadily to be
rising, in spite of all the expedients of scientific orthodoxy.  It is
hard not to suspect that here may be something different from a mere
chapter in human gullibility.  It may be a genuine realm of natural

_Falsus in uno, falsus in omnibus_, once a cheat, always a cheat, such
has been the motto of the English psychical researchers in dealing with
mediums.  I am disposed to think that, as a matter of policy, it has
been wise.  Tactically, it is far better to believe much too little
than a little too much; and the exceptional credit attaching to the row
of volumes of the S. P. R.'s Proceedings, is due to the fixed intention
of the editors to proceed very slowly.  Better a little belief tied
fast, better a small investment _salted down_, than a mass of
comparative insecurity.

But, however wise as a policy the S. P. R.'s maxim may have been, as a
test of truth, I believe it to be almost irrelevant.  In most things
human the accusation of deliberate fraud and falsehood is grossly
superficial.  Man's character is too sophistically mixed for the
alternative of "honest or dishonest" to be a sharp one.  Scientific men
themselves will cheat--at public lectures--rather than let experiments
obey their well-known tendency towards failure.  I have heard of a
lecturer on physics, who had taken over the apparatus of the previous
incumbent, consulting him about a certain machine intended to show
that, however the peripheral parts of it might be agitated, its centre
of gravity remained immovable.  "It _will_ wobble," he complained.
"Well," said the predecessor, apologetically, "to tell the truth,
whenever _I_ used that machine I found it advisable to _drive a nail_
through the centre of gravity."  I once saw a distinguished
physiologist, now dead, cheat most shamelessly at a public lecture, at
the expense of a poor rabbit, and all for the sake of being able to
make a cheap joke about its being an "American rabbit"--for no other,
he said, could survive such a wound as he pretended to have given it.

To compare small men with great, I have myself cheated shamelessly.  In
the early days of the Sanders Theater at Harvard, I once had charge of
a heart on the physiology of which Professor Newell Martin was giving a
popular lecture.  This heart, which belonged to a turtle, supported an
index-straw which threw a moving shadow, greatly enlarged, upon the
screen, while the heart pulsated.  When certain nerves were stimulated,
the lecturer said, the heart would act in certain ways which he
described.  But the poor heart was too far gone and, although it
stopped duly when the nerve of arrest was excited, that was the final
end of its life's tether.  Presiding over the performance, I was
terrified at the fiasco, and found myself suddenly acting like one of
those military geniuses who on the field of battle convert disaster
into victory.  There was no time for deliberation; so, with my
forefinger under a part of the straw that cast no shadow, I found
myself impulsively and automatically imitating the rhythmical movements
which my colleague had prophesied the heart would undergo.  I kept the
experiment from failing; and not only saved my colleague (and the
turtle) from a humiliation that but for my presence of mind would have
been their lot, but I established in the audience the true view of the
subject.  The lecturer was stating this; and the misconduct of one
half-dead specimen of heart ought not to destroy the impression of his
words.  "There is no worse lie than a truth misunderstood," is a maxim
which I have heard ascribed to a former venerated President of Harvard.
The heart's failure would have been misunderstood by the audience and
given the lie to the lecturer.  It was hard enough to make them
understand the subject anyhow; so that even now as I write in cool
blood I am tempted to think that I acted quite correctly.  I was acting
for the _larger_ truth, at any rate, however automatically; and my
sense of this was probably what prevented the more pedantic and literal
part of my conscience from checking the action of my sympathetic
finger.  To this day the memory of that critical emergency has made me
feel charitable towards all mediums who make phenomena come in one way
when they won't come easily in another.  On the principles of the S. P.
R., my conduct on that one occasion ought to discredit everything I
ever do, everything, for example, I may write in this article,--a
manifestly unjust conclusion.

Fraud, conscious or unconscious, seems ubiquitous throughout the range
of physical phenomena of spiritism, and false pretence, prevarication
and fishing for clues are ubiquitous in the mental manifestations of
mediums.  If it be not everywhere fraud simulating reality, one is
tempted to say, then the reality (if any reality there be) has the bad
luck of being fated everywhere to simulate fraud.  The suggestion of
humbug seldom stops, and mixes itself with the best manifestations.
Mrs. Piper's control, "Rector," is a most impressive personage, who
discerns in an extraordinary degree his sitter's inner needs, and is
capable of giving elevated counsel to fastidious and critical minds.
Yet in many respects he is an arrant humbug--such he seems to me at
least--pretending to a knowledge and power to which he has no title,
nonplussed by contradiction, yielding to suggestion, and covering his
tracks with plausible excuses.  Now the non-"researching" mind looks
upon such phenomena simply according to their face-pretension and never
thinks of asking what they may signify below the surface.  Since they
profess for the most part to be revealers of spirit life, it is either
as being absolutely that, or as being absolute frauds, that they are
judged.  The result is an inconceivably shallow state of public opinion
on the subject.  One set of persons, emotionally touched at hearing the
names of their loved ones given, and consoled by assurances that they
are "happy," accept the revelation, and consider spiritualism
"beautiful."  More hard-headed subjects, disgusted by the revelation's
contemptible contents, outraged by the fraud, and prejudiced beforehand
against all "spirits," high or low, avert their minds from what they
call such "rot" or "bosh" entirely.  Thus do two opposite
sentimentalisms divide opinion between them!  A good expression of the
"scientific" state of mind occurs in Huxley's "Life and Letters":

"I regret," he writes, "that I am unable to accept the invitation of
the Committee of the Dialectical Society. . . .  I take no interest in
the subject.  The only case of 'Spiritualism' I have ever had the
opportunity of examining into for myself was as gross an imposture as
ever came under my notice.  But supposing these phenomena to be
genuine--they do not interest me.  If anybody would endow me with the
faculty of listening to the chatter of old women and curates in the
nearest provincial town, I should decline the privilege, having better
things to do.  And if the folk in the spiritual world do not talk more
wisely and sensibly than their friends report them to do, I put them in
the same category.  The only good that I can see in the demonstration
of the 'Truth of Spiritualism' is to furnish an additional argument
against suicide.  Better live a crossing-sweeper, than die and be made
to talk twaddle by a 'medium' hired at a guinea a _Seance_." [2]

Obviously the mind of the excellent Huxley has here but two
whole-souled categories namely revelation or imposture, to apperceive
the case by.  Sentimental reasons bar revelation out, for the messages,
he thinks, are not romantic enough for that; fraud exists anyhow;
therefore the whole thing is nothing but imposture.  The odd point is
that so few of those who talk in this way realize that they and the
spiritists are using the same major premise and differing only in the
minor.  The major premise is: "Any spirit-revelation must be romantic."
The minor of the spiritist is: "This _is_ romantic"; that of the Huxley
an is: "this is dingy twaddle"--whence their opposite conclusions!

Meanwhile the first thing that anyone learns who attends seriously to
these phenomena is that their causation is far too complex for our
feelings about what is or is not romantic enough to be spiritual to
throw any light upon it.  The causal factors must be carefully
distinguished and traced through series, from their simplest to their
strongest forms, before we can begin to understand the various
resultants in which they issue.  Myers and Gurney began this work, the
one by his serial study of the various sorts of "automatism," sensory
and motor, the other by his experimental proofs that a split-off
consciousness may abide after a post-hypnotic suggestion has been
given.  Here we have subjective factors; but are not transsubjective or
objective forces also at work?  Veridical messages, apparitions,
movements without contact, seem _prima facie_ to be such.  It was a
good stroke on Gurney's part to construct a theory of apparitions which
brought the subjective and the objective factors into harmonious
co-operation.  I doubt whether this telepathic theory of Gurney's will
hold along the whole line of apparitions to which he applied it, but it
is unquestionable that some theory of that mixed type is required for
the explanation of all mediumistic phenomena; and that when all the
psychological factors and elements involved have been told off--and
they are many--the question still forces itself upon us: Are these all,
or are there indications of any residual forces acting on the subject
from beyond, or of any "meta-psychic" faculty (to use Richet's useful
term) exerted by him?  This is the problem that requires real
expertness, and this is where the simple sentimentalisms of the
spiritist and scientist leave us in the lurch completely.

"Psychics" form indeed a special branch of education, in which experts
are only gradually becoming developed.  The phenomena are as massive
and wide-spread as is anything in Nature, and the study of them is as
tedious, repellent and undignified.  To reject it for its unromantic
character is like rejecting bacteriology because _penicillium glaucum_
grows on horse-dung and _bacterium termo_ lives in putrefaction.
Scientific men have long ago ceased to think of the dignity of the
materials they work in.  When imposture has been checked off as far as
possible, when chance coincidence has been allowed for, when
opportunities for normal knowledge on the part of the subject have been
noted, and skill in "fishing" and following clues unwittingly furnished
by the voice or face of bystanders have been counted in, those who have
the fullest acquaintance with the phenomena admit that in good mediums
_there is a residuum of knowledge displayed_ that can only be called
supernormal: the medium taps some source of information not open to
ordinary people.  Myers used the word "telepathy" to indicate that the
sitter's own thoughts or feelings may be thus directly tapped.  Mrs.
Sidgwick has suggested that if living minds can be thus tapped
telepathically, so possibly may the minds of spirits be similarly
tapped--if spirits there be.  On this view we should have one distinct
theory of the performances of a typical test-medium.  They would be all
originally due to an odd _tendency to personate_, found in her dream
life as it expresses itself in trance.  [Most of us reveal such a
tendency whenever we handle a "ouija-board" or a "planchet," or let
ourselves write automatically with a pencil.]  The result is a
"control," who purports to be speaking; and all the resources of the
automatist, including his or her trance-faculty of telepathy are called
into play in building this fictitious personage out plausibly.  On such
a view of the control, the medium's _will to personate_ runs the whole
show; and if spirits be involved in it at all, they are passive beings,
stray bits of whose memory she is able to seize and use for her
purposes, without the spirit being any more aware of it than the sitter
is aware of it when his own mind is similarly tapped.

This is one possible way of interpreting a certain type of psychical
phenomenon.  It uses psychological as well as "spiritual" factors, and
quite obviously it throws open for us far more questions than it
answers, questions about our subconscious constitution and its curious
tendency to humbug, about the telepathic faculty, and about the
possibility of an existent spirit-world.

I do not instance this theory to defend it, but simply to show what
complicated hypotheses one is inevitably led to consider, the moment
one looks at the facts in their complexity and turns one's back on the
_naïve_ alternative of "revelation or imposture," which is as far as
either spiritist thought or ordinary scientist thought goes.  The
phenomena are endlessly complex in their factors, and they are so
little understood as yet that off-hand judgments, whether of "spirits"
or of "bosh" are the one as silly as the other.  When we complicate the
subject still farther by considering what connection such things as
rappings, apparitions, poltergeists, spirit-photographs, and
materializations may have with it, the bosh end of the scale gets
heavily loaded, it is true, but your genuine inquirer still is loath to
give up.  He lets the data collect, and bides his time.  He believes
that "bosh" is no more an ultimate element in Nature, or a really
explanatory category in human life than "dirt" is in chemistry.  Every
kind of "bosh" has its own factors and laws; and patient study will
bring them definitely to light.

The only way to rescue the "pure bosh" view of the matter is one which
has sometimes appealed to my own fancy, but which I imagine few readers
will seriously adopt.  If, namely, one takes the theory of evolution
radically, one ought to apply it not only to the rock-strata, the
animals and the plants but to the stars, to the chemical elements, and
to the laws of nature.  There must have been a far-off antiquity, one
is then tempted to suppose, when things were really chaotic.  Little by
little, out of all the haphazard possibilities of that time, a few
connected things and habits arose, and the rudiments of regular
performance began.  Every variation in the way of law and order added
itself to this nucleus, which inevitably grew more considerable as
history went on; while the aberrant and inconstant variations, not
being similarly preserved, disappeared from being, wandered off as
unrelated vagrants, or else remained so imperfectly connected with the
part of the world that had grown regular as only to manifest their
existence by occasional lawless intrusions, like those which "psychic"
phenomena now make into our scientifically organized world.  On such a
view, these phenomena ought to remain "pure bosh" forever, that is,
they ought to be forever intractable to intellectual methods, because
they should not yet be organized enough in themselves to follow any
laws.  Wisps and shreds of the original chaos, they would be connected
enough with the cosmos to affect its periphery every now and then, as
by a momentary whiff or touch or gleam, but not enough ever to be
followed up and hunted down and bagged.  Their relation to the cosmos
would be tangential solely.

Looked at dramatically, most occult phenomena make just this sort of
impression.  They are inwardly as incoherent as they are outwardly
wayward and fitful.  If they express anything, it is pure "bosh," pure
discontinuity, accident, and disturbance, with no law apparent but to
interrupt, and no purpose but to baffle.  They seem like stray vestiges
of that primordial irrationality, from which all our rationalities have
been evolved.

To settle dogmatically into this bosh-view would save labor, but it
would go against too many intellectual prepossessions to be adopted
save as a last resort of despair.  Your psychical researcher therefore
bates no jot of hope, and has faith that when we get our data numerous
enough, some sort of rational treatment of them will succeed.

When I hear good people say (as they often say, not without show of
reason), that dabbling in such phenomena reduces us to a sort of jelly,
disintegrates the critical faculties, liquifies the character, and
makes of one a _gobe-mouche_ generally, I console myself by thinking of
my friends Frederic Myers and Richard Hodgson.  These men lived
exclusively for psychical research, and it converted both to spiritism.
Hodgson would have been a man among men anywhere; but I doubt whether
under any other baptism he would have been that happy, sober and
righteous form of energy which his face proclaimed him in his later
years, when heart and head alike were wholly satisfied by his
occupation.  Myers' character also grew stronger in every particular
for his devotion to the same inquirings.  Brought up on literature and
sentiment, something of a courtier, passionate, disdainful, and
impatient naturally, he was made over again from the day when he took
up psychical research seriously.  He became learned in science,
circumspect, democratic in sympathy, endlessly patient, and above all,
happy.  The fortitude of his last hours touched the heroic, so
completely were the atrocious sufferings of his body cast into
insignificance by his interest in the cause he lived for.  When a man's
pursuit gradually makes his face shine and grow handsome, you may be
sure it is a worthy one.  Both Hodgson and Myers kept growing ever
handsomer and stronger-looking.

Such personal examples will convert no one, and of course they ought
not to.  Nor do I seek at all in this article to convert any one to
belief that psychical research is an important branch of science.  To
do that, I should have to quote evidence; and those for whom the
volumes of S. P. R. "Proceedings" already published count for nothing
would remain in their dogmatic slumber, though one rose from the dead.
No, not to convert readers, but simply to _put my own state of mind
upon record publicly_ is the purpose of my present writing.  Some one
said to me a short time ago that after my twenty-five years of dabbling
in "Psychics," it would be rather shameful were I unable to state any
definite conclusions whatever as a consequence.  I had to agree; so I
now proceed to take up the challenge and express such convictions as
have been engendered in me by that length of experience, be the same
true or false ones.  I may be dooming myself to the pit in the eyes of
better-judging posterity; I may be raising myself to honor; I am
willing to take the risk, for what I shall write is _my_ truth, as I
now see it.

I began this article by confessing myself baffled.  I _am_ baffled, as
to spirit-return, and as to many other special problems.  I am also
constantly baffled as to what to think of this or that particular
story, for the sources of error in any one observation are seldom fully
knowable.  But weak sticks make strong faggots; and when the stories
fall into consistent sorts that point each in a definite direction, one
gets a sense of being in presence of genuinely natural types of
phenomena.  As to there being such real natural types of phenomena
ignored by orthodox science, I am not baffled at all, for I am fully
convinced of it.  One cannot get demonstrative proof here.  One has to
follow one's personal sense, which, of course, is liable to err, of the
dramatic probabilities of nature.  Our critics here obey their sense of
dramatic probability as much as we do.  Take "raps" for example, and
the whole business of objects moving without contact.  "Nature," thinks
the scientific man, is not so unutterably silly.  The cabinet, the
darkness, the tying, suggest a sort of human rat-hole life exclusively
and "swindling" is for him the dramatically sufficient explanation.  It
probably is, in an indefinite majority of instances; yet it is to me
dramatically improbable that the swindling should not have accreted
round some originally genuine nucleus.  If we look at human imposture
as a historic phenomenon, we find it always imitative.  One swindler
imitates a previous swindler, but the first swindler of that kind
imitated some one who was honest.  You can no more create an absolutely
new trick than you can create a new word without any previous
basis.--You don't know how to go about it.  Try, reader, yourself, to
invent an unprecedented kind of "physical phenomenon of spiritualism."
When _I_ try, I find myself mentally turning over the regular
medium-stock, and thinking how I might improve some item.  This being
the dramatically probable human way, I think differently of the whole
type, taken collectively, from the way in which I may think of the
single instance.  I find myself believing that there is "something in"
these never ending reports of physical phenomena, although I have n't
yet the least positive notion of the something.  It becomes to my mind
simply a very worthy problem for investigation.  Either I or the
scientist is of course a fool, with our opposite views of probability
here; and I only wish he might feel the liability, as cordially as I
do, to pertain to both of us.

I fear I look on Nature generally with more charitable eyes than his,
though perhaps he would pause if he realized as I do, how vast the
fraudulency is which inconsistency he must attribute to her.  Nature is
brutal enough, Heaven knows; but no one yet has held her non-human side
to be _dishonest_, and even in the human sphere deliberate deceit is
far rarer than the "classic" intellect, with its few and rigid
categories, was ready to acknowledge.  There is a hazy penumbra in us
all where lying and delusion meet, where passion rules beliefs as well
as conduct, and where the term "scoundrel" does not clear up everything
to the depths as it did for our forefathers.  The first automatic
writing I ever saw was forty years ago.  I unhesitatingly thought of it
as deceit, although it contained vague elements of supernormal
knowledge.  Since then I have come to see in automatic writing one
example of a department of human activity as vast as it is enigmatic.
Every sort of person is liable to it, or to something equivalent to it;
and whoever encourages it in himself finds himself personating someone
else, either signing what he writes by fictitious name, or, spelling
out, by ouija-board or table-tips, messages from the departed.  Our
subconscious region seems, as a rule, to be dominated either by a crazy
"will to make-believe," or by some curious external force impelling us
to personation.  The first difference between the psychical researcher
and the inexpert person is that the former realizes the commonness and
typicality of the phenomenon here, while the latter, less informed,
thinks it so rare as to be unworthy of attention.  _I wish to go on
record for the commonness_.

The next thing I wish to go on record for is _the presence_, in the
midst of all the humbug, _of really supernormal knowledge_.  By this I
mean knowledge that cannot be traced to the ordinary sources of
information--the senses namely, of the automatist.  In really strong
mediums this knowledge seems to be abundant, though it is usually
spotty, capricious and unconnected.  Really strong mediums are
rarities; but when one starts with them and works downwards into less
brilliant regions of the automatic life, one tends to interpret many
slight but odd coincidences with truth as possibly rudimentary forms of
this kind of knowledge.

What is one to think of this queer chapter in human nature?  It is odd
enough on any view.  If all it means is a preposterous and inferior
monkey-like tendency to forge messages, systematically embedded in the
soul of all of us, it is weird; and weirder still that it should then
own all this supernormal information.  If on the other hand the
supernormal information be the key to the phenomenon, it ought to be
superior; and then how ought we to account for the "wicked partner,"
and for the undeniable mendacity and inferiority of so much of the
performance?  We are thrown, for our conclusions, upon our instinctive
sense of the dramatic probabilities of nature.  My own dramatic sense
tends instinctively to picture the situation as an interaction between
slumbering faculties in the automatist's mind and a cosmic environment
of _other consciousness_ of some sort which is able to work upon them.
If there were in the universe a lot of diffuse soul-stuff, unable of
itself to get into consistent personal form, or to take permanent
possession of an organism, yet always craving to do so, it might get
its head into the air, parasitically, so to speak, by profiting by weak
spots in the armor of human minds, and slipping in and stirring up
there the sleeping tendency to personate.  It would induce habits in
the subconscious region of the mind it used thus, and would seek above
all things to prolong its social opportunities by making itself
agreeable and plausible.  It would drag stray scraps of truth with it
from the wider environment, but would betray its mental inferiority by
knowing little how to weave them into any important or significant
story.  This, I say, is the dramatic view which my mind spontaneously
takes, and it has the advantage of falling into line with ancient human
traditions.  The views of others are just as dramatic, _for the
phenomenon is actuated by will of some sort anyhow_, and wills give
rise to dramas.  The spiritist view, as held by Messrs. Hyslop and
Hodgson, sees a "will to communicate," struggling through inconceivable
layers of obstruction in the conditions.  I have heard Hodgson liken
the difficulties to those of two persons who on earth should have only
dead-drunk servants to use as their messengers.  The scientist, for his
part, sees a "will to deceive," watching its chance in all of us, and
able (possibly?) to use "telepathy" in its service.

Which kind of will, and how many kinds of will are most inherently
probable?  Who can say with certainty?  The only certainty is that the
phenomena are enormously complex, especially if one includes in them
such intellectual flights of mediumship as Swedenborg's, and if one
tries in any way to work the physical phenomena in.  That is why I
personally am as yet neither a convinced believer in parasitic demons,
nor a spiritist, nor a scientist, but still remain a psychical
researcher waiting for more facts before concluding.

Out of my experience, such as it is (and it is limited enough) one
fixed conclusion dogmatically emerges, and that is this, that we with
our lives are like islands in the sea, or like trees in the forest.
The maple and the pine may whisper to each other with their leaves, and
Conanicut and Newport hear each other's fog-horns.  But the trees also
commingle their roots in the darkness underground, and the islands also
hang together through the ocean's bottom.  Just so there is a continuum
of cosmic consciousness, against which our individuality builds but
accidental fences, and into which our several minds plunge as into a
mother-sea or reservoir.  Our "normal" consciousness is circumscribed
for adaptation to our external earthly environment, but the fence is
weak in spots, and fitful influences from beyond leak in, showing the
otherwise unverifiable common connection.  Not only psychic research,
but metaphysical philosophy, and speculative biology are led in their
own ways to look with favor on some such "panpsychic" view of the
universe as this.  Assuming this common reservoir of consciousness to
exist, this bank upon which we all draw, and in which so many of
earth's memories must in some way be stored, or mediums would not get
at them as they do, the question is, What is its own structure?  What
is its inner topography?  This question, first squarely formulated by
Myers, deserves to be called "Myers' problem" by scientific men
hereafter.  What are the conditions of individuation or insulation in
this mother-sea?  To what tracts, to what active systems functioning
separately in it, do personalities correspond?  Are individual
"spirits" constituted there?  How numerous, and of how many hierarchic
orders may these then be?  How permanent?  How transient?  And how
confluent with one another may they become?

What again, are the relations between the cosmic consciousness and
matter?  Are there subtler forms of matter which upon occasion may
enter into functional connection with the individuations in the psychic
sea, and then, and then only, show themselves?--So that our ordinary
human experience, on its material as well as on its mental side, would
appear to be only an extract from the larger psycho-physical world?

Vast, indeed, and difficult is the inquirer's prospect here, and the
most significant data for his purpose will probably be just these dingy
little mediumistic facts which the Huxleyan minds of our time find so
unworthy of their attention.  But when was not the science of the
future stirred to its conquering activities by the little rebellious
exceptions to the science of the present?  Hardly, as yet, has the
surface of the facts called "psychic" begun to be scratched for
scientific purposes.  It is through following these facts, I am
persuaded, that the greatest scientific conquests of the coming
generation will be achieved.  _Kühn ist das Mühen, herrlich der Lohn!_

[1] Published under the title "Confidences of a Psychical Researcher"
in the _American Magazine_, October, 1909.  For a more complete and
less popular statement of some theories suggested in this article see
the last pages of a "Report on Mrs. Piper's Hodgson-Control" in
_Proceedings of the [Eng.] Society for Psychical Research_, 1909, 470;
also printed in _Proc. of Am. Soc. for Psychical Research_ for the same

[2] T. H. Huxley, "Life and Letters," I, 240.



When I departed from Harvard for Stanford University last December,
almost the last good-by I got was that of my old Californian friend B:
"I hope they'll give you a touch of earthquake while you 're there, so
that you may also become acquainted with that Californian institution."

Accordingly, when, lying awake at about half past five on the morning
of April 18 in my little "flat" on the campus of Stanford, I felt the
bed begin to waggle, my first consciousness was one of gleeful
recognition of the nature of the movement.  "By Jove," I said to
myself, "here's B'ssold [Transcriber's note: 'B's old'?] earthquake,
after all!"  And then, as it went _crescendo_.  "And a jolly good one
it is, too!" I said.

Sitting up involuntarily, and taking a kneeling position, I was thrown
down on my face as it went _fortior_ shaking the room exactly as a
terrier shakes a rat.  Then everything that was on anything else slid
off to the floor, over went bureau and chiffonier with a crash, as the
_fortissimo_ was reached; plaster cracked, an awful roaring noise
seemed to fill the outer air, and in an instant all was still again,
save the soft babble of human voices from far and near that soon began
to make itself heard, as the inhabitants in costumes _negligés_ in
various degrees sought the greater safety of the street and yielded to
the passionate desire for sympathetic communication.

The thing was over, as I understand the Lick Observatory to have
declared, in forty-eight seconds.  To me it felt as if about that
length of time, although I have heard others say that it seemed to them
longer.  In my case, sensation and emotion were so strong that little
thought, and no reflection or volition, were possible in the short time
consumed by the phenomenon.

The emotion consisted wholly of glee and admiration; glee at the
vividness which such an abstract idea or verbal term as "earthquake"
could put on when translated into sensible reality and verified
concretely; and admiration at the way in which the frail little wooden
house could hold itself together in spite of such a shaking.  I felt no
trace whatever of fear; it was pure delight and welcome.

"_Go_ it," I almost cried aloud, "and go it _stronger_!"

I ran into my wife's room, and found that she, although awakened from
sound sleep, had felt no fear, either.  Of all the persons whom I later
interrogated, very few had felt any fear while the shaking lasted,
although many had had a "turn," as they realized their narrow escapes
from bookcases or bricks from chimney-breasts falling on their beds and
pillows an instant after they had left them.

As soon as I could think, I discerned retrospectively certain peculiar
ways in which my consciousness had taken in the phenomenon.  These ways
were quite spontaneous, and, so to speak, inevitable and irresistible.

First, I personified the earthquake as a permanent individual entity.
It was _the_ earthquake of my friend B's augury, which had been lying
low and holding itself back during all the intervening months, in
order, on that lustrous April morning, to invade my room, and energize
the more intensely and triumphantly.  It came, moreover, directly to
_me_.  It stole in behind my back, and once inside the room, had me all
to itself, and could manifest itself convincingly.  Animus and intent
were never more present in any human action, nor did any human activity
ever more definitely point back to a living agent as its source and

All whom I consulted on the point agreed as to this feature in their
experience.  "It expressed intention," "It was vicious," "It was bent
on destruction," "It wanted to show its power," or what not.  To me, it
wanted simply to manifest the full meaning of its name.  But what was
this "It"?  To some, apparently, a vague demonic power; to me an
individualized being, B's earthquake, namely.

One informant interpreted it as the end of the world and the beginning
of the final judgment.  This was a lady in a San Francisco hotel, who
did not think of its being an earthquake till after she had got into
the street and some one had explained it to her.  She told me that the
theological interpretation had kept fear from her mind, and made her
take the shaking calmly.  For "science," when the tensions in the
earth's crust reach the breaking-point, and strata fall into an altered
equilibrium, earthquake is simply the collective _name_ of all the
cracks and shakings and disturbances that happen.  They _are_ the
earthquake.  But for me _the_ earthquake was the _cause_ of the
disturbances, and the perception of it as a living agent was
irresistible.  It had an overpowering dramatic convincingness.

I realize now better than ever how inevitable were men's earlier
mythologic versions of such catastrophes, and how artificial and
against the grain of our spontaneous perceiving are the later habits
into which science educates us.  It was simply impossible for untutored
men to take earthquakes into their minds as anything but supernatural
warnings or retributions.

A good instance of the way in which the tremendousness of a catastrophe
may banish fear was given me by a Stanford student.  He was in the
fourth story of Encina Hall, an immense stone dormitory building.
Awakened from sleep, he recognized what the disturbance was, and sprang
from the bed, but was thrown off his feet in a moment, while his books
and furniture fell round him.  Then with an awful, sinister, grinding
roar, everything gave way, and with chimneys, floor-beams, walls and
all, he descended through the three lower stories of the building into
the basement.  "This is my end, this is my death," he felt; but all the
while no trace of fear.  The experience was too overwhelming for
anything but passive surrender to it.  (Certain heavy chimneys had
fallen in, carrying the whole centre of the building with them.)

Arrived at the bottom, he found himself with rafters and _débris_ round
him, but not pinned in or crushed.  He saw daylight, and crept toward
it through the obstacles.  Then, realizing that he was in his
nightgown, and feeling no pain anywhere, his first thought was to get
back to his room and find some more presentable clothing.  The
stairways at Encina Hall are at the ends of the building.  He made his
way to one of them, and went up the four flights, only to find his room
no longer extant.  Then he noticed pain in his feet, which had been
injured, and came down the stairs with difficulty.  When he talked with
me ten days later he had been in hospital a week, was very thin and
pale, and went on crutches, and was dressed in borrowed clothing.

So much for Stanford, where all our experiences seem to have been very
similar.  Nearly all our chimneys went down, some of them
disintegrating from top to bottom; parlor floors were covered with
bricks; plaster strewed the floors; furniture was everywhere upset and
dislocated; but the wooden dwellings sprang back to their original
position, and in house after house not a window stuck or a door scraped
at top or bottom.  Wood architecture was triumphant!  Everybody was
excited, but the excitement at first, at any rate, seemed to be almost
joyous.  Here at last was a _real_ earthquake after so many years of
harmless waggle!  Above all, there was an irresistible desire to talk
about it, and exchange experiences.

Most people slept outdoors for several subsequent nights, partly to be
safer in case of recurrence, but also to work off their emotion, and
get the full unusualness out of the experience.  The vocal babble of
early-waking girls and boys from the gardens of the campus, mingling
with the birds' songs and the exquisite weather, was for three or four
days delightful sunrise phenomenon.

Now turn to San Francisco, thirty-five miles distant, from which an
automobile ere long brought us the dire news of a city in ruins, with
fires beginning at various points, and the water-supply interrupted.  I
was fortunate enough to board the only train of cars--a very small
one--that got up to the city; fortunate enough also to escape in the
evening by the only train that left it.  This gave me and my valiant
feminine escort some four hours of observation.  My business is with
"subjective" phenomena exclusively; so I will say nothing of the
material ruin that greeted us on every hand--the daily papers and the
weekly journals have done full justice to that topic.  By midday, when
we reached the city, the pall of smoke was vast and the dynamite
detonations had begun, but the troops, the police and the firemen
seemed to have established order, dangerous neighborhoods were roped
off everywhere and picketed, saloons closed, vehicles impressed, and
every one at work who _could_ work.

It was indeed a strange sight to see an entire population in the
streets, busy as ants in an uncovered ant-hill scurrying to save their
eggs and larvae.  Every horse, and everything on wheels in the city,
from hucksters' wagons to automobiles, was being loaded with what
effects could be scraped together from houses which the advancing
flames were threatening.  The sidewalks were covered with well-dressed
men and women, carrying baskets, bundles, valises, or dragging trunks
to spots of greater temporary safety, soon to be dragged farther, as
the fire kept spreading!

In the safer quarters, every doorstep was covered with the dwelling's
tenants, sitting surrounded with their more indispensable chattels, and
ready to flee at a minute's notice.  I think every one must have fasted
on that day, for I saw no one eating.  There was no appearance of
general dismay, and little of chatter or of inco-ordinated excitement.

Every one seemed doggedly bent on achieving the job which he had set
himself to perform; and the faces, although somewhat tense and set and
grave, were inexpressive of emotion.  I noticed only three persons
overcome, two Italian women, very poor, embracing an aged fellow
countrywoman, and all weeping.  Physical fatigue and seriousness were
the only inner states that one could read on countenances.

With lights forbidden in the houses, and the streets lighted only by
the conflagration, it was apprehended that the criminals of San
Francisco would hold high carnival on the ensuing night.  But whether
they feared the disciplinary methods of the United States troops, who
were visible everywhere, or whether they were themselves solemnized by
the immensity of the disaster, they lay low and did not "manifest,"
either then or subsequently.

The only very discreditable thing to human nature that occurred was
later, when hundreds of lazy "bummers" found that they could keep
camping in the parks, and make alimentary storage-batteries of their
stomachs, even in some cases getting enough of the free rations in
their huts or tents to last them well into the summer.  This charm of
pauperized vagabondage seems all along to have been Satan's most
serious bait to human nature.  There was theft from the outset, but
confined, I believe, to petty pilfering.

Cash in hand was the only money, and millionaires and their families
were no better off in this respect than any one.  Whoever got a vehicle
could have the use of it; but the richest often went without, and spent
the first two nights on rugs on the bare ground, with nothing but what
their own arms had rescued.  Fortunately, those nights were dry and
comparatively warm, and Californians are accustomed to camping
conditions in the summer, so suffering from exposure was less great
than it would have been elsewhere.  By the fourth night, which was
rainy, tents and huts had brought most campers under cover.

I went through the city again eight days later.  The fire was out, and
about a quarter of the area stood unconsumed.  Intact skyscrapers
dominated the smoking level majestically and superbly--they and a few
walls that had survived the overthrow.  Thus has the courage of our
architects and builders received triumphant vindication!

The inert elements of the population had mostly got away, and those
that remained seemed what Mr. H. G. Wells calls "efficients."  Sheds
were already going up as temporary starting-points of business.  Every
one looked cheerful, in spite of the awful discontinuity of past and
future, with every familiar association with material things
dissevered; and the discipline and order were practically perfect.

As these notes of mine must be short, I had better turn to my more
generalized reflections.

Two things in retrospect strike me especially, and are the most
emphatic of all my impressions.  Both are reassuring as to human nature.

The first of these was the rapidity of the improvisation of order out
of chaos.  It is clear that just as in every thousand human beings
there will be statistically so many artists, so many athletes, so many
thinkers, and so many potentially good soldiers, so there will be so
many potential organizers in times of emergency.  In point of fact, not
only in the great city, but in the outlying towns, these natural
ordermakers, whether amateurs or officials, came to the front
immediately.  There seemed to be no possibility which there was not
some one there to think of, or which within twenty-four hours was not
in some way provided for.

A good illustration is this: Mr. Keith is the great landscape-painter
of the Pacific slope, and his pictures, which are many, are
artistically and pecuniarily precious.  Two citizens, lovers of his
work, early in the day diverted their attention from all other
interests, their own private ones included, and made it their duty to
visit every place which they knew to contain a Keith painting.  They
cut them from their frames, rolled them up, and in this way got all the
more important ones into a place of safety.

When they then sought Mr. Keith, to convey the joyous news to him, they
found him still in his studio, which was remote from the fire,
beginning a new painting.  Having given up his previous work for lost,
he had resolved to lose no time in making what amends he could for the

The completeness of organization at Palo Alto, a town of ten thousand
inhabitants close to Stanford University, was almost comical.  People
feared exodus on a large scale of the rowdy elements of San Francisco.
In point of tact, very few refugees came to Palo Alto.  But within
twenty-four hours, rations, clothing, hospital, quarantine,
disinfection, washing, police, military, quarters in camp and in
houses, printed information, employment, all were provided for under
the care of so many volunteer committees.

Much of this readiness was American, much of it Californian; but I
believe that every country in a similar crisis would have displayed it
in a way to astonish the spectators.  Like soldiering, it lies always
latent in human nature.

The second thing that struck me was the universal equanimity.  We soon
got letters from the East, ringing with anxiety and pathos; but I now
know fully what I have always believed, that the pathetic way of
feeling great disasters belongs rather to the point of view of people
at a distance than to the immediate victims.  I heard not a single
really pathetic or sentimental word in California expressed by any one.

The terms "awful," "dreadful" fell often enough from people's lips, but
always with a sort of abstract meaning, and with a face that seemed to
admire the vastness of the catastrophe as much as it bewailed its
cuttingness.  When talk was not directly practical, I might almost say
that it expressed (at any rate in the nine days I was there) a tendency
more toward nervous excitement than toward grief.  The hearts concealed
private bitterness enough, no doubt, but the tongues disdained to dwell
on the misfortunes of self, when almost everybody one spoke to had
suffered equally.

Surely the cutting edge of all our usual misfortunes comes from their
character of loneliness.  We lose our health, our wife or children die,
our house burns down, or our money is made way with, and the world goes
on rejoicing, leaving us on one side and counting us out from all its
business.  In California every one, to some degree, was suffering, and
one's private miseries were merged in the vast general sum of privation
and in the all-absorbing practical problem of general recuperation.
The cheerfulness, or, at any rate, the steadfastness of tone, was
universal.  Not a single whine or plaintive word did I hear from the
hundred losers whom I spoke to.  Instead of that there was a temper of
helpfulness beyond the counting.

It is easy to glorify this as something characteristically American, or
especially Californian.  Californian education has, of course, made the
thought of all possible recuperations easy.  In an exhausted country,
with no marginal resources, the outlook on the future would be much
darker.  But I like to think that what I write of is a normal and
universal trait of human nature.  In our drawing-rooms and offices we
wonder how people ever do go through battles, sieges and shipwrecks.
We quiver and sicken in imagination, and think those heroes superhuman.
Physical pain whether suffered alone or in company, is always more or
less unnerving and intolerable.  But mental pathos and anguish, I
fancy, are usually effects of distance.  At the place of action, where
all are concerned together, healthy animal insensibility and heartiness
take their place.  At San Francisco the need will continue to be awful,
and there will doubtless be a crop of nervous wrecks before the weeks
and months are over, but meanwhile the commonest men, simply because
they _are_ men, will go on, singly and collectively, showing this
admirable fortitude of temper.

[1] At the time of the San Francisco earthquake the author was at
Leland Stanford University nearby.  He succeeded in getting into San
Francisco on the morning of the earthquake, and spent the remainder of
the day in the city.  These observations appeared in the _Youth's
Companion_ for June 7, 1906.



Everyone knows what it is to start a piece of work, either intellectual
or muscular, feeling stale--or _oold_, as an Adirondack guide once put
it to me.  And everybody knows what it is to "warm up" to his job.  The
process of warming up gets particularly striking in the phenomenon
known as "second wind."  On usual occasions we make a practice of
stopping an occupation as soon as we meet the first effective layer (so
to call it) of fatigue.  We have then walked, played, or worked
"enough," so we desist.  That amount of fatigue is an efficacious
obstruction on this side of which our usual life is cast.  But if an
unusual necessity forces us to press onward a surprising thing occurs.
The fatigue gets worse up to a certain critical point, when gradually
or suddenly it passes away, and we are fresher than before.  We have
evidently tapped a level of new energy, masked until then by the
fatigue-obstacle usually obeyed.  There may be layer after layer of
this experience.  A third and a fourth "wind" may supervene.  Mental
activity shows the phenomenon as well as physical, and in exceptional
cases we may find, beyond the very extremity of fatigue-distress,
amounts of ease and power that we never dreamed ourselves to
own,--sources of strength habitually not taxed at all, because
habitually we never push through the obstruction, never pass those
early critical points.

For many years I have mused on the phenomenon of second wind, trying to
find a physiological theory.  It is evident that our organism has
stored-up reserves of energy that are ordinarily not called upon, but
that may be called upon: deeper and deeper strata of combustible or
explosible material, discontinuously arranged, but ready for use by
anyone who probes so deep, and repairing themselves by rest as well as
do the superficial strata.  Most of us continue living unnecessarily
near our surface.  Our energy-budget is like our nutritive budget.
Physiologists say that a man is in "nutritive equilibrium" when day
after day he neither gains nor loses weight.  But the odd thing is that
this condition may obtain on astonishingly different amounts of food.
Take a man in nutritive equilibrium, and systematically increase or
lessen his rations.  In the first case he will begin to gain weight, in
the second case to lose it.  The change will be greatest on the first
day, less on the second, less still on the third; and so on, till he
has gained all that he will gain, or lost all that he will lose, on
that altered diet.  He is now in nutritive equilibrium again, but with
a new weight; and this neither lessens nor increases because his
various combustion-processes have adjusted themselves to the changed
dietary.  He gets rid, in one way or another, of just as much N, C, H,
etc., as he takes in _per diem_.

Just so one can be in what I might call "efficiency-equilibrium"
(neither gaining nor losing power when once the equilibrium is reached)
on astonishingly different quantities of work, no matter in what
direction the work may be measured.  It may be physical work,
intellectual work, moral work, or spiritual work.

Of course there are limits: the trees don't grow into the sky.  But the
plain fact remains that men the world over possess amounts of resource
which only very exceptional individuals push to their extremes of use.
But the very same individual, pushing his energies to their extreme,
may in a vast number of cases keep the pace up day after day, and find
no "reaction" of a bad sort, so long as decent hygienic conditions are
preserved.  His more active rate of energizing does not wreck him; for
the organism adapts itself, and as the rate of waste augments, augments
correspondingly the rate of repair.

I say the _rate_ and not the _time_ of repair.  The busiest man needs
no more hours of rest than the idler.  Some years ago Professor
Patrick, of the Iowa State University, kept three young men awake for
four days and nights.  When his observations on them were finished, the
subjects were permitted to sleep themselves out.  All awoke from this
sleep completely refreshed, but the one who took longest to restore
himself from his long vigil only slept one-third more time than was
regular with him.

If my reader will put together these two conceptions, first, that few
men live at their maximum of energy, and second, that anyone may be in
vital equilibrium at very different rates of energizing, he will find,
I think, that a very pretty practical problem of national economy, as
well as of individual ethics, opens upon his view.  In rough terms, we
may say that a man who energizes below his normal maximum fails by just
so much to profit by his chance at life; and that a nation filled with
such men is inferior to a nation run at higher pressure.  The problem
is, then, how can men be trained up to their most useful pitch of
energy?  And how can nations make such training most accessible to all
their sons and daughters.  This, after all, is only the general problem
of education, formulated in slightly different terms.

"Rough" terms, I said just now, because the words "energy" and
"maximum" may easily suggest only _quantity_ to the reader's mind,
whereas in measuring the human energies of which I speak, qualities as
well as quantities have to be taken into account.  Everyone feels that
his total _power_ rises when he passes to a higher _qualitative_ level
of life.

Writing is higher than walking, thinking is higher than writing,
deciding higher than thinking, deciding "no" higher than deciding
"yes"--at least the man who passes from one of these activities to
another will usually say that each later one involves a greater element
of _inner work_ than the earlier ones, even though the total heat given
out or the foot-pounds expended by the organism, may be less.  Just how
to conceive this inner work physiologically is as yet impossible, but
psychologically we all know what the word means.  We need a particular
spur or effort to start us upon inner work; it tires us to sustain it;
and when long sustained, we know how easily we lapse.  When I speak of
"energizing," and its rates and levels and sources, I mean therefore
our inner as well as our outer work.

Let no one think, then, that our problem of individual and national
economy is solely that of the maximum of pounds raisable against
gravity, the maximum of locomotion, or of agitation of any sort, that
human beings can accomplish.  That might signify little more than
hurrying and jumping about in inco-ordinated ways; whereas inner work,
though it so often reinforces outer work, quite as often means its
arrest.  To relax, to say to ourselves (with the "new thoughters")
"Peace! be still!" is sometimes a great achievement of inner work.
When I speak of human energizing in general, the reader must therefore
understand that sum-total of activities, some outer and some inner,
some muscular, some emotional, some moral, some spiritual, of whose
waxing and waning in himself he is at all times so well aware.  How to
keep it at an appreciable maximum?  How not to let the level lapse?
That is the great problem.  But the work of men and women is of
innumerable kinds, each kind being, as we say, carried on by a
particular faculty; so the great problem splits into two sub-problems,

(1). What are the limits of human faculty in various directions?

(2). By what diversity of means, in the differing types of human
beings, may the faculties be stimulated to their best results?

Read in one way, these two questions sound both trivial and familiar:
there is a sense in which we have all asked them ever since we were
born.  Yet _as a methodical programme of scientific inquiry_, I doubt
whether they have ever been seriously taken up.  If answered fully;
almost the whole of mental science and of the science of conduct would
find a place under them.  I propose, in what follows, to press them on
the reader's attention in an informal way.

The first point to agree upon in this enterprise is that _as a rule men
habitually use only a small part of the powers which they actually
possess and which they might use under appropriate conditions_.

Every one is familiar with the phenomenon of feeling more or less alive
on different days.  Every one knows on any given day that there are
energies slumbering in him which the incitements of that day do not
call forth, but which he might display if these were greater.  Most of
us feel as if a sort of cloud weighed upon us, keeping us below our
highest notch of clearness in discernment, sureness in reasoning, or
firmness in deciding.  Compared with what we ought to be, we are only
half awake.  Our fires are damped, our drafts are checked.  We are
making use of only a small part of our possible mental and physical
resources.  In some persons this sense of being cut off from their
rightful resources is extreme, and we then get the formidable
neurasthenic and psychasthenic conditions with life grown into one
tissue of impossibilities, that so many medical books describe.

Stating the thing broadly, the human individual thus lives usually far
within his limits; he possesses powers of various sorts which he
habitually fails to use.  He energizes below his _maximum_, and he
behaves below his _optimum_.  In elementary faculty, in co-ordination,
in power of _inhibition_ and control, in every conceivable way, his
life is contracted like the field of vision of an hysteric subject--but
with less excuse, for the poor hysteric is diseased, while in the rest
of us it is only an inveterate _habit_--the habit of inferiority to our
full self--that is bad.

Admit so much, then, and admit also that the charge of being inferior
to their full self is far truer of some men than of others; then the
practical question ensues: _to what do the better men owe their escape?
and, in the fluctuations which all men feel in their own degree of
energizing, to what are the improvements due, when they occur_?

In general terms the answer is plain:

Either some unusual stimulus fills them with emotional excitement, or
some unusual idea of necessity induces them to make an extra effort of
will.  _Excitements, ideas, and efforts_, in a word, are what carry us
over the dam.

In those "hyperesthetic" conditions which chronic invalidism so often
brings in its train, the dam has changed its normal place.  The
slightest functional exercise gives a distress which the patient yields
to and stops.  In such cases of "habit-neurosis" a new range of power
often comes in consequence of the "bullying-treatment," of efforts
which the doctor obliges the patient, much against his will, to make.
First comes the very extremity of distress, then follows unexpected
relief.  There seems no doubt that _we are each and all of us to some
extent victims of habit-neurosis_.  We have to admit the wider
potential range and the habitually narrow actual use.  We live subject
to arrest by degrees of fatigue which we have come only from habit to
obey.  Most of us may learn to push the barrier farther off, and to
live in perfect comfort on much higher levels of power.

Country people and city people, as a class, illustrate this difference.
The rapid rate of life, the number of decisions in an hour, the many
things to keep account of, in a busy city man's or woman's life, seem
monstrous to a country brother.  He does n't see how we live at all.  A
day in New York or Chicago fills him with terror.  The danger and noise
make it appear like a permanent earthquake.  But _settle_ him there,
and in a year or two he will have caught the pulse-beat.  He will
vibrate to the city's rhythms; and if he only succeeds in his
avocation, whatever that may be, he will find a joy in all the hurry
and the tension, he will keep the pace as well as any of us, and get as
much out of himself in any week as he ever did in ten weeks in the

The stimuli of those who successfully spend and undergo the
transformation here, are duty, the example of others, and
crowd-pressure and contagion.  The transformation, moreover, is a
chronic one: the new level of energy becomes permanent.  The duties of
new offices of trust are constantly producing this effect on the human
beings appointed to them.  The physiologists call a stimulus
"dynamogenic" when it increases the muscular contractions of men to
whom it is applied; but appeals can be dynamogenic morally as well as
muscularly.  We are witnessing here in America to-day the dynamogenic
effect of a very exalted political office upon the energies of an
individual who had already manifested a healthy amount of energy before
the office came.

Humbler examples show perhaps still better what chronic effects duty's
appeal may produce in chosen individuals.  John Stuart Mill somewhere
says that women excel men in the power of keeping up sustained moral
excitement.  Every case of illness nursed by wife or mother is a proof
of this; and where can one find greater examples of sustained endurance
than in those thousands of poor homes, where the woman successfully
holds the family together and keeps it going by taking all the thought
and doing all the work--nursing, teaching, cooking, washing, sewing,
scrubbing, saving, helping neighbors, "choring" outside--where does
the catalogue end?  If she does a bit of scolding now and then who can
blame her?  But often she does just the reverse; keeping the children
clean and the man good tempered, and soothing and smoothing the whole
neighborhood into finer shape.

Eighty years ago a certain Montyon left to the Académie Française a sum
of money to be given in small prizes, to the best examples of "virtue"
of the year.  The academy's committees, with great good sense, have
shown a partiality to virtues simple and chronic, rather than to her
spasmodic and dramatic flights; and the exemplary housewives reported
on have been wonderful and admirable enough.  In Paul Bourget's report
for this year we find numerous cases, of which this is a type; Jeanne
Chaix, eldest of six children; mother insane, father chronically ill.
Jeanne, with no money but her wages at a pasteboard-box factory,
directs the household, brings up the children, and successfully
maintains the family of eight, which thus subsists, morally as well as
materially, by the sole force of her valiant will.  In some of these
French cases charity to outsiders is added to the inner family burden;
or helpless relatives, young or old, are adopted, as if the strength
were inexhaustible and ample for every appeal.  Details are too long to
quote here; but human nature, responding to the call of duty, appears
nowhere sublimer than in the person of these humble heroines of family

Turning from more chronic to acuter proofs of human nature's reserves
of power, we find that the stimuli that carry us over the usually
effective dam are most often the classic emotional ones, love, anger,
crowd-contagion or despair.  Despair lames most people, but it wakes
others fully up.  Every siege or shipwreck or polar expedition brings
out some hero who keeps the whole company in heart.  Last year there
was a terrible colliery explosion at Courrieres in France.  Two hundred
corpses, if I remember rightly, were exhumed.  After twenty days of
excavation, the rescuers heard a voice.  "_Me voici_," said the first
man unearthed.  He proved to be a collier named Nemy, who had taken
command of thirteen others in the darkness, disciplined them and
cheered them, and brought them out alive.  Hardly any of them could see
or speak or walk when brought into the day.  Five days later, a
different type of vital endurance was unexpectedly unburied in the
person of one Berton who, isolated from any but dead companions, had
been able to sleep away most of his time.

A new position of responsibility will usually show a man to be a far
stronger creature than was supposed.  Cromwell's and Grant's careers
are the stock examples of how war will wake a man up.  I owe to
Professor C. E. Norton, my colleague, the permission to print part of a
private letter from Colonel Baird-Smith written shortly after the six
weeks' siege of Delhi, in 1857, for the victorious issue of which that
excellent officer was chiefly to be thanked.  He writes as follows:

". . .  My poor wife had some reason to think that war and disease
between them had left very little of a husband to take under nursing
when she got him again.  An attack of camp-scurvy had filled my mouth
with sores, shaken every joint in my body, and covered me all over with
sores and livid spots, so that I was marvellously unlovely to look
upon.  A smart knock on the ankle-joint from the splinter of a shell
that burst in my face, in itself a mere _bagatelle_ of a wound, had
been of necessity neglected under the pressing and incessant calls upon
me, and had grown worse and worse till the whole foot below the ankle
became a black mass and seemed to threaten mortification.  I insisted,
however, on being allowed to use it till the place was taken,
mortification or no; and though the pain was sometimes horrible I
carried my point and kept up to the last.  On the day after the assault
I had an unlucky fall on some bad ground, and it was an open question
for a day or two whether I hadn't broken my arm at the elbow.
Fortunately it turned out to be only a severe sprain, but I am still
conscious of the wrench it gave me.  To crown the whole pleasant
catalogue, I was worn to a shadow by a constant diarrhoea, and consumed
as much opium as would have done credit to my father-in-law [Thomas De
Quincey].  However, thank God, I have a good share of Tapleyism in me
and come out strong under difficulties.  I think I may confidently say
that no man ever saw me out of heart, or ever heard one croaking word
from me even when our prospects were gloomiest.  We were sadly scourged
by the cholera, and it was almost appalling to me to find that out of
twenty-seven officers present, I could only muster fifteen for the
operations of the attack.  However, it was done, and after it was done
came the collapse.  Don't be horrified when I tell you that for the
whole of the actual siege, and in truth for some little time before, I
almost lived on brandy.  Appetite for food I had none, but I forced
myself to eat just sufficient to sustain life, and I had an incessant
craving for brandy as the strongest stimulant I could get.  Strange to
say, I was quite unconscious of its affecting me in the slightest
degree.  _The excitement of the work was so great that no lesser one
seemed to have any chance against it, and I certainly never found my
intellect clearer or my nerves stronger in my life_.  It was only my
wretched body that was weak, and the moment the real work was done by
our becoming complete masters of Delhi, I broke down without delay and
discovered that if I wished to live I must continue no longer the
system that had kept me up until the crisis was passed.  With it passed
away as if in a moment all desire to stimulate, and a perfect loathing
of my late staff of life took possession of me."

Such experiences show how profound is the alteration in the manner in
which, under excitement, our organism will sometimes perform its
physiological work.  The processes of repair become different when the
reserves have to be used, and for weeks and months the deeper use may
go on.

Morbid cases, here as elsewhere, lay the normal machinery bare.  In the
first number of Dr. Morton Prince's _Journal of Abnormal Psychology_,
Dr. Janet has discussed five cases of morbid impulse, with an
explanation that is precious for my present point of view.  One is a
girl who eats, eats, eats, all day.  Another walks, walks, walks, and
gets her food from an automobile that escorts her.  Another is a
dipsomaniac.  A fourth pulls out her hair.  A fifth wounds her flesh
and burns her skin.  Hitherto such freaks of impulse have received
Greek names (as bulimia, dromomania, etc.) and been scientifically
disposed of as "episodic syndromata of hereditary degeneration."  But
it turns out that Janet's cases are all what he calls psychasthenics,
or victims of a chronic sense of weakness, torpor, lethargy, fatigue,
insufficiency, impossibility, unreality and powerlessness of will; and
that in each and all of them the particular activity pursued,
deleterious though it be, has the temporary result of raising the sense
of vitality and making the patient feel alive again.  These things
reanimate: they would reanimate us, but it happens that in  each
patient the particular freak-activity chosen is the only thing that
does reanimate; and therein lies the morbid state.  The way to treat
such persons is to discover to them more usual and useful ways of
throwing their stores of vital energy into gear.

Colonel Baird-Smith, needing to draw on altogether extraordinary stores
of energy, found that brandy and opium were ways of throwing them into

Such cases are humanly typical.  We are all to some degree oppressed,
unfree.  We don't come to our own.  It is there, but we don't get at
it.  The threshold must be made to shift.  Then many of us find that an
eccentric activity--a "spree," say--relieves.  There is no doubt that
to some men sprees and excesses of almost any kind are medicinal,
temporarily at any rate, in spite of what the moralists and doctors say.

But when the normal tasks and stimulations of life don't put a man's
deeper levels of energy on tap, and he requires distinctly deleterious
excitements, his constitution verges on the abnormal.  The normal
opener of deeper and deeper levels of energy is the will.  The
difficulty is to use it, to make the effort which the word volition
implies.  But if we do make it (or if a god, though he were only the
god Chance, makes it through us), it will act dynamogenically on us for
a month.  It is notorious that a single successful effort of moral
volition, such as saying "no" to some habitual temptation, or
performing some courageous act, will launch a man on a higher level of
energy for days and weeks, will give him a new range of power.  "In the
act of uncorking the whiskey bottle which I had brought home to get
drunk upon," said a man to me, "I suddenly found myself running out
into the garden, where I smashed it on the ground.  I felt so happy and
uplifted after this act, that for two months I was n't tempted to touch
a drop."

The emotions and excitements due to usual situations are the usual
inciters of the will.  But these act discontinuously; and in the
intervals the shallower levels of life tend to close in and shut us
off.  Accordingly the best practical knowers of the human soul have
invented the thing known as methodical ascetic discipline to keep the
deeper levels constantly in reach.  Beginning with easy tasks, passing
to harder ones, and exercising day by day, it is, I believe, admitted
that disciples of asceticism can reach very high levels of freedom and
power of will.

Ignatius Loyola's spiritual exercises must have produced this result in
innumerable devotees.  But the most venerable ascetic system, and the
one whose results have the most voluminous experimental corroboration
is undoubtedly the Yoga system in Hindustan.

From time immemorial, by Hatha Yoga, Raja Yoga, Karma Yoga, or whatever
code of practice it might be, Hindu aspirants to perfection have
trained themselves, month in and out, for years.  The result claimed,
and certainly in many cases accorded by impartial judges, is strength
of character, personal power, unshakability of soul.  In an article in
the _Philosophical Review_,[2] from which I am largely copying here, I
have quoted at great length the experience with "Hatha Yoga" of a very
gifted European friend of mine who, by persistently carrying out for
several months its methods of fasting from food and sleep, its
exercises in breathing and thought-concentration, and its fantastic
posture-gymnastics, seems to have succeeded in waking up deeper and
deeper levels of will and moral and intellectual power in himself, and
to have escaped from a decidedly menacing brain-condition of the
"circular" type, from which he had suffered for years.

Judging by my friend's letters, of which the last I have is written
fourteen months after the Yoga training began, there can be no doubt of
his relative regeneration.  He has undergone material trials with
indifference, travelled third-class on Mediterranean steamers, and
fourth-class on African trains, living with the poorest Arabs and
sharing their unaccustomed food, all with equanimity.  His devotion to
certain interests has been put to heavy strain, and nothing is more
remarkable to me than the changed moral tone with which he reports the
situation.  A profound modification has unquestionably occurred in the
running of his mental machinery.  The gearing has changed, and his will
is available otherwise than it was.

My friend is a man of very peculiar temperament.  Few of us would have
had the will to start upon the Yoga training, which, once started,
seemed to conjure the further willpower needed out of itself.  And not
all of those who could launch themselves would have reached the same
results.  The Hindus themselves admit that in some men the results
may come without call or bell.  My friend writes to me: "You
are quite right in thinking that religious crises, love-crises,
indignation-crises may awaken in a very short time powers similar to
those reached by years of patient Yoga-practice."

Probably most medical men would treat this individual's case as one of
what it is fashionable now to call by the name of "self-suggestion," or
"expectant attention"--as if those phrases were explanatory, or meant
more than the fact that certain men can be influenced, while others
cannot be influenced, by certain sorts of _ideas_.  This leads me to
say a word about ideas considered as dynamogenic agents, or stimuli for
unlocking what would otherwise be unused reservoirs of individual power.

One thing that ideas do is to contradict other ideas and keep us from
believing them.  An idea that thus negates a first idea may itself in
turn be negated by a third idea, and the first idea may thus regain its
natural influence over our belief and determine our behavior.  Our
philosophic and religious development proceeds thus by credulities,
negations, and the negating of negations.

But whether for arousing or for stopping belief, ideas may fail to be
efficacious, just as a wire, at one time alive with electricity, may at
another time be dead.  Here our insight into causes fails us, and we
can only note results in general terms.  In general, whether a given
idea shall be a live idea depends more on the person into whose mind it
is injected than on the idea itself.  Which is the suggestive idea for
this person, and which for that one?  Mr. Fletcher's disciples
regenerate themselves by the idea (and the fact) that they are chewing,
and re-chewing, and super-chewing their food.  Dr. Dewey's pupils
regenerate themselves by going without their breakfast--a fact, but
also an ascetic idea.  Not every one can use _these_ ideas with the
same success.

But apart from such individually varying susceptibilities, there are
common lines along which men simply as men tend to be inflammable by
ideas.  As certain objects naturally awaken love, anger, or cupidity,
so certain ideas naturally awaken the energies of loyalty, courage,
endurance, or devotion.  When these ideas are effective in an
individual's life, their effect is often very great indeed.  They may
transfigure it, unlocking innumerable powers which, but for the idea,
would never have come into play.  "Fatherland," "the Flag," "the
Union," "Holy Church," "the Monroe Doctrine," "Truth," "Science,"
"Liberty," Garibaldi's phrase, "Rome or Death," etc., are so many
examples of energy-releasing ideas.  The social nature of such phrases
is an essential factor of their dynamic power.  They are forces of
detent in situations in which no other force produces equivalent
effects, and each is a force of detent only in a specific group of men.

The memory that an oath or vow has been made will nerve one to
abstinences and efforts otherwise impossible; witness the "pledge" in
the history of the temperance movement.  A mere promise to his
sweetheart will clean up a youth's life all over--at any rate for time.
For such effects an educated susceptibility is required.  The idea of
one's "honor," for example, unlocks energy only in those of us who have
had the education of a "gentleman," so called.

That delightful being, Prince Pueckler-Muskau, writes to his wife from
England that he has invented "a sort of artificial resolution
respecting things that are difficult of performance.  My device," he
continues, "is this: _I give my word of honor most solemnly to myself_
to do or to leave undone this or that.  I am of course extremely
cautious in the use of this expedient, but when once the word is given,
even though I afterwards think I have been precipitate or mistaken, I
hold it to be perfectly irrevocable, whatever inconveniences I foresee
likely to result.  If I were capable of breaking my word after such
mature consideration, I should lose all respect for myself,--and what
man of sense would not prefer death to such an alternative? . . .  When
the mysterious formula is pronounced, no alteration in my own view,
nothing short of physical impossibilities, must, for the welfare of my
soul, alter my will. . . .  I find something very satisfactory in the
thought that man has the power of framing such props and weapons out of
the most trivial materials, indeed out of nothing, merely by the force
of his will, which thereby truly deserves the name of omnipotent." [3]

_Conversions_, whether they be political, scientific, philosophic, or
religious, form another way in which bound energies are let loose.
They unify us, and put a stop to ancient mental interferences.  The
result is freedom, and often a great enlargement of power.  A belief
that thus settles upon an individual always acts as a challenge to his
will.  But, for the particular challenge to operate, he must be the
right challeng_ee_.  In religious conversions we have so fine an
adjustment that the idea may be in the mind of the challengee for years
before it exerts effects; and why it should do so then is often so far
from obvious that the event is taken for a miracle of grace, and not a
natural occurrence.  Whatever it is, it may be a highwater mark of
energy, in which "noes," once impossible, are easy, and in which a new
range of "yeses" gains the right of way.

We are just now witnessing a very copious unlocking of energies by
ideas in the persons of those converts to "New Thought," "Christian
Science," "Metaphysical Healing," or other forms of spiritual
philosophy, who are so numerous among us to-day.  The ideas here are
healthy-minded and optimistic; and it is quite obvious that a wave of
religious activity, analogous in some respects to the spread of early
Christianity, Buddhism, and Mohammedanism, is passing over our American
world.  The common feature of these optimistic faiths is that they all
tend to the suppression of what Mr. Horace Fletcher calls
"fearthought."  Fearthought he defines as the "self-suggestion of
inferiority"; so that one may say that these systems all operate by the
suggestion of power.  And the power, small or great, comes in various
shapes to the individual,--power, as he will tell you, not to "mind"
things that used to vex him, power to concentrate his mind, good cheer,
good temper--in short, to put it mildly, a firmer, more elastic moral

The most genuinely saintly person I have ever known is a friend of mine
now suffering from cancer of the breast--I hope that she may pardon my
citing her here as an example of what ideas can do.  Her ideas have
kept her a practically well woman for months after she should have
given up and gone to bed.  They have annulled all pain and weakness and
given her a cheerful active life, unusually beneficent to others to
whom she has afforded help.  Her doctors, acquiescing in results they
could not understand, have had the good sense to let her go her own way.

How far the mind-cure movement is destined to extend its influence, or
what intellectual modifications it may yet undergo, no one can
foretell.  It is essentially a religious movement, and to academically
nurtured minds its utterances are tasteless and often grotesque enough.
It also incurs the natural enmity of medical politicians, and of the
whole trades-union wing of that profession.  But no unprejudiced
observer can fail to recognize its importance as a social phenomenon
to-day, and the higher medical minds are already trying to interpret it
fairly, and make its power available for their own therapeutic ends.

Dr. Thomas Hyslop, of the great West Riding Asylum in England, said
last year to the British Medical Association that the best
sleep-producing agent which his practice had revealed to him, was
_prayer_.  I say this, he added (I am sorry here that I must quote from
memory), purely as a medical man.  The exercise of prayer, in those who
habitually exert it, must be regarded by us doctors as the most
adequate and normal of all the pacifiers of the mind and calmers of the

But in few of us are functions not tied up by the exercise of other
functions.  Relatively few medical men and scientific men, I fancy, can
pray.  Few can carry on any living commerce with "God."  Yet many of us
are well aware of how much freer and abler our lives would be, were
such important forms of energizing not sealed up by the critical
atmosphere in which we have been reared.  There are in every one
potential forms of activity that actually are shunted out from use.
Part of the imperfect vitality under which we labor can thus be easily
explained.  One part of our mind dams up--even _damns_ up!--the other

Conscience makes cowards of us all.  Social conventions prevent us from
telling the truth after the fashion of the heroes and heroines of
Bernard Shaw.  We all know persons who are models of excellence, but
who belong to the extreme philistine type of mind.  So deadly is their
intellectual respectability that we can't converse about certain
subjects at all, can't let our minds play over them, can't even mention
them in their presence.  I have numbered among my dearest friends
persons thus inhibited intellectually, with whom I would gladly have
been able to talk freely about certain interests of mine, certain
authors, say, as Bernard Shaw, Chesterton, Edward Carpenter, H. G.
Wells, but it would n't do, it made them too uncomfortable, they would
n't play, I had to be silent.  An intellect thus tied down by
literality and decorum makes on one the same sort of an impression that
an able-bodied man would who should habituate himself to do his work
with only one of his fingers, locking up the rest of his organism and
leaving it unused.

I trust that by this time I have said enough to convince the reader
both of the truth and of the importance of my thesis.  The two
questions, first, that of the possible extent of our powers; and,
second, that of the various avenues of approach to them, the various
keys for unlocking them in diverse individuals, dominate the whole
problem of individual and national education.  We need a topography of
the limits of human power, similar to the chart which oculists use of
the field of human vision.  We need also a study of the various types
of human being with reference to the different ways in which their
energy-reserves may be appealed to and set loose.  Biographies and
individual experiences of every kind may be drawn upon for evidence

[1] This was the title originally given to the Presidential Address
delivered before the American Philosophical Association at Columbia
University, December 28, 1906, and published as there delivered in the
_Philosophical Review_ for January, 1907.  The address was later
published, after slight alteration, in the _American Magazine_ for
October, 1907, under the title "The Powers of Men."  The more popular
form is here reprinted under the title which the author himself

[2] "The Energies of Men."  _Philosophical Review_, vol. xvi, No. 1,
January, 1907.  [Cf. Note on p. 229.]

[3] "Tour in England, Ireland, and France," Philadelphia, 1833, p. 435.

[4] "This would be an absolutely concrete study . . .  The limits of
power must be limits that have been realized in actual persons, and the
various ways of unlocking the reserves of power must have been
exemplified in individual lives . . .  So here is a program of concrete
individual psychology . . .  It is replete with interesting facts, and
points to practical issues superior in importance to anything we know."
_From the address as originally delivered before the Philosophical
Association_; See xvi.  _Philosophical Review_, 1, 19.



The war against war is going to be no holiday excursion or camping
party.  The military feelings are too deeply grounded to abdicate their
place among our ideals until better substitutes are offered than the
glory and shame that come to nations as well as to individuals from the
ups and downs of politics and the vicissitudes of trade.  There is
something highly paradoxical in the modern man's relation to war.  Ask
all our millions, north and south, whether they would vote now (were
such a thing possible) to have our war for the Union expunged from
history, and the record of a peaceful transition to the present time
substituted for that of its marches and battles, and probably hardly a
handful of eccentrics would say yes.  Those ancestors, those efforts,
those memories and legends, are the most ideal part of what we now own
together, a sacred spiritual possession worth more than all the blood
poured out.  Yet ask those same people whether they would be willing in
cold blood to start another civil war now to gain another similar
possession, and not one man or women would vote for the proposition.
In modern eyes, precious though wars may be, they must not be waged
solely for the sake of the ideal harvest.  Only when forced upon one,
only when an enemy's injustice leaves us no alternative, is a war now
thought permissible.

It was not thus in ancient times.  The earlier men were hunting men,
and to hunt a neighboring tribe, kill the males, loot the village and
possess the females, was the most profitable, as well as the most
exciting, way of living.  Thus were the more martial tribes selected,
and in chiefs and peoples a pure pugnacity and love of glory came to
mingle with the more fundamental appetite for plunder.

Modern war is so expensive that we feel trade to be a better avenue to
plunder; but modern man inherits all the innate pugnacity and all the
love of glory of his ancestors.  Showing war's irrationality and horror
is of no effect upon him.  The horrors make the fascination.  War is
the _strong_ life; it is life _in extremis_; war-taxes are the only
ones men never hesitate to pay, as the budgets of all nations show us.

History is a bath of blood.  The Iliad is one long recital of how
Diomedes and Ajax, Sarpedon and Hector _killed_.  No detail of the
wounds they made is spared us, and the Greek mind fed upon the story.
Greek history is a panorama of jingoism and imperialism--war for war's
sake, all the citizens being warriors.  It is horrible reading, because
of the irrationality of it all--save for the purpose of making
"history"--and the history is that of the utter ruin of a civilization
in intellectual respects perhaps the highest the earth has ever seen.

Those wars were purely piratical.  Pride, gold, women, slaves,
excitement, were their only motives.  In the Peloponnesian war for
example, the Athenians ask the inhabitants of Melos (the island where
the "Venus of Milo" was found), hitherto neutral, to own their
lordship.  The envoys meet, and hold a debate which Thucydides gives in
full, and which, for sweet reasonableness of form, would have satisfied
Matthew Arnold.  "The powerful exact what they can," said the
Athenians, "and the weak grant what they must."  When the Meleans say
that sooner than be slaves they will appeal to the gods, the Athenians
reply: "Of the gods we believe and of men we know that, by a law of
their nature, wherever they can rule they will.  This law was not made
by us, and we are not the first to have acted upon it; we did but
inherit it, and we know that you and all mankind, if you were as strong
as we are, would do as we do.  So much for the gods; we have told you
why we expect to stand as high in their good opinion as you."  Well,
the Meleans still refused, and their town was taken.  "The Athenians,"
Thucydides quietly says, "thereupon put to death all who were of
military age and made slaves of the women and children.  They then
colonized the island, sending thither five hundred settlers of their

Alexander's career was piracy pure and simple, nothing but an orgy of
power and plunder, made romantic by the character of the hero.  There
was no rational principle in it, and the moment he died his generals
and governors attacked one another.  The cruelty of those times is
incredible.  When Rome finally conquered Greece, Paulus Aemilius, was
told by the Roman Senate to reward his soldiers for their toil by
"giving" them the old kingdom of Epirus.  They sacked seventy cities
and carried off a hundred and fifty thousand inhabitants as slaves.
How many they killed I know not; but in Etolia they killed all the
senators, five hundred and fifty in number.  Brutus was "the noblest
Roman of them all," but to reanimate his soldiers on the eve of
Philippi he similarly promises to give them the cities of Sparta and
Thessalonica to ravage, if they win the fight.

Such was the gory nurse that trained societies to cohesiveness.  We
inherit the warlike type; and for most of the capacities of heroism
that the human race is full of we have to thank this cruel history.
Dead men tell no tales, and if there were any tribes of other type than
this they have left no survivors.  Our ancestors have bred pugnacity
into our bone and marrow, and thousands of years of peace won't breed
it out of us.  The popular imagination fairly fattens on the thought of
wars.  Let public opinion once reach a certain fighting pitch, and no
ruler can withstand it.  In the Boer war both governments began with
bluff but could n't stay there, the military tension was too much for
them.  In 1898 our people had read the word "war" in letters three
inches high for three months in every newspaper.  The pliant politician
McKinley was swept away by their eagerness, and our squalid war with
Spain became a necessity.

At the present day, civilized opinion is a curious mental mixture.  The
military instincts and ideals are as strong as ever, but are confronted
by reflective criticisms which sorely curb their ancient freedom.
Innumerable writers are showing up the bestial side of military
service.  Pure loot and mastery seem no longer morally avowable
motives, and pretexts must be found for attributing them solely to the
enemy.  England and we, our army and navy authorities repeat without
ceasing, arm solely for "peace," Germany and Japan it is who are bent
on loot and glory.  "Peace" in military mouths to-day is a synonym for
"war expected."  The word has become a pure provocative, and no
government wishing peace sincerely should allow it ever to be printed
in a newspaper.  Every up-to-date dictionary should say that "peace"
and "war" mean the same thing, now _in posse_, now _in actu_.  It may
even reasonably be said that the intensely sharp competitive
_preparation_ for war by the nations _is the real war_, permanent,
unceasing; and that the battles are only a sort of public verification
of the mastery gained during the "peace"-interval.

It is plain that on this subject civilized man has developed a sort of
double personality.  If we take European nations, no legitimate
interest of any one of them would seem to justify the tremendous
destructions which a war to compass it would necessarily entail.  It
would seem as though common sense and reason ought to find a way to
reach agreement in every conflict of honest interests.  I myself think
it our bounden duty to believe in such international rationality as
possible.  But, as things stand, I see how desperately hard it is to
bring the peace-party and the war-party together, and I believe that
the difficulty is due to certain deficiencies in the program of
pacificism which set the militarist imagination strongly, and to a
certain extent justifiably, against it.  In the whole discussion both
sides are on imaginative and sentimental ground.  It is but one utopia
against another, and everything one says must be abstract and
hypothetical.  Subject to this criticism and caution, I will try to
characterize in abstract strokes the opposite imaginative forces, and
point out what to my own very fallible mind seems the best Utopian
hypothesis, the most promising line of conciliation.

In my remarks, pacificist though I am, I will refuse to speak of the
bestial side of the war-_régime_ (already done justice to by many
writers) and consider only the higher aspects of militaristic
sentiment.  Patriotism no one thinks discreditable; nor does any one
deny that war is the romance of history.  But inordinate ambitions are
the soul of every patriotism, and the possibility of violent death the
soul of all romance.  The militarily patriotic and romantic-minded
everywhere, and especially the professional military class, refuse to
admit for a moment that war may be a transitory phenomenon in social
evolution.  The notion of a sheep's paradise like that revolts, they
say, our higher imagination.  Where then would be the steeps of life?
If war had ever stopped, we should have to re-invent it, on this view,
to redeem life from flat degeneration.

Reflective apologists for war at the present day all take it
religiously.  It is a sort of sacrament.  Its profits are to the
vanquished as well as to the victor; and quite apart from any question
of profit, it is an absolute good, we are told, for it is human nature
at its highest dynamic.  Its "horrors" are a cheap price to pay for
rescue from the only alternative supposed, of a world of clerks and
teachers, of co-education and zo-ophily, of "consumer's leagues" and
"associated charities," of industrialism unlimited, and feminism
unabashed.  No scorn, no hardness, no valor any more!  Fie upon such a
cattleyard of a planet!

So far as the central essence of this feeling goes, no healthy minded
person, it seems to me, can help to some degree partaking of it.
Militarism is the great preserver of our ideals of hardihood, and human
life with no use for hardihood would be contemptible.  Without risks or
prizes for the darer, history would be insipid indeed; and there is a
type of military character which every one feels that the race should
never cease to breed, for every one is sensitive to its superiority.
The duty is incumbent on mankind, of keeping military characters in
stock--of keeping them, if not for use, then as ends in themselves and
as pure pieces of perfection,--so that Roosevelt's weaklings and
mollycoddles may not end by making everything else disappear from the
face of nature.

This natural sort of feeling forms, I think, the innermost soul of
army-writings.  Without any exception known to me, militarist authors
take a highly mystical view of their subject, and regard war as a
biological or sociological necessity, uncontrolled by ordinary
psychological checks and motives.  When the time of development is ripe
the war must come, reason or no reason, for the justifications pleaded
are invariably fictitious.  War is, in short, a permanent human
_obligation_.  General Homer Lea, in his recent book "The Valor of
Ignorance," plants himself squarely on this ground.  Readiness for war
is for him the essence of nationality, and ability in it the supreme
measure of the health of nations.

Nations, General Lea says, are never stationary--they must necessarily
expand or shrink, according to their vitality or decrepitude.  Japan
now is culminating; and by the fatal law in question it is impossible
that her statesmen should not long since have entered, with
extraordinary foresight, upon a vast policy of conquest--the game in
which the first moves were her wars with China and Russia and her
treaty with England, and of which the final objective is the capture of
the Philippines, the Hawaiian Islands, Alaska, and the whole of our
Coast west of the Sierra Passes.  This will give Japan what her
ineluctable vocation as a state absolutely forces her to claim, the
possession of the entire Pacific Ocean; and to oppose these deep
designs we Americans have, according to our author, nothing but our
conceit, our ignorance, our commercialism, our corruption, and our
feminism.  General Lea makes a minute technical comparison of the
military strength which we at present could oppose to the strength of
Japan, and concludes that the islands, Alaska, Oregon, and Southern
California, would fall almost without resistance, that San Francisco
must surrender in a fortnight to a Japanese investment, that in three
or four months the war would be over, and our republic, unable to
regain what it had heedlessly neglected to protect sufficiently, would
then "disintegrate," until perhaps some Caesar should arise to weld us
again into a nation.

A dismal forecast indeed!  Yet not implausible, if the mentality of
Japan's statesmen be of the Caesarian type of which history shows so
many examples, and which is all that General Lea seems able to imagine.
But there is no reason to think that women can no longer be the mothers
of Napoleonic or Alexandrian characters; and if these come in Japan and
find their opportunity, just such surprises as "The Valor of Ignorance"
paints may lurk in ambush for us.  Ignorant as we still are of the
innermost recesses of Japanese mentality, we may be foolhardy to
disregard such possibilities.

Other militarists are more complex and more moral in their
considerations.  The "Philosophie des Krieges," by S. R. Steinmetz is a
good example.  War, according to this author, is an ordeal instituted
by God, who weighs the nations in its balance.  It is the essential
form of the State, and the only function in which peoples can employ
all their powers at once and convergently.  No victory is possible save
as the resultant of a totality of virtues, no defeat for which some
vice or weakness is not responsible.  Fidelity, cohesiveness, tenacity,
heroism, conscience, education, inventiveness, economy, wealth,
physical health and vigor--there is n't a moral or intellectual point
of superiority that does n't tell, when God holds his assizes and hurls
the peoples upon one another.  _Die Weltgeschichte ist das
Weltgericht_; and Dr. Steinmetz does not believe that in the long run
chance and luck play any part in apportioning the issues.

The virtues that prevail, it must be noted, are virtues anyhow,
superiorities that count in peaceful as well as in military
competition; but the strain on them, being infinitely intenser in the
latter case, makes war infinitely more searching as a trial.  No ordeal
is comparable to its winnowings.  Its dread hammer is the welder of men
into cohesive states, and nowhere but in such states can human nature
adequately develop its capacity.  The only alternative is

Dr. Steinmetz is a conscientious thinker, and his book, short as it is,
takes much into account.  Its upshot can, it seems to me, be summed up
in Simon Patten's word, that mankind was nursed in pain and fear, and
that the transition to a "pleasure-economy" may be fatal to a being
wielding no powers of defence against its disintegrative influences.
If we speak of the _fear of emancipation from the fear-régime_, we put
the whole situation into a single phrase; fear regarding ourselves now
taking the place of the ancient fear of the enemy.

Turn the fear over as I will in my mind, it all seems to lead back to
two unwillingnesses of the imagination, one aesthetic, and the other
moral; unwillingness, first to envisage a future in which army-life,
with its many elements of charm, shall be forever impossible, and in
which the destinies of peoples shall nevermore be decided, quickly,
thrillingly, and tragically, by force, but only gradually and insipidly
by "evolution"; and, secondly, unwillingness to see the supreme theatre
of human strenuousness closed, and the splendid military aptitudes of
men doomed to keep always in a state of latency and never show
themselves in action.  These insistent unwillingnesses, no less than
other aesthetic and ethical insistencies, have, it seems to me, to be
listened to and respected.  One cannot meet them effectively by mere
counter-insistency on war's expensiveness and horror.  The horror makes
the thrill; and when the question is of getting the extremest and
supremest out of human nature, talk of expense sounds ignominious.  The
weakness of so much merely negative criticism is evident--pacificism
makes no converts from the military party.  The military party denies
neither the bestiality nor the horror, nor the expense; it only says
that these things tell but half the story.  It only says that war is
_worth_ them; that, taking human nature as a whole, its wars are its
best protection against its weaker and more cowardly self, and that
mankind cannot _afford_ to adopt a peace-economy.

Pacificists ought to enter more deeply into the aesthetical and ethical
point of view of their opponents.  Do that first in any controversy,
says J. J. Chapman, then _move the point_, and your opponent will
follow.  So long as anti-militarists propose no substitute for war's
disciplinary function, no _moral equivalent_ of war, analogous, as one
might say, to the mechanical equivalent of heat, so long they fail to
realize the full inwardness of the situation.  And as a rule they do
fail.  The duties, penalties, and sanctions pictured in the Utopias
they paint are all too weak and tame to touch the military-minded.
Tolstoi's pacificism is the only exception to this rule, for it is
profoundly pessimistic as regards all this world's values, and makes
the fear of the Lord furnish the moral spur provided elsewhere by the
fear of the enemy.  But our socialistic peace-advocates all believe
absolutely in this world's values; and instead of the fear of the Lord
and the fear of the enemy, the only fear they reckon with is the fear
of poverty if one be lazy.  This weakness pervades all the socialistic
literature with which I am acquainted.  Even in Lowes Dickinson's
exquisite dialogue,[2] high wages and short hours are the only forces
invoked for overcoming man's distaste for repulsive kinds of labor.
Meanwhile men at large still live as they always have lived, under a
pain-and-fear economy--for those of us who live in an ease-economy are
but an island in the stormy ocean--and the whole atmosphere of
present-day Utopian literature tastes mawkish and dishwatery to people
who still keep a sense for life's more bitter flavors.  It suggests, in
truth, ubiquitous inferiority.  Inferiority is always with us, and
merciless scorn of it is the keynote of the military temper.  "Dogs,
would you live forever?" shouted Frederick the Great.  "Yes," say our
Utopians, "let us live forever, and raise our level gradually."  The
best thing about our "inferiors" to-day is that they are as tough as
nails, and physically and morally almost as insensitive.  Utopianism
would see them soft and squeamish, while militarism would keep their
callousness, but transfigure it into a meritorious characteristic,
needed by "the service," and redeemed by that from the suspicion of
inferiority.  All the qualities of a man acquire dignity when he knows
that the service of the collectivity that owns him needs them.  If
proud of the collectivity, his own pride rises in proportion.  No
collectivity is like an army for nourishing such pride; but it has to
be confessed that the only sentiment which the image of pacific
cosmopolitan industrialism is capable of arousing in countless worthy
breasts is shame at the idea of belonging to _such_ a collectivity.  It
is obvious that the United States of America as they exist to-day
impress a mind like General Lea's as so much human blubber.  Where is
the sharpness and precipitousness, the contempt for life, whether one's
own, or another's?  Where is the savage "yes" and "no," the
unconditional duty?  Where is the conscription?  Where is the
blood-tax?  Where is anything that one feels honored by belonging to?

Having said thus much in preparation, I will now confess my own Utopia.
I devoutly believe in the reign of peace and in the gradual advent of
some sort of a socialistic equilibrium.  The fatalistic view of the
war-function is to me nonsense, for I know that war-making is due to
definite motives and subject to prudential checks and reasonable
criticisms, just like any other form of enterprise.  And when whole
nations are the armies, and the science of destruction vies in
intellectual refinement with the sciences of production, I see that war
becomes absurd and impossible from its own monstrosity.  Extravagant
ambitions will have to be replaced by reasonable claims, and nations
must make common cause against them.  I see no reason why all this
should not apply to yellow as well as to white countries, and I look
forward to a future when acts of war shall be formally outlawed as
between civilized peoples.

All these beliefs of mine put me squarely into the anti-militarist
party.  But I do not believe that peace either ought to be or will be
permanent on this globe, unless the states pacifically organized
preserve some of the old elements of army-discipline.  A permanently
successful peace-economy cannot be a simple pleasure-economy.  In the
more or less socialistic future towards which mankind seems drifting we
must still subject ourselves collectively to those severities which
answer to our real position upon this only partly hospitable globe.  We
must make new energies and hardihoods continue the manliness to which
the military mind so faithfully clings.  Martial virtues must be the
enduring cement; intrepidity, contempt of softness, surrender of
private interest, obedience to command, must still remain the rock upon
which states are built--unless, indeed, we wish for dangerous reactions
against commonwealths fit only for contempt, and liable to invite
attack whenever a centre of crystallization for military-minded
enterprise gets formed anywhere in their neighborhood.

The war-party is assuredly right in affirming and reaffirming that the
martial virtues, although originally gained by the race through war,
are absolute and permanent human goods.  Patriotic pride and ambition
in their military form are, after all, only specifications of a more
general competitive passion.  They are its first form, but that is no
reason for supposing them to be its last form.  Men now are proud of
belonging to a conquering nation, and without a murmur they lay down
their persons and their wealth, if by so doing they may fend off
subjection.  But who can be sure that _other aspects of one's country_
may not, with time and education and suggestion enough, come to be
regarded with similarly effective feelings of pride and shame?  Why
should men not some day feel that it is worth a blood-tax to belong to
a collectivity superior in _any_ ideal respect?  Why should they not
blush with indignant shame if the community that owns them is vile in
any way whatsoever?  Individuals, daily more numerous, now feel this
civic passion.  It is only a question of blowing on the spark till the
whole population gets incandescent, and on the ruins of the old morals
of military honor, a stable system of morals of civic honor builds
itself up.  What the whole community comes to believe in grasps the
individual as in a vise.  The war-function has grasped us so far; but
constructive interests may some day seem no less imperative, and impose
on the individual a hardly lighter burden.

Let me illustrate my idea more concretely.  There is nothing to make
one indignant in the mere fact that life is hard, that men should toil
and suffer pain.  The planetary conditions once for all are such, and
we can stand it.  But that so many men, by mere accidents of birth and
opportunity, should have a life of _nothing else_ but toil and pain and
hardness and inferiority imposed upon them, should have no vacation,
while others natively no more deserving never get any taste of this
campaigning life at all,--_this_ is capable of arousing indignation in
reflective minds.  It may end by seeming shameful to all of us that
some of us have nothing but campaigning, and others nothing but unmanly
ease.  If now--and this is my idea--there were, instead of military
conscription a conscription of the whole youthful population to form
for a certain number of years a part of the army enlisted against
_Nature_, the injustice would tend to be evened out, and numerous other
goods to the commonwealth would follow.  The military ideals of
hardihood and discipline would be wrought into the growing fibre of the
people; no one would remain blind as the luxurious classes now are
blind, to man's relations to the globe he lives on, and to the
permanently sour and hard foundations of his higher life.  To coal and
iron mines, to freight trains, to fishing fleets in December, to
dishwashing, clothes-washing, and window-washing, to road-building and
tunnel-making, to foundries and stoke-holes, and to the frames of
skyscrapers, would our gilded youths be drafted off, according to their
choice, to get the childishness knocked out of them, and to come back
into society with healthier sympathies and soberer ideas.  They would
have paid  their blood-tax, done their own part in the immemorial human
warfare against nature; they would tread the earth more proudly, the
women would value them more highly, they would be better fathers and
teachers of the following generation.

Such a conscription, with the state of public opinion that would have
required it, and the many moral fruits it would bear, would preserve in
the midst of a pacific civilization the manly virtues which the
military party is so afraid of seeing disappear in peace.  We should
get toughness without callousness, authority with as little criminal
cruelty as possible, and painful work done cheerily because the duty is
temporary, and threatens not, as now, to degrade the whole remainder of
one's life.  I spoke of the "moral equivalent" of war.  So far, war has
been the only force that can discipline a whole community, and until an
equivalent discipline is organized, I believe that war must have its
way.  But I have no serious doubt that the ordinary prides and shames
of social man, once developed to a certain intensity, are capable of
organizing such a moral equivalent as I have sketched, or some other
just as effective for preserving manliness of type.  It is but a
question of time, of skilful propagandism, and of opinion-making men
seizing historic opportunities.

The martial type of character can be bred without war.  Strenuous honor
and disinterestedness abound elsewhere.  Priests and medical men are in
a fashion educated to it and we should all feel some degree of it
imperative if we were conscious of our work as an obligatory service to
the state.  We should be owned, as soldiers are by the army, and our
pride would rise accordingly.  We could be poor, then, without
humiliation, as army officers now are.  The only thing needed
henceforward is to inflame the civic temper as past history has
inflamed the military temper.  H. G. Wells, as usual, sees the centre
of the situation.  "In many ways," he says, "military organization is
the most peaceful of activities.  When the contemporary man steps from
the street, of clamorous insincere advertisement, push, adulteration,
underselling and intermittent employment into the barrack-yard, he
steps on to a higher social plane, into an atmosphere of service and
cooperation and of infinitely more honorable emulations.  Here at least
men are not flung out of employment to degenerate because there is no
immediate work for them to do.  They are fed and drilled and trained
for better services.  Here at least a man is supposed to win promotion
by self-forgetfulness and not by self-seeking.  And beside the feeble
and irregular endowment of research by commercialism, its little
short-sighted snatches at profit by innovation and scientific economy,
see how remarkable is the steady and rapid development of method and
appliances in naval and military affairs!  Nothing is more striking
than to compare the progress of civil conveniences which has been left
almost entirely to the trader, to the progress in military apparatus
during the last few decades.  The house-appliances of to-day for
example, are little better than they were fifty years ago.  A house of
to-day is still almost as ill-ventilated, badly heated by wasteful
fires, clumsily arranged and furnished as the house of 1858.  Houses a
couple of hundred years old are still satisfactory places of residence,
so little have our standards risen.  But the rifle or battleship of
fifty years ago was beyond all comparison inferior to those we possess;
in power, in speed, in convenience alike.  No one has a use now for
such superannuated things." [3]

Wells adds[4] that he thinks that the conceptions of order and
discipline, the tradition of service and devotion, of physical fitness,
unstinted exertion, and universal responsibility, which universal
military duty is now teaching European nations, will remain a permanent
acquisition, when the last ammunition has been used in the fireworks
that celebrate the final peace.  I believe as he does.  It would be
simply preposterous if the only force that could work ideals of honor
and standards of efficiency into English or American natures should be
the fear of being killed by the Germans or the Japanese.  Great indeed
is Fear; but it is not, as our military enthusiasts believe and try to
make us believe, the only stimulus known for awakening the higher
ranges of men's spiritual energy.  The amount of alteration in public
opinion which my utopia postulates is vastly less than the difference
between the mentality of those black warriors who pursued Stanley's
party on the Congo with their cannibal war-cry of "Meat!  Meat!" and
that of the "general-staff" of any civilized nation.  History has seen
the latter interval bridged over: the former one can be bridged over
much more easily.

[1] Written for and first published by the Association for
International Conciliation (Leaflet No. 27) and also published in
_McClure's Magazine_, August, 1910, and _The Popular Science Monthly_,
October, 1910.

[2] "Justice and Liberty," N. Y., 1909.

[3] "First and Last Things," 1908, p. 215.

[4] "First and Last Things," 1908, p. 226.



I am only a philosopher, and there is only one thing that a philosopher
can be relied on to do, and that is, to contradict other philosophers.
In ancient times philosophers defined man as the rational animal; and
philosophers since then have always found much more to say about the
rational than about the animal part of the definition.  But looked at
candidly, reason bears about the same proportion to the rest of human
nature that we in this hall bear to the rest of America, Europe, Asia,
Africa and Polynesia.  Reason is one of the very feeblest of nature's
forces, if you take it at only one spot and moment.  It is only in the
very long run that its effects become perceptible.  Reason assumes to
settle things by weighing them against each other without prejudice,
partiality or excitement; but what affairs in the concrete are settled
by is, and always will be, just prejudices, partialities, cupidities
and excitements.  Appealing to reason as we do, we are in a sort of
forlorn-hope situation, like a small sandbank in the midst of a hungry
sea ready to wash it out of existence.  But sand-banks grow when the
conditions favor; and weak as reason is, it has this unique advantage
over its antagonists that its activity never lets up and that it
presses always in one direction, while men's prejudices vary, their
passions ebb and flow, and their excitements are intermittent.  Our
sand-bank, I absolutely believe, is bound to grow.  Bit by bit it will
get dyked and breakwatered.  But sitting as we do in this warm room,
with music and lights and smiling faces, it is easy to get too sanguine
about our task; and since I am called to speak, I feel as if it might
not be out of place to say a word about the strength.

Our permanent enemy is the rooted bellicosity of human nature.  Man,
biologically considered, and whatever else he may be into the bargain,
is the most formidable of all beasts of prey, and, indeed, the only one
that preys systematically on his own species.  We are once for all
adapted to the military status.  A millennium of peace would not breed
the fighting disposition out of our bone and marrow, and a function so
ingrained and vital will never consent to die without resistance, and
will always find impassioned apologists and idealizers.

Not only men born to be soldiers, but non-combatants by trade and
nature, historians in their studies, and clergymen in their pulpits,
have been war's idealizers.  They have talked of war as of God's court
of justice.  And, indeed, if we think how many things beside the
frontiers of states the wars of history have decided, we must feel some
respectful awe, in spite of all the horrors.  Our actual civilization,
good and bad alike, has had past wars for its determining condition.
Great mindedness among the tribes of men has always meant the will
to prevail, and all the more, so if prevailing included slaughtering
and being slaughtered.  Rome, Paris, England, Brandenburg,
Piedmont,--possibly soon Japan,--along with their arms have their
traits of character and habits of thought prevail among their conquered
neighbors.  The blessings we actually enjoy, such as they are, have
grown up in the shadow of the wars of antiquity.  The various ideals
were backed by fighting wills, and when neither would give way, the God
of battles had to be the arbiter.  A shallow view this, truly; for who
can say what might have prevailed if man had ever been a reasoning and
not a fighting animal?  Like dead men, dead causes tell no tales, and
the ideals that went under in the past, along with all the tribes that
represented them, find to-day no recorder, no explainer, no defender.

But apart from theoretic defenders, and apart from every soldierly
individual straining at the leash and clamoring for opportunity, war
has an omnipotent support in the form of our imagination.  Man lives
_by_ habits indeed, but what he lives _for_ is thrills and excitements.
The only relief from habit's tediousness is periodical excitement.
From time immemorial wars have been, especially for non-combatants, the
supremely thrilling excitement.  Heavy and dragging at its end, at its
outset every war means an explosion of imaginative energy.  The dams of
routine burst, and boundless prospects open.  The remotest spectators
share the fascination of that awful struggle now in process on the
confines of the world.  There is not a man in this room, I suppose, who
doesn't buy both an evening and a morning paper, and first of all
pounce on the war column.

A deadly listlessness would come over most men's imagination of the
future if they could seriously be brought to believe that never again
in _soecula soeculorum_ would a war trouble human history.  In such a
stagnant summer afternoon of a world, where would be the zest or

This is the constitution of human nature which we have to work against.
The plain truth is that people _want_ war.  They want it anyhow; for
itself, and apart from each and every possible consequence.  It is the
final bouquet of life's fireworks.  The born soldiers want it hot and
actual.  The non-combatants want it in the background, and always as an
open possibility, to feed imagination on and keep excitement going.
Its clerical and historical defenders fool themselves when they talk as
they do about it.  What moves them is not the blessings it has won for
us, but a vague religious exaltation.  War is human nature at its
uttermost.  We are here to do our uttermost.  It is a sacrament.
Society would rot without the mystical blood-payment.

We do ill, I think, therefore, to talk much of universal peace or of a
general disarmament.  We must go in for preventive medicine, not for
radical cure.  We must cheat our foe, circumvent him in detail, not try
to change his nature.  In one respect war is like love, though in no
other.  Both leave us intervals of rest; and in the intervals life goes
on perfectly well without them, though the imagination still dallies
with their possibility.  Equally insane when once aroused and under
headway, whether they shall be aroused or not depends on accidental
circumstances.  How are old maids and old bachelors made?  Not by
deliberate vows of celibacy, but by sliding on from year to year with
no sufficient matrimonial provocation.  So of the nations with their
wars.  Let the general possibility of war be left open, in Heaven's
name, for the imagination to dally with.  Let the soldiers dream of
killing, as the old maids dream of marrying.

But organize in every conceivable way the practical machinery for
making each successive chance of war abortive.  Put peace men in power;
educate the editors and statesmen to responsibility.  How beautifully
did their trained responsibility in England make the Venezuela incident
abortive!  Seize every pretext, however small, for arbitration methods,
and multiply the precedents; foster rival excitements, and invent new
outlets for heroic energy; and from one generation to another the
chances are that irritation will grow less acute and states of strain
less dangerous among the nations.  Armies and navies will continue, of
course, and fire the minds of populations with their potentialities of
greatness.  But their officers will find that somehow or other, with no
deliberate intention on any one's part, each successive "incident" has
managed to evaporate and to lead nowhere, and that the thought of what
might have been remains their only consolation.

The last weak runnings of the war spirit will be "punitive
expeditions."  A country that turns its arms only against uncivilized
foes is, I think, wrongly taunted as degenerate.  Of course it has
ceased to be heroic in the old grand style.  But I verily believe that
this is because it now sees something better.  It has a conscience.  It
will still perpetrate peccadillos.  But it is afraid, afraid in the
good sense, to engage in absolute crimes against civilization.

[1] Published in the Official Report of the Universal Peace Congress,
held in Boston in 1904, and in the _Atlantic Monthly_, December, 1904.



Of what use is a college training?  We who have had it seldom hear the
question raised; we might be a little nonplussed to answer it offhand.
A certain amount of meditation has brought me to this as the pithiest
reply which I myself can give: The best claim that a college education
can possibly make on your respect, the best thing it can aspire to
accomplish for you, is this: that it should _help you to know a good
man when you see him_.  This is as true of women's as of men's
colleges; but that it is neither a joke nor a one-sided abstraction I
shall now endeavor to show.

What talk do we commonly hear about the contrast between college
education and the education which business or technical or professional
schools confer?  The college education is called higher because it is
supposed to be so general and so disinterested.  At the "schools" you
get a relatively narrow practical skill, you are told, whereas the
"colleges" give you the more liberal culture, the broader outlook, the
historical perspective, the philosophic atmosphere, or something which
phrases of that sort try to express.  You are made into an efficient
instrument for doing a definite thing, you hear, at the schools; but,
apart from that, you may remain a crude and smoky kind of petroleum,
incapable of spreading light.  The universities and colleges, on the
other hand, although they may leave you less efficient for this or that
practical task, suffuse your whole mentality with something more
important than skill.  They redeem you, make you well-bred; they make
"good company" of you mentally.  If they find you with a naturally
boorish or caddish mind, they cannot leave you so, as a technical
school may leave you.  This, at least, is pretended; this is what we
hear among college-trained people when they compare their education
with every other sort.  Now, exactly how much does this signify?

It is certain, to begin with, that the narrowest trade or professional
training does something more for a man than to make a skilful practical
tool of him--it makes him also a judge of other men's skill.  Whether
his trade be pleading at the bar or surgery or plastering or plumbing,
it develops a critical sense in him for that sort of occupation.  He
understands the difference between second-rate and first-rate work in
his whole branch of industry; he gets to know a good job in his own
line as soon as he sees it; and getting to know this in his own line,
he gets a faint sense of what good work may mean anyhow, that may, if
circumstances favor, spread into his judgments elsewhere.  Sound work,
clean work, finished work: feeble work, slack work, sham work--these
words express an identical contrast in many different departments of
activity.  In so far forth, then, even the humblest manual trade may
beget in one a certain small degree of power to judge of good work

Now, what is supposed to be the line of us who have the higher college
training?  Is there any broader line--since our education claims
primarily not to be "narrow"--in which we also are made good judges
between what is first-rate and what is second-rate only?  What is
especially taught in the colleges has long been known by the name of
the "humanities," and these are often identified with Greek and Latin.
But it is only as literatures, not as languages, that Greek and Latin
have any general humanity-value; so that in a broad sense the
humanities mean literature primarily, and in a still broader sense the
study of masterpieces in almost any field of human endeavor.
Literature keeps the primacy; for it not only _consists_ of
masterpieces, but is largely _about_ masterpieces, being little more
than an appreciative chronicle of human master-strokes, so far as it
takes the form of criticism and history.  You can give humanistic value
to almost anything by teaching it historically.  Geology, economics,
mechanics, are humanities when taught with reference to the successive
achievements of the geniuses to which these sciences owe their being.
Not taught thus literature remains grammar, art a catalogue, history a
list of dates, and natural science a sheet of formulas and weights and

The sifting of human creations!--nothing less than this is what we
ought to mean by the humanities.  Essentially this means biography;
what our colleges should teach is, therefore, biographical history,
that not of politics merely, but of anything and everything so far as
human efforts and conquests are factors that have played their part.
Studying in this way, we learn what types of activity have stood the
test of time; we acquire standards of the excellent and durable.  All
our arts and sciences and institutions are but so many quests of
perfection on the part of men; and when we see how diverse the types of
excellence may be, how various the tests, how flexible the adaptations,
we gain a richer sense of what the terms "better" and "worse" may
signify in general.  Our critical sensibilities grow both more acute
and less fanatical.  We sympathize with men's mistakes even in the act
of penetrating them; we feel the pathos of lost causes and misguided
epochs even while we applaud what overcame them.

Such words are vague and such ideas are inadequate, but their meaning
is unmistakable.  What the colleges--teaching humanities by examples
which may be special, but which must be typical and pregnant--should at
least try to give us, is a general sense of what, under various
disguises, _superiority_ has always signified and may still signify.
The feeling for a good human job anywhere, the admiration of the really
admirable, the disesteem of what is cheap and trashy and
impermanent,--this is what we call the critical sense, the sense for
ideal values.  It is the better part of what men know as wisdom.  Some
of us are wise in this way naturally and by genius; some of us never
become so.  But to have spent one's youth at college, in contact with
the choice and rare and precious, and yet still to be a blind prig or
vulgarian, unable to scent out human excellence or to divine it amid
its accidents, to know it only when ticketed and labelled and forced on
us by others, this indeed should be accounted the very calamity and
shipwreck of a higher education.

The sense for human superiority ought, then, to be considered our line,
as boring subways is the engineer's line and the surgeon's is
appendicitis.  Our colleges ought to have lit up in us a lasting relish
for the better kind of man, a loss of appetite for mediocrities, and a
disgust for cheap jacks.  We ought to smell, as it were, the difference
of quality in men and their proposals when we enter the world of
affairs about us.  Expertness in this might well atone for some of our
awkwardness at accounts, for some of our ignorance of dynamos.  The
best claim we can make for the higher education, the best single phrase
in which we can tell what it ought to do for us, is, then, exactly what
I said: it should enable us to _know a good man when we see him_.

That the phrase is anything but an empty epigram follows from the fact
that if you ask in what line it is most important that a democracy like
ours should have its sons and daughters skilful, you see that it is
this line more than any other.  "The people in their wisdom"--this is
the kind of wisdom most needed by the people.  Democracy is on its
trial, and no one knows how it will stand the ordeal.  Abounding about
us are pessimistic prophets.  Fickleness and violence used to be, but
are no longer, the vices which they charge to democracy.  What its
critics now affirm is that its preferences are inveterately for the
inferior.  So it was in the beginning, they say, and so it will be
world without end.  Vulgarity enthroned and institutionalized, elbowing
everything superior from the highway, this, they tell us, is our
irremediable destiny; and the picture-papers of the European continent
are already drawing Uncle Sam with the hog instead of the eagle for his
heraldic emblem.  The privileged aristocracies of the foretime, with
all their iniquities, did at least preserve some taste for higher human
quality, and honor certain forms of refinement by their enduring
traditions.  But when democracy is sovereign, its doubters say,
nobility will form a sort of invisible church, and sincerity and
refinement, stripped of honor, precedence, and favor, will have to
vegetate on sufferance in private corners.  They will have no general
influence.  They will be harmless eccentricities.

Now, who can be absolutely certain that this may not be the career of
democracy?  Nothing future is quite secure; states enough have inwardly
rotted; and democracy as a whole may undergo self-poisoning.  But, on
the other hand, democracy is a kind of religion, and we are bound not
to admit its failure.  Faiths and Utopias are the noblest exercise of
human reason, and no one with a spark of reason in him will sit down
fatalistically before the croaker's picture.  The best of us are filled
with the contrary vision of a democracy stumbling through every error
till its institutions glow with justice and its customs shine with
beauty.  Our better men _shall_ show the way and we _shall_ follow
them; so we are brought round again to the mission of the higher
education in helping us to know the better kind of man whenever we see

The notion that a people can run itself and its affairs anonymously is
now well known to be the silliest of absurdities.  Mankind does nothing
save through initiatives on the part of inventors, great or small, and
imitation by the rest of us--these are the sole factors active in human
progress.  Individuals of genius show the way, and set the patterns,
which common people then adopt and follow.  _The rivalry of the
patterns is the history of the world_.  Our democratic problem thus is
statable in ultra-simple terms: Who are the kind of men from whom our
majorities shall take their cue?  Whom shall they treat as rightful
leaders?  We and our leaders are the _x_ and the _y_ of the equation
here; all other historic circumstances, be they economical, political,
or intellectual, are only the background of occasion on which the
living drama works itself out between us.

In this very simple way does the value of our educated class define
itself: we more than others should be able to divine the worthier and
better leaders.  The terms here are monstrously simplified, of course,
but such a bird's-eye view lets us immediately take our bearings.  In
our democracy, where everything else is so shifting, we alumni and
alumnae of the colleges are the only permanent presence that
corresponds to the aristocracy in older countries.  We have continuous
traditions, as they have; our motto, too, is _noblesse oblige_; and,
unlike them, we stand for ideal interests solely, for we have no
corporate selfishness and wield no powers of corruption.  We ought to
have our own class-consciousness.  "_Les Intellectuels!_"  What prouder
club-name could there be than this one, used ironically by the party of
"redblood," the party of every stupid prejudice and passion, during the
anti-Dreyfus craze, to satirize the men in France who still retained
some critical sense and judgment!  Critical sense, it has to be
confessed, is not an exciting term, hardly a banner to carry in
processions.  Affections for old habit, currents of self-interest, and
gales of passion are the forces that keep the human ship moving; and
the pressure of the judicious pilot's hand upon the tiller is a
relatively insignificant energy.  But the affections, passions, and
interests are shifting, successive, and distraught; they blow in
alternation while the pilot's hand is steadfast.  He knows the compass,
and, with all the leeways he is obliged to tack toward, he always makes
some headway.  A small force, if it never lets up, will accumulate
effects more considerable than those of much greater forces if these
work inconsistently.  The ceaseless whisper of the more permanent
ideals, the steady tug of truth and justice, give them but time, _must_
warp the world in their direction.

This bird's-eye view of the general steering function of the
college-bred amid the driftings of democracy ought to help us to a
wider vision of what our colleges themselves should aim at.  If we are
to be the yeast-cake for democracy's dough, if we are to make it rise
with culture's preferences, we must see to it that culture spreads
broad sails.  We must shake the old double reefs out of the canvas into
the wind and sunshine, and let in every modern subject, sure that any
subject will prove humanistic, if its setting be kept only wide enough.

Stevenson says somewhere to his reader: "You think you are just making
this bargain, but you are really laying down a link in the policy of
mankind."  Well, your technical school should enable you to make your
bargain splendidly; but your college should show you just the place of
that kind of bargain--a pretty poor place, possibly--in the whole
policy of mankind.  That is the kind of liberal outlook, of
perspective, of atmosphere, which should surround every subject as a
college deals with it.

We of the colleges must eradicate a curious notion which numbers of
good people have about such ancient seats of learning as Harvard.  To
many ignorant outsiders, the name suggests little more than a kind of
sterilized conceit and incapacity for being pleased.  In Edith Wyatt's
exquisite book of Chicago sketches called "Every One his Own Way" there
is a couple who stand for culture in the sense of exclusiveness,
Richard Elliot and his feminine counterpart--feeble caricatures of
mankind, unable to know any good thing when they see it, incapable of
enjoyment unless a printed label gives them leave.  Possibly this type
of culture may exist near Cambridge and Boston.  There may be specimens
there, for priggishness is just like painter's colic or any other
trade-disease.  But every good college makes its students immune
against this malady, of which the microbe haunts the neighborhood of
printed pages.  It does so by its general tone being too hearty for the
microbe's life.  Real culture lives by sympathies and admirations, not
by dislikes and disdains; under all misleading wrappings it pounces
unerringly upon the human core.  If a college, through the inferior
human influences that have grown regnant there, fails to catch the
robuster tone, its failure is colossal, for its social function stops:
democracy gives it a wide berth, turns toward it a deaf ear.

"Tone," to be sure, is a terribly vague word to use, but there is no
other, and this whole meditation is over questions of tone.  By their
tone are all things human either lost or saved.  If democracy is to be
saved it must catch the higher, healthier tone.  If we are to impress
it with our preferences, we ourselves must use the proper tone, which
we, in turn, must have caught from our own teachers.  It all reverts in
the end to the action of innumerable imitative individuals upon each
other and to the question of whose tone has the highest spreading
power.  As a class, we college graduates should look to it that _ours_
has spreading power.  It ought to have the highest spreading power.

In our essential function of indicating the better men, we now have
formidable competitors outside.  _McClure's Magazine_, the _American
Magazine_, _Collier's Weekly_, and, in its fashion, the _World's Work_,
constitute together a real popular university along this very line.  It
would be a pity if any future historian were to have to write words
like these: "By the middle of the twentieth century the higher
institutions of learning had lost all influence over public opinion in
the United States.  But the mission of raising the tone of democracy,
which they had proved themselves so lamentably unfitted to exert, was
assumed with rare enthusiasm and prosecuted with extraordinary skill
and success by a new educational power; and for the clarification of
their human sympathies and elevation of their human preferences, the
people at large acquired the habit of resorting exclusively to the
guidance of certain private literary adventures, commonly designated in
the market by the affectionate name of ten-cent magazines."

Must not we of the colleges see to it that no historian shall ever say
anything like this?  Vague as the phrase of knowing a good man when you
see him may be, diffuse and indefinite as one must leave its
application, is there any other formula that describes so well the
result at which our institutions ought to aim?  If they do that, they
do the best thing conceivable.  If they fail to do it, they fail in
very deed.  It surely is a fine synthetic formula.  If our faculties
and graduates could once collectively come to realize it as the great
underlying purpose toward which they have always been more or less
obscurely groping, a great clearness would be shed over many of their
problems; and, as for their influence in the midst of our social
system, it would embark upon a new career of strength.

[1] Address delivered at a meeting of the Association of American
Alumnae at Radcliffe College, November 7, 1907, and first published in
_McClure's Magazine_ for February, 1908.




Some years ago we had at our Harvard Graduate School a very brilliant
student of Philosophy, who, after leaving us and supporting himself by
literary labor for three years, received an appointment to teach
English Literature at a sister-institution of learning.  The governors
of this institution, however, had no sooner communicated the
appointment than they made the awful discovery that they had enrolled
upon their staff a person who was unprovided with the Ph.D. degree.
The man in question had been satisfied to work at Philosophy for her
own sweet (or bitter) sake, and had disdained to consider that an
academic bauble should be his reward.

His appointment had thus been made under a misunderstanding.  He was
not the proper man; and there was nothing to do but to inform him of
the fact.  It was notified to him by his new President that his
appointment must be revoked, or that a Harvard doctor's degree must
forthwith be procured.

Although it was already the spring of the year, our Subject, being a
man of spirit, took up the challenge, turned his back upon literature
(which in view of his approaching duties might have seemed his more
urgent concern) and spent the weeks that were left him, in writing a
metaphysical thesis and grinding his psychology, logic and history of
philosophy up again, so as to pass our formidable ordeals.

When the thesis came to be read by our committee, we could not pass it.
Brilliancy and originality by themselves won't save a thesis for the
doctorate; it must also exhibit a heavy technical apparatus of
learning; and this our candidate had neglected to bring to bear.  So,
telling him that he was temporarily rejected, we advised him to pad out
the thesis properly, and return with it next year, at the same time
informing his new President that this signified nothing as to his
merits, that he was of ultra Ph.D. quality, and one of the strongest
men with whom we had ever had to deal.

To our surprise we were given to understand in reply that the quality
_per se_ of the man signified nothing in this connection, and that
three magical letters were the thing seriously required.  The College
had always gloried in a list of faculty members who bore the doctor's
title, and to make a gap in the galaxy, and admit a common fox without
a tail, would be a degradation impossible to be thought of.  We wrote
again, pointing out that a Ph.D. in philosophy would prove little
anyhow as to one's ability to teach literature; we sent separate
letters in which we outdid each other in eulogy of our candidate's
powers, for indeed they were great; and at last, _mirabile dictu_, our
eloquence prevailed.  He was allowed to retain his appointment
provisionally, on condition that one year later at the farthest his
miserably naked name should be prolonged by the sacred appendage the
lack of which had given so much trouble to all concerned.

Accordingly he came up here the following spring with an adequate
thesis (known since in print as a most brilliant contribution to
metaphysics), passed a first-rate examination, wiped out the stain, and
brought his college into proper relations with the world again.
Whether his teaching, during that first year, of English Literature was
made any the better by the impending examination in a different
subject, is a question which I will not try to solve.

I have related this incident at such length because it is so
characteristic of American academic conditions at the present day.
Graduate schools still are something of a novelty, and higher diplomas
something of a rarity.  The latter, therefore, carry a vague sense of
preciousness and honor, and have a particularly "up-to-date"
appearance, and it is no wonder if smaller institutions, unable to
attract professors already eminent, and forced usually to recruit their
faculties from the relatively young, should hope to compensate for the
obscurity of the names of their officers of instruction by the
abundance of decorative titles by which those names are followed on the
pages of the catalogues where they appear.  The dazzled reader of the
list, the parent or student, says to himself, "This must be a terribly
distinguished crowd,--their titles shine like the stars in the
firmament; Ph.D.'s, S.D.'s, and Litt.D.'s, bespangle the page as if
they were sprinkled over it from a pepper caster."

Human nature is once for all so childish that every reality becomes a
sham somewhere, and in the minds of Presidents and Trustees the Ph.D.
degree is in point of fact already looked upon as a mere advertising
resource, a manner of throwing dust in the Public's eyes.  "No
instructor who is not a Doctor" has become a maxim in the smaller
institutions which represent demand; and in each of the larger ones
which represent supply, the same belief in decorated scholarship
expresses itself in two antagonistic passions, one for multiplying as
much as possible the annual output of doctors, the other for raising
the standard of difficulty in passing, so that the Ph.D. of the special
institution shall carry a higher blaze of distinction than it does
elsewhere.  Thus we at Harvard are proud of the number of candidates
whom we reject, and of the inability of men who are not _distingués_ in
intellect to pass our tests.

America is thus as a nation rapidly drifting towards a state of things
in which no man of science or letters will be accounted respectable
unless some kind of badge or diploma is stamped upon him, and in which
bare personality will be a mark of outcast estate.  It seems to me high
time to rouse ourselves to consciousness, and to cast a critical eye
upon this decidedly grotesque tendency.  Other nations suffer terribly
from the Mandarin disease.  Are we doomed to suffer like the rest?

Our higher degrees were instituted for the laudable purpose of
stimulating scholarship, especially in the form of "original research."
Experience has proved that great as the love of truth may be among men,
it can be made still greater by adventitious rewards.  The winning of a
diploma certifying mastery and marking a barrier successfully passed,
acts as a challenge to the ambitious; and if the diploma will help to
gain bread-winning positions also, its power as a stimulus to work is
tremendously increased.  So far, we are on innocent ground; it is well
for a country to have research in abundance, and our graduate schools
do but apply a normal psychological spur.  But the institutionizing on
a large scale of any natural combination of need and motive always
tends to run into technicality and to develop a tyrannical Machine with
unforeseen powers of exclusion and corruption.  Observation of the
workings of our Harvard system for twenty years past has brought some
of these drawbacks home to my consciousness, and I should like to call
the attention of my readers to this disadvantageous aspect of the
picture, and to make a couple of remedial suggestions, if I may.

In the first place, it would seem that to stimulate study, and to
increase the _gelehrtes Publikum_, the class of highly educated men in
our country, is the only positive good, and consequently the sole
direct end at which our graduate schools, with their diploma-giving
powers, should aim.  If other results have developed they should be
deemed secondary incidents, and if not desirable in themselves, they
should be carefully guarded against.

To interfere with the free development of talent, to obstruct the
natural play of supply and demand in the teaching profession, to foster
academic snobbery by the prestige of certain privileged institutions,
to transfer accredited value from essential manhood to an outward
badge, to blight hopes and promote invidious sentiments, to divert the
attention of aspiring youth from direct dealings with truth to the
passing of examinations,--such consequences, if they exist, ought
surely to be regarded as drawbacks to the system, and an enlightened
public consciousness ought to be keenly alive to the importance of
reducing their amount.  Candidates themselves do seem to be keenly
conscious of some of these evils, but outside of their ranks or in the
general public no such consciousness, so far as I can see, exists; or
if it does exist, it fails to express itself aloud.  Schools, Colleges,
and Universities, appear enthusiastic over the entire system, just as
it stands, and unanimously applaud all its developments.

I beg the reader to consider some of the secondary evils which I have
enumerated.  First of all, is not our growing tendency to appoint no
instructors who are not also doctors an instance of pure sham?  Will
any one pretend for a moment that the doctor's degree is a guarantee
that its possessor will be successful as a teacher?  Notoriously his
moral, social and personal characteristics may utterly disqualify him
for success in the class-room; and of these characteristics his
doctor's examination is unable to take any account whatever.  Certain
bare human beings will always be better candidates for a given place
than all the doctor-applicants on hand; and to exclude the former by a
rigid rule, and in the end to have to sift the latter by private
inquiry into their personal peculiarities among those who know them,
just as if they were not doctors at all, is to stultify one's own
procedure.  You may say that at least you guard against ignorance of
the subject by considering only the candidates who are doctors; but how
then about making doctors in one subject teach a different subject?
This happened in the instance by which I introduced this article, and
it happens daily and hourly in all our colleges?  The truth is that the
Doctor-Monopoly in teaching, which is becoming so rooted an American
custom, can show no serious grounds whatsoever for itself in reason.
As it actually prevails and grows in vogue among us, it is due to
childish motives exclusively.  In reality it is but a sham, a bauble, a
dodge, whereby to decorate the catalogues of schools and colleges.

Next, let us turn from the general promotion of a spirit of academic
snobbery to the particular damage done to individuals by the system.

There are plenty of individuals so well endowed by nature that they
pass with ease all the ordeals with which life confronts them.  Such
persons are born for professional success.  Examinations have no
terrors for them, and interfere in no way with their spiritual or
worldly interests.  There are others, not so gifted who nevertheless
rise to the challenge, get a stimulus from the difficulty, and become
doctors, not without some baleful nervous wear and tear and retardation
of their purely inner life, but on the whole successfully, and with
advantage.  These two classes form the natural Ph.D.'s for whom the
degree is legitimately instituted.  To be sure, the degree is of no
consequence one way or the other for the first sort of man, for in him
the personal worth obviously outshines the title.  To the second set of
persons, however, the doctor ordeal may contribute a touch of energy
and solidity of scholarship which otherwise they might have lacked, and
were our candidates all drawn from these classes, no oppression would
result from the institution.

But there is a third class of persons who are genuinely, and in the
most pathetic sense, the institution's victims.  For this type of
character the academic life may become, after a certain point, a
virulent poison.  Men without marked originality or native force, but
fond of truth and especially of books and study, ambitious of reward
and recognition, poor often, and needing a degree to get a teaching
position, weak in the eyes of their examiners,--among these we find the
veritable _chair à canon_ of the wars of learning, the unfit in the
academic struggle for existence.  There are individuals of this sort
for whom to pass one degree after another seems the limit of earthly
aspiration.  Your private advice does not discourage them.  They will
fail, and go away to recuperate, and then present themselves for
another ordeal, and sometimes prolong the process into middle life.  Or
else, if they are less heroic morally they will accept the failure as a
sentence of doom that they are not fit, and are broken-spirited men

We of the university faculties are responsible for deliberately
creating this new class of American social failures, and heavy is the
responsibility.  We advertise our "schools" and send out our
degree-requirements, knowing well that aspirants of all sorts will be
attracted, and at the same time we set a standard which intends to pass
no man who has not native intellectual distinction.  We know that there
is no test, however absurd, by which, if a title or decoration, a
public badge or mark, were to be won by it, some weakly suggestible or
hauntable persons would not feel challenged, and remain unhappy if they
went without it.  We dangle our three magic letters before the eyes of
these predestined victims, and they swarm to us like moths to an
electric light.  They come at a time when failure can no longer be
repaired easily and when the wounds it leaves are permanent; and we say
deliberately that mere work faithfully performed, as they perform it,
will not by itself save them, they must in addition put in evidence the
one thing they have not got, namely this quality of intellectual
distinction.  Occasionally, out of sheer human pity, we ignore our high
and mighty standard and pass them.  Usually, however, the standard, and
not the candidate, commands our fidelity.  The result is caprice,
majorities of one on the jury, and on the whole a confession that our
pretensions about the degree cannot be lived up to consistently.  Thus,
partiality in the favored cases; in the unfavored, blood on our hands;
and in both a bad conscience,--are the results of our administration.

The more widespread becomes the popular belief that our diplomas are
indispensable hall-marks to show the sterling metal of their holders,
the more widespread these corruptions will become.  We ought to look to
the future carefully, for it takes generations for a national custom,
once rooted, to be grown away from.  All the European countries are
seeking to diminish the check upon individual spontaneity which state
examinations with their tyrannous growth have brought in their train.
We have had to institute state examinations too; and it will perhaps be
fortunate if some day hereafter our descendants, comparing machine with
machine, do not sigh with regret for old times and American freedom,
and wish that the _régime_ of the dear old bosses might be reinstalled,
with plain human nature, the glad hand and the marble heart, liking and
disliking, and man-to-man relations grown possible again.  Meanwhile,
whatever evolution our state-examinations are destined to undergo, our
universities at least should never cease to regard themselves as the
jealous custodians of personal and spiritual spontaneity.  They are
indeed its only organized and recognized custodians in America to-day.
They ought to guard against contributing to the increase of officialism
and snobbery and insincerity as against a pestilence; they ought to
keep truth and disinterested labor always in the foreground, treat
degrees as secondary incidents, and in season and out of season make it
plain that what they live for is to help men's souls, and not to
decorate their persons with diplomas.

There seem to be three obvious ways in which the increasing hold of the
Ph.D. Octopus upon American life can be kept in check.

The first way lies with the universities.  They can lower their
fantastic standards (which here at Harvard we are so proud of) and give
the doctorate as a matter of course, just as they give the bachelor's
degree, for a due amount of time spent in patient labor in a special
department of learning, whether the man be a brilliantly gifted
individual or not.  Surely native distinction needs no official stamp,
and should disdain to ask for one.  On the other hand, faithful labor,
however commonplace, and years devoted to a subject, always deserve to
be acknowledged and requited.

The second way lies with both the universities and colleges.  Let them
give up their unspeakably silly ambition to bespangle their lists of
officers with these doctorial titles.  Let them look more to substance
and less to vanity and sham.

The third way lies with the individual student, and with his personal
advisers in the faculties.  Every man of native power, who might take a
higher degree, and refuses to do so, because examinations interfere
with the free following out of his more immediate intellectual aims,
deserves well of his country, and in a rightly organized community,
would not be made to suffer for his independence.  With many men the
passing of these extraneous tests is a very grievous interference
indeed.  Private letters of recommendation from their instructors,
which in any event are ultimately needful, ought, in these cases,
completely to offset the lack of the breadwinning degree; and
instructors ought to be ready to advise students against it upon
occasion, and to pledge themselves to back them later personally, in
the market-struggle which they have to face.

It is indeed odd to see this love of titles--and such titles--growing
up in a country or which the recognition of individuality and bare
manhood have so long been supposed to be the very soul.  The
independence of the State, in which most of our colleges stand,
relieves us of those more odious forms of academic politics which
continental European countries present.  Anything like the elaborate
university machine of France, with its throttling influences upon
individuals is unknown here.  The spectacle of the "Rath" distinction
in its innumerable spheres and grades, with which all Germany is
crawling to-day, is displeasing to American eyes; and displeasing also
in some respects is the institution of knighthood in England, which,
aping as it does an aristocratic title, enables one's wife as well as
one's self so easily to dazzle the servants at the house of one's
friends.  But are we Americans ourselves destined after all to hunger
after similar vanities on an infinitely more contemptible scale?  And
is individuality with us also going to count for nothing unless stamped
and licensed and authenticated by some title-giving machine?  Let us
pray that our ancient national genius may long preserve vitality enough
to guard us from a future so unmanly and so unbeautiful!

[1] Published in the _Harvard Monthly_, March, 1903.


When a man gets a decoration from a foreign institution, he may take it
as an honor.  Coming as mine has come to-day, I prefer to take it for
that far more valuable thing, a token of personal good will from
friends.  Recognizing the good will and the friendliness, I am going to
respond to the chairman's call by speaking exactly as I feel.

I am not an alumnus of the College.  I have not even a degree from the
Scientific School, in which I did some study forty years ago.  I have
no right to vote for Overseers, and I have never felt until to-day as
if I were a child of the house of Harvard in the fullest sense.
Harvard is many things in one--a school, a forcing house for thought,
and also a social club; and the club aspect is so strong, the family
tie so close and subtle among our Bachelors of Arts that all of us here
who are in my plight, no matter how long we may have lived here, always
feel a little like outsiders on Commencement day.  We have no class to
walk with, and we often stay away from the procession.  It may be
foolish, but it is a fact.  I don't believe that my dear friends
Shaler, Hollis, Lanman, or Royce ever have felt quite as happy or as
much at home as my friend Barrett Wendell feels upon a day like this.

I wish to use my present privilege to say a word for these outsiders
with whom I belong.  Many years ago there was one of them from Canada
here--a man with a high-pitched voice, who could n't fully agree with
all the points of my philosophy.  At a lecture one day, when I was in
the full flood of my eloquence, his voice rose above mine, exclaiming:
"But, doctor, doctor! to be serious for a moment . . . ," in so sincere
a tone that the whole room burst out laughing.  I want you now to be
serious for a moment while I say my little say.  We are glorifying
ourselves to-day, and whenever the name of Harvard is emphatically
uttered on such days, frantic cheers go up.  There are days for
affection, when pure sentiment and loyalty come rightly to the fore.
But behind our mere animal feeling for old schoolmates and the Yard and
the bell, and Memorial and the clubs and the river and the Soldiers'
Field, there must be something deeper and more rational.  There ought
at any rate to be some possible ground in reason for one's boiling over
with joy that one is a son of Harvard, and was not, by some unspeakably
horrible accident of birth, predestined to graduate at Yale or at

Any college can foster club loyalty of that sort.  The only rational
ground for pre-eminent admiration of any single college would be its
pre-eminent spiritual tone.  But to be a college man in the mere
clubhouse sense--I care not of what college--affords no guarantee of
real superiority in spiritual tone.

The old notion that book learning can be a panacea for the vices of
society lies pretty well shattered to-day.  I say this in spite of
certain utterances of the President of this University to the teachers
last year.  That sanguine-hearted man seemed then to think that if the
schools would only do their duty better, social vice might cease.  But
vice will never cease.  Every level of culture breeds its own peculiar
brand of it as surely as one soil breeds sugar-cane, and another soil
breeds cranberries.  If we were asked that disagreeable question, "What
are the bosom-vices of the level of culture which our land and day have
reached?" we should be forced, I think, to give the still more
disagreeable answer that they are swindling and adroitness, and the
indulgence of swindling and adroitness, and cant, and sympathy with
cant--natural fruits of that extraordinary idealization of "success" in
the mere outward sense of "getting there," and getting there on as big
a scale as we can, which characterizes our present generation.  What
was Reason given to man for, some satirist has said, except to enable
him to invent reasons for what he wants to do.  We might say the same
of education.  We see college graduates on every side of every public
question.  Some of Tammany's stanchest supporters are Harvard men.
Harvard men defend our treatment of our Filipino allies as a
masterpiece of policy and morals.  Harvard men, as journalists, pride
themselves on producing copy for any side that may enlist them.  There
is not a public abuse for which some Harvard advocate may not be found.

In the successful sense, then, in the worldly sense, in the club sense,
to be a college man, even a Harvard man, affords no sure guarantee for
anything but a more educated cleverness in the service of popular idols
and vulgar ends.  Is there no inner Harvard within the outer Harvard
which means definitively more than this--for which the outside men who
come here in such numbers, come?  They come from the remotest outskirts
of our country, without introductions, without school affiliations;
special students, scientific students, graduate students, poor students
of the College, who make their living as they go.  They seldom or never
darken the doors of the Pudding or the Porcellian; they hover in the
background on days when the crimson color is most in evidence, but they
nevertheless are intoxicated and exultant with the nourishment they
find here; and their loyalty is deeper and subtler and more a matter of
the inmost soul than the gregarious loyalty of the clubhouse pattern
often is.

Indeed, there is such an inner spiritual Harvard; and the men I speak
of, and for whom I speak to-day, are its true missionaries and carry
its gospel into infidel parts.  When they come to Harvard, it is not
primarily because she is a club.  It is because they have heard of her
persistently atomistic constitution, of her tolerance of exceptionality
and eccentricity, of her devotion to the principles of individual
vocation and choice.  It is because you cannot make single one-ideaed
regiments of her classes.  It is because she cherishes so many vital
ideals, yet makes a scale of value among them; so that even her
apparently incurable second-rateness (or only occasional
first-rateness) in intercollegiate athletics comes from her seeing so
well that sport is but sport, that victory over Yale is not the whole
of the law and the prophets, and that a popgun is not the crack of doom.

The true Church was always the invisible Church.  The true Harvard is
the invisible Harvard in the souls of her more truth-seeking and
independent and often very solitary sons.  _Thoughts_ are the precious
seeds of which our universities should be the botanical gardens.
Beware when God lets loose a thinker on the world--either Carlyle or
Emerson said that--for all things then have to rearrange themselves.
But the thinkers in their youth are almost always very lonely
creatures.  "Alone the great sun rises and alone spring the great
streams."  The university most worthy of rational admiration is that
one in which your lonely thinker can feel himself least lonely, most
positively furthered, and most richly fed.  On an occasion like this it
would be poor taste to draw comparisons between the colleges, and in
their mere clubhouse quality they cannot differ widely:--all must be
worthy of the loyalties and affections they arouse.  But as a nursery
for independent and lonely thinkers I do believe that Harvard still is
in the van.  Here they find the climate so propitious that they can be
happy in their very solitude.  The day when Harvard shall stamp a
single hard and fast type of character upon her children, will be that
of her downfall.  Our undisciplinables are our proudest product.  Let
us agree together in hoping that the output of them will never cease.

[1] Speech at the Harvard Commencement Dinner, June 24, 1903, after
receiving an LL.D. degree.  Printed in the _Graduates' Magazine_ for
September, 1903.


Foreigners, commenting on our civilization, have with great unanimity
remarked the privileged position that institutions of learning occupy
in America as receivers of benefactions.  Our typical men of wealth, if
they do not found a college, will at least single out some college or
university on which to lavish legacies or gifts.  All the more so,
perhaps, if they are not college-bred men themselves.  Johns Hopkins
University, the University of Chicago, Clark University, are splendid
examples of this rule.  Steadily, year by year, my own university,
Harvard, receives from one to two and a half millions.

There is something almost pathetic in the way in which our successful
business men seem to idealize the higher learning and to believe in its
efficacy for salvation.  Never having shared in its blessings, they do
their utmost to make the youth of coming generations more fortunate.
Usually there is little originality of thought in their generous
foundations.  The donors follow the beaten track.  Their good will has
to be vague, for they lack the inside knowledge.  What they usually
think of is a new college like all the older colleges; or they give new
buildings to a university or help to make it larger, without any
definite idea as to the improvement of its inner form.  Improvements in
the character of our institutions always come from the genius of the
various presidents and faculties.  The donors furnish means of
propulsion, the experts within the pale lay out the course and steer
the vessel.  You all think of the names of Eliot, Gilman, Hall and
Harper as I utter these words--I mention no name nearer home.

This is founders' day here at Stanford--the day set apart each year to
quicken and reanimate in all of us the consciousness of the deeper
significance of this little university to which we permanently or
temporarily belong.  I am asked to use my voice to contribute to this
effect.  How can I do so better than by uttering quite simply and
directly the impressions that I personally receive?  I am one among our
innumerable American teachers, reared on the Atlantic coast but
admitted for this year to be one of the family at Stanford.  I see
things not wholly from without, as the casual visitor does, but partly
from within.  I am probably a typical observer.  As my impressions are,
so will be the impressions of others.  And those impressions, taken
together, will probably be the verdict of history on the institution
which Leland and Jane Stanford founded.

"Where there is no vision, the people perish."  Mr. and Mrs. Stanford
evidently had a vision of the most prophetic sort.  They saw the
opportunity for an absolutely unique creation, they seized upon it with
the boldness of great minds; and the passionate energy with which Mrs.
Stanford after her husband's death, drove the original plans through in
the face of every dismaying obstacle, forms a chapter in the biography
of heroism.  Heroic also the loyalty with which in those dark years the
president and faculty made the university's cause, their cause, and
shared the uncertainties and privations.

And what is the result to-day?  To-day the key-note is triumphantly
struck.  The first step is made beyond recall.  The character of the
material foundation is assured for all time as something unique and
unparalleled.  It logically calls for an equally unique and
unparalleled spiritual superstructure.

Certainly the chief impression which the existing university must make
on every visitor is of something unique and unparalleled.  Its
attributes are almost too familiar to you to bear recapitulation.  The
classic scenery of its site, reminding one of Greece, Greek too in its
atmosphere of opalescent fire, as if the hills that close us in were
bathed in ether, milk and sunshine; the great city, near enough for
convenience, too far ever to become invasive; the climate, so friendly
to work that every morning wakes one fresh for new amounts of work; the
noble architecture, so generously planned that there room and to spare
for every requirement; the democracy of the life, no one superfluously
rich, yet all sharing, so far as their higher needs go, in the common
endowment--where could a genius devoted to the search for truth, and
unworldly as most geniuses are, find on the earth's whole round a place
more advantageous to come and work in?  _Die Luft der Freiheit weht_!
All the traditions are individualistic.  Red tape and organization are
at their minimum.  Interruptions and perturbing distractions hardly
exist.  Eastern institutions look all dark and huddled and confused in
comparison with this purity and serenity.  Shall it not be auspicious?
Surely the one destiny to which this happy beginning seems to call
Stanford is that it should become something intense and original, not
necessarily in point of wealth or extent, but in point of spiritual
quality.  The founders have, as I said, triumphantly struck the
keynote, and laid the basis: the quality of what they have already
given is unique in character.

It rests with the officials of the present and future Stanford, it
rests with the devotion and sympathetic insight of the growing body of
graduates, to prolong the vision where the founders' vision terminated,
and to insure that all the succeeding steps, like the first steps,
shall single out this university more and more as the university of
quality peculiarly.

And what makes essential quality in a university?  Years ago in New
England it was said that a log by the roadside with a student sitting
on one end of it, and Mark Hopkins sitting on the other end, was a
university.  It is the quality of its men that makes the quality of a
university.  You may have your buildings, you may create your
committees and boards and regulations, you may pile up your machinery
of discipline and perfect your methods of instruction, you may spend
money till no one can approach you; yet you will add nothing but one
more trivial specimen to the common herd of American colleges, unless
you send into all this organization some breath of life, by inoculating
it with a few men, at least, who are real geniuses.  And if you once
have the geniuses, you can easily dispense with most of the
organization.  Like a contagious disease, almost, spiritual life passes
from man to man by contact.  Education in the long run is an affair
that works itself out between the individual student and his
opportunities.  Methods of which we talk so much, play but a minor
part.  Offer the opportunities, leave the student to his natural
reaction on them, and he will work out his personal destiny, be it a
high one or a low one.  Above all things, offer the opportunity of
higher personal contacts.  A university provides these anyhow within
the student body, for it attracts the more aspiring of the youth of the
country, and they befriend and elevate one another.  But we are only
beginning in this country, with our extraordinary American reliance on
organization, to see that the alpha and omega in a university is the
tone of it, and that this tone is set by human personalities
exclusively.  The world, in fact, is only beginning to see that the
wealth of a nation consists more than in anything else in the number of
superior men that it harbors.  In the practical realm it has always
recognized this, and known that no price is too high to pay for a great
statesman or great captain of industry.  But it is equally so in the
religious and moral sphere, in the poetic and artistic sphere and in
the philosophic and scientific sphere.  Geniuses are ferments; and when
they come together as they have done in certain lands at certain times,
the whole population seems to share in the higher energy which they
awaken.  The effects are incalculable and often not easy to trace in
detail, but they are pervasive and momentous.  Who can measure the
effects on the national German soul of the splendid series of German
poets and German men of learning, most of them academic personages?

From the bare economic point of view the importance of geniuses is only
beginning to be appreciated.  How can we measure the cash-value to
France of a Pasteur, to England of a Kelvin, to Germany of an Ostwald,
to us here of a Burbank?  One main care of every country in the future
ought to be to find out who its first-rate thinkers are and to help
them.  Cost here becomes something entirely irrelevant, the returns are
sure to be so incommensurable.  This is what wise men the world over
are perceiving.  And as the universities are already a sort of agency
providentially provided for the detection and encouragement of mental
superiority, it would seem as if that one among them that followed this
line most successfully would quickest rise to a position of paramountcy
and distinction.

Why should not Stanford immediately adopt this as her vital policy?
Her position is one of unprecedented freedom.  Not trammelled by the
service of the state as other universities on this coast are
trammelled, independent of students' fees and consequently of numbers,
Utopian in the material respects I have enumerated, she only needs a
boldness like that shown by her founders to become the seat of a
glowing intellectual life, sure to be admired and envied the world
over.  Let her claim her place; let her espouse her destiny.  Let her
call great investigators from whatever lands they live in, from
England, France, Germany, Japan, as well as from America.  She can do
this without presumption, for the advantages of this place for steady
mental work are so unparalleled.  Let these men, following the happy
traditions of the place, make the university.  The original foundation
had something eccentric in it; let Stanford not fear to be eccentric to
the end, if need be.  Let her not imitate; let her lead, not follow.
Especially let her not be bound by vulgar traditions as to the
cheapness or dearness of professorial service.  The day is certainly
about to dawn when some American university will break all precedents
in the matter of instructors' salaries, and will thereby immediately
take the lead, and reach the winning post for quality.  I like to think
of Stanford being that university.  Geniuses are sensitive plants, in
some respects like _prima donnas_.  They have to be treated tenderly.
They don't need to live in superfluity; but they need freedom from
harassing care; they need books and instruments; they are always
overworking, so they need generous vacations; and above all things they
need occasionally to travel far and wide in the interests of their
souls' development.  Where quality is the thing sought after, the thing
of supreme quality is cheap, whatever be the price one has to pay for

Considering all the conditions, the quality of Stanford has from the
first been astonishingly good both in the faculty and in the student
body.  Can we not, as we sit here to-day, frame a vision of what it may
be a century hence, with the honors of the intervening years all rolled
up in its traditions?  Not vast, but intense; less a place for teaching
youths and maidens than for training scholars; devoted to truth;
radiating influence; setting standards; shedding abroad the fruits of
learning; mediating between America and Asia, and helping the more
intellectual men of both continents to understand each other better.

What a history! and how can Stanford ever fail to enter upon it?

[1] An Address at Stanford University on Founders' Day, 1906.  Printed
in _Science_, for May 25, 1906.



Not for the ignoble vulgar do I write this article, but only for those
dialectic-mystic souls who have an irresistible taste, acquired or
native, for higher flights of metaphysics.  I have always held the
opinion that one of the first duties of a good reader is to summon
other readers to the enjoyment of any unknown author of rare quality
whom he may discover in his explorations.  Now for years my own taste,
literary as well as philosophic, has been exquisitely titillated by a
writer the name of whom I think must be unknown to the readers of this
article; so I no longer continue silent about the merits of Benjamin
Paul Blood.

Mr. Blood inhabits a city otherwise, I imagine, quite unvisited by the
Muses, the town called Amsterdam, situated on the New York Central
Railroad.  What his regular or bread-winning occupation may be I know
not, but it can't have made him super-wealthy.  He is an author only
when the fit strikes him, and for short spurts at a time; shy,
moreover, to the point of publishing his compositions only as private
tracts, or in letters to such far-from-reverberant organs of publicity
as the _Gazette_ or the _Recorder_ of his native Amsterdam, or the
_Utica Herald_ or the _Albany Times_.  Odd places for such subtile
efforts to appear in, but creditable to American editors in these
degenerate days!  Once, indeed, the lamented W. T. Harris of the old
"Journal of Speculative Philosophy" got wind of these epistles, and the
result was a revision of some of them for that review (_Philosophic
Reveries_, 1889).  Also a couple of poems were reprinted from their
leaflets by the editor of _Scribner's Magazine_ ("The Lion of the
Nile," 1888, and| "Nemesis," 1899).  But apart from these three dashes
before the footlights, Mr. Blood has kept behind the curtain all his

The author's maiden adventure was the _Anoesthetic Revelation_, a
pamphlet printed privately at Amsterdam in 1874.  I forget how it fell
into my hands, but it fascinated me so "weirdly" that I am conscious of
its having been one of the stepping-stones of my thinking ever since.
It gives the essence of Blood's philosophy, and shows most of the
features of his talent--albeit one finds in it little humor and no
verse.  It is full of verbal felicity, felicity sometimes of precision,
sometimes of metaphoric reach; it begins with dialectic reasoning, of
an extremely Fichtean and Hegelian type, but it ends in a trumpet-blast
of oracular mysticism, straight from the insight wrought by
anaesthetics--of all things in the world--and unlike anything one ever
heard before.  The practically unanimous tradition of "regular"
mysticism has been unquestionably _monistic_; and inasmuch as it is the
characteristic of mystics to speak, not as the scribes, but as men who
have "been there" and seen with their own eyes, I think that this
sovereign manner must have made some other pluralistic-minded students
hesitate, as I confess that it has often given pause to me.  One cannot
criticise the vision of a mystic--one can but pass it by, or else
accept it as having some amount of evidential weight.  I felt unable to
do either with a good conscience until I met with Mr. Blood.  His
mysticism, which may, if one likes, be understood as monistic in this
earlier utterance, develops in the later ones a sort of "left-wing"
voice of defiance, and breaks into what to my ear has a radically
pluralistic sound.  I confess that the existence of this novel brand of
mysticism has made my cowering mood depart.  I feel now as if my own
pluralism were not without the kind of support which mystical
corroboration may confer.  Morrison can no longer claim to be the only
beneficiary of whatever right mysticism may possess to lend _prestige_.

This is my philosophic, as distinguished from my literary, interest, in
introducing Mr. Blood to this more fashionable audience: his
philosophy, however mystical, is in the last resort not dissimilar from
my own.  I must treat him by "extracting" him, and simplify--certainly
all too violently--as I extract.  He is not consecutive as a writer,
aphoristic and oracular rather; and being moreover sometimes dialectic,
sometimes poetic, and sometimes mystic in his manner; sometimes
monistic and sometimes pluralistic in his matter, I have to run my own
risk in making him orate _pro domo mea_, and I am not quite unprepared
to hear him say, in case he ever reads these pages, that I have
entirely missed his point.  No matter; I will proceed.


I will separate his diverse phases and take him first as a pure
dialectician.  Dialectic thought of the Hegelian type is a whirlpool
into which some persons are sucked out of the stream which the
straightforward understanding follows.  Once in the eddy, nothing but
rotary motion can go on.  All who have been in it know the feel of its
swirl--they know thenceforward that thinking unreturning on itself is
but one part of reason, and that rectilinear mentality, in philosophy
at any rate, will never do.  Though each one may report in different
words of his rotational experience, the experience itself is almost
childishly simple, and whosoever has been there instantly recognizes
other authentic reports.  To have been in that eddy is a freemasonry of
which the common password is a "fie" on all the operations of the
simple popular understanding.

In Hegel's mind the vortex was at its liveliest, and any one who has
dipped into Hegel will recognize Mr. Blood to be of the same tribe.
"That Hegel was pervaded by the great truth," Blood writes, "cannot be
doubted.  The eyes of philosophy, if not set directly on him, are set
towards the region which he occupied.  Though he may not be the final
philosopher, yet pull him out, and all the rest will be drawn into his

Drawn into the same whirlpool, Mr. Blood means.  Non-dialectic thought
takes facts as singly given, and accounts for one fact by another.  But
when we think of "_all_ fact," we see that nothing of the nature of
fact can explain it, "for that were but one more added to the list of
things to be accounted for. . . .  The beginning of curiosity, in the
philosophic sense," Mr. Blood again writes, "is the stare
[Transcriber's note: state?] of being at itself, in the wonder why
anything is at all, and what this being signifies.  Naturally we first
assume the void, and then wonder how, with no ground and no fertility,
anything should come into it."  We treat it as a positive nihility, "a
barrier from which all our batted balls of being rebound."

Upon this idea Mr. Blood passes the usual transcendentalist criticism.
There _is_ no such separate opposite to being; yet we never think of
being as such--of pure being as distinguished from specific forms of
being--save as what stands relieved against this imaginary background.
Being has no _outline_ but that which non-being makes, and the two
ideas form an inseparable pair.  "Each limits and defines the other.
Either would be the other in the same position, for here (where there
is as yet no question of content, but only of being itself) the
position is all and the content is nothing.  Hence arose that paradox:
'Being is by nothing more real than not-being.'"

"Popularly," Mr. Blood goes on, "we think of all that is as having got
the better of non-being.  If all were not--_that_, we think, were easy:
there were no wonder then, no tax on ingenuity, nothing to be accounted
for.  This conclusion is from the thinking which assumes all reality as
immediately given assumes knowledge as a simple physical light, rather
than as a distinction involving light and darkness equally.  We assume
that if the light were to go out, the show would be ended (and so it
would); but we forget that if the darkness were to go out, that would
be equally calamitous.  It were bad enough if the master had lost his
crayon, but the loss of the blackboard would be just as fatal to the
demonstration.  Without darkness light would be useless--universal
light as blind as universal darkness.  Universal thing and universal
no-thing were indistinguishable.  Why, then, assume the positive, the
immediately affirmative, as alone the ingenious?  Is not the mould as
shapely as the model?  The original ingenuity does not show in bringing
light out of darkness, nor in bringing things out of nothing, but in
evolving, through the just opposition of light and darkness, this
wondrous picture, in which the black and white lines have equal
significance--in evolving from life and death at once, the conscious
spirit. . . .

"It is our habit to think of life as dear, and of death as cheap
(though Tithonus found them otherwise), or, continuing the simile of
the picture, that paper is cheap while drawing is expensive; but the
engraver had a different estimation in one sense, for all his labor was
spent on the white ground, while he left untouched those parts of the
block which make the lines in the picture.  If being and non-being are
both necessary to the presence of either, neither shall claim priority
or preference.  Indeed, we may fancy an intelligence which, instead of
regarding things as simply owning entity, should regard chiefly their
background as affected by the holes which things are making in it.
Even so, the paper-maker might see your picture as intrusive!"

Thus "does the negation of being appear as indispensable in the making
of it."  But to anyone who should appeal to particular forms of being
to refute this paradox, Mr. Blood admits that "to say that a picture,
or any other sensuous thing, is the same as the want of it, were to
utter nonsense indeed: there is a difference equivalent to the whole
stuff and merit of the picture; but in so far as the picture can be
there for thought, as something either asserted or negated, its
presence or its absence are the same and indifferent.  By _its_ absence
we do not mean the absence of anything else, nor absence in general;
and how, forsooth, does its absence differ from these other absences,
save by containing a complete description of the picture?  The hole is
as round as the plug; and from our thought the 'picture' cannot get
away.  The negation is specific and descriptive, and what it destroys
it preserves tor our conception."

The result is that, whether it be taken generally or taken
specifically, all that which _either is or is not_ is or is not _by
distinction or opposition_.  "And observe the life, the process,
through which this slippery doubleness endures.  Let us suppose the
present tense, that gods and men and angels and devils march all
abreast in this present instant, and the only real time and date in the
universe is now.  And what _is_ this instant now?  Whatever else, it is
_process_--becoming and departing; with what between?  Simply division,
difference; the present has no breadth for if it had, that which we
seek would be the middle of that breadth.  There is no precipitate, as
on a stationary platform, of the process of becoming, no residuum of
the process of departing, but between the two is a curtain, _the
apparition of difference_, which is all the world."

I am using my scissors somewhat at random on my author's paragraphs,
since one place is as good as another for entering a ring by, and the
expert reader will discern at once the authentic dialectic circling.
Other paragraphs show Mr. Blood as more Hegelian still, and thoroughly

"Assume that knowing is distinguishing, and that distinction is of
difference; if one knows a difference, one knows it as of entities
which afford it, and which also he knows; and he must know the entities
and the difference apart,--one from the other.  Knowing all this, he
should be able to answer the twin question, 'What is the difference
_between sameness and difference_?'  It is a 'twin' question, because
the two terms are equal in the proposition, and each is full of the
other. . . .

"Sameness has 'all the difference in the world'--from difference; and
difference is an entity as difference--it being identically that.  They
are alike and different at once, since either is the other when the
observer would contrast it with the other; so that the sameness and the
difference are 'subjective,' are the property of the observer: his is
the 'limit' in their unlimited field. . . .

"We are thus apprized that distinction involves and carries its own
identity; and that ultimate distinction--distinction in the last
analysis--is self-distinction, 'self-knowledge,' as we realize it
consciously every day.  Knowledge is self-referred: to know is to know
that you know, and to be known as well.

"'Ah! but _both in the same time_?' inquires the logician.  A
subject-object knowing itself as a seamless unit, while yet its two
items show a real distinction: this passes all understanding."

But the whole of idealism goes to the proof that the two sides _cannot_
succeed one another in a time-process.  "To say you know, and you know
that you know, is to add nothing in the last clause; it is as idle as
to say that you lie, and you know that you lie," for if you know it not
you lie not.

Philosophy seeks to grasp totality, "but the power of grasping or
consenting to totality involves the power of thought to make itself its
own object.  Totality itself may indeed be taken by the _naïve_
intellect as an immediate topic, in the sense of being just an
_object_, but it cannot be just that; for the knower, as other or
opposite, would still be within that totality.  The 'universe' by
definition must contain all opposition.  If distinction should vanish,
what would remain?  To what other could it change as a whole?  How can
the loss of distinction make a _difference_?  Any loss, at its utmost,
offers a new status with the old, but obviously it is too late now to
efface distinction by a _change_.  There is no possible conjecture, but
such as carries with it the subjective that holds it; and when the
conjecture is of distinction in general, the subjective fills the void
with distinction of itself.  The ultimate, ineffaceable distinction is
self-distinction, self-consciousness. . . .  'Thou art the unanswered
question, couldst see thy proper eye.' . . .  The thought that must be
is the very thought of our experience; the ultimate opposition, the to
be _and_ not to be, is personality, spirit--somewhat that is in knowing
that it is, and is nothing else but this knowing in its vast

"Here lies the bed-rock; here the brain-sweat of twenty-five centuries
crystallizes to a jewel five words long: 'The Universe has No
Opposite.'  For there the wonder of that which is, rests safe in the
perception that all things _are_ only through the opposition which is
their only fear."

"The inevitable generally," in short, is exactly and identically that
which in point of fact is actually here.

This is the familiar nineteenth-century development of Kant's
idealistic vision.  To me it sounds monistic enough to charm the monist
in me unreservedly.  I listen to the felicitously-worded concept-music
circling round itself, as on some drowsy summer noon one listens under
the pines to the murmuring of leaves and insects, and with as little
thought of criticism.

But Mr. Blood strikes a still more vibrant note: "No more can be than
rationally is; and this was always true.  There is no reason for what
is not; but for what there is reason, that is and ever was.  Especially
is there no becoming of reason, and hence no reason for becoming, to a
sufficient intelligence.  In the sufficient intelligence all things
always are, and are rational.  To say there is something yet to be
which never was, not even in the sufficient intelligence wherein the
world is rational and not a blind and orphan waif, is to ignore all
reason.  Aught that might be assumed as contingently coming to be could
only have 'freedom' for its origin; and 'freedom' has not fertility or
invention, and is not a reason for any special thing, but the very
vacuity of a ground for anything in preference to its room.  Neither is
there in bare time any principle or originality where anything should
come or go. . . .

"Such idealism enures greatly to the dignity and repose of man.  No
blind fate, prior to what is, shall necessitate that all first be and
afterward be known, but knowledge is first, with fate in her own hands.
When we are depressed by the weight and immensity of the immediate, we
find in idealism a wondrous consolation.  The alien positive, so vast
and overwhelming by itself, reduces its pretensions when the whole
negative confronts it on our side.[4]  It matters little for its
greatness when an equal greatness is opposed.  When one remembers that
the balance and motion of the planets are so delicate that the
momentary scowl of an eclipse may fill the heavens with tempest, and
even affect the very bowels of the earth--when we see a balloon, that
carries perhaps a thousand pounds, leap up a hundred feet at the
discharge of a sheet of note paper--or feel it stand deathly still in a
hurricane, because it goes with the hurricane, sides with it, and
ignores the rushing world below--we should realize that one tittle of
pure originality would outweigh this crass objective, and turn these
vast masses into mere breath and tissue-paper show." [5]

But whose is the originality?  There is nothing in what I am treating
as this phase of our author's thought to separate it from the
old-fashioned rationalism.  There must be a reason for every fact; and
so much reason, so fact.  The reason is always the whole foil and
background and negation of the fact, the whole remainder of reality.
"A man may feel good only by feeling better. . . .  Pleasure is ever in
the company and contrast of pain; for instance, in thirsting and
drinking, the pleasure of the one is the exact measure of the pain of
the other, and they cease precisely together--otherwise the patient
would drink more.  The black and yellow gonfalon of Lucifer is
indispensable in any spiritual picture."  Thus do truth's two
components seem to balance, vibrating across the centre of
indifference; "being and non-being have equal value and cost," and
"mainly are convertible in their terms." [6]

This sounds radically monistic; and monistic also is the first account
of the Ether-revelation, in which we read that "thenceforth each is
all, in God. . . .  The One remains, the many change and pass; and
every one of us is the One that remains."


It seems to me that any transcendental idealist who reads this article
ought to discern in the fragmentary utterances which I have quoted thus
far, the note of what he considers the truer dialectic profundity.  He
ought to extend the glad hand of fellowship to Mr. Blood; and if he
finds him afterwards palavering with the enemy, he ought to count him,
not as a simple ignoramus or Philistine, but as a renegade and relapse.
He cannot possibly be treated as one who sins because he never has
known better, or as one who walks in darkness because he is
congenitally blind.

Well, Mr. Blood, explain it as one may, does turn towards the darkness
as if he had never seen the light.  Just listen for a moment to such
irrationalist deliverances on his part as these:--

"Reason is neither the first nor the last word in this world.  Reason
is an equation; it gives but a pound for a pound.  Nature is excess;
she is evermore, without cost or explanation.

  'Is heaven so poor that _justice_
    Metes the bounty of the skies?
  So poor that every blessing
    Fills the debit of a cost?
  That all process is returning?
    And all gain is of the lost?'

Go back into reason, and you come at last to fact, nothing more--a
given-ness, a something to wonder at and yet admit, like your own will.
And all these tricks for logicizing originality, self-relation,
absolute process, subjective contradiction, will wither in the breath
of the mystical tact; they will swirl down the corridors before the
besom of the everlasting Yea."

Or again: "The monistic notion of a oneness, a centred wholeness,
ultimate purpose, or climacteric result of the world, has wholly given
way.  Thought evolves no longer a centred whole, a One, but rather a
numberless many, adjust it how we will."

Or still again: "The pluralists have talked philosophy to a
standstill--Nature is contingent, excessive and mystical essentially."

Have we here contradiction simply, a man converted from one faith to
its opposite?  Or is it only dialectic circling, like the opposite
points on the rim of a revolving disc, one moving up, one down, but
replacing one another endlessly, while the whole disc never moves?  If
it be this latter--Mr. Blood himself uses the image--the dialectic is
too pure for me to catch: a deeper man must mediate the monistic with
the pluralistic Blood.  Let my incapacity be castigated, if my
"Subject" ever reads this article, but let me treat him from now
onwards as the simply pluralistic mystic which my reading of the rest
of him suggests.  I confess to some dread of my own fate at his hands.
In making so far an ordinary transcendental idealist of him, I have
taken liberties, running separate sentences together, inverting their
order, and even altering single words, for all which I beg pardon; but
in treating my author from now onwards as a pluralist, interpretation
is easier, and my hands can be less stained (if they _are_ stained)
with exegetic blood.

I have spoken of his verbal felicity, and alluded to his poetry.
Before passing to his mystic gospel, I will refresh the reader
(doubtless now fatigued with so much dialectic) by a sample of his
verse.  "The Lion of the Nile" is an allegory of the "champion spirit
of the world" in its various incarnations.

Thus it begins:--

  "Whelped on the desert sands, and desert bred
  From dugs whose sustenance was blood alone--
  A life translated out of other lives,
  I grew the king of beasts; the hurricane
  Leaned like a feather on my royal fell;
  I took the Hyrcan tiger by the scruff
  And tore him piecemeal; my hot bowels laughed
  And my fangs yearned for prey.  Earth was my lair:
  I slept on the red desert without fear:
  I roamed the jungle depths with less design
  Than e'en to lord their solitude; on crags
  That cringe from lightning--black and blasted fronts
  That crouch beneath the wind-bleared stars, I told
  My heart's fruition to the universe,
  And all night long, roaring my fierce defy,
  I thrilled the wilderness with aspen terrors,
  And challenged death and life. . . ."


  "Naked I stood upon the raked arena
  Beneath the pennants of Vespasian,
  While seried thousands gazed--strangers from Caucasus,
  Men of the Grecian Isles, and Barbary princes,
  To see me grapple with the counterpart
  Of that I had been--the raptorial jaws,
  The arms that wont to crush with strength alone,
  The eyes that glared vindictive.--Fallen there,
  Vast wings upheaved me; from the Alpine peaks
  Whose avalanches swirl the valley mists
  And whelm the helpless cottage, to the crown
  Of Chimborazo, on whose changeless jewels
  The torrid rays recoil, with ne'er a cloud
  To swathe their blistered steps, I rested not,
  But preyed on all that ventured from the earth,
  An outlaw of the heavens.--But evermore
  Must death release me to the jungle shades;
  And there like Samson's grew my locks again
  In the old walks and ways, till scapeless fate
  Won me as ever to the haunts of men,
  Luring my lives with battle and with love." . . .

I quote less than a quarter of the poem, of which the rest is just as
good, and I ask: Who of us all handles his English vocabulary better
than Mr. Blood?[7]

His proclamations of the mystic insight have a similar verbal power:--

"There is an invariable and reliable condition (or uncondition) ensuing
about the instant of recall from anaesthetic stupor to 'coming to,' in
which the genius of being is revealed. . . .  No words may express the
imposing certainty of the patient that he is realizing the primordial
Adamic surprise of Life.

"Repetition of the experience finds it ever the same, and as if it
could not possibly be otherwise.  The subject resumes his normal
consciousness only to partially and fitfully remember its occurrence,
and to try to formulate its baffling import,--with but this consolatory
afterthought: that he has known the oldest truth, and that he has done
with human theories as to the origin, meaning, or destiny of the race.
He is beyond instruction in 'spiritual things.' . . .

"It is the instant contrast of this 'tasteless water of souls' with
formal thought as we 'come to,' that leaves in the patient an
astonishment that the awful mystery of Life is at last but a homely and
a common thing, and that aside from mere formality the majestic and the
absurd are of equal dignity.  The astonishment is aggravated as at a
thing of course, missed by sanity in overstepping, as in too foreign a
search, or with too eager an attention: as in finding one's spectacles
on one's nose, or in making in the dark a step higher than the stair.
My first experiences of this revelation had many varieties of emotion;
but as a man grows calm and determined by experience in general, so am
I now not only firm and familiar in this once weird condition, but
triumphant, divine.  To minds of sanguine imagination there will be a
sadness in the tenor of the mystery, as if the key-note of the universe
were low; for no poetry, no emotion known to the normal sanity of man,
can furnish a hint of its primeval prestige, and its all-but appalling
solemnity; but for such as have felt sadly the instability of temporal
things there is a comfort of serenity and ancient peace; while for the
resolved and imperious spirit there are majesty and supremacy
unspeakable.  Nor can it be long until all who enter the anaesthetic
condition (and there are hundreds every secular day) will be taught to
expect this revelation, and will date from its experience their
initiation into the Secret of Life. . . .

"This has been my moral sustenance since I have known of it.  In my
first printed mention of it I declared: 'The world is no more the alien
terror that was taught me.  Spurning the cloud-grimed and still sultry
battlements whence so lately Jehovan thunders boomed, my gray gull
lifts her wing against the night fall, and takes the dim leagues with a
fearless eye.'  And now, after twenty-seven years of this experience,
the wing is grayer, but the eye is fearless still, while I renew and
doubly emphasize that declaration.  I know, as having known, the
meaning of Existence; the sane centre of the universe--at once the
wonder and the assurance of the soul."

After this rather literary interlude I return to Blood's philosophy
again.  I spoke a while ago of its being an "irrationalistic"
philosophy in its latest phase.  Behind every "fact" rationalism
postulates its "reason."  Blood parodizes this demand in true
nominalistic fashion.  "The goods are not enough, but they must have
the invoice with them.  There must be a _name_, something to _read_.  I
think of Dickens's horse that always fell down when they took him out
of the shafts; or of the fellow who felt weak when naked, but strong in
his overcoat."  No bad mockery, this, surely, of rationalism's habit of
explaining things by putting verbal doubles of them beneath them as
their ground!

"All that philosophy has sought as cause, or reason," he says,
"pluralism subsumes in the status and the given fact, where it stands
as plausible as it may ever hope to stand.  There may be disease in the
presence of a question as well as in the lack of an answer.  We do not
wonder so strangely at an ingenious and well-set-up effect, for we feel
such in ourselves; but a cause, reaching out beyond the verge [of fact]
and dangling its legs in nonentity, with the hope of a rational
foothold, should realize a strenuous life.  Pluralism believes in truth
and reason, but only as mystically realized, as lived in experience.
Up from the breast of a man, up to his tongue and brain, comes a free
and strong determination, and he cries, originally, and in spite of his
whole nature and environment, 'I will.'  This is the Jovian _fiat_, the
pure cause.  This is reason; this or nothing shall explain the world
for him.  For how shall he entertain a reason bigger than
himself? . . .  Let a man stand fast, then, as an axis of the earth;
the obsequious meridians will bow to him, and gracious latitudes will
measure from his feet."

This seems to be Blood's mystical answer to his own monistic statement
which I quoted above, that "freedom" has no fertility, and is no reason
for any special thing.[8]  "Philosophy," Mr. Blood writes to me in a
letter, "is past.  It was the long endeavor to logicize what we can
only realize practically or in immediate experience.  I am more and
more impressed that Heraclitus insists on the equation of reason and
unreason, or chance, as well as of being and not-being, etc.  This
throws the secret beyond logic, and makes mysticism outclass
philosophy.  The insight that mystery,--the Mystery, as such is final,
is the hymnic word.  If you use reason pragmatically, and deny it
absolutely, you can't be beaten; be assured of that.  But the _Fact_
remains, and of course the Mystery." [9]

The "Fact," as I understand the writer here to mean it, remains in its
native disseminated shape.  From every realized amount of fact some
other fact is _absent_, as being uninvolved.  "There is nowhere more of
it consecutively, perhaps, than appears upon this present page."  There
is, indeed, to put it otherwise, no more one all-enveloping fact than
there is one all-enveloping spire in an endlessly growing spiral, and
no more one all-generating fact than there is one central point in
which an endlessly converging spiral ends.  Hegel's "bad infinite"
belongs to the eddy as well as to the line.  "Progress?" writes our
author.  "And to what?  Time turns a weary and a wistful face; has he
not traversed an eternity? and shall another give the secret up?  We
have dreamed of a climax and a consummation, a final triumph where a
world shall burn _en barbecue_; but there is not, cannot be, a purpose
of eternity; it shall pay mainly as it goes, or not at all.  The show
is on; and what a show, if we will but give our attention!  Barbecues,
bonfires, and banners?  Not twenty worlds a minute would keep up our
bonfire of the sun; and what banners of our fancy could eclipse the
meteor pennants of the pole, or the opaline splendors of the
everlasting ice? . . .  Doubtless we _are_ ostensibly progressing, but
there have been prosperity and highjinks before.  Nineveh and Tyre,
Rome, Spain, and Venice also had their day.  We are going, but it is a
question of our standing the pace.  It would seem that the news must
become less interesting or tremendously more so--'a breath can make us,
as a breath has made.'"

Elsewhere we read: "Variety, not uniformity, is more likely to be the
key to progress.  The genius of being is whimsical rather than
consistent.  Our strata show broken bones of histories all forgotten.
How can it be otherwise?  There can be no purpose of eternity.  It is
process all.  The most sublime result, if it appeared as the ultimatum,
would go stale in an hour; it could not be endured."

Of course from an intellectual point of view this way of thinking must
be classed as scepticism.  "Contingency forbids any inevitable history,
and conclusions are absurd.  Nothing in Hegel has kept the planet from
being blown to pieces."  Obviously the mystical "security," the "apodal
sufficiency" yielded by the anaesthetic revelation, are very different
moods of mind from aught that rationalism can claim to father--more
active, prouder, more heroic.  From his ether-intoxication Blood may
feel towards ordinary rationalists "as Clive felt towards those
millions of Orientals in whom honor had no part."  On page 6, above, I
quoted from his "Nemesis"--"Is heaven so poor that justice," etc.  The
writer goes on, addressing the goddess of "compensation" or rational

  "How shalt thou poise the courage
    That covets all things hard?
  How pay the love unmeasured
    That could not brook reward?
  How prompt self-loyal honor
    Supreme above desire,
  That bids the strong die for the weak,
    The martyrs sing in fire?
  Why do I droop in bower
    And sigh in sacred hall?
  Why stifle under shelter?
    Yet where, through forest tall,
  The breath of hungry winter
    In stinging spray resolves,
  I sing to the north wind's fury
    And shout with the coarse-haired wolves?

      *      *      *      *      *      *

  What of thy priests' confuting,
    Of fate and form and law,
  Of being and essence and counterpoise,
    Of poles that drive and draw?
  Ever some compensation,
    Some pandering purchase still!
  But the vehm of achieving reason
    Is the all-patrician Will!"

Mr. Blood must manage to re-write the last two lines; but the contrast
of the two securities, his and the rationalist's, is plain enough.  The
rationalist sees safe conditions.  But Mr. Blood's revelation, whatever
the conditions be, helps him to stand ready for a life among them.  In
this, his attitude seems to resemble that of Nietzsche's _amor fati_!
"Simply," he writes to me, "_we do not know_.  But when we say we do
not know, we are not to say it weakly and meekly, but with confidence
and content. . . .  Knowledge is and must ever be _secondary_, a
witness rather than a principal, or a 'principle'!--in the case.
Therefore mysticism for me!"

"Reason," he prints elsewhere, "is but an item in the duplex potency of
the mystery, and behind the proudest consciousness that ever reigned,
Reason and Wonder blushed face to face.  The legend sinks to burlesque
if in that great argument which antedates man and his mutterings,
Lucifer had not a fighting chance. . . .

"It is given to the writer and to others for whom he is permitted to
speak--and we are grateful that it is the custom of gentlemen to
believe one another--that the highest thought is not a milk-and-water
equation of so much reason and so much result--'no school sum to be
cast up.'  We have realized the highest divine thought of itself, and
there is in it as much of wonder as of certainty; inevitable, and
solitary and safe in one sense, but queer and cactus-like no less in
another sense, it appeals unutterably to experience alone.

"There are sadness and disenchantment for the novice in these
inferences, as if the keynote of the universe were low, but experience
will approve them.  Certainty is the root of despair.  The inevitable
stales, while doubt and hope are sisters.  Not unfortunately the
universe is wild--game flavored as a hawk's wing.  Nature is miracle
all.  She knows no laws; the same returns not, save to bring the
different.  The slow round of the engraver's lathe gains but the
breadth of a hair, but the difference is distributed back over the
whole curve, never an instant true--ever not quite."

"Ever not quite!"--this seems to wring the very last panting word out
of rationalistic philosophy's mouth.  It is fit to be pluralism's
heraldic device.  There is no complete generalization, no total point
of view, no all-pervasive unity, but everywhere some residual
resistance to verbalization, formulation, and discursification, some
genius of reality that escapes from the pressure of the logical finger,
that says "hands off," and claims its privacy, and means to be left to
its own life.  In every moment of immediate experience is somewhat
absolutely original and novel.  "We are the first that ever burst into
this silent sea."  Philosophy must pass from words, that reproduce but
ancient elements, to life itself, that gives the integrally new.  The
"inexplicable," the "mystery," as what the intellect, with its claim to
reason out reality, thinks that it is in duty bound to resolve, and the
resolution of which Blood's revelation would eliminate from the sphere
of our duties, remains; but it remains as something to be met and dealt
with by faculties more akin to our activities and heroisms and
willingnesses, than to our logical powers.  This is the anesthetic
insight, according to our author.  Let _my_ last word, then, speaking
in the name of intellectual philosophy, be _his_ word.--"There is no
conclusion.  What has concluded, that we might conclude in regard to
it?  There are no fortunes to be told, and there is no advice to be

[1] Written during the early summer of 1910 and published in the
_Hibbert Journal_ for July of that year.

[2] "Yes!  Paul is quite a correspondent!" said a good citizen of
Amsterdam, from whom I inquired the way to Mr. Blood's dwelling many
years ago, after alighting from the train.  I had sought to identify
him by calling him an "author," but his neighbor thought of him only as
a writer of letters to the journals I have named.

[3] "How shall a man know he is alive--since in thought the knowing
constitutes the being alive, without knowing that thought (life) from
its opposite, and so knowing both, and so far as being is knowing,
being both?  Each defines and relieves the other, each is impossible in
thought without the other; therefore each has no distinction save as
presently contrasting with the other, and each by itself is the same,
and nothing.  Clearly, then, consciousness is neither of one nor of the
other nor of both, but a knowing subject perceiving them and itself
together and as one. . . .  So, in coming out of the anaesthetic
exhilaration . . . we want to tell something; but the effort instantly
proves that something will stay back and do the telling--one must utter
one's own throat, one must eat one's own teeth, to express the being
that possesses one.  The result is ludicrous and astounding at
once--astounding in the clear perception that this is the ultimate
mystery of life, and is given you as the old Adamic secret, which you
then feel that all intelligence must sometime know or have known; yet
ludicrous in its familiar simplicity, as somewhat that any man should
always perceive at his best, if his head were only level, but which in
our ordinary thinking has grown into a thousand creeds and theories
dignified as religion and philosophy."

[4] Elsewhere Mr. Blood writes of the "force of the negative"
thus:--"As when a faded lock of woman's hair shall cause a man to cut
his throat in a bedroom at five o'clock in the morning; or when Albany
resounds with legislation, but a little henpecked judge in a dusty
office at Herkimer or Johnstown sadly writes across the page the word
'unconstitutional'--the glory of the Capitol has faded."

[5] Elsewhere Blood writes:--"But what then, in the name of common
sense, _is_ the external world?  If a dead man could answer he would
say Nothing, or as Macbeth said of the air-drawn dagger, 'there is no
such thing.'  But a live man's answer might be in this way: What is the
multiplication table when it is not written down?  It is a necessity of
thought; it was not created, it cannot but be; every intelligence which
goes to it, and thinks, must think in that form or think falsely.  So
the universe is the static necessity of reason; it is not an object for
any intelligence to find, but it is half object and half subject; it
never cost anything as a whole; it never _was_ made, but always _is_
made, in the Logos, or expression of reason--the Word; and slowly but
surely it will be understood and uttered in every intelligence, until
he is one with God or reason itself.  As a man, for all he knows, or
has known, stands at any given instant the realization of only one
thought, while all the rest of him is invisibly linked to that in the
necessary form and concatenation of reason, so the man as a whole of
exploited thoughts is a moment in the front of the concatenated reason
of the universal whole; and this whole is personal only as it is
personally achieved.  This is the Kingdom that is 'within you, and the
God which 'no man hath seen at any time.'"

[6] There are passages in Blood that sound like a well-known essay by
Emerson.  For instance:--"Experience burns into us the fact and the
necessity of universal compensation.  The philosopher takes it from
Heraclitus, in the insight that everything exists through its opposite;
and the bummer comforts himself for his morning headache as only the
rough side of a square deal.  We accept readily the doctrine that pain
and pleasure, evil and good, death and life, chance and reason, are
necessary equations--that there must be just as much of each as of its

"It grieves us little that this great compensation cannot at every
instant balance its beam on every individual centre, and dispense with
an under dog in every fight; we know that the parts must subserve the
whole; we have faith that our time will come; and if it comes not at
all in this world, our lack is a bid for immortality, and the most
promising argument for a world hereafter.  'Though He slay me, yet will
I trust in Him.'

"This is the faith that baffles all calamity, and ensures genius and
patience in the world.  Let not the creditor hasten the settlement: let
not the injured man hurry toward revenge; there is nothing that draws
bigger interest than a wrong, and to 'get the best of it' is ever in
some sense to get the worst."

[7] Or what thinks the reader of the verbiage of these
verses?--addressed in a mood of human defiance to the cosmic Gods--

  "Whose lightnings tawny leap from furtive lairs,
  To helpless murder, while the ships go down
  Swirled in the crazy stound, and mariners' prayers
  Go up in noisome bubbles--such to them;--
  Or when they tramp about the central fires,
  Bending the strata with aeonian tread
  Till steeples totter, and all ways are lost,--
  Deem they of wife or child, or home or friend,
  Doing these things as the long years lead on
  Only to other years that mean no more,
  That cure no ill, nor make for use or proof--
  Destroying ever, though to rear again."

[8] I subjoin a poetic apostrophe of Mr. Blood's to freedom:

          "Let it ne'er be known.
  If in some book of the Inevitable,
  Dog-eared and stale, the future stands engrossed
  E'en as the past.  There shall be news in heaven,
  And question in the courts thereof; and chance
  Shall have its fling, e'en at the [ermined] bench.

      *      *      *      *      *      *

    Ah, long ago, above the Indian ocean,
  Where wan stars brood over the dreaming East,
  I saw, white, liquid, palpitant, the Cross;
  And faint and far came bells of Calvary
  As planets passed, singing that they were saved,
  Saved from themselves: but ever low Orion--
  For hunter too was I, born of the wild,
  And the game flavor of the infinite
  Tainted me to the bone--he waved me on,
  On to the tangent field beyond all orbs,
  Where form nor order nor continuance
  Hath thought nor name; there unity exhales
  In want of confine, and the protoplasm
  May beat and beat, in aimless vehemence,
  Through vagrant spaces, homeless and unknown.

      *      *      *      *      *      *

    There ends One's empire!--but so ends not all;
  One knows not all; my griefs at least are mine--
  By me their measure, and to me their lesson;
  E'en I am one--(poor deuce to call the Ace!)
  And to the open bears my gonfalon,
  Mine aegis, Freedom!--Let me ne'er look back
  Accusing, for the withered leaves and lives
  The sated past hath strewn, the shears of fate,
  But forth to braver days.
            O, Liberty,
  Burthen of every sigh!--thou gold of gold,
  Beauty of the beautiful, strength of the strong!
  My soul for ever turns agaze for thee.
  There is no purpose of eternity
  For faith or patience; but thy buoyant torch
  Still lighted from the Islands of the Blest,
  O'erbears all present for potential heavens
  Which are not--ah, so more than all that are!
  Whose chance postpones the ennui of the skies!
  Be thou my genius--be my hope in thee!
  For this were heaven: to be, and to be free."

[9] In another letter Mr. Blood writes:--"I think we are through with
'the Whole,' and with '_causa sui_,' and with the 'negative unity'
which assumes to identify each thing as being what it lacks of
everything else.  You can, of course, build out a chip by modelling the
sphere it was chipped from;--but if it was n't a sphere?  What a
weariness it is to look back over the twenty odd volumes of the
'Journal of Speculative Philosophy' and see Harris's mind wholly filled
by that one conception of self-determination--everything to be thought
as 'part of a system'--a 'whole' and '_causa sui_.'--I should like to
see such an idea get into the head of Edison or George Westinghouse."

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